Can’t-Wait Wednesday: A Mer-Murder at the Cove by S. Usher Evans

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights books soon to be released, the ones we’re excited about but haven’t read yet. It’s hosted by Wishful Endings, and was formerly hosted by Breaking the Spine. Y’all can check out all of this week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday posts here.

Title: A Mer-Murder at the Cove

Series: Witch’s Cove #1

Author: S. Usher Evans

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Magic

Publication Date: April 23 2024

Publisher: Sun’s Golden Ray


A hapless witch, a dead mermaid, and a beachside bar with money problems. What else could go wrong?

Jo Maelstrom’s avoidance problems hit an all-time high when, after weeks of dodging her grandmother’s calls, she got a text that “Big Jo” had died suddenly. Now back in Eldred’s Hollow, a supernatural haven on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Jo is forced to reckon with her past – and the severe lack of magic that sent her running in the first place. Her grandmother’s bar and marina, Witch’s Cove, is in some dire financial straits, and there are more than a few people with ulterior motives itching to take it off her hands.

But when the leader of the local mermaid clan washes up dead on the shore, Jo finds herself embroiled in the question of who and why – and does it have anything to do with her own grandmother’s mysterious death?

My thoughts:

I love, love, love S. Usher Evans’ books! Her space opera series, Razia, got me hooked. Then it was on to fantasy (Demon Fall, Demon Spring, Princess Vigilante), YA fantasy (Lexie Carrigan), and cozy fantasy (Weary Dragon Inn). Now she’s trying her hand at paranormal cozy mystery, and I am here for it!

The book is due out in less than a month, and I can’t wait to read it. If y’all aren’t familiar with Evans’ work yet, what are you waiting for?! Pick a series and get going, and then grab A Mer-Murder at the Cove when it comes out next month. You’re welcome!

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Book Review and Giveaway: The Desk from Hoboken by ML Condike

A Genealogy Mystery, #1
ML Condike
Mystery / Women Sleuths / Forensic Genealogy
Publisher: Harbor Lane Books, LLC
Date of Publication: March 5, 2024
Number of Pages: 446 pages
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After a personal loss, forensic genealogist RaeJean Hunter accepts what she believes is a straightforward case to ease back into the game: a student at Connecticut College has found human remains on the school campus. The College hires RaeJean to confirm their tentative identification that it’s a woman named Mary Rogers, whose cause of death has never been determined.
Unfortunately, it becomes downright dangerous. Someone thwarts her investigation of the same case that inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.” Still, she meets relatives, some helpful and others not, amid escalating threats. Using her skills, including DNA analysis, historical records research, genealogy mapping, and guidance from a mystical antique desk, she follows every clue.
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RaeJean Hunter is a forensic genealogist who’s been taking a break from her work due to a personal loss. When she’s contacted to verify the identity of 180-year-old remains found on a college campus, she thinks this will be a nice, low-key way to ease back into her work routine. Turns out, it’s anything but.

Trying to determine if the remains are those of Mary Rogers, supposedly a descendant of both the Mather and Rogers families, leads RaeJean all over New England. She digs through records in libraries (it’s said she never could pass up a library – I can relate!), museums, and Mather relatives’ personal collections. Lillian is the pushiest relative she meets, by turns aloof and overly involved in RaeJean’s investigation (and always seemingly a step ahead), and RaeJean can’t quite figure out her motivation. Her quest leads her into unexpected danger, and her friend Claire, who was previously working on the same case, begs her to drop the matter. RaeJean suspects this is about more than just the identity of the remains and whether Mary Rogers died from a botched abortion. No, someone is trying to protect a much bigger secret than that.

ML Condike gives us a beautifully flawed protagonist in RaeJean. She’s working through her own issues, trying to get back to her normal routine. I think we can all relate to that. She and Sam are a good team, and their occupations sometimes intersect, allowing them to work together. But their relationship isn’t picture perfect, and they have to sort through some things in the middle of work and life, just like we all do. Sometimes RaeJean is too focused on her pursuit of answers for her own good, and as the reader looking in, I wanted to holler at her not to do what she was about to do, because it wasn’t going to go well! That made for some tense moments as I read and kept the pages turning.

