By Laura Trentham
Family Life -- Release Date: February 5, 2019
Five years after losing her military husband, Harper Wilcox is still grieving. After Noah's untimely death overseas, Harper moved back to her hometown in Kitty Hawk, NC with her son, Ben. Now, her somewhat eccentric, yet loving mom insists she should get on with her life. But can she?
Harper wants to know how Noah died—did he suffer? Did he die quickly? What actually happened? The only person who can answer that and offer closure is Noah's best buddy, Navy SEAL, Bennett Caldwell.
Harper decides to visit Allison with whom she bonded when their husbands were deployed. Allison's upsetting emails have Harper needing to find out what is happening. She arrives at Ft. Bragg, realizing Allison's husband has PTSD, and Allison is anxious about what she can do to overcome the stress she and her children are suffering.
When Allison mentions how difficult the other wives are having finding jobs, they implement a plan to start a coffee shop which will help suppress the loneliness and give them a sense of purpose.
Harper tells Allison of her qualms about Noah, and how she received a hefty check as an honor award, delivered by Bennett. When Allison states there's no such thing, Harper wonders . . . why did Bennett do this? Is he hiding something?
A trip to Bennett's survival camp brings her face to face with the last person to see Noah alive, but Bennett is adamant, refusing to talk to her. Harper does not give up and she pursues Bennett hoping for answers, but they both find more than expected.
A sweet tale of love and heartache, with the inevitability of war, proves there can be a second chance for happiness.
by Megan Collins
Women's Fiction -- Release Date: February 5, 2019
Sylvie O'Leary has been carrying the grief of her older sister, Persephone's death for years. The two were close and when Persephone secretly started seeing Ben Emory, Sylvie covered for her. Their single mom, Annie forbade both girls to date, and though Persephone was eighteen, she had to sneak out to be with Ben.
One winter night, Sylvie locked their bedroom window so Persephone couldn't get back in. Sylvie was tired of covering for her, and assumed Persephone would ring the doorbell and her secret would be out. She heard Persephone knocking but feigned sleep and wouldn't let her in. Instead, she watched her leave and head back to Ben's car. Only, she never returned.
Distraught, Annie phoned the police and her sister, Jill who stayed with them until they received word that Persephone's body was discovered dumped under a snow bank. A hysterical Annie hid in her room and began drinking.
Sylvie felt Persephone would still be alive if only she let her in. Her relationship with her mom soon became intolerable so she went to stay with her aunt Jill. After high school, she left Connecticut to go to college and live in Rhode Island.
Now, sixteen years later, Jill summons Sylvie home to care for Annie who is undergoing cancer treatment. She does not want to return but is obligated to. But, she wants answers. What exactly happened to Persephone that night? Who killed her? Thinking it was Ben she confronts him and sees he is still grieving over her loss. Conversation with her distant mother brings no resolution and though the case is still open it's now cold.
Familial bonds are shattered, hearts are broken, and secrets are withheld until the ugly truth is exposed. "The Winter Sister" is a mesmerizing, complex thriller.
by Sonja Yoerg
Lake Union Publishing
Contemporary Women's Fiction
Release Date: January 1, 2019
How many women care for others and forget about themselves? Suzanne Blakemore constantly does for her family, and though now grown, her parents still intimidate her, making her feel inferior. She wants to please those she loves, but what about pleasing herself?
One day while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway to soothe her soul she discovers a young, emaciated child who is apparently abandoned. At the hospital, she states her name is Iris. She is sixteen and has been living alone in the mountains for three years. Her father left six years prior and her mother died from a fall. Unfamiliar with modern life, Iris cowers from everyone but Suzanne who empathizes with the malnourished girl who is terrified of her current surroundings.
Suzanne is troubled by her own domestic problems. Her fifteen-year-old daughter Brynn is surly and rebellious, son, Reid considered an outcast by his dad for following his own path, and her husband, Whit is only interested in his business and making money. Suzanne feels the need to support Iris.
Not only suffering from poor self-esteem, but Suzanne is also plagued with panic attacks. She wonders if this is because she is not true to herself. Distressed with her family and upset by a nasty stunt Brynn played on Iris, Suzanne leaves, taking Iris to find the cabin where she lived.
It's understandable for a captive child with no contact to the outside world to be skittish, but Iris is intelligent, not only from existing in the wilderness, but she possesses independence and self-reliance. Yet who taught her to read, etc? A naive teen overwhelmed by society, she perseveres. Descriptive prose, in-depth introspection, and finding oneself is the focal point of this enchanting novel.
By Dennis Cuesta
Celestial Eyes Press
Contemporary Fiction -- Release Date: October 29, 2018
Mark, a Chicago independent financial planner, learns his Aunt Vivian just passed away and bequeathed him her property in Manistique on the Upper Peninsula of Lake Michigan. As a youngster, she wrote to him, though he hadn't heard from her in years for she served as an international doctor in far-away, war-torn countries.
Now, checking out his newly acquired residence, he plans to sell and get on with his life. When the doorbell rings, he is surprised to see a young woman on the porch, a patch covering her eye. Introducing herself as Dr. Emily Davis, she says she was driving through and a deer ran into her smashing the windshield, and she needs a room for the night until her car can be repaired.
A room? Mark doesn't know what she's talking about until she asks, "Isn't this Manistique Victorian, the B & B?" Stymied, not knowing what to say, Emily ingratiates herself in the door admitting there's no place else to stay. Mark, somewhat put off, is intrigued.
Emily, finished with her medical training had been on the way to meet her mentor, an older doctor with whom she's smitten, yet second thoughts had her decide to head west toward home when the deer hit.
Though not open for business, Mark lets Emily stay the night, and before he knows it, another guest arrives—this with a previous reservation Mark was not able to cancel. Along with his girlfriend, Mark now finds himself with three guests before an elderly gentleman is unceremoniously dumped at his door. Emily and Mark connect, and she helps him with the innkeeper duties.
