7/10

#BookReview
Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes
@hughesanita @StMartinsPress

 

Synopsis:

Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Hector, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit. Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never cancelled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.

Lily is determined to make do and enlists Hector to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?

Set on the glamorous Italian island, EMERALD COAST is a touching and humorous story about marriage and the difficulty of finding love and happiness at the same time. With the summer season winding down, Hughes’ latest will have you soaking in the last rays of summer sun and dreaming of endlessly warm days.


Book Rating: 7/10

Sweet, uplifting, and romantic!

Emerald Coast, the latest novel by Hughes, takes us into the lives of the recently divorced Lily and Oliver and reminds us of the complicated ups and downs of marriage, the importance of appreciating what we have, accepting the things we can’t change, and understanding that honesty and trust truly are the backbone of love and happiness.

The prose is exceptionally descriptive. The characters are successful, driven, and quirky. And the plot is a charming mix of life, friendship, family, introspection, jealousy, forgiveness, drama, courage, new love, old love, sex, and mouth-watering cuisine. 

Emerald Coast is the second novel I’ve read by Hughes and even though I would have liked to connect with the characters a little bit more when it comes to writing a lighthearted, easy read set in a tropical paradise and full of all the glitz and glamour of the rich and famous she nails it.

If you haven’t already had a chance to read my review of White Sand, Blue Sea be sure to check it out here:

About the Author:

ANITA HUGHES is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, and Christmas in Paris. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California where she is at work on her next novel.

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Anita Hughes, visit her website at: anitahughesbooks.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @hughesanita

#BookReview
Cross Check by Kelly Jamieson
@KellyJamieson @readloveswept

Synopsis:

A party girl and a clean-cut college hockey player discover that they’re not so different in this sexy, soulful Bayard Hockey novel from the bestselling author of Shut Out and the Heller Brothers series.

Ella Verran has three goals this semester: get off academic probation, repair her relationship with her friend Skylar, and take some responsibility for her life. All of which are hard enough without hot, snobby hockey player Ben Buckingham around to distract her. Ella can’t stand Ben, and she knows the feeling is mutual. But he’s best friends with Skylar’s boyfriend, so he’s always around—taunting and tempting Ella in ways she never thought possible.

As the star forward of the Bayard College hockey team, Ben has goals too, like playing well enough to land a spot on an NHL roster. Ben is perfectly poised on the ice, so why can’t he keep his cool around Ella? Her wild behavior rubs him in all the wrong ways—and a few of the right ones. But as they skate around each other, Ben learns that there’s more to Ella than her bad reputation. And when the line between love and hate starts to blur, he can’t resist crossing over and sweeping her off her feet.


Book Rating: 7/10

Entertaining, sexy, and sincere!

Cross Check, the latest novel in the Bayard Hockey series, is a slightly more emotional tale about the heartbroken, grief-stricken Ella who has been neglecting her studies and masking her sorrow after the loss of one of her friends, and Ben the gorgeous, up-and-coming hockey star who seems positively perfect but has a few dark secrets of his own.

The writing is fluid. The plot is a heartfelt mix that tackles important contemporary issues faced by young people today including friendship, family, campus life, suicide, rape, mental illness, sex, relationships, love, and hockey. And the characters, including all the supporting characters, are kind, engaging, and supportive.

Overall, Cross Check is a romantic, sweet, moving read that has a nice amount of drama, angst, tension, humour, banter, attraction, dirty talk and chemistry and even though it’s not my favourite Jamieson novel I think lovers of the new-age-college-romance genre will certainly enjoy it.

If you haven’t already had a chance to read my reviews for some of Jamieson’s other novels be sure to check them out here:

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Random House – Loveswept, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

For more information on Kelly Jamieson, visit her website at: kellyjamieson.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @KellyJamieson

#BookReview
Two Nights by Kathy Reichs
@KathyReichs @SimonSchusterCA

Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs steps beyond her classic Temperance Brennan series in a new standalone thriller featuring a smart, tough, talented heroine whose thirst for justice stems from her own dark past.

Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct. . . .

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.


Book Rating: 7/10

Fast-paced, mysterious, and entertaining!

This is a suspenseful thriller that reminds us that terrorism can often be homegrown and emphasizes just how dangerous anger, hatred, and religious fanaticism can truly be.

The writing is clear and precise. The main character, Sunday Night, is tough, intelligent, and determined, and the supporting characters are an intriguing mix of ruthless, persistent zealots, and a charming, dependable brother.

I have to say that die-hard fans of the Temperance Brennan series may be a little disappointed in this latest outing by Reichs which doesn’t have the scientific jargon and forensic analysis we typically associate with her novels, but there’s no question that Reichs is a great writer and if you read this new novel with an open mind you will recognize her trademark strong, flawed, female protagonist and straightforward style of writing that could definitely lead to another bestselling series for her.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Goodreads Giveaways for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Kathy Reichs visit her website at: kathyreichs.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @KathyReichs

#BlogTour & #BookReview
Every Secret Thing By Rachel Crowther
@bookollective

Synopsis:

Can you ever bury the past?

She’d recognised in him something of herself: that sense of not belonging, of secrets fiercely kept . . .

Five friends, newly graduated, travel together to the Lake District. Young and ambitious, they little imagine the events that will overtake them that fateful summer, tearing their fragile group apart.

Twenty years later, they return to the same spot, summoned by a mysterious bequest. It’s not long before old friendships – and old romances – are re-kindled. But soon, too, rivalries begin to re-emerge and wounds are painfully reopened . . .

How long does it take for past sins to be forgiven? And can the things they destroy ever really be recovered?


Book Rating: 7/10

Intense, sobering, and perceptive!

This is a character-driven novel that reminds us that life is precious and short and that everyone and everything that enters it shapes, defines, and influences us.

The writing is intelligent and descriptive. The characters are complex, secretive, and selfish. And the plot, although a little slow at times, is narrated from multiple perspectives and written in a past/present style that does a remarkable job of revealing all the personalities, motivations, and actions within it and finishes with a nice little twist.

This is ultimately a novel about life, friendship, secrets, manipulation, desire, jealousy, acceptance and forgiveness and has a very contemplative, moody feel. And although it is very clear from the onset that Crowther is a strong, literary writer I would have preferred the characters to have a few more redeeming qualities and be a little more likable.

About the Author:

Rachel Crowther qualified as a doctor and worked in the NHS for twenty years before succumbing to a lifelong yearning to write fiction, previously indulged during successive bouts of maternity leave. She has an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Oxford Brookes, and a string of prizes for her short fiction.

Her first novel, THE PARTRIDGE AND THE PELICAN, was published in 2011 and was a Tatler ‘sizzling summer read’. THE THINGS YOU DO FOR LOVE is published in August 2016 and has been called ‘a delight of a read’ by Fay Weldon, ‘the very best sort of fiction’ by Juliet Nicolson (A House Full of Daughters) and ‘a richly textured tale of life and love’ by Richard Mason (The Drowning People).

Rachel has five children, two mad dogs and an abiding passion for music, art, cooking and travel, both in Britain and further afield. She currently lives in Surrey.

Thank you to Bookollective for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Rachel Crowther, visit her website at: rachelcrowther.co.uk

#BlogTour & #BookReview
Perfect Score by Susan Roebuck
@suemonte @fayerogersuk

Synopsis:

Feckless, exasperating Alex Finch is a rich, handsome and talented singer/songwriter who longs for two things: a career as a professional rock singer, and to have his love for Sam Barrowdale reciprocated. But drifter Sam’s two aims are simply to earn enough money to pay his sister’s medical bills and to hide from the world his reading/writing and speech disability. At this time the word “dyslexia” is generally unknown so to most people he’s just a “retard”. From the severe knocks life’s dealt him, Sam’s developed a tough outer coating and he has no time for a spoilt, selfish guitar player.