I loved the inclusion of the titular “desk from Hoboken” in the story. RaeJean saw it in her client’s office and requested it as part of her compensation for her work. It may or may not be haunted (you read and decide for yourself), and it includes a puzzle box that plays a vital role in solving the mystery.

All told, The Desk from Hoboken is an intelligent, well-written, compelling mystery that fans of mystery and history alike will enjoy. And since Mary Rogers is the person on whose story Edgar Allan Poe based his short story The Murder of Marie Rogêt, literary lovers might like it, too. I can’t wait to read more in the series! Five stars from me.

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ML Condike’s novel, The Desk from Hoboken, is the first in a genealogy mystery three-book series. She also has short stories published in five anthologies. ML Condike completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path in Dallas in 2019 and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime North Dallas, Granbury Writers’ Bloc, and Key West Writers Guild.



THREE WINNERS: 1st: signed paperback and Corgi plush toy; 2nd: signed paperback and $25 Amazon gift card; 3rd: choice of $25 gift card or signed paperback. (US only; ends midnight, CDT, 03/29/24)

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Mystery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Frowns and Gowns (The Mischief Series, Book 5) by Amanda M. Thrasher

The Mischief Series, Book 5
Children’s Chapter Book / Fantasy / Fairies
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Page Count: 236
Publication Date: September 12, 2023
Embark on a Magical Adventure with Lilly, Boris, and Jack!
Get ready to join Lilly, Boris, and Jack on an unforgettable journey filled with excitement, laughter, and a touch of mayhem. Brace yourself for a whirlwind of mishaps as these three fairies plan a magnificent magical ball, only to encounter an unforeseen disaster! Experience the magic of friendship with Lilly, the quick-witted and resourceful fairy, Boris, the mischievous fairy with a heart of gold, and Jack, the troublemaker with a curious, adventurous spirit on their latest adventure.
Throughout, Lilly, Boris, and Jack teach the true meaning of friendship and teamwork. Together with their friends, they’ll overcome challenges, learn valuable lessons, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t miss out on this enchanting tale!
Award-winning author Amanda M. Thrasher was born in England and moved to Texas, where she lives with her family. She writes YA, general fiction, middle grade, early reader chapter, and picture books. She is the founder and CEO of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.

receive autographed, paperback sets
of all five books in The Mischief Series + $25 Starbucks gift card
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Book Review and Blog Tour: This Ain’t No Promised Land by Tina Shelton

This Ain't No Promised Land JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for This Ain’t No Promised Land by Tina Shelton, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

This Ain't No Promised Land

Title: This Ain’t No Promised Land
Author: Tina Shelton
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release Date: March 19, 2024
Genre: Christian General Fiction

“With stellar storytelling skills, Tina Shelton reminds us that while love isn’t always enough to erase the hurts, it’s the only way to survive them. A powerful read!”

Julie Cantrell, New York Times & USA Today best-selling author of Perennials

When her husband dies, Charlotte can’t face the things she’s done that could tear her family apart. So she drops a goodbye letter in the cookie jar and flees south to escape everything–her life, her three daughters, the mistakes she’s made, and the secrets eating her alive.

Now Gracey and her sisters are alone on Chicago’s South Side with nothing but their home and belongings. They’re doing everything they can to stay together, but young teens aren’t meant to parent themselves. Their close-knit Black community gathers around them to keep them fed and clothed with the utilities on, but that’s not enough to fix the damage of abandonment.

Hundreds of miles away, Charlotte is struggling to keep her own head above water. She’s made a close friend who talks to her about God in a way Charlotte’s never heard before. But when her demons catch up to her, the shaky peace she tried to build shatters. Even if she’s able to find the courage to embrace motherhood again, will it be enough to save the family she left behind?

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook | Bookshop | BookBub

Life isn’t perfect, but Gracey, Francine, and Joanna know they are loved. Their mother is quiet and withdrawn, their grandmother is tart and abrasive, and their father – well, he fixes everything. When he dies unexpectedly, it rocks their world. Then their grandmother moves back to Mississippi. And when they come home from school to find their mother gone and a letter saying goodbye, they find themselves unexpectedly adrift. Their community does what they can to support the girls, but Joanna makes a choice that forces a change.