Reminiscent of the old "Newhart" TV show, this novel offers slap-stick humor, engaging characters, and a series of mishaps keeps them all hopping.
By Nancy Naigle
St. Martin's Press
Contemporary romance -- Release date: October 16, 2018
"Dear Santa," set in the small coastal town of Pleasant Sands, North Carolina finds Angela Carson in a dilemma. She fears she will lose her business, The Heart of Christmas Shop, which has been in her family for generations. Housed in the decommissioned lighthouse her great-grandparents once maintained and passed down to her, her establishment offers only high-end holiday merchandise not found anywhere else.When Christmas Galore, a big box company, opens in town, Angela realizes she cannot compete with them. They offer a wide range of products, with most of their stock consisting of lower-priced items. Even though Angela provides collectibles meant to become family heirlooms, she is devastated when shoppers flock to Geoff Paisley's business, and she fears she will be forced to close.
By Donna VanLiere
St. Martin's Press
Contemporary Fiction -- Release Date: October 16, 2018
Mr. G. (AKA Gabe) is the janitor at the Grandon Elementary School. A reformed alcoholic, he is getting his life back on track after drinking ended his marriage. His job and connecting with children bring him much happiness. In particular, he enjoys seven-year-old Maddie, who is a foster child with cerebral palsy. She is loquacious and outgoing and has won Gabe's heart, especially seeing he leads a solitary existence.
Amy Denison, an insurance adjuster feels something missing in her life. She's become a loner after a ruined relationship, but she loves children so she decides to volunteer at Glory's Place, where youngsters go for after-school care until their parents can come for them. It is here where Amy meets Maddie, and she too is immediately besotted by the child.
Maddie is cheerful, loving, and upbeat despite her affliction, and she adores Mr. G. and now Amy too. Deciding to be a match-maker, Maddie insists Gabe and Amy meet. After all, they are both all alone, and Maddie wants everyone to be happy. When they do get together, Maddie learns they already know each other, but can she persuade them to be a couple? Can hurt be absolved and the past be changed? Never underestimate the power of a child who is determined to achieve what she knows and believes is right.
Though the plot is predictable, this enchanting tale offers subplots to make one smile with charming as well as humorous characters. A fast-paced, quick read, "A Christmas Star" encompasses heartbreak as well as forgiveness and joy creating a happy ever after.
By Jodi Picoult
Contemporary Women's Fiction--Release Date: Oct. 2, 2018
Hugh McElroy, a hostage negotiator in Jackson, MS is raising his teenage daughter, Wren alone. She is uncomfortable talking to her father about sex so she asks her Aunt Bex, with whom she's close, to take her to the Center to get birth control. Not that she's having relations yet, she wants to be prepared if she chooses to go "all the way."
Wren insists Bex keep this is a secret, knowing her dad would go ballistic and lecture her. Needless to say, Wren and Bex arrive at the facility which is known for performing abortions. Protestors try to stop them, but they are ignored.
A madman unexpectedly decides this is his day to take vengeance on the clinic and brandishes his gun killing the owner and wounding others. After Bex is shot, not fatally, Olive, an older patient grabs Wren to escape to a supply closet.
Their luck is short lived as this man—George Goddard, with a score to settle—has an employee search the building for other occupants, thus, Olive and Wren are dragged into the waiting room with the others.
Hugh is on the scene to negotiate with George, not revealing to his colleagues that his sister and daughter are hostages. Wren texts him until her cell dies, but she believes her dad will rescue them.
The controversial topic of abortion is given profound insight with different characters offering their perspective. "A Spark of Light" commences with the conclusion of the crime relating to the day's beginning. This unusual concept of writing the novel backward in time allows the reader to attain a riveting, in-depth look into the characters' feelings, beliefs, and actions.
Crooked Lane Books
Mystery/Thriller -- Release Date: September 21, 2018
"The Guilty Dead," book nine in the Monkeewrench series written by a mother and daughter. The complex character consists of Harley Davidson, Roadrunner, Annie Belinsky, and Grace McBride, who is in the eighth month of her pregnancy. These foursome-partners of computer experts, own the Monkeewrench Software company, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Several of their cases come to them through homicide detectives, Gino Rolseth, and Leo Magozzi—Grace's baby's daddy—in addition to other local and federal authorities.
The wealthy Minneapolis philanthropist, Gregory Norwood is planning to scatter the ashes of his son, Trey, who passed away a year before from a heroin overdose, of which his death was considered suspicious. When Greg is found dead in his study from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound the two detectives are called in to investigate find the elder Norwood's death. They declare this to be a homicide, and when a photographer/ reporter who allegedly has information about Greg's death is found slain, they know something fishy is going on.
Special Agent Dahl from the FBI calls Harley in the wee hours asking for a private meeting. Harley meets with him to learn the agency wants to use Monkeewrench's expertise about an issue of national security. They need help with terrorist threats and want the team to hack ("test") a new software program which will allow them to identify security breaches and targets of possible attacks. They are starting the first beta tests and need Monkeewrench to implement them so they can't be detected by radar. Their information proclaims that an attack is anticipated to happen in close proximity of them and they must hurry to thwart the attempts of the perpetrators.
This well-plotted novel offers a large cast of characters, all of which add to the suspense of the story. The unexpected deaths now ruled as homicides and the quest for the suspected terrorists unite, bringing more to light while merging these two scenarios. Fast-paced and intriguing, this novel proves to be a page turner, having new-bee readers to this series eager to grab the first eight engrossing books.
By Nicole McLaughlin
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Contemporary Romance -- Release Date: August 28, 2018
Book three in the Whiskey and Wedding series has Alexis Parker home from her military position. She is still grieving the loss of her fiancé, Nate who perished in a helicopter accident while in the Air Force a year ago. Now with three months before she starts her new job with the CIA as a geospatial engineer, she decides to help her brother with his business. He, along with two of his buddies own Stag, a distillery, which is also a venue for weddings and other affairs.
