'The Wild One (The De Montforte Brothers Book 1)' by Danelle Harmon: Book review by TMDG Reviews

I did finish this book, but I found it challenging. Gareth and his friends were over-the-top immature, and I couldn't read much more of their nonsense. Juliet, a personable and robust character, deserved much better. The Duke's smug all-knowing personality and constant manipulation of the plot annoyed. I will not continue the series. 

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'Tate: The Montana Marshalls - An Inspirational Romantic Suspense Family Series' by Susan May Warren: Book review by TMDG Reviews


I read the previous book, KNOX, and I enjoyed it. I looked forward to reading TATE because of how the author set up the action at the end of KNOX. This book is supposed to be about Glo and Tate. I liked Tate and had reserved Glo's judgment, but setting up the next (third) book in the series consumes much of this tale. Ford and Scarlett's situation and relationship take up much time. Also, because the author wants each book suitable to be read as a stand-alone, plenty of time is spent reiterating things that have already happened, people's thoughts and conversations. I didn't like the repetition. I don't think I will continue with the next book in the series. It feels like half a story that you need to purchase the next book to complete.

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'KNOX: The Montana Marshalls - An Inspirational Romantic Suspense Family Series' by Susan May Warren: Book review by TMDG Reviews


I scanned the description and downloaded the book, began reading, and got sucked into Knox's struggle to choose between the responsibility to keep his family's ranch going and the chance to fulfill his dreams. A strong, protective cowboy with possible regrets and a chance to build a new future. I sympathized with Kelsey's tragic past, and I cheered their sweet blossoming romance. The Marshall family seemed like old friends that you could call upon at any time. I appreciated the subtle religious references; it didn't feel preachy but comforting. Action boiled up frequently enough to keep the story moving and drive me to turn the pages. On a down note, some of the main characters' thoughts and phrases were repetitive. The girl band Kelsey belonged to, and the songs they sang seemed modeled after a real-life popular country group, an imitation more than something unique. A lot of time focused on building the backstory for another couple, Tate and Glo. By the end of this book, the author had drawn me into Knox's brother Tate's story, and partly because of curiosity and partly because of a cliffhanger, I wanted to read the next book. I downloaded it immediately. 

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"The Perfect Wife" by Blake Pierce


 In THE PERFECT WIFE (A Jessie Hunt Psychological Suspense Thriller—Book One), Criminal profiler-in-training Jessie Hunt is sure she's finally put the darkness of her childhood behind her. She and her husband, Kyle, just moved from a cramped downtown Los Angeles apartment into a Westport Beach mansion. Kyle's promotion has them swimming in money. And Jessie is on the verge of getting her Master's degree in forensic psychology, the last step in her dream of becoming a criminal profiler.

But soon after their arrival, Jessie begins to notice a series of strange developments. The neighbors—and their au pairs—all seem to be hiding secrets. The mysterious yacht club Kyle is desperate to join is rife with cheating spouses, and with troubling rules of its own. And the notorious serial killer being held at the psychiatric hospital where Jessie is completing her degree seems to know more about her life than is normal—or safe.

As her world starts to unravel, Jessie begins to question everything around her—including her own sanity. Has she truly uncovered a disturbing conspiracy buried within a sunny, wealthy Southern California beach town? Does the mass murderer she's studying really somehow know the origin of her private nightmares?

Or has her tortured past finally come back to claim her?