Charlotte’s mother has always been hard on her, always assumed the worst about her daughter. So when Charlotte makes a mistake in a moment of passion, her mother tells her that mistake will follow her forever. And when her husband dies with the wrong unconfessed, Charlotte can’t bear the guilt any longer. She slips the bonds of family and flees to Savannah, where she doesn’t know a soul, to just disappear. She thinks her girls will be better off without her. But the past has a way of finding you out.

Tina Shelton gives us a beautiful coming of age story here. Charlotte is an adult, but she still has some maturing to do. Her daughters are all under the age of 18 and struggling to find their way with minimal adult guidance. They’ve all got to grow up.  We see the story unfold in two timelines, and Shelton moves seamlessly between the two, weaving them together masterfully.

The events of the story are compelling. My heart just hurt for the girls. They lost not only their parents, but the only home they’d ever known. They were understandably angry and upset. And I felt for Charlotte, too. Sure, she made her own mess. But she didn’t have a mother she could talk to and work through things with. She was left to handle her own problems, and she simply couldn’t cope. She could see where her friend Candi could stand to make changes, but couldn’t unravel her own issues. Those emotions are something we can all relate to, even if not in the same situations as Shelton’s characters.

Shelton tells a tale of difficulty and heartache, to be sure, but she also infuses it with hope and the promise of better things to come, much like the biblical story of the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. That thread of hope is what kept me turning the pages. I desperately wanted to see some reconciliation for Charlotte, Gracey, Francine, and Joanna. I wanted to see beauty come from ashes. (Does it? Go get the book and read for yourself – no spoilers here.)

Tina Shelton has earned a place on my authors to watch list with her debut novel. I can’t wait to see what stories she has yet to tell!

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from JustRead Publicity Tours. I was not required to write a review. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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About the Author

Tina Shelton

Tina Shelton is registrar at Chicago Theological Seminary and a pastor in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church. She is also the mother of two young adults, and loves walking, working out, and traveling with her family. This is her first novel.

Connect with Tina by following her on Instagram @ts_walking

Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will win a signed copy of This Ain’t No Promised Land and several book-related goodies, including a friendship bracelet, a mini journal, a pen, and a prayer tin.

This Ain't No Promised Land JustRead Tours giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight March 18, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 25, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

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Book Review and Giveaway: Reap the Wind by Joel Burcat

Joel Burcat
Action-Adventure / Suspense / Climate Change / EcoThriller
Publisher: Milford House Press, an imprint of Sunbury Books, Inc.
Date of Publication: February 6, 2024
Number of Pages: 215 pages
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Reap the Wind is a thrilling action/adventure novel that follows three lawyers as they embark on a treacherous journey from Houston to Cincinnati during a catastrophic hurricane. Josh Goldberg is on a mission to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their child. Along the way, they’ll face terrifying obstacles like tornadoes, hailstorms, and driving rain. But the real danger may come from within as they struggle to survive each other’s company. His two travel companions—his best friend, a drug-addicted lawyer, and his conniving boss who has her own agenda.

Don’t miss out on this unforgettable odyssey that might just be a suicide trip.

“Reap the Wind is a bold, bracing and blisteringly original take on the legal thriller form. Joel Burcat has fashioned a seminal tale focusing on the nightmare of all road trips in which a storm raging outside the car is matched only by the storm raging within. Burcat dares to tread on the hallowed ground of John Grisham and Scott Turow and ends up blazing a fresh, daring literary tale of his own. Not to be missed!”

—Jon Land, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

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I hesitate to use the term “legal thriller” here. I normally associate that genre with crime, mystery, the suspense of figuring out whodunnit and seeing justice done. I’d call Reap the Wind more of a suspenseful road trip buddy (anti-buddy?) read with a legal background.

Josh Goldberg is an environmental lawyer, doing legal work for big corporations. He’s in Houston for a conference his firm is putting on for bigwigs in the oil and gas industry. His fiancee, Keisha Jones, who is eight months pregnant, has traveled with him. Although they’ve been together for some time, they’ve never gotten married – perhaps there are doubts on one side or the other? Joel is starting to question whether the legal work he’s doing is really on the side of right, and whether his clients really are contributing to climate change.