While Alex was away completing her duties in the Army, she befriended Jake, one of the Stag owners. They emailed each other, and she felt comfortable opening up to him about her life and the pain of her sorrow over losing Nate. Their relationship equals a great friendship and can talk to him about anything.
As part of a marketing campaign, Jake takes the company RV out to different areas promoting Stag's products. He got into hot water at one campaign when he hooked up with a young woman, allegedly shucking his duties and causing some comments which got back to the other owners, They were not happy about the situation, and this also caused some between them. Jake wouldn't admit it, but his feelings were hurt and he lost confidence in his position within the business.
Now, Jake's about to go on another tour and Alex suggests she accompany him. She's been staying with her brother and his soon-to-be wife, and it's making her sad seeing them so happy. She also believes she's a third wheel, though it's not been said. At first Jake is surprised she wants to go with him, but he agrees after Alex's brother, Dean, makes him promise there'll be no funny business between the two of them. Alex pooh-poohs him, stating they are just good friends. But isn't there a saying that "good friends make the best lovers?" Steamy and sensual, the emotions are stop on giving the novel depth.
By Kieran Kramer
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Contemporary Fiction -- Release Date: August 28, 2018
The third book in the Two Love Lane series introduces the reader to Hank and Ella, a couple who being apart for ten years, appear, after a while, to pick up as though no time passed between them. The setting is Charleston, South Carolina, and the Two Love Lane matchmaking agency where two of the owners, all now good friends, try to push Ella, another owner, into a relationship.
Ella always wanted a career as an actress, but missed out on a big part while hoping her boyfriend, Hank would ask for her hand in marriage. Instead, he had left town before looking for fame, leaving Ella high and dry and with a broken heart.
Now, after all this time, she is offered a tiny part in a movie. This excites her, but she is also anxious when she learns Hank is to be the lead. She still feels an attraction to him, but what will happen now that they're thrust together again? After all, he took off, and if they reconnect, what's to say, he won't leave and break her heart again?
Surrounded by her large and loving family and friends, Ella is happy with her life. She works at the dating agency, picks up small commercials, and acting in plays, though her heart strings still tug after Hank. Can he give up his own selfish needs and desires and realize he and Ella belong together?
Sub plots which include the characters, Miss Thing (that's right!), Pammy and Samantha, add excitement and humor, and Ella's mom's part supplied heartache. Hank's character grates on one's nerves and he deserves a good kick in the backside, but it's the emotions and angst divided among all the payers that carries this novel to its satisfying conclusion.
By Claire Allan
Psychological Thriller--Release Date: Sept. 4, 2019
How many women are taken in by a charismatic man only to discover he's a snake? This is what happened with Emily D'Arcy causing her hurt and humiliation. As time passes Emily tries to forget her betrayal and starts a new, though uneventful life.
One day she witnesses a young woman with an infant in a pram plowed down by a hit-and-run driver. The woman dies instantly, but fortunately the child is spared. A paranoid Emily believes her past lover meant this tragedy to happen to her.
Escaping death, Emily learns the victim is Rose Grahame, wife of the famous author, Cian. Emily becomes obsessed with the dead woman by constantly perusing her and Cian's Facebook pages. Drawn to Cian, she wants to offer sympathy.
Upon learning Rose worked for a dentist, Emily applies for her job, without letting on she saw the accident or ever heard of Rose or Cian. When she is hired she hears about how perfect and loved Rose had been.
Cian brings the baby in for an appointment and befriends Emily. Excited, she feels she can console him. She falls prey to his charm and an affair commences, with her dreaming of taking Rose's place.
Rose's killer is identified but later found dead, supposedly by his own hand. His mother swears he would never commit suicide, and an investigation commences into his life. The police notice a recent large deposit to his bank account raising questions. They scrutinize Cian and Emily, who is seen with him, and is so besotted, she swears he is innocent. But is he?
Well-developed characters with an emotional and powerful plot leave the reader wondering, does one really know those they are close to?
By Laura Trentham
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Contemporary Romance -- Release Date: July 31, 2018
By Eric Rickstad
Suspense -- Release Date: July 24, 2018
Lucinda Welch and Sally Baum were best friends who shared everything. At age six and exploring the forbidden woods, Sally confided seeing a strange man, making Lucinda promise not to tell anyone.
Sally and her mother suddenly vanish. In the small town of Ivers, Maine, the fearful citizens pointed fingers at Jonah, Sally's dad. He admitted to arguing with his wife the night before but never considered she would take their child and flee. A thorough search commenced to no avail. Sheriff Maurice, Jonah's friend could find no grounds to arrest him, though everyone believed Johan killed his family.
Jonah's severe grief had him leave his home to become a squatter in the mountains. He rarely came to town, where he was ostracized by many.
Twenty-five years pass, and Jonah arrives at Lucinda's Grain & Feed store for supplies. She denies him credit later regretting her decision for she also grieves with Jonah. She cannot endure losing Sally, and though she believes Jonah innocent, she has a business to run. Plagued by guilt, she decides to visit him, but as the Deputy, she is called to locate a missing girl. This child's foster parents swear she was abducted. Investigation of their house shows abuse. Lucinda realizes this is the exact date when Sally and her mom disappeared
A witness tells Lucinda someone was in Jonah's long-abandoned house and she is pulled in many directions: to see Jonah, to look for the child, to investigate Johan's home, and to be with her ailing father.
A spine-tingling tale, questions arise: How can Jonah survive two-plus decades in a decrepit cabin with no money? Why is his old home still vacant? Otherwise, this suspenseful novel is a page-turner.
By Lisa Stone
Thriller -- Release Date: June 14, 2018
Do homeowners with monitored security systems ever consider that maybe they are being watched? People install these devices to feel protected, but imagine if the installer uses cameras and video to watch and listen to your every move without your knowledge? Scary isn't it?