I have read a lot of "middle-of-the-road" books lately. I haven't found one that wowed me but hoped this would be it. It wasn't. Just as Jessie, the main character, feels a continual niggling that something isn't right, but she can't put her finger on it- so too, did I feel that way when reading the story. I kept thinking; I should like this more than I do, why don't I?  
It had elements lined up and capable of building a great tale, but everything and every person seemed superficial. I didn't know Jessie's husband enough to decide what kind of person he'd been before they'd moved or how he'd changed- other than Jessie's statements about how he'd changed. When he stays out at a nightclub instead of coming home for a planned dinner and fails even to call and inform Jessie that he wouldn't make it, and when she catches him using drugs, these actions are supposedly far out of character. The little community wrapped around a "yacht club" covering for prostitution felt too far-fetched. If even one wife knew what was going at that place, and all the wives gathered there for family-type functions mingling with these skimpily-clad "waitresses," I can't believe it. Not a single woman decided to cut her losses, divorce the husband, take half of everything, and escape that place? They all traded their dignity for some extra cash. Not acceptable. This whole plot point took up too much of the story, in my opinion. The backstory about her near-death experience and becoming a profiler, dealing with Crutchfield, were more interesting but less emphasized.
Two key facts were easily deduced. With the word "Junebug," I knew the relationship the serial killer of Jessie's past held with her. When Jessie woke up in the locked cabin with Natalia, I predicted how the rest of the story would play out. There wasn't enough foreshadowing of characters to make it plausible. A couple of short interrogations by Jessie about Kyle's past, and BOOM- this guy's deemed a maniac. She's a brilliant student who will be a top-notch profiler, but she lived with a guy for ten years and had no clues, no hints, no suspicions, NOTHING gave her pause about him.
The interviews with Crutchfield were way out there. I would accept that he'd known things about Jessie's past because he'd considered the serial killer who'd kidnapped her as a child his mentor, and he'd interacted with that person. I could not believe he'd take one look at her in the present and guess she was pregnant, or that she thought her husband cheated on her, or that she felt guilty about something she wasn't positive she'd done. 
I would describe this as a bundle of good ideas that could have been better if executed differently. I may read the next book in the series to see if it gets better, but I'm not chomping at the bit to get to it.

"Because She Loves Me" by Mark Edwards


I have read a few books by this author and enjoyed them. This story grabbed me initially, set me up to believe what the author wanted me to think- Charlie was bad. I didn't like the constant sexual scenes, claiming they were so in love after only a couple of weeks, planning to move in together after a month. Charlie's outrageously jealous, nearly criminal, and definitely unbalanced actions brushed under the rug because he loved her. But these acts were forgiven as "not that bad" at the end of the book. No- those behaviors were definitely warning signs. Not normal. Not to be ignored or explained away. I liked some of the plot twists, but in the end, there were too many, and I don't feel the villain was foreshadowed enough to make it acceptable. There were two people I could have accepted as the bad guy. Neither of them turned out to be it. I didn't guess who it was, which is usually a plus, but only when after revealed, I can say, "Oh yeah, now I can see it lined up all along, building towards the truth." The author told things in the final pages to explain why that person was the criminal mastermind, but better clues sprinkled throughout the book would have made a more significant impression.


"Girls of Brackenhill" by Kate Moretti


When Hannah goes back to Brackenhill because her aunt passes away, a long tale unwinds about her childhood, why she spent summers with her aunt and uncle, and the things that occurred while she lived in the castle. Parts of this book were consuming. I kept reading and gathering little facts thinking that eventually, it would all fall into place, and everything would make sense. That didn't happen, though. The beginning scene sent shivers up my spine, but by the time I'd reached the end, I'd forgotten the significance of that prologue. I didn't piece together who the unnamed parties of the murder were, and I didn't even care to go back and reread it to figure it out. There were things focused on I was sure would mean something later in the story that never amounted to much. Why did Hannah repeatedly stress the creepiness and malevolence of Reggie? To make him a suspect in later events? But he was never a suspect or fleshed out as a suspect. Just a jerk, a teenager who got another teenager pregnant? Why make a big deal about the girl being pregnant when she dies? Why didn't Fae question Hannah's statement that Julia was with a girl that had disappeared over a year ago if Fae had first-hand knowledge about what happened to her? Why did Hannah and Julia, sisters, not know they were both chasing the same boy all summer? As an engaged adult, why did Hannah fall into bed with Wyatt? As a teenager, he'd slept with Hannah and then kissed her sister, denied they had any relationship, and humiliated her in front of the town, making her look unhinged? If she were unhinged, it would have been terrific. But she had carried on an intimate relationship with this guy for more than one summer, and nobody knew about it. He refused to acknowledge the truth. Not a case of the old castle driving her insane, such as the whole plot suggested. Crazy Aunt Fae, a witch? Did the property drive her insane? No, grief over the loss of a daughter perhaps made her do something evil. I'm not sure if she did or she didn't. That act was suggested, hinted at, but not substantiated. And the biggest let down of all: What happened to Julia? If you had committed an act as heinous as Hannah thinks she uncovers a memory of doing in the last pages of the book and just put it out of your mind for seventeen years- yes, you'd have to be insane. But there was no closure in that either. Nobody believed what she confessed. No resolutions, no truth, no proof. 