An unseasonable and unusually strong November hurricane is moving into Houston, and Keisha decides she’d prefer to be close to home in case her baby decides to come a little early. But flying in inclement weather is always a dicey choice, and she ends up stranded at the Cincinnati airport. After she passes out there, she finds herself in a small Kentucky hospital, where the OB/GYN on call is none other than her former boyfriend, the super-hot (and super persistent) Anthony Sudor. Once he hears about Keisha’s medical concerns (and the fact that hot med guy is her doctor for the time being), nothing will do but that Josh find a way to get to that hospital. In a hurricane. A literal, big-a$$ hurricane. His drug-addicted lawyer friend Geoff comes along for the ride, and his dragon lady boss Diane horns in on the trip as well. But Diane needs to get to Philadelphia, not Cincinnati or some podunk Kentucky hospital, and she’s determined that her agenda will control.

Y’all, I am from a hurricane state. I don’t even like to drive in regular rain, much less the over-the-top weather our trio of travelers was facing here. Reading this road trip adventure had me stressed to the max. I just knew they were going to get creamed by a flying eighteen-wheeler, or get blown off a bridge, or get sucked up by a tornado, or something. I was practically screaming in my head, “WHY DID Y’ALL NOT JUST STAY PUT IN THE NICE HOTEL?!” And if Keisha was so concerned about being close to home to birth her baby, why did she go to the conference?! AGGGGGGGGGH.

The road trip itself was a knuckle-biter. The weather was atrocious. Almost everything that could go wrong, did. From crazy high winds to tornadoes to predatory teenage girls in a small-town diner, events conspire against our hero making it to his lady love at all, much less before her baby arrives! If Joel Burcat intended the reader to be on the edge of their seat, he did a masterful job of it. I wanted to scream at all the characters for their bone-headed choices, but I couldn’t put the book down, either!

And honestly, none of the characters were really, truly likable. Some (I’m looking at you, Diane) were more dislikable than others. I did want to see Joel and his fellow travelers reach their destination safely – I didn’t want anyone not to make it to the end of the book. But Joel was an idiot for driving in a hurricane, Geoff couldn’t quit with the drugs, Diane was a raging harpy in designer clothes, and Hot Doctor Anthony was probably violating a number of ethical rules with his unrelenting romantic pursuit of Keisha while she was under his medical care.

Still and all, Reap the Wind certainly kept me engaged and entertained, even if I sometimes wanted to fling it across the room because poor choices were made. The ending went about the only way it could have, and as real life often is, it was part not what was hoped for, and part satisfactory. I give it a solid four stars.
Keep on scrolling to enter the giveaway!
Joel Burcat is an award-winning author of three environmental legal thrillers: Drink to Every Beast (illegal dumping of toxic waste), Amid Rage (a coal mine permit battle), and Strange Fire (a fracking dispute). His most recent book, Reap the Wind, is about three lawyers trying to drive from Houston to Cincinnati in a climate change-induced hurricane.
He has received a number of awards, including the Gold Medal for environmental fiction from Readers’ Favorite for Strange Fire, and as a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Amid Rage. He has written numerous short stories. Burcat imbues his novels with facts to educate his readers about critical environmental issues while they are being entertained by the story.
Burcat’s books are infused with realism developed over a forty plus year career as an environmental lawyer.
Signed copy of REAP THE WIND
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 03/15/24)
Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Suspense, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review and Blog Tour: Mercy and Grace by Anoop Judge

Book: Mercy and Grace

Author: Anoop Judge

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Pub Day: September 19, 2023

Buy Link(s):
Barnes and Noble


From India to America, a woman’s search for family, home, and self becomes a journey of secrets and forgiveness in a powerful novel by the author of No Ordinary Thursday . At twenty-one years old, Gia Kumari finally leaves the Delhi orphanage where she was raised. With few prospects for the future, she receives an unexpected invitation from a stranger named Sonia Shah in San Francisco—an internship at Sonia’s weddings and events company. Gia and America. It’s love at first sight as she navigates an unfamiliar but irresistible new world of firsts. It’s Gia’s first real job; her first meeting with her only known family, her uncle Mohammed Khan; and her first romance with Sonia’s quirky yet charming stepson, Adi. But it might be too good to be true. Gia’s newfound happiness is unfolding in the shadow of a terrible family secret, the impact of which is still being felt in a place Gia now calls home. To save what matters most, Gia must come to terms with a tragic past she’s only beginning to understand—and a lifetime of lies she must learn to forgive.