This is what Derek Flint does. An odd duck who keeps to himself, he lives with his abrasive mother caring for her since his father left while he was a teenager. Like his mum, he is argumentative and obsessive; without friends, his life centers on observing his clients', considering them his "family." He believes watching his customers keep them safe from all kinds of harm.
Though a loner, Derek employed different apprentices over the years. When Paul Mellows his latest, mentions things to a client Derek does not approve of, he is terminated. Paul threatens him about shady information he knows of Derek, so he is forced to accept his bribe or ruin his reputation and company.
A series of crimes occur with several of Derek's customers causing the authorities to investigate him and his past employees. DC Beth Mayes' instinct tells her these incidents originate with Derek. Her constant scrutiny makes him nervous, though he hasn't committed any offenses unless one considers "spying" wrong.
Derek is someone to be compassionate about, yet one wonders if he is a pervert or just an introvert looking out for the well being of others. "Stalker" is a definite page-turner and one can more or less deduce the outcome, though with the suspense right on target, you'll want to finish the novel. In addition to a great read, information regarding CCTVs and alarm systems are included, making one think twice about who they can trust.
By Susan Wiggs
Amish Inspirational -- Release Date: June 26, 2018
Amish raised Caleb Stoltz defies his upbringing when he takes college classes during his rumspringa. Though he loves his family, he wants more than an eighth-grade education and living the "simple" life. As he decides about going out into the world, his brother John, and sister-in-law are brutally murdered leaving behind their two children, sixteen-year-old Hannah and eleven-year-old Jonah. Caleb promised John on his deathbed to raise his youngsters in the faith, meaning giving up his dreams.
One day Jonah suffers a horrendous accident when his arm gets caught in a silo. Against tradition, yet fearful for the boy's life, Caleb allows the paramedics to transport Jonah to a Philadelphia hospital for immediate care. His limb, too damaged to be saved is amputated. Caleb mourns for his beloved nephew and wonders how he will be able to make it where work is performed using both hands.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Caleb meets med-student, Reese Powell. Reese is drawn to the quiet, handsome man and the gentleness he shows to Jonah. Though her life is filled with studies, working, and pressure from her physician parents to abide by their directives, she spends time with Jonah and Caleb.
Reese and Caleb's attraction is strong, yet Reese's life is predestined and they come from two different worlds. Can she defy her folks and not pursue the path they are preparing for her? Would Caleb leave the existence he was born into to follow his aspirations and break his promise to his brother? Both heart-wrenching and emotional, "Between You and Me" offers a touching theme of love and family.
By Shelley Noble
William Morrow Paperbacks
Contemporary Women's Fiction -- Release Date: May 29, 2018
Surgeon Lillo Gray leaves her career to move back to her childhood home in Lighthouse Beach, Maine. Disappointed in herself, she feels remorse for the sacrifices her folks made for her, only to become a recluse on this tiny island.
Lillo is surprised to receive an invitation to the Jess Parker's wedding whom she hasn't seen in more than a decade. The daughter of a wealthy and domineering businessman, Jess spent summers at Lillo's parent's camp. Out of her league with those well-off, she attends wearing a borrowed dress and driving a broken down car.
Jess's two college friends, Allie and Diana, are with Lillo when they witness Jess's fiancé James, having sex in the parking lot with a waitress. Humiliated, Jess urges them to escape to Lillo's cottage. She doesn't like the jerk, but this was a planned marriage by her father, and Jess is determined to break the familial bonds.
Not prepared for this interruption, Lillo knows the women are used to posh spas, so how will they handle her rustic home with only one bathroom?
Not exactly anyone's idea of a weekend at the shore... She [Lillo] wasn't being fair. No one had complained, not once. Not only had they not complained, they had embraced her friends, her lifestyle...
Ned, an old friend of Lillo's, shows up to do his medical stint in the town clinic. He wants Lillo to get back to doctoring, but scars from her past keep her away.
"Lighthouse Beach" offers a bit of mystery as to why Lillo gave up her beloved livelihood, as well as the other's problems. This cast of strong and intriguing characters slays their personal demons, discovering an inner strength and camaraderie endearing them to the reader as they work through their trials.
By Carol Goodman
Suspense -- Release Date: March 27, 2018
It's not unusual to revere someone one to want to emulate them. Such is the case with Daphne Marist. After giving birth to her daughter, Chloe, she succumbs to severe post-partum depression. Peter, her controlling husband, makes her join a support group for other mom's dealing with similar problems. It is here she meets Laurel Hobbes.
The two women bond with Laurel taking Daphne under her wing, having her hair styled the same and dressing alike, "cloning" Daphne to be her twin. Soon both are thrown into a state of paranoia believing their husbands are against them. Daphne searches for employment for Laurel to help her escape, yet one day she discovers Laurel dead in her bathtub.
Daphne's already fragile mind plays tricks on her so she grabs limited items and Chloe and flees. She considers she really is Laurel and the woman in her tub is Daphne. She takes on Laurel's persona and runs, taking the archivist job meant for Laurel with Schuyler (Sky) Bennett, Daphne's favorite author.
Posing as Laurel, Daphne delves into her duties and is drawn into Sky's history and that of her father who ran the adjacent mental institution. She becomes obsessed with Edith, a patient committed to the hospital forty years prior.
Meanwhile, the police investigating Laurel's death insist it is Daphne who is deceased after taking her own life. Daphne insists she is playing a charade and is using Laurel's identity to evade Peter. Considered delusional, she is confined to the asylum.
This powerful psychological thriller is filled with twists and turns, keeping the reader on edge. Included are separate journal entries by Laurel, Daphne, and Edith, portraying their skewed minds. Frightening as well as frustrating, the juxtaposition of each well-defined personality is riddled with riveting suspense.
