Scoring the Keeper’s Sister will have you laughing, swooning, and definitely wanting to try some speciality cheese. I know that sounds weird, but trust me, the cheese thing totally fits.Read More
If you aren’t familiar with Becca Syme and The Better-Faster Academy, you are missing out!
It is not an exaggeration to say that Becca’s Write Better-Faster class changed the course of my career (and pretty much my life.) I didn’t think the class would work for me at first because i already write fast (#1k1hr anyone?) But after some serious peer pressure, I signed up and I will forever be glad I did.
Becca (who also writes The Vangie Vale series under the name R.L. Syme) is a certified, experienced Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder coach. Her classes are all about using your personality and strengths to find the process that best works for you.
This year she is expanding her academy with more courses, a podcast, and this book!
The marketplace is crowded. The industry is moving fast. Everyone has opinions about how you should work and how you should run your business. If you've found this book, there's a good chance you've heard them all. So, what am I saying that's any different?
I'm saying, there are some things we all need to quit doing. What are they? Take a look inside and see.
Of course, you could still click away, and go about your business. Up to you, Neo. Red pill or blue pill?
I've coached a lot of writers--from the Uber-successful to the brand-new--and this book is a collection of what I've learned from watching patterns. There are some things we all need to quit, and I can tell you why.
What I love about this book is Becca’s straightforward coaching approach comes through so clearly! Of course she isn’t encouraging writers to quit writing, but she is encouraging us to rethink our process, question any writing advice that swears to be an absolute, and let go of how we think this kind of career should be.
I highly recommend this book to writers who have been in this game for a while and are starting to see the cracks in the yellow brick road. I also recommend for writers who have become comfortable in their career, but feel like something still isn’t quite right. A new perspective might be just what you need!
Also, the next Write Better-Faster class starts March 3rd. I can talk about it all day if you want to know more! Just message me or swing by my Facebook page and I’ll be happy to tell you all about it!
I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to talk about this book! I am a huge fan of OneStopForWriters and the thesauruses (thesauri?) that Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi create. They are amazing tools for writers. That’s why they are a staple on my my writing resources page.
I have the original Emotion Thesaurus. It lists body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions. It is my go-to resource for character expressions and reactions, especially after my main character has gritted his teeth for the nineteenth time!
Each entry has examples of physical sensations, internal sensations, mental responses, acute or long-term responses, signs the emotion has been suppressed, how it may escalate or de-escalate as well as associated power verbs and writer’s tips.
This second edition has 55 new entries as well as so much more new content that the book has doubled in size! You can read all the details about it here. You can also see a list of the new entries and check out some sample pages here.
Also, Angela & Becca are giving away a free webinar recordingof one of their popular workshops on Emotion, so head over if this is an area of struggle for you. It might really help!
After you’ve checked it out, pop over to my FB page and let me know what your favorite writer resource is!
Extra places you can find The Emotion Thesaurus:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
And Happy Release Day to Roni Loren!
I am so excited about this book!
Let’s talk about The One You Fight For!
How hard would you fight for the one you love?
Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault. Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life's work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan...
Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother's horrific actions. After losing everything—his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity—he's changed his name, his look, and he's finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?
When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy...
How do you find your happy ending?
This is the third book in Roni’s The Ones Who Got Away series. , which I LOVE! Just in case you aren’t familiar with the series, it follows four friends who survived a school shooting just over a decade ago. As I said in my other reviews, the shooting is a very small part of their stories. The series focuses on how someone who has survived something so horrible can find the happily-ever-after they deserve.
The One You Fight For is just as amazing I knew it would be. Liv, Rebecca, Taryn, and Kincaid feel like old friends at this point. They are the type of friends every woman should have in their corner, ready with a hug, a margarita, or bail money—whatever the situation may require.
Taryn and Shaw’s story is high in conflict, but there are also so many laugh-out-loud moments, and more than a few scenes where I was reaching for the tissues.
I particularly appreciated the way Shaw’s story explored the fallout for the family of someone responsible for a tragedy. The One You Fight For is about how the choices of the past don’t have to define you.