This story unfolds in two timelines. In the early 1990s, Shaumya and Hassan’s wedding day arrives. It should be a day of celebration. But Shaumya is Hindu, and Hassan, Muslim. They are torn apart by the conflict between the two cultures, and all that is left of Shaumya’s dreams of wedded bliss is Hassan’s child.

In the current day, Gia Kumari’s life is about to change. She’s grown up at the Mercy and Grace orphanage, and the day has finally come where she’s aged out. The sisters tell her it is time for her to leave. She has an uncle in America, and when she gets an unexpected job offer in San Francisco, where her uncle lives, she figures he’s pulled some strings. Sonia Shah, her new boss, is somewhat distant and cold, but Gia loves her job. She loves America. She’s getting to know her uncle and his family. She has her first boyfriend. Life is good, until the past Gia never knew comes to light. Can she forgive what she sees as grievous wrongs done to her?

Y’all know I love a good dual timeline story. Anoop Judge brings the past forward through flashbacks, so we have that here. I wasn’t an orphan, but I was adopted, so I could relate a little to Gia’s longing to know her roots, where she came from, who her people were.

I really liked Gia as a character. She was generally optimistic and not afraid of hard work or a challenge. But bless her heart, sometimes she can’t keep her mouth shut when she should. She lets information out at times and in situations where it could cost the company business and could cost her her job. (Is she morally right even if it isn’t good business sense? I’ll let you read the book and decide.) She had a very strong sense of right and wrong, and she wasn’t afraid to stand up for it.

My only complaint about the story is that it felt like some events unfolded too fast. Gia’s romance with Adi moved super fast, it seemed. Was that due to her lack of experience with boys? Possibly. But it was almost insta-romance. The resolution of the conflict felt like it happened pretty quickly, too. If I were in Gia’s shoes, I might have had to wrestle with the unexpected revelations a little longer.

All in all, this is a beautifully written story, and Gia is a character you can cheer for. And when secrets are brought into the light, even if there is pain, there can also be healing and restoration.

Thanks to WOW! Women on Writing for an advance copy. I was not obligated to write a review. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Check out other stops on the tour!

About the author:

Born and raised in New Delhi, Anoop is the author of four novels, THE RUMMY CLUB which won the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award, THE AWAKENING OF MEENA RAWAT, an excerpt of which was nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize, NO ORDINARY THURSDAY, and MERCY and GRACE. 

Her essays and short stories have appeared in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Rigorous Journal, Lumiere Review, DoubleBack Review, and the Ornament anthology, among others. 

Anoop calls herself a “recovering litigator” —she worked in state and federal courts for many years before she replaced legal briefs with fictional tales. She holds an MFA from St. Mary’s College of California and was the recipient of the 2021 Advisory Board Award and the 2023 Alumni Scholarship. 

She lives in Pleasanton, California, with her husband, and is the mother of two admirable young adults.

You can find her online at: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Contemporary Fiction, WOW! Women on Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Library Murders by Merryn Allingham

Book: The Library Murders
Author: Merryn Allingham
Pub Day: February 20, 2024 
Buy Link: Amazon

Book Description:

Bookshop owner and amateur detective Flora Steele and her fiancé, crime writer Jack Carrington, discover words can kill as they solve their most puzzling case yet…

It’s a sunny morning in Abbeymead as Flora cycles through the village and knocks on the door of the local library, planning to deliver a gift to librarian Maud Frobisher to mark her retirement. But Flora is shocked when she finds Maud slumped in the corner, and even more startled when she recognises the man holding the murder weapon – an enormous hardback book.

Flora’s known Lowell Gracey since her college days, but what is he doing working for Maud and now the main suspect in her murder? Suspicion mounts when Flora and Jack discover that Lowell is heavily in debt, and that a priceless rare first edition has recently gone missing, but Lowell is adamant that he’s innocent, and Flora believes him.