By Simone St. James
Mystery/Thriller -- Release Date: March 20, 2018
Idlewild Hall in Vermont housed a boarding school for delinquent, illegitimate, and unwanted girls. In 1950 four roommates Katie, CeCe, Roberta, and Sonia, each with different pasts were close friends who shared their fears and problems. A legend rumored the ghost of a woman named Mary Hand stalked the campus, and some claimed to have actually seen her.
One weekend, Sonia, who managed to escape from a Nazi prison camp visits her elderly relatives but never returns. She hoped they would keep her so she could get out of Idlewild, but her friends suspect she was killed. Was Mary Hand involved?
Her suitcase is discovered on school land with all her belongings. Because she is an orphan, no one in authority worried about her disappearance, and after a few days, the search is called off.
The story segues to the present with journalist Fiona Sheridan being drawn to the old site which long since closed down. Twenty years ago, Fiona's older sister's brutally murdered body had been found on the grounds. Now someone has purchased the property with plans to renovate. Fiona's curiosity is piqued and though her sister's murderer is incarcerated, she believes something is amiss about her case and new discoveries at the old institution.
This novel is actually two-in-one tales of the 1950s along with recent discoveries that related to back then. Intense research includes World War II atrocities. Though there are a few disparities, this highly engrossing tale is entertaining. The juxtaposition between the past and current time blend well together to offer a cohesive and educational read which is mind-boggling.
By Sally Hepworth
St. Martin's Press
Psychological Thriller -- Release Date: March 6, 2018
"The Family Next Door" is set in Australia, where the reader is introduced to the residents who live in the Pleasant Court cul-de-sac. The neighbors are friendly yet each household is facing different circumstances that are common in life.
Essie suffers post-partum depression after delivering her first daughter Mia, and on a walk, she unknowingly leaves her in her pram in the park. Barbara, Essie's mom, resides nearby and is ever vigilant with her daughter. When she discovers Essie alone and sipping tea at a local shop, she takes matters in hand by rescuing Mia. Between her and Essie's husband, they seek medical help for Essie.
Others on the street, such as Fran, and Ange hold on to their own problems which are wreaking havoc on them. Fran assuages her guilt by jogging several times a day after giving birth to her second daughter, hoping running will manage her torment over her transgressions. Ange works as a real estate agent and is raising two boys while her husband, the owner of a photographer's studio is often away from home.
When Isabelle, a single woman moves in next to Essie, there is something about her that fascinates Essie. However, Barbara mistrusts Isabelle and is concerned by Essie's growing friendship with her. Isabelle becomes overly familiar with Essie for she is on a mission that isn't disclosed until Essie has another meltdown and is hospitalized.
It's usual for most families to have skeletons in their closets and secrets they want to conceal, and those in this neighborhood are no different. Twists and turns abound as lives are intertwined making for a compelling psychological mystery.
By Beth Gutcheon
Cozy Mystery -- Release Date: March 13, 2018
The Rye Manor School for girls in New York is in trouble and Maggie Detweiler, retired head of the Winthrop School is hired by the Independent School Association to evaluate whether it's worth keeping open. Maggie, along with two other colleagues, interview all involved then Maggie shares her findings with the new head administrator, Christina Liggett.
After meeting with Ms. Liggett, Maggie plans to leave, but learns one of the teachers, Florence Meager has gone missing. Beloved by the students, yet tolerated by others for she is known to be a non-stop chatterbox, Maggie is intrigued and decides to stick around. Florence's dead body is soon discovered floating in the pool by Lily Hollister, a student and board member's daughter.
Maggie contacts her friend Hope Babbin who comes to town to help her search for clues as to who killed Florence. Maggie, very familiar with the ins and outs of private schools and wealthy Hope, with a law-enforcement son, can obtain information about others without problems, and enjoy amateur sleuthing.
The two women are relentless in their pursuit of the killer. Could it be Florence's husband, a faculty or board member or even a student who perpetrated such a crime? The list of suspects is limitless, yet the ladies are determined researchers in all things criminal. The large cast of characters shows reasons for motive, which keeps the reader guessing.
It is surprising the authorities are not upset by the two women sticking their noses in their investigation, which would appear to be the norm, but they seem to go along with them as they exchange theories. This, the second in the Maggie Detweiler and Hope Babbin series is an entertaining cozy mystery which stands on its own.
By Marisa De Los Santos
By Ellie Monago
Lake Union Publishing
Thriller/Suspense -- Release Date: March 1, 2018
Moving to upscale Aurora Village is a dream come true for Kat and Doug. Though they now own the smallest house in the community, they're close to the city and are happy to live in a safe location to raise their infant daughter.
The neighbors host a barbecue to welcome them and appear to be overly welcoming. Kat cannot believe her good luck to finally find an area where they feel they belong.
However, Kat is disconcerted upon finding a disparaging note left by her front door, and the notes don't stop at only one. Insecure to begin with, Kat wonders who is targeting her and is her history catching up with her; if so, what can she do about it?
The women in the development are friendly toward her and invite her to their ladies' night out. While imbibing, they mention how they are involved in "open relationships" and swapping partners. Kat, aghast, remembers how her new lady friends have been appraising Doug, but she swears there's no way she or he will be a part of this.
In ruminating over the neighborhood "closeness," Kat's stalker is still leaving her notes. She is afraid to tell Doug for he knows little about her past, but she decides she must confess if not for her safety but for that of their daughter's. When the baby becomes ill and ends up in the hospital, Kat's fears escalate. Someone IS out to get her.
This tale is somewhat farfetched and contains a lot of Kat's past emotional baggage, though it doesn't warrant much by way of suspense; there are just secrets from the past which offer a highly unlikely conclusion.