"The Unspoken" by Ian K Smith


I thought I'd like this book based on the description, and as I started reading it. However, I quickly grew annoyed with the main character's, Ashe's constant assignment of the 'wise-ass' characteristic- self-proclaimed, and by everyone that interacted with him. Yes, he's so witty. Let's move on. The mystery of Tinsley's disappearance could have proved thrilling, but there were too many details of people, clothing, food, and settings. I prefer more action and less description. I enjoyed the banter between his and his love interest, though I found it difficult to believe she'd keep going out on a limb for him to help in his investigation whenever he asked - she was practically at his beck and call. The two subplots about a bully he encountered in his youth and the abusive priest's disturbing abduction didn't make sense. I didn't think they were necessary to the story, and there was no connection made by the author as to relevance to the plot. I kept thinking a thread would appear to weave it together, but no, it didn't.

"Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren" by John L. Fear, Robert Fear


A Legacy Memoir A Family Can Cherish Forever

I slowly read this book in small chunks at a time. Parts of it fascinated me while I found others less interesting. I especially liked reading about John's childhood, meeting his wife, and the role he played in broadcasting Billy Graham. I appreciate the time and effort put into this novel to encompass the details of John's life, and I think it will be an item more cherished by his family as a remembrance than any stranger could appreciate it. 

"If She Knew (A Kate Wise Mystery—Book 1)" by Blake Pierce


Kate Wise retired at 55. She's bored but has an opportunity to reenter the FBI.  I didn't mind hearing about her personal life, and it gave me a feeling of what kind of person she was. I didn't like her repetitive thoughts on retirement. The investigation moved very slowly. I didn't find the process completely believable, but it held my interest for a while... until the end. Typical, they catch a guy who seems to fit the bill, but is he the criminal? Do they have the right guy? Something doesn't feel right to Kate, and naturally, her instincts bring her to a different conclusion. Usually, a winning formula. But it failed in this attempt. The real killer had no motive. Sometimes I guess people are simply crazy. Sometimes murder doesn't make sense. But this came so far out of left field. Without background on the killer, his mindset, actions, or reasoning, I couldn't accept it. 

Hide Away (A Rachel Marin Thriller Book 1) by Jason Pinter


Rachel Marin rang too smart, strong, and annoying to be likable as the protagonist. I couldn't bring myself to believe she'd put herself in the many dangerous situations she had when swearing her children were her priority. The revelation of her violent criminal activity before her family's move to a new town with new identities dampened my sympathy for her. Insane knowledge of crimes without prior experience working in law enforcement in any capacity stretched me to the breaking point. The police not halting her interference until I nearly pulled my hair out didn't sit well. Also, the discrepancies of details proved troubling. Not the worst book I've ever read, but it felt more like the birthing of a vigilante superhero series than a thriller/detective series.

"Time's Pendulum Swings Again" by Joy M. Lilley


This story COULD have been a docu-drama following two people of different races and backgrounds that fell in love, the difficulties they faced - some of them self-imposed - and how they overcame these hurdles to be together at last: an okay read. However, overwhelming grammatical and punctuation errors, dreadful formatting, and use of the first and third-person narrative and the past and present tense simultaneously seriously hampered my reading enjoyment. With editing and proofreading, I may have rated it three stars. 

