Review: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island, Book 2) by Susan Mallery

three sistersThis book is not an anthology, but there are three stories intertwined in it. Three Sisters is the nickname for three Victorian houses on a cul-de-sac and with a name like that, it is easy to see that the three women who own it will become as “sisters” in their friendships to one another.

Romantic relationships are at the heart of the novel, but it is not your traditional romance novel. It’s more women’s fiction with romantic elements. I found two of the three stories very depressing for much of their page time and should come with a warning label for some readers. The issues in the novel are not lighthearted ones and could be tough to read emotionally for some women.

One woman deals (or not) with grief over the death of her infant son and it is destroying her marriage. (Her husband isn’t handling it any better and gets drunk to avoid his grief.)

Another woman is struggling in her marriage because she needs order and perfection to counter her childhood abusive relationship with her mother. Her needs, which are silent and never spoken, affect her household and all her children see her as the bad guy. (How could her husband who indicates knowing this tragic past, say/think the things he did and not be more sympathetic or handle his own concerns/needs better/sooner?)

The last woman faces the challenges of new beginnings after her fiancé dumps her at the altar and runs off with his secretary to get hitched in Vegas. I by far, enjoyed her story the most. I liked her, her new fella, and the daughter.

Each of the married women’s struggles is handled with respect, but the story is at times very much a downer. It’s not until over halfway through the book that things start to look up for the two married women on the street, but getting there was painful for me. Their husbands also had to come around and I wasn’t convinced by one of them for a while because it seemed like all the blame was on the wife. Not fair.

The book will tug at your heartstrings, but you have to ask yourself do you want them to be tugged so hard? It ends happy. I give 2 Stars for the married couples’ stories and 4 Stars for the single gal’s story…

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island)

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Review: Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn

Checkmate My LordReviewed by Zarabeth

Spies! This is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, a very tricky genre. Creating intrigue and danger can often often be a fantastic plot point for putting two people together and having them work through conflict to discover their love. But, there are many spy stories out there that are so predictable that they are no longer enjoyable.

I am very pleased to report that Tracey Devlyn has the skill to weave an intriguing, dangerous, enjoyable plot with a great mix of passion and romance!

Our hero is a spymaster, of course, who is put in a very difficult position trying to solve a homicide, keep his spies secret, and protect/investigate the very nosy and determined widow, our heroine. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

It certainly helps that our heroine is the lovely Catherine Ashcroft who could not be more delectable and it has been a very long time since either of them felt this way in the presence of the opposite sex. They are both overcome by passion despite all of the reasons they should not, and there are many, not the least of which being the safety of Catherine’s 7 year old daughter.

Will they be able to trust each other in the midst of danger? Can they solve the mystery before someone else dies? Will the sex always be THIS HOT?

I have my suspicions! But read it and you can be the judge! I give it 4.5 stars. Enjoy!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Checkmate, My Lord

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Review: Lethal by Sandra Brown

Reviewed by Karin of Savvythinker

Sandra Brown has a prolific imagination, and the good thing is that every book seems fresh, no re-runs. How she does it is anyone’s guess. Lethal is no exception.

I chose this book, given to me by LRP to review. I generally like Sandra Brown’s books. I just don’t want her romantic suspense to go too graphic in violence.

The story:

Lethal opens with action right in the thick of things. And the action is non-stop from there.

Honor Gillette is the widow of a police officer, and she is home alone with her precocious 4 year old daughter, Emily, planning a birthday party for Stan, her father-in-law, when Emily spots a man lying in their yard. When Honor goes to investigate, he turns out to be Lee Coburn, who is accused of a mass murder at a local trucking company. In a matter of seconds he has taken her hostage, using her young daughter as his way of keeping her in line. He is armed and dangerous, but he promises not to hurt her or her daughter if she does exactly as he asks.

And she does and doesn’t.

But is he part of the problem or part of the solution? Did he murder the men or was he a witness? And who are all the corrupt officials and police officers, if they are? And are some of them supposed friends of Honors? And was her husband corrupt too? And was he murdered or was his death an accident? And how does Stan figure in?