By Emily March
St. Martin's Paperbooks
Contemporary Romance -- Release Date: February 27, 2018
Though Caitlin Timberlake has an awesome job and life in New York City, she is lonely. When she attends a friend's wedding in Telluride, Colorado, she meets Josh Tarkington while they get stuck in a ski-lift gondola along with Josh's handicapped dog. Immediately, Caitlin falls for this handsome man whose empathy for his pooch touches her heart. She decides he is the man she will marry.
Josh and Caitlin have dinner together and she invites him to attend the wedding as her guest. Surprisingly, they bump into Caitlin's parents unknowing either would be there. Caitlin, though a grown woman, is embarrassed to think they may suspect she and Josh are having an affair. Then to make matters worse, she finds out Josh is a well-known and well-liked mechanic in her home town of Eternity Springs.
Life changes when Caitlin returns home to open a nursery school. Her folks believe she is chasing Josh, but now that she back, to her this turns out to be a bonus. Though known to be flighty with jobs and unable to settle down, Caitlin is determined to make her new business and life work.
Josh does not commit to anyone, but nothing will deter Caitlin. The sins of his past keep him from relationships, but after an accident leaves him battered, Caitlin takes over his care. He treats her horribly and when he sends her away, her heart is broken.
Yet, somehow Caitlin gets under Josh's skin, and when she learns about his secret life, she doesn't know whether to be angry or amazed. Book #5 of the Eternity Springs series presents secrets and heartbreak but shows when a woman is steadfast in her goals, she can attain her heart's desires.
By Allison Brennan
Suspense -- Release Date: January 30, 2018
In book #13 of the Lucy Kincaid series, FBI Agent, Lucy surreptitiously is assisting RCK (Rogan-Caruso-Kincaid Protective Services). Married only a few months, Lucy is helping her husband, one of the partners in RCK without the Bureau's knowledge. They are desperately trying to locate Bella Caruso, sister to J.T. Caruso, another agency partner.
Bella endured a horrific background where she ended up living a life of prostitution after her father sold her to pay off a debt. Able to break free thanks to J.T., she became a cop later getting into business with her brother. Now she is posing as a doctor who lost her career due to shady dealings, while she is hoping to infiltrate a human trafficking ring and save girls who are being put up for sale as sex slaves.
Bella has been incognito much longer than should have been necessary and J.T. is concerned when after saving some women, she appears to have gone missing. In addition, an officer she was working with was brutally tortured and dumped on the side of a deserted road. Bella promised she would escape the traffickers once she finds Hope, a young woman abducted from her grandparents. But where is she?
Things become overly tense as Bella tries not to blow her cover. Meanwhile, Lucy's new boss is demeaning and out to get her. She assigns Lucy a desk job, which she hates by covering cold cases. But this does not deter Lucy from searching for Bella though her every move is being scrutinized.
A character-driven tale of riveting suspense and fast-paced drama, the two female protagonists are shown to be forces to reckon with. Though "Breaking Point is part of a series, it stands on its own. The prose, masterful and well-written would make one eager to read the previously-released issues.
By Nicole McLaughlin
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Contemporary Romance -- Release Date: February 27, 2018
Jen Mackenzie has been in love with TJ Laughlin since they were both teenagers. But TJ comes from a well-to-do family; Jen knows she would never be accepted into his way of life. Her single mom, Diane, now suffering from cancer, had been an alcoholic, and many times Jen's young peers teased her so she felt she never fit in. When she played the lead role in "Grease" in their high school play, she was transformed and realized her true calling of acting and singing.
Employed for years at the community theater, Jen loses her job due to lack of funds. She also works part-time as a bartender at The Stag, a boutique distillery owned by TJ and two friends. Their receptionist goes on maternity leave and TJ offers Jen her full-time position in the interim. Jen desperately needs the money, so she accepts, finding she and TJ are thrown together constantly.
Unknown to Jen, TJ also carried a torch for her for years. Jen is sassy, flamboyant, and a nonconformist, and so unlike any other women TJ usually dates. The only problem...since their youth, they both shared an animosity which probably stemmed from their secret attraction.
Meanwhile, Jen must deal with Diane's bitterness because of her illness, wishing they could be close, knowing they only have each other. Then when their apartment complex is destroyed by fire, Diane comprehends she's wronged her daughter, especially after TJ gives them both an interim residence and she notices the love and desire in their eyes.
This second book in the Whiskey and Weddings series is a sensual and seductive tale of two independent personalities from different backgrounds finding respect and adulation for one another.
By Nina Markovna
Though this is not a new release, this memoir is a book I've had in my private library for years and just now read. I was so moved by this, I felt the need to add it to my review list.
Nina Narkovna's compelling autobiography commences at age ten when she lived in the small town of Dulovo, not far from Moscow. Her family consisted of her mother, Natasha, father Mark, and older brother Slava. Natasha, orphaned from her birthplace of Riga, Latvia found employment at the porcelain factory as a typist. Mark, of Slavic descent, had been a woodsman of Muscovy, and now they are official residents of the Soviet Union since Russia fell.
War breaks out and people are driven from their homes. Mark in his forties, is recruited to defend the county. The suffering and hardships Nina's family and other citizens faced
As a teenager, Nina confronted the brutality of soldiers who thought nothing of raping women, pillaging the countryside, or savagely butchering their adversaries. Many times, Nina faced the streets by her residence lined with slaughtered bodies. The family's separation from their beloved patriarch became almost too much to bear as they wondered if he'd return and if not executed, would he ever be able to find them.
Throughout this horror, the threesome remained close and made many friends with whom they shared their living quarters and food rations. The biggest fear they faced was being split up and/or killed. Weakness was not allowed, for everyone must work or they would not eat. Natasha losing her eyesight to glaucoma, and Slava, beaten unceasingly by the Germans, became very frail, but they managed to stick together.
This insightful story is filled with degradation, heartache, and violence, yet through everything their faith and love for each other bonds them. The author includes interesting terms in several languages with their meaning displaying people today live so differently. Nina's tale concludes as the war ends, leaving the reader seeking closure. Powerful and ghastly, this is a must-read.