And, of course, this is Roni Loren—mixed in with the angst and laughter is the story of a swoon-worthy romance, and some fan-yourself-hot love scenes.
This is the third book in the series. It can be enjoyed without reading the other two but I HIGHLY recommend all three!
This is an advance review. The book releases December 25th!
It’s no secret that I adore Sharla Lovelace’s Charmed in Texas series. They are like the best parts of rom-coms and Hallmark movies mixed with some love scene that will leave you fanning yourself.
The instant Sharla announced in her Facebook group, The Lovely Lattes, that A Charm Like You was available on Netgalley.com, I was clicking “request” as fast my hand could move! Just like the other books in the series,* Sharla never disappoints me.
*I’ll add a list of previous reviews to the bottom the post.
Even in a quirky small town like Charmed, Texas, there’s always room for love to take you by surprise . . .
Gabi Graham might have hit the proverbial rock in rock-bottom. Hitting the single scene after ten years is hard enough. Finding out that her cheating ex-husband and his new barely-legal fiancée are expecting—that’s enough to drive Gabi over the edge and into a neighboring town’s divorce support group. It’s not really her thing to listen to anonymous strangers bash their exes, but at least there are cookies. And a sexy fellow newcomer who ignites her long-dormant libido. Spending a few lustful, post-meeting moments in Hot Guy’s truck can’t hurt. Unless, of course, Hot Guy turns out to be Thatcher Roman—her best friend’s brother and Gabi’s silent business partner.
Thatcher had no idea that the wildflower farm owner he’s been doing business with over email is the nameless woman who’s barreled into his life and his fantasies. He and Gabi have a new venture to run, a sister and best friend in the middle, and enough sparks between them to light up the entire town of Charmed. Given her past, it’s no wonder smart, gorgeous Gabi has trust issues. But maybe what they’ve found is more than just coincidence and chemistry. It might even be the beginning of one sweet, amazing second chance . . .
Sharla's characters are always authentic and realistic. They are people you know, love, and want to laugh over drinks with.
It did take a few chapters for me to settle into Gabi as a character, maybe because she reminded me so much of someone I know personally. Some of her decisions had me shaking my head (just like with my real life friend.)
I would happily recommend A Charm Like You to my romance-reading friends.
My only caveat would be that it is the fifth book in the series. While I thoroughly enjoyed all the references to the previous books and cameos from my past favorite characters, I'm not sure someone new to the series would fully enjoy the story without the backstory.
If you want to start from the beginning, here are my previous reviews:
I keep hearing about Christina Lauren (which is actually a co-writing team of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings.) It seems like their books have been everywhere lately. I’d never read their work and was looking for something low-stress so I decided to check out their latest, My Favorite Half-Night Stand.
Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.
So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.
But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.
This book reads like New Girl meets You’ve Got Mail. Smart humor, authentic characters, and a good plot all wrapped up into a fast-paced read that was just plain fun. Exactly what I need for a dreary afternoon.
The romance is sweet, but honest and not sappy. The love scenes are more fun than steamy and not graphically described at all.
Sometimes the”mistaken identity” trope runs the risk of becoming annoying. As a reader, I’m often rolling my eyes and saying, “Good grief, you are adults. Sit down and have a freaking conversation!”
Thankfully, that didn’t happen with this book. The story is woven together in a way that really set the stakes for why Millie would continue to pretend to be Catherine.
It is rounded out with a cast of secondary characters that I totally want to go hang out with! I’d love to see this made into a movie.
I would definitely recommend My Favorite Half-Night Stand to any of my happily-ever-after loving friends.
Before you go, sign up for my News and Reviews emails to keep informed about the exciting changes I have planned for the new year.
Recently, I’ve been reading mostly dark and twisted stories. I love them. They’re great, but I needed something to remind that most of the world isn't intrinsically evil, sometimes two people can fall in love and not end up running for their lives.
Cameron Turner is cursed. He’s lost almost everyone he’s ever loved, and he knows better than to try again. If the universe intends for him to be alone, then that’s exactly what he’ll do, keeping to himself in his quiet Kings Grove cabin.