Despite his defects, Alex’s love for Sam never wavers and when Sam unexpectedly disappears, Alex begins a somewhat bungling quest to find him, only to discover that Sam has a fearful enemy: Alex’s powerful and influential yet sociopathic uncle.

As Alex spirals downwards towards alcoholism, many questions need answering. Just why did Alex’s evil uncle adopt him at age eleven yet deny him any affection? And what’s the mystery behind Alex’s father’s death?

Both seem to face unbeatable odds. Are they doomed to follow separate paths forever?


Book Rating: 7/10

Romantic, reflective and heartwarming!

In this novel by Roebuck, she transports us back to the 1960s to the rugged terrain of the dusty prairies where life is hard; blood, sweat, and tears are the norm; and small-minded mentality surrounding politics, economics, special needs, and sexuality is rampant.

The characters are troubled, unique, and endearing. And the plot, which is ultimately about life, loss, survival, family, morality and love has a lot of subplots and tackles a lot of issues, including industrial pollution, pharmaceutical negligence, homelessness, abuse and sexual orientation.

This is a very complex, intriguing story that definitely has a “Brokeback Mountain” feel with that deep, enduring, underlying bond and love between the two main characters. And even though Roebuck did an exceptional job of writing the narration and dialogue true to the characters natures and time period, at times I did feel it caused a little disruption in my connection to the story and the overall flow.

About the Author

My first love is, of course, my husband, my second writing, and my third painting. And now I have time to be able to indulge in all three.

My debut novel, “Perfect Score” was published by Awe-Struck Publishing on Sept 21, 2010 and the paperback was launched on May 11 2011. In May 2017 Mundania Press re-released the ebook.

Perfect Score was an EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) finalist in the 2012 EPIC e-Book Awards in the Mainstream Category.

“Perfect Score” is set in mid West USA in the 1960s and is a story about family relationships, corruption, growing up, integrity, responsibility, and being a man of worth in a society of the worthless.

“Hewhay Hall” is my second novel, published by Etopia Press on April 20, 2012. It has won the EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) 2013 e-Book Award in the Horror Category (an EPPIE)

Thank you to Susan Roebuck and Faye Rogers for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                      

For more information on Susan Roebuck, visit her website at: susanroebuck.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @suemonte

 

#BookReview
You Will Pay by Lisa Jackson
@readlisajackson @KensingtonBooks

Synopsis:

In a fast-paced, brilliantly twisted novel of suspense from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson, the deadly secrets of a long-ago summer stir to life once more.

It starts as a prank a way to blow off steam after a long summer at Camp Horseshoe. Among the teen counselors, tensions and hormones are running high. No wonder the others agree when Jo-Beth Chancellor suggests they scare Monica O Neal a little or a lot. Monica has it coming, and no one will really get hurt. What could go wrong?

Everything.

Twenty years later, Lucas Dalton, a senior detective with the sheriff s department, is investigating the discovery of human remains in a cavern at what used to be Camp Horseshoe. Lucas knows the spot well. His father, a preacher, ran the camp, and Lucas worked there that infamous summer when two girls went missing. One is believed to have been killed by a convict on the loose. Monica O Neal is thought to have drowned and been washed out to sea.

Lucas knows he should step down from such a personal case. He s already jeopardized his career by removing evidence of his involvement. But maybe it s time to uncover the whole truth at last. That s why five former female counselors are coming back to the small Oregon town among them, Bernadette Warden, the woman Lucas has never forgotten. Each one knows something about that terrible night. Each promised not to tell. And as they reunite, a new horror unfolds. First come notes containing a personal memento and a simple, terrifying message: You will pay. Then, the murders begin.

It started years ago. But it will end here as a web of lust, greed, and betrayal is untangled to reveal a killer waiting to enact the perfect revenge.


Book Rating: 7/10

Dark, complex, and extremely suspenseful!

This is an action-packed novel that delves into how manipulative, oppressive and malicious teens can truly be and the extent to which they will go to try to fit in.

It is, ultimately, a story about secrets, friendship, coming-of-age, obsession, jealousy, adultery and murder.