By Sue Fortin
Psychological Thriller -- Release Date: February 20, 2018
Joanne Aldridge, excited about celebrating her 40th birthday plans a surprise weekend for her three close pals, Carys Montgomery, Zoe Coleman, and Andrea Jarvis. Friends for a while, they have had misunderstandings between them, and they believe Joanne is looking to make amends.
Secretly escorted to a rural part of Scotland, the women know how much Joanne likes contests, but are somewhat surprised when Joanne commences their holiday by starting off with a weird guessing game where the three invitees are to model certain characters she devises.
Stuck in the middle of nowhere, the threesome feels trapped, uncertain of Joanne's motivations which seem ominous, to say the least. Is Joanne playing this for fun or trying to settle a devious score?
Joanne confiscates all the cell phones stating there is no service in the area, stipulating they are basically shut off from civilization. On a hike through the dense woods, Joanne relates creepy folklore of the region, causing more apprehension.
The isolation terrifies the guests as well as Joanne's hostile actions. Soon, each becomes suspicious of the other. Though close companions for years, the ladies find themselves thrown into a quagmire of distrust and fear. Joanne has made it her mission to reveal ugly secrets and turn one against the other.
Filled with more twists and turns than a country road, "The Birthday Girl" starts a bit slow, but before long, the tale captivates with the unforeseen scenarios. The plot thickens with more suspense and frightening events up until the unexpected and shocking ending.
By Catherine Anderson
Contemporary Fiction -- Release Date: January, 2018
Tuck Malloy became guardian to his granddaughter Crystal when she was young. A freak accident costing the life of Crystal's younger sister left Crystal blaming herself throughout the years. A widower, Tuck is a curmudgeon but loves Crystal unconditionally. Now, at age 80, he is recuperating in assisted living after breaking his arm, ribs, and needing a hip replacement from a fall.
Tuck hates the facility's conditions, especially Patricia Flintlock, the administrator. Her rules are unbendable and she is just plain nasty. Tuck misses his daily beer and chew, so he calls his friend Tanner Richards, a Courier Express driver. Tanner agrees to deliver some of his favorite contraband to him. All goes well until Tuck's stash is discovered and Patricia insists Tuck be evicted.
Crystal stands up for Tuck yet Patricia orders she phone the delivery service demanding the employee be fired. Reluctantly she does, but only for Tuck's sake, after realizing Tanner is Tuck's friend.
Crystal's life is a whirlwind as she tries to run her business cares for Tuck's offensive dog, Rip, and keep her life together. After her stand-off with Patricia, Crystal rescinds her complaint against Tanner, hoping she caused no harm. Though Tanner's employment has been exemplary, his boss changes his route causing him to be away from his children longer.
When Tanner and Crystal meet there's an apparent magnetism. Tanner never thought he'd find another after his wife died. Crystal is fearful to pursue a relationship believing she hurts everything she is close to. But, they cannot deny the attraction.
Through all this, Tuck becomes entranced by Essie, another resident, and life at the home looks better. This fourth edition in the Mystic Creek series could pass as two books; one to relate Crystal's past with her present feelings and another highlighting Tuck's life and history. Juxtaposed between their stories is the delightful addition of Rip, Tuck's cantankerous pooch who ends up winning hearts.
By Nichole McLaughlin
Contemporary Romance -- Release Date: January 30, 2018
Becca Walters is at her childhood home for Christmas, looking forward to spending time with her widowed father and twin sister, Hannah. She is shocked when neighbor Jase Beckford comes into the kitchen finding her half hidden behind the open refrigerator door wearing only a tank top and pink panties.
Embarrassed, she runs upstairs to pull on jeans and a tee-shirt and returns to make breakfast. She hasn't seen Jase for years for he's been in the service, but now is back and starting a business raising cattle. Becca has secretly harbored a crush on him since she was ten, but Jase seems to be in Hannah's pocket as the two are very close. As much as she longs for closeness with him too, they both act somewhat aloof around each other.
Jase's relationship with Hannah is more of a co-dependency as she turns to him with her problems. He's more like a big brother than a lover, though Becca doesn't know this. Hannah, the bubbly, outgoing type, always seems to overshadow the quiet and introverted Becca. Also Becca, dating a guy for two years is expecting an engagement ring, hoping it will spark the staleness they've been facing.
When Hannah becomes engaged to a musician, Becca and Jase are thrown together. Becca feels guilty for her adoration of the rancher, and after they kiss, she knows she needs to confess to the guy she may marry. The tables turn when he confesses to "fooling around" with a colleague.
Seductive and steamy, this addition to A Man Enough Romance series is sure to curl toes.
By Kylie Brant
Thomas & Mercer
Psychological Thriller -- Release Date: January 1, 2018
Ohio is the setting where it appears a serial killer is on the loose and has been for years. Seven years ago, Kelsey Willard went missing and she or her body has never been found. Now, in a town about twelve miles from where the Willard's live another young teen named Whitney DeVries goes missing. When the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations is called in, Agent Mart Foster wonders if the two cases tie together.
Claire Willard, Kelsey's mom is on a downward spiral. Her marriage is on the rocks and her youngest daughter, Janie still suffers from debilitating anxiety from Kelsey's disappearance when she was ten. Meanwhile, suspicion turns to Whitney's police officer father, as in most cases like these, the next of kin is almost always responsible.
This novel has more twists and turns than a roller coaster and the reader gets to intimately know many of the characters involved as they "talk" in their own chapters. Whitney discloses her terrifying capture and imprisonment by a maniac who verbally and physically abuses her. She tries to hold strong and plan an escape after discovering a written journal where she is hidden.
As family dynamics falter on all sides, even with Agent Foster, tension builds, leading the reader to a surprising and unexpected ending that is sure to cause goosebumps!
