"All Our Dark Secrets" by Martyn Ford

 


DESCRIPTION AS ON AMAZON:

He’d do anything to protect his wife. But what if that meant making the biggest mistake of all?

James Casper is one of the good guys. A DEA agent. A loyal husband. With his sights set on the man at the top of the city’s opioid crisis, James is about to make the biggest bust of his career.

Then his beloved wife Rosie does something terrible, and James must choose: report it—or help her. He knows how this works, and he tells himself he’s smart enough to get away with murder. But James’s worst enemy knows what they have done—and he won’t hesitate to use it to manipulate him.

James is dragged into a dark and dangerous world. As events spiral and loyalties are tested, he realizes there’s only one way out. And that is to be even more ruthless than the people he’s working for.

Whatever happens, no matter how far he falls, at least he’ll still have Rosie.

Won’t he?




I started this book and thought I wouldn't enjoy it. The clunky, convoluted beginning crashed into a horrifying moment at the end of the second chapter. By chapter six, I didn't want to put it down. Now, disbelief needs suspension to get through some of it, but it's a rollercoaster of misdeeds and poor luck ridden by some insane characters. I had to see how James could manipulate each more hideous situation to come out on top. Some of the violence is pretty graphic. I have to say, I had nagging feelings about James's wife from the beginning, and there was no effort to change my mind or make me doubt my original opinion as the story progressed. I was dead sure one of them would have to kill the other before the end of the book. Of all the things that happened, once the snag arose with James's partner nearing the finale, I could not feel the same way about the book anymore. No, he could have stopped that; he could have changed the outcome, but he didn't. The inconclusive last few pages left me feeling adrift on emotion. I need to know what happened. Fact. Final. What the heck did I just read? I didn't like the wishy-washy conclusion. 


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"Christmas in Newbury" by Regina Morris

 


DESCRIPTION AS ON AMAZON:

It is obvious to Melanie that James is uneasy around his daughter, isn't finding the town charming, and doesn't feel any Christmas spirit. She's plenty attracted to James, but will this city mouse really be interested in a country mouse? As James discovers lost family members, the warmth of a small community spirit, and the compassion from his daughter's nanny, he develops a stronger sense of family and his romantic feelings for Melanie grow.

He decides he must keep the factory running, and after buying Melanie's artwork at the local Christmas auction, she has renewed interest in her studies. The two search for the perfect Christmas gift for each other while trying to save the factory, which leads to a Christmas miracle.




James has everything he could wish for, but he doesn't know what to do with a baby - the product of a brief affair that ends up on his doorstep. Lucky for him, his father sends him to Newbury, where he hires Melanie as a nanny. He discovers his familial roots and warms to the town. The story is mild; there's not much tension or chemistry between the main characters. I think it could benefit from editing. A large portion of the story involves daily minutiae.  Although it's a predictable wealthy boss and poor employee romance, the tale's end provides resolutions. Melanie's connection with the baby was the sweetest part of the story.





"I Close My Eyes" by Regina Puckett

 


DESCRIPTION AS ON AMAZON:

The last thing The Duke of Greystone wants is a wife, until The Lady Jane Blackmore seeks out his quiet corner of Earl Braxton’s ballroom. But there she stands, attempting to shut out the rest of the world by simply closing her eyes, but the duke understands better than most that life is never that simple.

The last thing Jane wants is a husband, until she opens her eyes to find the scarred and much too handsome stranger secluded in her chosen quiet corner. Why can’t the obstinate man understand she just needs a brief moment of solitude before returning to face her tormentors? But no matter how many times she tells him to go away, he remains. So is it her fault that her father misunderstands the young duke’s intentions?

Whilst marriage isn’t on Phillip—as she learns the duke is called—or Jane’s mind, when society’s trials and tribulations come, they soon become each other’s touchstone, and by it discover that joy is tantalisingly within their grasp, although others seem intent on thwarting their every wish.


I liked Jane and Phillip. He rescued her from her oppressive and terrorizing father and stepmother. She saved him from his choice not to love and have children. The author was able to convey their chemistry without overt sexual content. I didn't really understand why so many people were "out to get" Jane. I also thought Phillip gave up his vow not to have children without much thought. Also, he disappeared at one point without explanation until later on. Viola's fate felt lacking, and I was disappointed in how that played out. The ending was touching and sweet. This story entertained enough that I read the story in one sitting. 



"How To Flirt With Women" by Ray Asher

 


DESCRIPTION AS ON AMAZON:

How To Flirt With Any Woman Successfully – The Ultimate Guide

Are you happy with your dating life?

Are you craving for female attention and sex, but not getting them?

Do you secretly feel unattractive because of some rejections you've faced in the past?

If you want to stop all these in your life, then keep reading…

Research shows that most women – even those who appear tough – are secretly looking for romance.

But no matter how you look like, how much money you have, or how muscular your body is…if you don't know how to flirt with women, you'll appear as:

  • Needy
  • Desperate
  • Boring
  • Lacking social intelligence
  • Simply …unattractive.

