‘Most Wanted’ by Lisa Scottoline

mw lsSTORY: When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well.

Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor – the biological father of the child she is carrying.

Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth.

REVIEW: Christine Nilsson has been a teacher at Nutmeg Hill Elementary School for 8 years and is preparing to leave her job. Now that she is finally pregnant, she wants to be a full-time Mom. She and her husband, Marcus, have tried for 3 years for this to happen. An architectural engineer, he owns his own firm. Finding out that he is infertile and after counseling and lots of thought, they decide to go with a sperm donor with physical traits matching their own. The insemination works and Christine immediately gets pregnant. When selecting a donor, they see his current picture and read some answers to questions that were posed to him. He is known only to them as Donor 3319. But when on a newsflash, she recognizes a newly captured serial killer of nurses as her future baby’s father, she is shocked.

It turns out that sperm donors are not given psychological testing like egg donors are so Christine and Marcus fear that their baby could carry the donor father’s genes with a tendency toward mental health issues. While Marcus sympathizes with Christine, she does not feel he totally understands her worry and so she sets out on a venture to meet the accused killer and see if he actually is Donor 3319.

We follow her and she and her friend, Lauren, travel to the prison where he is being held and by saying they are free-lance writers, get to visit with him. She is convinced he is innocent and then undertakes to prove his innocence.

The story becomes quite involved with all of the people with direct knowledge of the nurse killed. The author has obviously researched this situation in great depth the information she passes along in the novel is fascinating.

I enjoyed the story and especially liked Lauren. She is what one truly calls a best friend. My second favorite character is Griff. What a lovable teddy bear.

I not only enjoyed a great novel that kept me on the edge of my seat right through to the end, but I also learned a lot as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘The Spirit of Grace’ by Terry Lynn Thomas

tsog tltSTORY: Sarah Bennett doesn’t remember the night her mother tumbled down the stairs at Bennett House, despite allegedly witnessing the fatal fall. There was talk of foul play, dark whispers, and sidelong glances, all aimed at Sarah, prompting her family to send her to The Laurels, an exclusive asylum in San Francisco, under a cloud of suspicion.

Now, on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s murder, Sarah has been summoned home. Convinced of her innocence, she returns to Bennett House, hoping to put the broken pieces of her life back together.

But when another murder occurs shortly after her arrival, Sarah once again finds herself a suspect, as she is drawn into a web of suspicion and lies. In order to clear her name, Sarah must remember what happened the fateful night her mother died. But as she works to regain her memory, the real murderer watches, ready to kill again to protect a dark family secret.

REVIEW: San Francisco – Bennett House – 1942

Sarah Bennett spent time in an insane asylum after the death of her mother, Jessica, caused by a fall down the stairs. Unable to remember what happened to cause her mother to fall, it was thought that Sarah had murdered her which resulted in her being sent to the asylum.

When she returns after a year, she finds that her father has married, Grace, a young woman her own age. In addition, he has hired an assistant named Zeke. Grace is cool to Sarah and is quite verbal in thinking Sarah is guilty. Grace has taken over running the house and has changed many things which upsets Sarah. In addition, Sarah’s maternal grandmother does not trust Grace and neither does their long-time housekeeper, Anca. Grace’s money spending has gotten out of hand and her father does not seem to know how to stop her even though he says he is in love with her.

Her father has become a well-known mystery writer who appears to be very happy that Sarah is home even though he never visited her in the year she was away. Zeke is an efficient young man who keeps tracks of Mr. Bennett’s travel, book signings and such.

As it is wartime, there are many soldiers around town and there is worry that there may be spies lurking around as well. Even though Zeke is friendly to Sarah, there are things that occur to make her think he may be a spy.

When a dream that Sarah has results in an injury to herself, some shocking truths begin to reveal themselves. She also learns that she may be in danger and should leave Bennett Hall and start a new life elsewhere. But she does not want to leave until she can find out what or who caused her mother’s death.

When unexplained events begin to occur that are very frightening, suspicions arise about everyone.

This is a fabulous gothic type mystery book like the ones I loved by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Barbara Michaels. I hope others will read this novel and I bet that like me, you will be on the edge of your seat until the last page when all is revealed. I certainly look forward to reading more by this author.