The pair are once more drawn into an investigation, but who would kill a beloved librarian?Perhaps Rose Lawson, a mysterious newcomer to Abbeymead known to be in dire financial straits? Or pompous bestselling author Felix Wingrave, who rumours say would do anything to get his hands on a valuable book for his collection?

Then the village is rocked by the discovery of a second body. Flora and Jack realise a vital clue lies in the pages of a novel – but the plot is thickening and the killer is closing in…

Flora and Jack are determined to solve this fiendish case by the book – but will this be the end of their story?

A completely page-turning and addictive cozy crime mystery. Fans of Agatha Christie, Faith Martin and Joy Ellis will adore this unputdownable series!

Jack has been roped into serving as an organizer of a crime writers’ conference coming to Abbeymead, of all places. Basil Webb, who runs the Dirk and Dagger Society, has high hopes for the conference. Jack isn’t thrilled about his role in it, but Flora hopes she’ll turn a tidy profit selling books by participating authors. Things turn ugly, though, when Flora finds family friend and librarian Maud Frobisher coshed in the head in the mobile library van. One possible clue is the open safe in the van, with the rare first edition it had presumably held gone.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I just love Merryn Allingham’s Flora Steele series. I adore the Abbeymead setting. I feel like the residents are old friends, and every new book gives me a chance to catch up with them. Maud’s death hurt my heart, I tell you.

And who would have wanted her dead? The first edition she had was presumably worth a lot of money, and as the story unfolds, Allingham gives us several possible suspects who might have been willing to kill to make a profit. The police focus on Lowell Gracey, though. He’s an old school friend of Flora’s who’s been working with Maud. Since he’s found in the mobile van with a heavy, bloodied book in his hand, the evidence does seem stacked against him. Flora isn’t convinced of his guilt, and it’s here that she and Jack disagree.

Unlike previous books where Flora and Jack work together to solve the mystery, Lowell’s presence and status as number one suspect pushes them apart. They each approach the mystery here from different angles, and as it happens, those different lines of inquiry bring them back to working together before the end of the book.

Other than the mystery, there’s a lot in this book! Charlie Teague is growing up and engaging in surprising new pursuits. Flora’s friends are gung-ho to plan her wedding to Jack. And Flora and Jack both receive unexpected and interesting news that could impact their future together. (I didn’t say it would be a negative impact!) With all those threads plus a solution to the crime that I didn’t see coming right away, this was another delightful visit to Abbeymead. Maybe we’ll be going to a wedding in the next book in the series!

Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for an advance copy. I was not obligated to write a review. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the author:

Merryn taught university literature for many years, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to begin writing herself. Bringing the past to life is a passion and her historical fiction includes Regency romances, wartime sagas and timeslip novels, all of which have a mystery at their heart. As the books have grown darker, it was only a matter of time before she plunged into crime with a cosy crime series set in rural Sussex against the fascinating backdrop of the 1950s.

Merryn lives in a beautiful old town in Sussex with her husband and one last cat, Bluebell. When she’s not writing, she tries to keep fit with adult ballet classes and plenty of walking.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Book Review and Blog Tour: The Sapphire Daughter by Soraya Lane

Book: The Sapphire Daughter

Author: Soraya Lane

Pub Day: March 8, 2024

Buy Link(s):

Book Description:

The Sapphire Daughter: A completely gripping and emotional page-turner (The Lost Daughters Book 4)

Lake Geneva, 1951: Delphine looked up at Florian, her fingers grazing his cheek as she pressed her mouth to his, the sapphire tiara sparkling beside them. “Yes,” she whispered against his lips. “I will marry you. If you can find a way, then I promise you. I will marry you.”

London, present day. Georgia holds the rare pink sapphire in her hands, watching it glitter in the morning light. It was left for her at Hope’s House, a home for unmarried mothers whose babies were adopted. But how is it connected to the secrets of her family’s complicated history?

Georgia tries to forget about the sapphire, her heart too bruised by past hurts. But when she discovers the gemstone was part of a priceless tiara owned by the Italian royal family, she is drawn in by the mystery surrounding it. Her only way of finding answers is to travel to Lake Geneva to meet with the man who inherited the stunning tiara from his grandfather.