Flirting is the art of small talk. It includes a lot of playfulness, smooth conversation skills, and high social intelligence. In fact, with the right words, right tonality, and right "approach" – you can make ANY woman highly attracted to you.

In this book, Ray Asher will show you how to flirt like a pro.

Ray Asher used to be an introverted teenager who didn’t have the courage to approach girls. He started dating a girl he liked in college – only to find she was cheating on him regularly. His pain drove him to go out every night and day, speak with women, and discover what makes them attracted. After thousands of rejections, a few "friends with benefits" and lots of notes – he discovered the power of flirting, and decided to share his knowledge with any men who wishes to become good with women.





When reading this book, I found much of its information and advice repetitive. Most of it is common sense. There are a few confidence boosters and sympathetic stories of flirting gone wrong worth reading. But, it could definitely be reduced to a much shorter 'guide.' Reading the same things over and over again grows annoying, for example: is she facing you or away from you? If she's facing you, she may be interested. 




"A Familiar Sight" by Brianna Labuskes

 



DESCRIPTION AS ON AMAZON:

Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history is often overlooked: Gretchen is an admitted sociopath once suspected of killing her aunt. Shaughnessy still thinks Gretchen got away with murder. It’s not going to happen again.

When a high-profile new case lands on Shaughnessy’s desk, it seems open and shut. Remorseless teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother. Amid stories of childhood horrors and Viola’s cruel manipulations, the bad seed has already been found guilty by a rapt public. But Gretchen might be seeing something in Viola no one else does: herself.

If Viola is a scapegoat, then who really did it? And what are they hiding? To find the truth, Gretchen must enter a void that is not only dark and cold-blooded, but also frighteningly familiar.





I was stuck between 3 and four stars for this book. The characters' real stories, once revealed, shocked, amazed, and horrified me. The way the author chose to uncover the secrets proved distracting and meandering. The timeline jumped around instead of being straight forward. Dr. Gretchen White annoyed most of the time, and hinted that we should feel sorry for her because she'd been falsely accused of murder as a child, but then she'd never admit that to be fact. She rambled on too many occasions defining the characteristics of empaths, sociopaths, and psycopaths and where they fall on spectrums of behaviors. We get it already. Explaining she would or wouldn't say or do something as pertaining to her diagnosis as a sociopath became tedious. Tess, Reed, Claire, and Ainsley's story grew clouded by this, and their tale was what kept me reading the book. It could have been cut way down, eliminating all these narratives explaining thoughts and behaviors and been a much better, shorter, more engaging and harder to put down novel.


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'A Killer's Wife' by Victor Methos


DESCRIPTION AS ON AMAZON

Fourteen years ago, prosecutor Jessica Yardley’s husband went to prison for a series of brutal murders. She’s finally created a life with her daughter and is a well-respected attorney. She’s moving on. But when a new rash of homicides has her ex-husband, Eddie, written all over them—the nightmares of her past come back to life.

The FBI asks Jessica to get involved in the hunt for this copycat killer—which means visiting her ex and collaborating with the man who tore her life apart.

As the copycat’s motives become clearer, the new life Jessica created for herself gets darker. She must ask herself who she can trust and if she’s capable of stopping the killer—a man whose every crime is a bloody valentine from a twisted mastermind she’s afraid she may never escape.








Wow! I wanted to LOVE this book. So many possibilities, so many thrilling aspects. If you can ignore the fact that all the legal matters were handled in a way that would never happen, you still have to believe that this brilliant woman was duped in her personal life more than once and with the same horrific consequences. The main character was a tough cookie, annd yet when forced into a corner that could have ended in kill or be killed, she couldn't pull the trigger? The final twist was a bit too much for me; it dulled the last of the shine. I understand this character was painted as a genius, but still, I couldn't fathom it happening. If the second bad guy wasn't written into the main character's life the way he was, and the final twist had been written differently, I would have enjoyed it far more. This author has entertained me with other works. This one seemed stretched too far, but I will continue to read his novels.


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"A Cowboy and His Neghbor" by Emmy Eugene

 



Description As On Amazon:

Best friends and neighbors shouldn't share a kiss...Jenna Wright grew up next-door to Chestnut Ranch and the five Johnson brothers. Her older brother was best friends with Seth Johnson, and Jenna may or may not have had a crush on the handsome cowboy in her younger years.It was a long time ago, she tells herself.Now that she's divorced and back in town, she definitely has eyes for her best friend.Will he ever notice her?Jenna reasons that he's busy with his ranch and his dog rescue operation. They had an Edible Neighborhood project they were working until funding became a problem, and when Seth learns he's inherited over two billion dollars from his mother's half of a family cosmetic empire, he rushes to tell Jenna they can now fund the Edible Neighborhood. He wasn't supposed to kiss her. It was an accident, he tells himself. But Seth's own feelings roar to the surface, and he can't ignore them.Where did those come from?Can best friends and next-door neighbors Seth and Jenna navigate their rocky pasts to find a future happily-ever-after together?