"A Sparrow Falls" by Vicki Olsen


 A story that took place in the 1950s on a farm that broke my heart. Sarah's introduction to the evils of the world fell at the hands of her older brother, and then her father. I wasn't sure how much more I could read about this poor girl's misery, and I couldn't believe the family had shunned the brother, but the father then committed even more horrible acts. The reader was led to suspect that Sarah's mother knew what her father had done and simply accepted it. It completely outraged me on her behalf, but at points, I felt annoyed with Sarah even after all she'd suffered - she wasn't an entirely sympathetic character. The author weaved more abuse tempered by small flashes of reprieves where Sarah found bits of happiness, until the conclusion where Sarah's life moved in a new direction. 
 A large portion of this story had to do with faith, and during the telling, Sarah couldn't handle things that happened, certain losses, and she turned away from God because of her anger. As she navigated her pain over the years, her gradual change of perspective inspired me.
 There were plenty of characters to dislike in this story; the brother, the father, the boys from town, the nasty girls. There were some to pity, Sarah's mother- although I couldn't decide if I wanted to pity her or hate her, Sarah's brother, Kenny, and poor Charlie Weeks. My favorite character was wise Cotton, the farmhand. Most were well-painted depictions, so I felt I knew the people, and the descriptions put me in the middle of the story. It felt like it could have been based on a true story. I would probably read the next book to determine if she takes control of her power and improves her life.

"See You Soon" by NC Marshall


There were things I liked about "See You Soon." The Prologue set up the reader to believe things would turn out a certain way for the main character, but when the scene played out in the context of the story, it threw a spin on it, and I didn't know what was happening. I enjoyed the disappearance of a long-lost friend who cried out for help and how that setup played out. I liked how the villain's identity remained withheld until the end. However, I was not fond of the antagonist's thoughts scattered through the book, seemingly like journal entries, and one stint from their viewpoint came up while Emma read her missing friend's diary. That confused. Ali's diary was on a hidden thumb drive taped to the back of a furniture drawer as though it held something essential; I felt that was strange. It revealed a small piece of Ali's life, but nothing that advanced the plot. Multiple viewpoints expressed near the end of the story felt like a lazy way to dump all the information required to solve the mystery. If we had seen these people doing the things we were "told" they did, gradually throughout the story, it would have built the suspense and added enjoyment and understanding to the tale. The author had me convinced one person was guilty through most of the book (although the circumstances that caused the main character to believe it was him weren't strong enough in my opinion) and surprised me that it wasn't the case, but the big reveal of the mastermind fell flat because I hadn't remembered who the actual character was. They weren't fleshed out enough to seem significant. The reasons behind their actions also didn't ring true because the reader wasn't allowed to know them or get inside their mind. Although I liked many aspects of it and think it had the potential to be a great story, I'm not sure I'd go as far as recommending it.

"In Her Shadow" by Mark Edwards


Mark Edwards has become one of my new favorites. I find myself looking for another of his books to add to my TBR as soon as I finish one. "In Her Shadow" didn't disappoint. Jessica's sister's death - long-ago ruled an accident- suddenly crept back into the forefront of her mind because her young daughter claimed her dead auntie spoke to her. Was it the girl's imagination? Had Isabel actually returned to tell them something about her death- it wasn't an accident? Strange happenings around the house convinced Jessica's mother, Mo they were susceptible to the paranormal, and Isabel's death must have been murder. After all, they'd been haunted before when Jessica and Isabel were children. Mo stubbornly thought Isabel's husband, Darpak must have killed her because Darpak and Isabel kept secrets in their marriage. It turned out that a lot of people kept secrets, some bigger than Olivia's secret relationship with Isabel's ghost.
This story boasted extremely well-written characters, especially Olivia, Jessica's four-year-old daughter with a knack for predicting the future and handling the return of her aunt that she'd never met.
A line of suspects paraded within Jessica's suspicions, but the author never committed to Isabel's death being a murder. I had to ride the tidal wave until he revealed all the secrets in the perfect timing to figure out what had happened to Isabel, and if she'd truly come back to her loved ones. I strongly recommend this book!