Harper Lyles is getting out of Kings Grove ASAP. She was born in the tiny mountain town of Kings Grove, and she never planned to go back. But when her life is turned upside down and she has no choice, she vows to make the best of it. For six short months at least, and then she’s on to bigger and better things.
When Cameron rents the empty house next door to Harper, both their plans begin to change. Harper’s energy and tenacious happiness make Cameron wonder if he was really meant to be alone after all. And Cameron’s dark brooding appeal has Harper wondering if maybe Kings Grove isn’t so bad.
Love Reclaimed is the fourth book in Stewart’s Kings Grove Series. I haven’t read the other books, but I never felt left out like you sometimes do coming to a series in the middle. The side characters give flavor and depth to this story, and I definitely want read more about them now, but this book easily stands alone.
What I particularly loved about this story was Harper’s character. She’s funny and endearing. I enjoyed the banter between her and Cam, especially when he tries to retreat into his shell and she drags him right out.
The tagline on Stewart’s website is “Humor with Heart.”
I cannot think of a better line to sum up this book.
I would strongly confidently Love Reclaimed to my romance-reading friends who want a small-town, feel-good story.
And I hear that a side character that I adored is getting his own Christmas novella! Can’t wait for that!
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have noticed I featured a different book everyday last week in honor of Banned Books Week. The picture above is the books that I could easily find in my house that have been “challenged” and, in some cases, officially banned from school or public libraries.
I feel very fortunate that I grew up in a house where I was encouraged to read whatever I wanted. I read Judy Blume’s Then Again Maybe I Won’t long before I was old enough to understand anything about it. To put that in perspective, when it discussed the main character having a dream about a girl and waking up with wet sheets, I thought he had a bladder-control issue. Spoiler alert: not his bladder!
I’m very proud that I have passed my love for reading down to my children. Some of the books in the picture belong to them. Others belonged to me, but I had to take them from my teenagers’ shelves for the picture.
In case you missed the posts on social media, I’m reposting them here with some bonus books that I wasn’t able to feature last week.
I adored this book as a child. A family friend bought it for me and would read it with me. It and Where the Sidewalk Ends are the first hardcover books I remember owning. It was challenged on the grounds it promoted disobedience and violence in children. Guess I missed that message.
Judy Blume is my idol. I’ve had the honor of meeting her and she is just as great in person as you’d hope she’d be. She wrote Forever for her daughter who wanted a book where teenagers have sex and nothing catastrophic happens. It was published in 1975. Challenged for sexual content and offensive language, it is number 7 on the ALA’s list of most challenged books between 1990-2000
Can we talk about the irony of banning a book that is about banning books? Challenged for vulgarity, one school even gave out copies with the swear words blacked out.
We all have that one book, right? The one that we never forget reading for the first time—that we can talk about forever and stays with us long after the last page. Fahrenheit 451 is that book for my youngest daughter. I can remember when she was first reading it for high school English. She would come home every day excited and ready to talk about it. Everything in the above picture is hers. Below are quotes from a conversation we had when I told her I was featuring it as a banned book. I agree with her fully. Books should make us think.
I cannot describe the influence this book (and many others by this author) had on my life and desire to become a writer. Challenged for violence, drug use and alcohol use, and teen smoking. I am proud to say my teens love this one as much as I did.
The quote below is the first and last line of the book. I can still recite it from memory.
A few I didn’t get to feature:
I’ve blogged before about why this is one of my all-time favorite books. You can read that here. Since it’s publication in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time has consistently been challenged for undermining religious beliefs. That is not something I ever noticed in the multiple times I have read it. And, no, I still haven’t watched the movie.
First a warning: this book will rip your heart out and stomp on it. My third grade teacher read this aloud to the class. One of the few days I was ever absent in elementary school, I missed a huge plot twist…and then I cried. This book was challenged for profanity, references to witchcraft, setting a bad example, and presenting a negative view on life.