By Kieran Kramer
St. Martin's Paperback
Contemporary Romance -- Release Date: January 2, 2018
Greer Jones decides her engagement to Wesley isn't a good match so she relocates to Charleston, SC. She and friends open a matchmaking business called "Two Love Lane." Greer, a romantic, compiles several scrapbooks with pictures of the "perfect wedding," though wondering if she will ever meet "Mr. Right."
At a local auction, a wedding gown goes up for bid. Mesmerized, Greer wants this no matter what. Even if she isn't engaged, this is the dress of her dreams. Dubbed "Royal Bliss" this is a one-of-a-kind garment designed to beckon true love to the wearer. Greer gets outbid by Pierre Simons, owner of La Di Da clothing store and Greer's enemy. He cannot forgive her for not finding him a partner, and he ends up with the winning bid.
To Pierre, this dress is a marketing ploy. He has future brides vying to win it, and though with no groom in sight Greer enters the contest. British artist Ford Smith, whom she befriends at the auction, offers to stand in as her fiancé if she will pose for him. With a palpable attraction, Ford shocks Greer with a proposal in front of the contestants.
Greer is chosen as one of the five finalists. Her obstacle is Serena, Wesley's betrothed, whom both unexpectantly have moved to Charleston. Greer, wishing to never to see Wesley again, is surprised by how much she likes Serena.
Greer lusts after Ford, shocked his feelings reciprocate, yet his past causes him to be apprehensive. Many obstacles between them question pursuing a relationship, though with love anything can happen.
Well-fleshed-out characters and a bit of mystery add to the essence of this second release in the Two Love Land series.
By Katherine Hall Page
Suspense -- Release Date: December 5, 2017
Caterer, Faith Fairchild cannot decide about accepting a job that will pay far above her normal rate. Her indecision is because the host of the soiree, Max Dane, producer/director of famous Broadway hit musicals knows about her sleuthing abilities and wants her to observe his guests, believing someone is out to kill him.
Faith is thrown by the expensive casket which is to be used as a sideboard for the food. Someone surreptitiously delivered it to the mansion and receiving this "gift" Dane feels is the reason he is being targeted, all due to a flop he produced more than twenty years ago.
Always loving a juicy mystery, Faith wonders if she may be in danger. She puts her fears aside and accepts the assignment and "Googles" the invitees. One of them succumbs to an unspeakable accident which is deemed a suicide, but is it really?
The location takes place in an area of privileged historic homes close to Faith's Massachusetts's home. Max owns Rowan House, a sprawling manse that could be a cloned English manor. Impressed and excited by the surroundings Dane informs Faith the party will run from Friday night through Sunday. Her appearance is imperative, and she will reside in the opulent servant's quarters.
The first evening commences with a chilly reception for those in attendance haven't seen each other in years and wonder what Max has up his sleeve. Faith scrutinizes everyone trying to choose the culprit, all the while wondering if Max's death threat is real or imagined. When a storm ensues, the power goes out, and tension intensifies.
In this 24th installment in the Faith Fairchild Mysteries, the novel delves into the lives of the rich giving details of their extravagances while producing a good whodunit as well as some enticing recipes.
By Caire Cook
Marshbury Beach Books
Contemporary Fiction -- Release Date: December 4, 2017
Book #6 in the Must Love Dogs series is every bit as delightful as the preceding releases. Sarah Hurlihy and her fiancé John decide to buy Sarah's family home and renovate it to put their own stamp on it. Only problem, Sarah's five siblings, and her boisterous father still feel the place is theirs giving Sarah and John no privacy.
Billy Boy, Sarah's widowed dad, a guy who loves charming women, is getting his own "man cavern" in the remodeled garage, yet that does not stop him or the rest of the clan from butting into each other's lives.
Adding to the chaos is their menagerie of four-legged friends. John, who used to a quiet life in his Boston condo with Horatio, his canine is now forced into a home with not only revolving doors for humans but also a stray cat they've adopted who has given birth to four kittens.
Sarah is hosting Thanksgiving, though her cooking skills leave a lot to be desired, yet nothing ever runs smoothly in the Hurlihy household. On top of this, Sarah's teaching assistant Polly, pregnant and single is now living with them after a Nor'easter drove her from her rental, and Sarah's brother Johnny decides to camp out on the couch after his marriage goes sour.
Ms. Cook pens a witty never-a-dull moment Christmas tale that can be enjoyed anytime. Problems arise, as with any family, yet the devotion and companionship make them seem trivial. Billy Boy offers a roaring cadence with his Irish-Boston dialect and twisted expressions. Down-to-earth and thoroughly enjoyable, one can easily picture the six "Must Love Dogs" novels as a Lifetime or Hallmark mini-series.
By Emma Douglas
Contemporary Fiction -- Release Date: December 5, 2017
We return to Cloud Bay, California where Leah Santelli has spent her whole life. She's recovering from a failed marriage, but when her best friend, Faith mentions her brother, Zach Harper, a rock star, is due home Leah can't help but remember the night of her eighteenth birthday. Leah always had a crush on Zach but that night she lost her virginity after asking him to be her first. Even though she later married another, she still carried a soft spot in her heart for Zach.
Now he's back to right some wrongs and to cut a solo album. Leah, a record producer hopes Zach will hire her. She decides to put her feelings aside for the sake of her career, and she and Zach spend long evenings in the studio. Soon her desire for him rekindles hitting her full force. She takes a chance and suggests a fling, understanding he will be there for only a short time.
They decide to keep their affair private, but living on a small island makes it almost impossible. Leah, hoping to get Zach out of her systems, falls for him harder.
Zach mends fences with his family after being away so long, and Leah now owns his heart. But what about his career? Leah does not want to leave her home, which causes a dilemma because he feels he must go.
Zack departs with hardly a "good-bye" leaving Leah heartbroken for the second time. Emotions play a big role in every life and "No Place Like You" expounds on many as well as giving insight into the recording business making this a delightful read.