"The Bone Jar" by S W Kane


THE BONE JAR jumps right into a disturbing death- an elderly woman found dead in an abandoned asylum. As far as they can gather, the lady is near a saint. She volunteers in a care home after a long nursing career. A real who-done-it, why would anybody want to hurt this woman? Why did she go to the old asylum? Or did someone kill her and dump her body there? Near the body, a cell phone leads to another dead person. Did he have anything to do with her death? Or was he a witness? The web is intricate in this story, and the characters are complex. A fascinating setting, the asylum holds so many secrets. The players aren't always who you think they are. There are many twists in store, and the ending proved to be a nail-biter. The person least likely to be a hero pulls it together. I enjoyed this book! 

"Girls of Glass" by Brianna Labuskes


This book had my interest as it began, but it started jumping back and forth and around in time so much that it confused. The characters weren't very likeable or relatable. They all seemed to have the same voice. The descriptions were long and overshadowed the content. For example, when Alice met Charlotte in a diner, I wanted to know why. I didn't want to read long, detailed paragraphs describing the waitress, the cook, the guy at the counter... None of these things mattered at all to the story. The book could have been much shorter. For so many words, too many things were left to your guess. The truth veiled by a sheer curtain that was never removed to give you a clear understanding. The ending plot twist could have been ingenious, but instead rang convoluted, disappointing, and left me liking the detective even less. 

"Never Look Back" by Mary Burton


Melina had a tough childhood, no doubt, but should she be grateful to the woman who dumped her on the side of the road? After all, she could have been tied into those circumstances with the drifter criminal forever, but instead she landed in a loving home with doting parents. It all lends credibility to her career in law enforcement following in her adopted father's footsteps. 

While helping her friend who runs a mission locate missing prostitutes she stumbles upon a serial killer and narrowly escapes his clutches. This introduces Jerrod, an FBI agent who has hunted this killer for many years.

 When another little girl who resembles Melina gets left in a car wreck, it pries open Melina's past and reveals some genetic truths that are horrifying. It also leads to a second serial killer. 

I liked this book. The only problem was that the story about the first serial killer was dropped for so long while they moved on to the second one that I found it jolting returning to the first killer. 

Overall, it was a satisfying thriller with multiple storylines and connections between the key characters. The romantic angle was a bit muted, but I was glad the two found comfort in each other when they had so much darkness in their lives. I prefer the suspense and thriller over the romance genre, so it didn't make much of a difference to me. I found myself exclaiming out loud a few times near the end. Definitely worth a read.

"Killing Faith" by B.J. Woster

I had high hopes for this story based on the cover and description but found too many things happening that I just couldn't believe. Melissa's superior sends her to another country alone without any back up from that country's police department to bring down a criminal that no law enforcement agency has been able to ensnare. She has absolutely no idea what she's doing. She's dragging around a priest who's as helpless as she is. They meet the priest's twin brother, and they float around trying to outsmart the bad guys. Throughout the entire book, the priest moans about not wanting to be a priest anymore, but never explains well enough why or if he will do something else. The ending was the most unbelievable of all. I don't want to give details that will spoil the book for others, but, really? This is how the notoriously vicious bad guys are brought to justice? Two senior citizens? The story wasn't for me. 

"Trust No One" by Debra Webb

 Trust No One (Devlin & Falco Book 1) by [Debra Webb]

Wow! This book has so many secrets, lies, and mysteries. Highly entertaining, it kept me turning the pages and wanting to return to the story as soon as possible. Sometimes it seemed a little overwhelming, though, trying to keep up with who did what. At first, I thought Sela's point of view could have been left out because I felt it gave away the ending too quickly, but kudos to the author for misleading the reader in that as well.  The conclusion satisfied, a sort of justice served equally to all bad guys who participated in a crime that triggered the murder of Mr. Abott and his mother-in-law. But would this work? Would the mastermind get away with it? Read it and find out!
I will look forward to reading future books featuring Detectives Devlin and Falco. 