Honor quickly realizes she must find the answers to these questions, because in the meantime, if Coburn is correct, someone — or many someones — are out to kill her and her daughter, to keep whatever her husband might have given her, if he did, a secret.

It is especially hard to find, because she has no idea that she has it or what it might be. And first she must convince Coburn of this — and others would be less likely to take her word for it, but would try to torture her to get it.

Complicating matters is The Bookkeeper, merciless in all aspects, who is running the show, and The Bookkeeper does not leave witnesses. One of the enforcers is good (bad as the case may be) with a razor.

What’s at stake:

The Bookkeeper is trafficking for prostitution using the Interstate and corrupt officials who look the other way when shipments of young men and women come through. Those who try to escape are taken out by the above enforcer or in other ways.

Violence:

The murders in the warehouse take place off page. Some of the razor action does not. Other violence occurs, shooting at close range; an explosion; etc.

Friendship and love:

Honor ultimately relies on her friend Tori, who is a good friend indeed. While she has had a colorful life, there’s no question she will do what it takes to keep Honor safe. She contacts a new gentleman friend and asks him to lend her $1 million dollars for a ransom, if it is needed. (I would love to read a book about these two.) He proves himself to be a friend and lover to her, no questions asked and nothing brooked to the bad guys. And Tori is smart enough to realize she is being watched.

Even the man with the razor is not all bad. He has redeeming qualities.

Heads up:

There is a severely handicapped boy, the son of one of the officers, who is cared for at home. There is some discussion about how hard this is to do, as well as how it affects their marriage.

The ending:

I won’t give it away. It’s like an ending, then another ending, then an epilogue — very clever indeed, and the actual ending is very satisfying, clever, and up for grabs, which makes it even more clever.

Does it get any better than this?

My take:

The plot is complicated, but woven together nicely. I guessed some of the plot, but it is spelled out clearly by about half way through the book. The question then becomes staying alive and taking down the operation and the bad guys. I did not guess the hiding place, but I thought I had.

I did my usual, reading the end, skipping back some, hesitant to read my way through, even knowing where it was going, taking it in bits and pieces, because it was scary, just the same.

Rating: ★★★★★

Have you read it?

Karin

Buy: Lethal

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Review: Only Mine (Fool’s Gold, Book 4) by Susan Mallery

Only Mine is Dakota’s story, the first story of the Hendrix triplets in the Fool’s Gold series.

Heroine: Dakota Hendrix can’t have kids and she wants one so she’s in the process of adopting. Meanwhile there isn’t a guy on her radar (could be because of the man shortage) and she’s doing a favor for the mayor by being the contact person between the town and the new reality TV show being filmed there.

Hero: Finn Anderson is the opposite. He doesn’t want kids after raising his twin brothers for so long. He’s a pilot with a business in Alaska. He’s in town to force his stupid twin brothers back to college and off the dumb reality show they’re trying out for, but of course, as they’re twins they are automatically voted on and once they are they’re not leaving. He’s an overprotective brother, but a solid good guy.

The Twins:

Sasha: In a word – metrosexual. It doesn’t take more than his name to peg him as a character. He wants to be famous and he’s willing to do what it takes to get there including pretending a wild romance with Lani who is also interested in the same thing.

Stephen: He wants out of small town Alaska and the best thing for that is to follow Sasha onto this dating reality show. In the process he’s matched with an older woman (as un-cougar as they get) and he really digs her (can we say hot?).

Review: I wasn’t really into the main romance. It could be because it reads friends-to-lovers, a trope I’ve never been behind. And Dakota getting pregnant was too predictable. I was hoping a miracle pregnancy wouldn’t enter the picture, because it made the story highly unrealistic. It took care of the angst and depth to Dakota’s character in one too neat package.

I also thought it was unrealistic that Finn who didn’t want kids after raising his brothers after their parents’ deaths would jumped back into raising kids again so soon even if he loved Dakota. He’s never had a chance to be a carefree adult and I felt he really deserved it.

As far as the side romance goes, it really upstaged the main romance in my opinion. I loved their first date. The two of them had a lot of depth and were cute. They could easily have had their own stand alone.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Only Mine

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