The writing is well done. The characters are cunning, selfish and deceptive. And the plot is written in an alluring past/present, back-and-forth style that unravels piece-by piece all the personalities, relationships, motivations and actions within it.

When it comes to writing thrilling mysteries Lisa Jackson is one of the best. However, I do have to admit that even though I enjoyed this story and the surprise ending, I did find the characters to be somewhat unsympathetic and the plot to have a little too many twists and turns for me to fully connect and completely love it.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Kensington Books, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Lisa Jackson, visit her website at: lisajackson.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @readlisajackson

 

#BookReview
It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell
@MCampbellBooks @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.

How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?


Book Rating: 7/10

Complex, intriguing, and gloomy!

This is a character-driven novel that delves into just how much our friendships and relationships can define us and highlights just how parasitic some of them can really be.

The writing is well done. The characters are selfish, scheming and deceptive. And although the plot in the first half of the novel is a little slow as the author delves deeply into the different personalities and motivations of each character, the second half is definitely much more exciting, intense and action-packed with as many suspects as motives and an ending with a contemplative twist.

This is ultimately a novel about friendship, secrets, manipulation, jealousy, obsession, adultery and murder and a good debut for Campbell. In fact, some readers will love the dark, moody feel of the story and the cast of characters with no redeeming qualities between them. Unfortunately for me, the lack of characters with any sort of moral or ethical conscience made it hard to connect and left me a little indifferent of the story overall.

About the Author:

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.

She’s had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on May 16, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this novel from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Michele Campbell, visit her website at: MicheleCampbellBooks.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @MCampbellBooks

#BookReview & #BookGiveaway
Red Clover Inn by Carla Neggers
@CarlaNeggers @HarlequinBooks

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers delivers an irresistible story about love, family and finding a place to call home..

Marine archaeologist Charlotte Bennett is no stranger to risk, but her dives into sunken wreckage are always meticulously planned. However, being the maid of honor in her cousin Samantha’s English wedding gives her a new perspective on her life as a nomad who’s given up on romance altogether. Though an encounter with roguish wedding guest Greg Rawlings leaves her unsettled, the other people she meets make a trip to the tranquil town of Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, enticing. Acting on impulse, Charlotte offers to house-sit at Red Clover Inn while Sam and Justin Sloan are away on their honeymoon.

The quaint inn isn’t open to the public yet and Charlotte will have quiet time to plan her next project. It might also give her a chance to see how her cousin found love and a sense of family. But the peace is immediately disrupted when Greg shows up at the inn. The Diplomatic Security Service agent lives a dangerous life, and he, too, wants to clear his head before his next assignment. Juggling work, raising his two teenage children and nursing a wounded heart has left him jaded, and the last thing he expects is to find himself falling for the willful Charlotte. As the attraction between them flares, Charlotte realizes she might be in too deep. And each of them must decide if they can put love first before it’s too late.


Book Rating: 7/10

Lighthearted, easy and sweet!

In this latest novel in the Swift River Valley series Neggers once again takes us back to Knights Bridge with its beautiful landscape, intriguing inn and small-town charm.

The writing is straightforward. The characters are strong, dependable and pensive. And the plot which seems to get a little bogged down in the first half of the story with information into all the characters and relationships between them definitely picks up in the second half and is quite compelling, mysterious, engaging and romantic. 

Overall this is an enjoyable, entertaining read and fans of Carla Neggers and the Swift River Valley series will love not only this new addition to the Bennett and Sloan clan but will really appreciate the opportunity to catch up with some of the beloved characters from previous novels.

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with not only a copy in exchange for an honest review but a copy to give away (please see below).