According to the Amazon listing, this is one of the most controversial YA books of all-time. I would definitely believe that. Challenged (and frequently banned) for nudity, offensive language, and sexual content, I remember picking this book up in a Walden’s (remember those?) strictly because I was intrigued by the blurb. That drew me into the world of Robert Cormier (another hugely influential writer for me.) This was my Fahrenheit 451. The first book I remember where everything wasn’t okay in the end.
If you want to lose a few hours going down a rabbit hole of “I loved that book! Why would anyone ever challenge it?”, check out these resources:
Then come over to my Facebook page or leave a comment here and tell me about your favorite banned book.
Update to my annual post of Five Books I'm Reading This Summer and Five You Should.Read More
First I have to fangirl squeal a little bit because I FINALLY got to meet Selena Laurence in person!.
She is sweet, funny, and genuine. Basically everything you hope the creator of some of your favorite imaginary people to be.
And she creates amazing characters, as I said in my review for Breath of Deceit—it’s like they are going to step off the page and have a cup of coffee with you!
So I knew that Brush of Despair was going to be fabulous. Selena definitely did not let me down!
Cian MacFarlane has a job to do, but it's not the one his father Robbie gave him. With dear old dad watching night and day, Cian struggles to maintain his role as a deadly mob boss. His real focus is informing to the FBI, cutting deals with the Feds to keep his brothers out of prison. Cian is walking a tightrope on the streets of Chicago, and the only thing keeping him sane is Lila Rodriguez. However, Lila may have her own issues at work when her boss is found murdered, and she's tapped to take over the dark website Rogue.
But when Cian's brother Liam, the family enforcer, gets tangled up in human trafficking things really go to hell. Now Liam's taking chances neither he nor the family can afford, and Cian's desperate to find a way to save him before it's too late. When the dangers stack up and Cian feels as though he's the only thing preventing the people he loves from dying too young, hope can be a hard thing to come by. Can Cian pull off a last minute miracle? Or will his brush with despair become something more permanent?
Cian is the focus of the series, but this is really Liam’s story. If I was ever going to get involved with an Irish Mobster and got to pick from the four MacFarlane brothers, it would be Liam.
He’s the enforcer—the muscle that keeps the men working for them in line and the family’s rivals on edge—but he isn’t the typical bad-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold. He’s living by a code that protects his family and that’s all that matters…until a decision makes him realize choice might not be an option in his life, but he might be able to make it happen for someone he believes deserves it more than he ever did.
If Dublin Devils was a Netflix show, I would binge watch the hell out of it. Expertly told in multiple POVs, every chapter ends with a breath-holding cliffhanger that means you have to keep going right then. There is just no question.
Speaking of cliffhangers, while Brush of Despair does wrap up most of the storylines, I will give forewarning that it ends with a cliffhanger…a HUGE FREAKING MOUNTAIN of a cliffhanger which has me DYING for the next book!
*A note to my romance-loving friends, this is suspense with romantic elements. It is not a traditional romantic suspense.
One more thing before you go, if you enjoy my reviews, please sign up for my monthly News and Reviews!
*This is an advance review. The book releases on September 18, 2018*
The Rules of Blackheath
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let's begin...
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others...
If y'all could all just go read this so we can discuss it, I'd greatly appreciate it!
I LOVED it. The atmospheric writing sucked me in. You can hear the horse hooves clopping, you can smell the damp earth, and you can feel the foreboding darkness that shrouds Blackheath.
This book is best read on a rainy day, curled in a blanket with nothing else to do and nothing to distract your focus from the story. Because you need to focus on this story. It is smartly-written. The clues are all there, but there is a large cast of characters and more than once I debated making a chart to keep track of everyone's movements.
Other than saying the writing is excellent and the premise is fascinating, I can't tell you much more without spoiling something.
It's a dark, creepy read that I have already recommended to friends who love a good mystery. If you want to know more, message me or read it for yourself and we can talk all about it!
*If you look for it on Amazon or Goodreads, it is also listed as The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I read a comment from the author that it was originally released in the UK then they ran into confusion with releasing it in the US because of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.*
I started this book in the middle of the summer and just wasn't in the right place for it. I put it down at about the 25% mark and thought, "Meh, too science-y for me."