When she arrives at the breathtaking lakeside city, handsome Luca tells her he’s been searching for the missing stone for years and is eager to piece together how it arrived at Hope’s House. As they spend sun-drenched days together, Georgia and Luca grow closer and uncover the passionate, forbidden love story of Delphine and Florian, whose tragic romance forced Delphine to make a heartbreaking decision with devastating consequences…

As Georgia comes to terms with the decades-old secret, will it shatter everything she thought she knew about herself? Or will Delphine’s courage inspire her to open up her own heart and build a new life with Luca?

A completely gripping and escapist read about family mysteries and true love that lasts a lifetime, that will leave you spellbound. The perfect read for fans of Lucinda Riley, Victoria Hislop and Santa Montefiore.

This novel can be enjoyed as a standalone.

I didn’t realize this book was part of a series. It reads fine as a standalone, but now I’d like to get to know the other characters and see how their stories connect.

The story unfolds in two timelines. In 1951, Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Delphine is trapped in a loveless marriage. When she meets Florian, love grows, but a public relationship seems impossible. Love will find a way, though. Sadly, before that happens, tragedy strikes, and the only tangible proof of their love is the child Delphine carries – a child she cannot keep.

In modern-day London, Georgia is a successful businesswoman. She receives a summons to a law office, where she is given a small box that was found at a place called Hope’s House. What’s the connection between her family and a home for unwed mothers? The mystery deepens when Georgia opens the box to find a valuable pink sapphire, one that’s been missing for years from a tiara formerly owned by the Italian royal family. Her efforts to learn the stone’s history lead her to Switzerland and to Luca, the man whose family has been in possession of the tiara for decades.

I love a good dual-timeline story! Delphine’s story was beautiful but tragic. Georgia’s story offered the possibility of hope, something good to come from the pain of the past. Soraya Lane’s writing style just pulled me into the pages, and if I didn’t want to visit Switzerland before, I certainly do now!

At its heart, this is a story about love. The love between a man and a woman. The love a mother has for her children, choosing to preserve the life her existing children know and choosing to give her unborn child a chance at a better, happier life. I was adopted as an infant, and I’ve met both sides of my birth family. My heart ached for the choice Delphine was compelled to make, even knowing she was doing the best she knew to do under difficult circumstances and making that decision out of love for all her children. And I loved the discovery Georgia made about her family. Sometimes family secrets can bring happy surprises!

This may have been the first of Soraya Lane’s books that I read, but it won’t be the last. Highly recommended if you enjoy a dual-timeline story, an engaging mystery, family found, and sweet romance.

Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for an advance copy. I was not obligated to write a review. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the author:

Soraya Lane graduated with a law degree before realising that law wasn’t the career for her and that her future was in writing. She is the author of historical and contemporary women’s fiction, including the #1 Kindle bestselling novels The Last Correspondent and The Secrets We Left Behind.

Soraya lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two young sons and a collection of four-legged friends. When she’s not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading.

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Word of the Week: March 11, 2024

Word of the Week: a bookish meme hosted here on Mondays in which we share a word that we find entertaining, enlightening, edifying, or just plain fun to say! Share your own word on your blog, then help me grow the meme and come share it here on mine!

This week’s word isn’t a singular word, but rather a whole bunch of them!

I was writing a review for a private eye mystery set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, and I was looking for some good synonyms for words. I came across this collection of hard-boiled slang from Classic Crime Fiction. Such fun! And it’s handy to keep in mind if you ever come across a word in the genre that you can’t quite make sense of. From “bang-tail” to “bean-shooter,” from “crash out” to “flop house,” these words can definitely liven up a review of a noir fiction book.

What do you think of this list?

Got a word? Share it below. Then share the meme to help it grow!

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Book Review and Blog Tour: Kilt Trip by Alexandra Kiley


Alexandra Kiley

On Sale Date: March 5, 2024

Publisher: Canary Street Press

Books A Million

About the book:

For fans of Emily Henry and Sarah Morgenthaler comes a brand-new Scotland-set romantic comedy. In this enemies-to-lovers romance, one woman discovers more than the just the magic of the heartland’s lochs and landscapes—but not before clashing with the proud Scotsman she’s forced to work with.