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Carla Neggers visit her website at: carlaneggers.com

or on Twitter at: @CarlaNeggers

 

International Giveaway

And now thanks to Harlequin Books, one lucky reader of What’s Better Than Books? will receive a paperback copy of Red Clover Inn by Carla Neggers as well as a Red Clover Inn Door Hanger. 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

#BookReview
No Easy Target by Iris Johansen
@Iris_Johansen @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen returns with another thriller, No Easy Target

Margaret Douglas has worked hard to put her painful past behind her. Raised off the grid in an abusive home, her only escape was the nearby forest where she sought refuge whenever she could. There, in the peaceful woods, she discovered a strange gift: the ability to understand animals and to communicate with them. And so those creatures became her only friends, her only joy during a desolate childhood. Now Margaret wants nothing more than to live a quiet life, close to the animals and under the radar. But her abilities have not gone unnoticed and there are those who would use them for their own purposes. Determined not to be a pawn in anyone’s game, every time someone gets too close, Margaret uproots her life and outruns them.

When John Lassiter breaks into Margaret’s apartment, she vanishes again, but Lassiter has good reason to be persistent. As a CIA operative, he owes his life to his men , one of whom is being held captive by an unrelenting enemy—an enemy who has set his sights on Margaret. Which means that Lassiter must control her to use her as bait.

With danger in hot pursuit, Margaret finds herself matching wits with a man who refuses to stop or be stopped. Turning from the hunted to the hunter, Margaret must use everything she has ever learned to not only survive, but to defeat a great evil. And to prove once and for all that she’s no easy target.


Book Rating: 7/10

Suspenseful, macabre and entertaining!

This is an intense, often disturbing, romantic thriller that reminds us of the dark, despicable evil that exists in the criminal underworld and takes us on a journey into the jungles of Colombia and a world filled with sadism, violence, murder, revenge, lust and a little supernatural.

The writing is good. The main character, Margaret, is intelligent, determined, and unique, and the other characters are a mix of despicable villains, a handsome hero and an adorable dog.

Fans of Johansen will not be disappointed with this latest outing which utilizes her trademark strong, female protagonist and straightforward storyline and will be excited to finally get a better understanding of the Margaret Douglas character we’ve often seen a glimpse of in the Eve Duncan series.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley and Goodreads Giveaways for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on April 25, 2017.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Iris Johansen visit her website at: irisjohansen.com

or follow her on Twitter at@Iris_Johansen

#BookReview
White Sand, Blue Sea by Anita Hughes
@hughesanita @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

Olivia Miller is standing on the porch of her mother and stepfather’s plantation style villa in St. Barts. They have been coming here every April for years but she is always thrilled to see the horseshoe shaped bay of Gustavia and white sand of Gouverneur’s Beach. This trip should be particularly exciting because she is celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday and hoping that Finn, her boyfriend of four years, will propose.

The only person who won’t be here is her father, Sebastian, who she hasn’t seen in twenty years. He’s a well-known artist and crisscrosses the globe, painting and living in exotic locations like Kenya and China. When Sebastian walks unexpectedly walks through the door and floats back into Olivia’s life like a piece of bad driftwood she never knew she wanted, she starts to wondering if her world is too narrow. She questions the dreams and the relationship she’s always thought she wanted. But there seems to be more to the story than an innocent fatherly visit, and Olivia must decide if love is more important than truth.

Set on St. Barts, the jewel of the Caribbean, WHITE SAND, BLUE SEA is a heartwarming story about romance and adventure, and most importantly, about knowing yourself, and what makes you happy.


Book Rating: 7/10

Charming, engaging and lighthearted!

In this new novel by Hughes we are transported to the beautiful island of St. Barts complete with pristine beaches, exquisite restaurants, designer boutiques, and million-dollar yachts and are swept into a story that delves into the complexities of maternal, paternal and romantic relationships and highlights the importance of honesty and communication.

The writing is descriptive and smooth. The characters are an appealing variety of young and mature; unsure and grounded; stable and peripatetic; loved and secure. And the plot is a sweet journey about discovering oneself, appreciating what you have, letting go of the past and the power of unconditional love.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, easy read that is a nice choice for a relaxing, sunny afternoon.

About the Author

ANITA HUGHES is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, and Christmas in Paris. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California where she is at work on her next novel. 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on April 11, 2017. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Anita Hughes, visit her website at: anitahughesbooks.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @hughesanita

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