But I'd listed it on my Five Books I'm Reading This Summer post and felt like I needed to give it a fair chance. I mean, I LOVED The Martian . Both the book (because it is awesome) and the movie (because Matt Damon.)
It has the famous line, "I'm going to have to science the sh*t out of this."
So I picked Dark Matter up again.
Once it gets going, it is a fast-paced, science-y/thriller mash-up that leaves your brain spinning.
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
Without giving away much of a spoiler, I will say that Dark Matter operates on a multiverse theory—which my fifteen year-old explained to me like this:
"Every time you make a decision, the universe splits and a part of you goes on living in a reality where you decided something else and that Dawn lives like that, while this Dawn keeps living like this."
She explained this like she was telling me how to make brownies. No big deal, just millions of other YOUs living in different universes with different lives.
Thanks for making my brain explode, kid.
Here's where it really hit home: If you read my post about How I Met My Husband, you know that I've been married twenty years because I made a decision to cross a room to talk to a cute boy. What about the Dawn who decided to stay in her chair? Or the one who turned down her friend's invitation to visit her church? Where are they hanging out these days?
Dark Matter takes this idea and makes it into a twisted read of the-path-not-taken meets What-if? And since I don't do spoilers, I need some of you to read it so I can get out all my feels about the ending!
So let's talk about the idea of a multiverse. What decision did you make that split your universe? Ever wonder what if it had gone another way?
Eerie. Creepy. Oh-so-twisted.
I featured The Chalk Man on my list of Five Books I'm Reading This Summer and Five You Should, (which I will be updating soon) but I realized I hadn't fully reviewed it yet.
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he's put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.
That's when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I despise URNs (UnReliable Narrators). The quickest way to make me shun a book is to tell me it is "the new Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train". Because I pretty much wanted to throat punch all those characters.
Eddie's not exactly an URN, but don't trust everything he tells you.
Told in a dual timeline, C.J. Tudor has this very lyrical writing style that lulls you into a story then throws something out as if just making sure you're paying attention. A few times I was reading along and suddenly was like, "Wait, what???" and would have to read it again.
In other books, that would probably annoy me, but it worked for this story.
Which is why at the very, very end I was rereading and rereading to make sure it really said that, then I was texting my friends: W.T.F?????
But in a good way.
The story is intriguing, twisty, and dark. It does leave you with a slightly, unfinished feeling, and questions. Lots and lots of questions.
I would absolutely recommend it to my friends who love suspense, thriller, and aren't bothered by every loose end not being tied in a neat little bow.
Two Truths and a Lie. Are you familiar with this game? I kind of suck at it because I don't lie well. I usually start laughing. I am good at picking out the other's lies...sometimes.
This is where I'd usually put in the blurb, but this book has a creepy book trailer!
Just in case you prefer the blurb:
In the latest thriller from the bestselling author of Final Girls, a young woman returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings--massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.
Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera--the only one on the property--pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.
This book kept me up until 2:00 in the morning! Then I finished it and everyone was a sleep so I didn't have anyone to discuss the O.M.G. plot twist at the end that absolutely blindsided me! But in a good way. It makes total sense when you look back, but I completely fell for all the red herrings. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
I was texting my friend all smug-like. "So I've got it figured out. (Insert character here) did (evil thing here) because (reasons.)" She just sat back knowingly and waited for me to get to the next chapter when I changed my mind about everything.
So there is no question The Last Time I Lied has a twisty, intriguing plot. It is told in a dual timeline and the beginning takes some time to get going but then the pacing takes off and the tension takes over.
The very beginning is in second-person POV. If that's not your thing, stick it out. It doesn't stay that way.
And if you ever went to summer camp, this will take you right back there. All the memories. Good and bad. Of course, no one ever died or disappeared for longer than an hour or so at the camps I went to.
I would definitely recommend this to my mystery/suspense/thriller loving friends. There are some romantic elements, but not a romance in any sense of the word.
The author's other book Final Girls is now at the top of my To-Be-Read list.
Before you go, swing by my Facebook page and play Two Truths and Lie with us!
