Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance

The Giving Heart Toni Blake 4*#Review @AuthorToniBlake @HQNBooks #Romance @RRBookTours1 #BlogTour #TheGivingHeart #PublicationDay #SummerIsland #Friendship #RRBookTours #HQNBooks

#TheGivingHeart

Spend a white Christmas on Summer Island, where the fires are warm and the romance is hotter

Lila Sloan wonders why she ever thought house-sitting for her sister Meg on the remote Summer Island was a good idea. And to make matters worse, local real estate developer Beck Grainger is trying to cut down the beautiful trees that line the property. Lila can’t let this happen; Meg will never forgive her.

Beck can understand Lila’s anger—sort of. The trees are actually on the neighboring property, and the land was zoned for development months ago, so his plans were no secret. But he dislikes being at odds with his friend’s sister, especially because Lila is appealing in every way: loyal, quick-witted and completely stunning.

Lila hates that she’s so attracted to Beck, who seems like a genuinely good man, despite his tree-murdering tendencies. And their chemistry is off the charts. She just wishes he’d let this development go. As Summer Island counts down to a snowy Christmas, Lila and Beck will have to strike a compromise that seems impossible for them both—or risk losing the best thing either of them has ever had.

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#TheGivingHeartBlogTour

I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The second in the Summer Island series, it’s close to Christmas and it’s snowing, the idyllic setting for this lovely feel-good romance. Lila is on Summer Island to help her older sister Meg, who is taking time out with her new boyfriend. Lila is hurting, after a bad experience at work, which forces her to rethink her career. Helping her sister gives her the solitude she needs until someone disturbs it. Forcing Lila into a confrontation she neither needs or feels capable of, but she has to protect her sister’s business and their childhood memories.

Lila and Beck feel the heat, despite the snow and their difference of opinion. Their relationship is full of conflict, as they battle over the wood, their unwanted feelings, emotional angst and the other person in their relationship. It is through compromise, friendship and understanding of each other’s emotional damage, that finally makes them see that they may have a future.

This reads well as a standalone story, but the cast of characters are lovely, and I would like to read the first one and those that follow.

Emotional romance, compassionate friendships and a lovely snowy setting make this a perfect holiday romantic read.

THE GIVING HEART by Toni Blake – Excerpt

Five long, cold minutes later a tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a winter coat with blue jeans and some weird, worn, leathery sort of cowboy hat on his head came walking down from the direction of West Bluff. Despite herself, and for the first time ever in her life, she found herself envying work boots like the ones he had on because they appeared so sturdy and dry. She braced herself for a fight.

When she looked up at him, two things struck her simultaneously. First, he was ridiculously handsome—with dark hair peeking out from beneath that dumb hat, and dark stubble on his chiseled jaw to match. And second, his warm brown eyes wore that same confused, cautious look as the man on the bulldozer’s as he said, “I’m Beck Grainger. And…there seems to be some sort of problem here?”

Lila drew back. This was Beck Grainger? Who Meg had spoken of so fondly? And even Suzanne, too, during their short visit yesterday, had mentioned him as a friend. Meg had told her he’d been interested in dating Suzanne and she’d declined, but they both still thought he was a great guy.

“Well, I’m Lila Sloan,” she said. “And yes, there’s a problem. I’m not letting you destroy Meg’s property value like this.”

Beck Grainger’s dark eyebrows shot up beneath his leathery brim. “You’re Meg’s sister?”

She gave a terse, crisp nod.

The handsome man sighed, shifting his weight from one work boot to the other. “Look, no one is trying to destroy anyone’s property value. And I assumed Meg knew about this. It’s not a secret. It was brought publicly before the town council and zoned for residential use back in the spring.”

Ugh. None of this was good news. But Lila was certain Meg didn’t know. Her sister had been dealing with a lot this past year and perhaps hadn’t been paying attention to island business. They’d actually discussed these very woods over the Thanksgiving table last week, recalling how they’d played here as children when their grandmother was still alive and running the place. Meg said that a couple of years ago she’d crossed the stream to plant some shade-loving trillium and blue cranesbill among the trees, and that the small blooms had added color visible from the patio each of the last two summers. Meg loved and valued these trees. And Lila brimmed with anger that no one had made Meg aware of this—but that was neither here nor there. “I can assure you she doesn’t know.”