A lot of things in this book didn't quite ring true to the characters. Why didn't Seth's mother spend some of their money to make her and her husband's lives a little easier? Why did the sons have to spread themselves even thinner trying to keep up with their yard work and house chores? The inheritance portion of the story was my least favorite angle. The two main characters could be interesting at times. The dog rescue was one of my favorite highlights since I am a big supporter of animal welfare. I enjoy a good story without sexual content, but the way these two fell for eachother seemed juvenile considering they were older and previously married. Although it passed the time, I can't say I'd strongly recommend it, and I don't think I'll read the next book. 

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"Open House" by Katie Sise

 


DESCRIPTION:
A decade ago in upstate New York, art student Emma McCullough walked into the woods and was never seen again. It’s a mystery that still haunts her bucolic university town and her broken family, especially her sister, Haley, whose need for closure has become an obsession. But now, finally, the first piece of evidence in the vanishing has been found: Emma’s bracelet, lodged in a frozen piece of earth at the bottom of a gorge. For Emma’s three best college friends, for a beloved former teacher, and for Haley, the chilling trinket is more than a clue in a resurrected cold case. It’s a trigger.

Then a woman is attacked during an open house, and the connections between the two crimes, ten winters apart, begin to surface. So do the secrets that run as deep and dark as the currents in this quiet river town.


It took several chapters to get into this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it. The base of it is good; once you brush off all the stuff thrown at you to distract and confuse. I felt overwhelmed by the number of turns the author took to get to the truth. I also found the final extra twist about the sister's disappearance a little hard to believe because the author hadn't sufficiently shaded the perpetrator in a way that made me accept their actions. I enjoyed the second half of the book better than the first. The jumping around in time was somewhat jarring, and the epilogue disappointed me some.





"The Next Wife" by Kaira Rouda

 


DESCRIPTION:
Kate Nelson had it all. A flourishing company founded with her husband, John; a happy marriage; and a daughter, Ashlyn. The picture-perfect family. Until John left for another woman. Tish is half his age. Ambitious. She’s cultivated a friendship with Ashlyn. Tish believes she’s won.

She’s wrong.

Tish Nelson has it all. Youth, influence, a life of luxury, and a new husband. But the truth is, there’s a lot of baggage. Namely, his first wife—and suspicions of his infidelity. After all, that’s how she got John. Maybe it’s time for a romantic getaway, far from his vindictive ex. If Kate plans on getting John back, Tish is one step ahead of her.

She thinks.

But what happens next is something neither Kate nor Tish saw coming. As best-laid plans come undone, there’s no telling what a woman will do in the name of love—and revenge.






There is a thin line between love and hate. Tish loves money, and if she can't hold on to the man that provides it, then watch out. An Older man with a mid-life crisis thinks he's found his soulmate in a woman young enough to be his daughter. Problem: He has a wife who doesn't understand him or appreciate him, and they fight all the time after building a company and raising a daughter together. Of course, the younger woman will win, right? But, it's not easy being the next wife. This book set me up to dislike characters, feel sorry for others, and think they are weak to discover that they are not weak but diabolical. I admit, I had figured out the secrets before the end of the book, but I liked how the author revealed them at the end. I enjoyed this story and will keep an eye out for other work by this author. 


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"Pure Trash: The Story" by Bette A. Stevens

 


DESCRIPTION:
It's PURE TRASH (Historical Fiction/short story), a Compelling Prequel to the novel DOG BONE SOUP. The year is 1955. Remember the Good Old Days? You know, the 1950s and ‘60s, when America was flying high. The All American Family lived a life filled with hopes and dreams and life’s necessities too. Shawn Daniels isn’t your typical American Boomer Boy. No, Shawn is a poor boy. He can’t join Boy Scouts or sports teams. There’s not even enough money for necessities. Besides, Shawn doesn’t have time for that. But when chores are done, there’s always fishing!
In this short story, Shawn and Willie Daniels are off on a Saturday adventure in search of trash to turn into treasure. It is going to be a great day. Shawn is sure of it. No school and no bullies to remind him that he’s not one of the crowd. This is a story about bullies and what it’s like to be bullied (and not just by kids). It may redefine your definition of bullying. If you were a child who was thought of as “different” in some way, you know what bullying is about: torment, persecution, intimidation, to name a few of its synonyms. For Shawn and Willie, their difference was based upon the social status of a dysfunctional family and the alcoholism and abject poverty in which they grew up.

                                



Shawn and Willie's brotherly connection entertained and warmed my heart. They found joy in simple things, and even though they were poor, they tried to keep a positive attitude. The way they were treated by adults broke my heart, especially when a church member who kindly smiled at them turned to hateful comments and behavior when they needed her help. I enjoyed reading this short story from a time before my time.