This book reads like a great rom-com that you watch every time it's on TV just because it makes you smile.Read More
The best word I can come up with to describe Believe Me is: Twisted. I mean that in every definition you can created.
I read most of this waiting at the airport and on the plane back from RWA. I finished it today and my brain is still working through...well, all of it.
A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.
Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions.
The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.
Then the game changes.
When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.
Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap?
But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?
I loved JP Delaney's The Girl Before (you can read that review here.) When I saw Believe Me available on Netgalley, I didn't even bother reading the blurb before I requested it. I knew it was going to be an intriguing ride, and I was not disappointed.
It is a slow-burn, who-done-it mixed with poetry from Charles Baudelaire (who I had never heard of, but WOW, dude had some issues!) as well scenes that read like a script.
I mean, Claire is an actress, after all.
Remember that. The whole time you're reading this book. Keep that in mind!
If you follow my reviews, you know that I am not a fan of the "Unreliable Narrator." In fact, I call them URNs for a reason. There was a section in Believe Me that I thought had crossed unapologetically into that territory, and I was about to be LIVID. Then it took another turn, and another, and another, until I settled back in and trusted the character again.
But should I have trusted that character? That's where my mind is still turning.
I would recommend Believe Me to my dark mystery-loving friends who love a cat-and-mouse style puzzle.
For my friends who prefer more romance than suspense, talk to me before you check this one out.
Finally, a warning that this book is very dark in some parts. Not graphically violent or overly sexual, but dark enough that certain readers would appreciate a trigger warning.
Since it is my firm policy to avoid posting spoilers, feel free to message me if you'd like a few hints to make a proper decision.
I actually read this book back in November. I read it again in one day while on vacation. It's summer. My brain is melting from the Texas heat, and I needed something fun to read. Plus, it takes place in Montana. The descriptions of snow and cold air give me just enough chill to forget I live three doors down from the gates of Hades until about November.
And descriptions of snow and cold are as close as I really want to be to it. I'll complain about my Texas heat, but I'll take 112 degrees over freezing any day!
Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream.
Between the police scanners, the coffee ladies, and the senior center, no secret is safe for long. But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar...especially the police radar.
So when her new bakery is linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can't have that.
In order to clear her good name and keep her face off the front page, this bakery owner becomes extra nosy...with a little side of breaking-and-entering. But when she comes face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can't ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find the real murderer.
Vangie Vale and the Murdered Macaron is a clean, cozy mystery that has kind of a Murder, She Wrote vibe. I mean that in the best possible way. I really enjoyed Vangie as a character. She is a pastor, but that doesn't make her unrelatable. She still lashes out in anger, makes mistakes, and has a physical attraction to men.
Vangie has a great wit and hilarious inner dialogue that sometimes becomes outer dialogue which gets her into trouble. I feel that on a soul-mate level. I hate it when my filter fails.
R.L. Syme's conversational style of writing feels like you're just snuggled in on a cold day, listening to her tell you how this all happened.
I loved that most of Vangie's snooping isn't without consequence. She finds herself facing off with the sheriff, the church board, and the town gossips.
She also has a cast of secondary characters that draw you into the small town of Saint Agnes. It starts to feel like a place you'd go visit a great aunt who'd sit on her floral print sofa and tell you stories about all the people she knew until you were both giggling.
I would definitely recommend Vangie to my friends who like cozies. It is very clean. There is no foul language, very little violence, and references to sex, but they are extremely mild and not described in detail at all.
What it does have is fun characters and an intriguing puzzle of a plot that keeps you (and Vangie) guessing.
And there is a recipe for Macarons! Which I'm not going to make because, well, baking and I aren't exactly friends, (I don't even own one of those big, stand-up mixer thingies) but I'm sure someone would greatly appreciate!
Side note: Months after I'd read this for the first time, my daughter's high school theatre had A Night in Paris as the theme for their annual banquet. There were macarons. Every time someone mentioned them, I thought of Vangie!
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I have no review for you today and that makes me sad.
Preparing for today, I tried to read three different books.
I walked away from each one of them.
Two of them I might go back for later.
One I declared DNF (Did Not Finish).
That's why I'm sad.