The handsome man’s brow narrowed skeptically. “Well, if it’s a problem for her, why didn’t she just pick up the phone and call me?”

“Because she’s away right now—traveling. And even if she were here, she wouldn’t have known you were the person to call. And maybe she would have done something sensible—because Meg is definitely sensible—like contact someone on the town council. But I, being less sensible and more rash, took a more direct approach. Meg left me in charge of the inn while she’s away—and I can’t let you do this. I just can’t.”

The tilt of Beck Grainger’s handsome head told her he was going to try reasoning with her. “You know, it’s not gonna be that bad. Luxury homes. With big yards. They’ll fit into the landscape.” He even ended the sentence with a wink. Was he serious? Given what Lila had been through recently, he was definitely barking up the wrong tree with an elitist suggestion that rich people made better neighbors.

“I don’t care what you’re building—you’re doing it at the expense of my sister’s inn. People stay here because of the ambiance and atmosphere. They stay here to listen to crickets in the trees and see fireflies blinking in the woods. We played in these trees as kids. They’ve been growing here since…well, since before Summer Island was even Summer Island. I can’t let you tear them down.”

#ToniBlake

USA Today bestselling author Toni Blake’s love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Since then, she has written over twenty contemporary romance novels. Her books have received the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, her work has been excerpted in Cosmopolitan, and she has been nominated for a RITA Award. Toni lives with her husband in Northern Kentucky.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

Gone Leona Deakin 4*#Review @LeonaDeakin1 @TransworldBooks #PsychologicalThriller #MissingPersons #Game #Suspense

#Gone

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Transworld Publishers – Black Swan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A thriller with a strong psychological element and complex, sinister characters. It is slow-paced and focuses on unravelling the psyche of a schoolgirl, and a group of missing people, who appear to have left their lives to join a mind game.

The main protagonists are a criminal psychologist and her partner, who specialises in finding missing persons. Augusta Bloom is the stronger of the characters, and she takes the lead into finding the missing people, who appear to be drawn to a strange, potentially dangerous game. Her professional meetings with a schoolgirl who has been involved in a violent incident run alongside her other investigation. Are they connected directly, or indirectly or not at all? Where are the missing people? Are the victims or the antagonists?

The build of suspense is good, the knowledge of the human mind apparent, and you learn interesting facts about profiling and psychopaths. These subjects need to intrigue you for this novel to appeal, the clues are there, but well-spaced, so unless you have a good memory, you may forget them when they are returned too,

Worth reading, if you are interested in what makes the human mind work, from a psychologist’s point of view. and enjoy case study thrillers.

Read my review of Lost book 2 in the Dr Bloom series.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

Rewind Catherine Ryan Howard 4*#Review @cathryanhoward @CorvusBooks #CrimeFiction #TechnoThriller #Noir #Suspense

#Rewind


PLAY Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself? 

PAUSE Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for… 

REWIND Psycho meets Fatal Attraction in this explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…


Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Atlantic Books – Corvus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An interesting fusion of crime fiction genres.

The setting and some of the characters give this story a noir twist, the suspense and level of menace keep the reader turning the pages, and if you’re reading it alone, probably wishing you weren’t.

There is a murder, a cast of possible suspects, and an amateur sleuth working out whodunnit, more efficiently than the authorities. Part of the enjoyment is not just finding out who, but also why, and what the others part in the mystery is.

This is also part techno-thriller, the victim is a social media influencer, there are strange online groups and the dangers of the dark web. Living life in the full glare of social media may reap celebrity and monetary rewards for some, but there are setbacks, in terms of obsessive fans and haters.

The thriller also had an original layout, scenes are short and prefaced by media playback terms; play, pause, fast forward and rewind. This emphasises the media aspect of the story and enables the story to be told from different viewpoints and different periods, before, during, after and outcome.

Complex characters, a brave and largely successful mix of genres and something a little different, which is always exciting to find and read.