"Satin and Cinders" by Jan Sikes

 Satin & Cinders by [Jan Sikes]

This extremely short story is heart-warming and tells a tale of devotion. After many years of longing and admiring her from afar, a Stallion risks giving up his freedom in order to experience the comforts of the barn and the companionship of Satin. Well-told, it offers a peek into the heart and mind of majestic animals.

"Garnet's Love Story" by P. L. Van Bibber

 Garnet's Love Story: Book One Of Pearlene's Gems Series by [P. L. Van Bibber]

The idea behind the plot of the story was good, and the message endearing. I liked the adoption of the girls and their names. However, the writing needed proofing. Two main characters' points of view shared in the same paragraphs/chapters confused. The interactions, conversations, and dialogues between all characters were formal and awkward. The "misunderstanding" that kept them apart for a year didn't ring true when the office busybody discussed all personal things and wanted them to be together but didn't mention the man's history? Characters could have been fleshed out more. I wouldn't know the difference between any of the many sisters, besides the stated facts of different professions. The relationship between the main characters went from cold to instantly in love. Again, it had promise, but it needed a bit more to be a four-star read, in my opinion.

"Hit and Run" by Alan Gorevan

Hit and Run by [Alan Gorevan]

 "Hit and Run" is a fast-paced thriller that keeps you reading! Jack Whelan emerges as a confident character, but he doesn't stay that way long. Passed over for promotion, and losing a considerable bet sends him to his therapist, and this catapults him into a world of trouble. His girlfriend's slowly-revealed true nature astonishes. So much happens in such a small time frame that you don't have time to second-guess anything. Jack's redemption satisfies. A highly entertaining read! One of my favorites this month!

"Wall of Silence" by Tracy Buchanan

 Wall of Silence by [Tracy Buchanan]

Fitting Book Cover. 
The story is told alternately from Melissa's point of view, who doesn't have a clue what's going on, and Lily's point of view who knows precisely what happened and where all the secrets are buried. I liked that. The author gives very little help along the way, but I had my suspicions. I don't like it when I figure out the plot too quickly. No chance of that here. I just wanted to keep reading and reading. All the details come out pretty close to the end, and it wasn't what I thought it was. Refreshing.

I didn't care for the use of 'Facebook chatting' to hint at certain information, and some of it, I skipped over. 

What a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive! "Wall of Silence" has so many shocks in store for you! I recommend it!

"Wildthorn" by Jane Eagland

 Wildthorn by [Jane Eagland]

A fabulously enticing book cover!

Louisa Cosgrove wants to be a doctor, and she feels her father supports her in this ambition. When he dies, she learns that her brother will never allow her to follow her plans, and ultimately, she doesn't only lose her dream but also her freedom when somebody has her placed in an asylum. But who? Why? She has her suspicions, but this story will keep you guessing until the end.

There were parts of the story that I felt too defeated for Louisa, and I had to force myself to continue on just hoping something good would finally happen, and she would catch a break. I especially hated Weeks, a caretaker at the asylum. There were plenty of characters to dislike there. I didn't care much for any of Louisa's family either. Perhaps Grace held some redeeming qualities.

The way Louisa introduced her feeling for her cousin was a curve, and I was certain it would turn out to be the cause of her hospital commitment, but there were surprises still to come.

"White Out" by Danielle Girard


White Out: A Thriller (Badlands Thriller Book 1) by [Danielle Girard]

I liked the cover; it matched the story well. 

The plot built pretty slowly, but there were enough pieces of the puzzle to keep you wondering what was happening. Not one person with memory loss, but two! Iver Larson, a local bar owner had his demons to deal with from PTSD and alcohol. A dead girl in the dumpster outside the bar was troublesome for him when he couldn't remember where he was or what he did at the time of her death. Lily Baker survived a car wreck and couldn't remember a thing. Luckily, the two are eventually drawn together to help one another. I enjoyed reading this one and figuring out exactly how things fit together.

One thing that bugged me was Lily's amnesia. She thought she was a drug addict before the accident, but she didn't have symptoms. Even if her mind didn't remember, wouldn't her body have the symptoms of withdrawal if she stopped taking drugs?