Addie Macrae has always followed her wanderlust. As a travel consultant, she turns struggling businesses into world-class tour groups. Her job comes with the perk of jetsetting around the globe, which means never being in one place for too long—just the way she likes it. Since her mom passed away ten years ago and her father never stopped grieving, no place has felt like home anyway. But when she’s sent on assignment to help a family-run tour group in Scotland—the one place she swore she’d never go—Addie has to shed her emotional baggage and turn on the professional charm.

Logan Sutherland’s family business is operating just fine, thank you very much. The Heart of the Highlands was never meant to make the family rich, rather to teach sightseers to appreciate the beauty of Scotland’s hidden gems, which are more captivating than any tourist trap. The last thing Logan wants is some American “expert” pushing Outlander-themed tours and perpetuating myths about the Loch Ness Monster. And for a travel consultant, Addie oddly doesn’t seem interested in learning about the land Logan loves. Equally put off by each other, the new colleagues clash on every company decision.

Then Logan discovers Addie does have a personal connection to Scotland—it was her late mother’s favorite place, one that now lives on in a handful of faded Polaroids Addie kept from her parents’ Honeymoon. She wants to seek out the places in the pictures, but is worried that she’s too late to capture the wonder of following in her mother’s footsteps. Logan is convinced he can help Addie get some closure, and the two realize, when they agree, they actually work pretty well together. 

But Addie’s contract with The Heart is almost up, and the business is still losing money. They can’t afford distractions, but there’s no denying the intense chemistry between Addie and Logan. Besides, how can Addie do her job properly if she hasn’t explored all Scotland has to offer?

Addie Macrae is a travel consultant. Her current assignment: go to Scotland to help The Heart of the Highlands restructure itself to turn a profit. She’s always avoided Scotland, but this time, it’s her job to go. Logan Sutherland sees no need to revamp what his family business does, thankyouverymuch. He’s proud of the tours he provides – tours that give visitors a taste of the genuine Scotland, not just a gander at the most popular tourist spots. Logan and Addie meet and hit it off under false pretenses, and when he learns that “Heather” from his tour is actually Addie come to turn The Heart upside down, sparks of an entirely different kind fly.

This is an enemies-to-lovers romance that’s a lot of fun to read! Alexandra Kiley writes Scotland in a way that makes it feel like you’re there. I’ve never been, but I’d love to go, and if Logan Sutherland was an actual tour guide, I’d pay good money for one of his tours. I felt like I was learning about Scotland as I read, and I enjoyed that.

The banter and snark between Addie and Logan is fast and furious, and while Logan acknowledges his feelings first, they both fall pretty quick. But they can’t seem to act on those feelings because of their frustrations: Addie that Logan can’t see she wants to help The Heart, and Logan that Addie won’t see past her numbers and ideas to the real beauty of Scotland that he tries to offer on his tours. They finally agree to keep an open mind about the other’s perspective. And when Logan creates a tour for Addie that’s designed to help her connect real places to the faded Polaroids of her mother that she carries, the distance between them starts to lessen.

When the romance finally happens, it’s pretty spicy. There is some on-page adult action that’s more than I usually care to read, but it didn’t really detract much from my overall enjoyment of the book. What did make me want to scream was Addie’s wishy-washyness (is that a word? Sure, it is. I said so). Logan would bare his heart and do his best to be assured that she was equally as committed, she’d talk a good game, and then bam. She’d retreat again, leaving Logan hanging. I get it. Her experience with how her father handled his grief over her mother’s death deeply impacted her. But she was flip-flopping like a beached fish, and it almost made me give up on the book.

I’m glad I didn’t, though. If you’re reading and you find yourself struggling to get past Addie’s antics, if your heart just hurts for Logan, don’t give up. The story resolves in delightful fashion, and you’ll be glad you stuck it out! And bonus points for a man in a kilt.

Thanks to Harlequin Trade Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy. I was not obligated to write a review. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the author:

Alexandra Kiley writes big-hearted romances full of banter, found-family, and deep love. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking tea, hiking, or gazing adoringly at the mountains of Colorado where she lives with her husband and two kids. Her novels are inspired by her semester in Scotland where she fell in love with not only the lush and magical land, but also the people who invited her into their homes and made her feel like family.

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