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Connie for b2b

‘The Woman from Paris’ by Santa Montefiore

twfp smSTORY: They had built their lives in this grand old house, its walls encompassing their family and their secrets. Nestled in the sweeping hills they have always known, the house is part of their history, their heritage. But these four walls also hold a secret.

When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident, a beautiful young woman named Phaedra appears at his funeral—claiming to be the lord’s illegitimate daughter. In his will, Lord Frampton has left the priceless Frampton suite of sapphires to this interloper, confirming her claim and outraging his three adult sons and widow. Eventually, however, Phaedra’s sweet nature thaws the frosty relationships. She becomes the daughter that Antoinette Frampton never had and a wise and compassionate granddaughter to the formidable Dowager Lady Frampton. But an attraction grows between Phaedra and the eldest son, David. It seems an impossible love—blocked by their blood connection and by the fury of one family member who is determined to expose Phaedra as a fraud.

Filled with the luscious scenery and enchanting characters her fans adore, Santa Montefiore’s The Woman from Paris confirms the remarkable power of love to heal broken families and tender hearts.

This novel was published under the title The Summer House in the UK.

REVIEW: Lord Frampton has just died in a skiing accident leaving behind his widow, three sons, one granddaughter and his mother. However, at his funeral, Phaedra, a lovely woman appears claiming to be his daughter.

Although the family members are reeling from the loss of Lord Frampton and the shock of the appearance of Phaedra, they are all soon drawn to her magnetic, soothing and loving personality.

I feel that synopsizing this novel further would give out way too many spoilers. Suffice to say that the characters in this novel are so real and the emotions and personalities of each one are perfectly described.

The wise individual that is Phaedra is so strong, intelligent and lovable. This is one of those stories that captures you from the first page all the way to the last. You feel like a part of the family after you read it.

I have not read Santa Montefiore’s other novels, but will I will certainly rectify that very soon. Wonderful novel!

Connie for b2b

‘Finding Infinity’ by Susan Kiernan-Lewis

fi sklSTORY: After losing her husband and launching her only child off to college, Liddy James faces the likelihood of yet another dream deferred, when she opens up a French cupcake bakery in the little town of Infinity, Georgia.

With the possible exception of one very handsome, if enigmatic DEA agent, her arrival from the “big city” of Atlanta is met with a less than hospitable welcome.

(Originally entitled “Life After Paris.”)

REVIEW: Recently widowed, Liddy sold her large home in Atlanta and moved to the small town of Infinity, Georgia. Her original plans and dreams of spending an extended period of time in Paris were dashed when her mother fell and needed to be moved into an assisted living home until she was fully healed.

With her usual optimism, Liddy decides to rent a building and open a French cupcake store called “Le Cupcake.” Baking and decorating cupcakes had always been a passion for her and this seemed like a good way to establish herself in this new town. Unfortunately, it seemed that others thought differently. Even with her advertising, decorating the building and even standing outside with free samples could not bring in any customers.

Liddy had purchased a horse named Sugar when she first moved to Infinity. She kept him in a barn and loved to visit and ride him. It was a hobby that she had always loved and while the purchase of Sugar was an extravagant one, it was something that made Liddy happy. Shortly after moving to Infinity, Liddy met DEA Agent, Tucker.

He also had a horse that he kept at the same stable and they enjoyed riding their horses together. Their attraction grew but was sidelined when Liddy found he was involved with another woman. Along with Liddy’s cupcake business fizzling, things began to happen to her that placed her in great danger.

It appeared that the town of Infinity wanted her gone at any cost. Without giving away too much of this great plot, I found that this novel was extremely well written and Liddy a very optimistic character. I think that anyone will enjoy this terrific novel and not want to put it down until they are finished.

Connie for b2b

‘Black Rabbit Hall’ by Eve Chase

brh ecSTORY: Amber and Toby and Barney and Kitty.

The four Alton children spend every day of the hot Cornish summer playing games on sun-baked lawns or building dens in the dark woods. Endless days of laughter and fun, without an adult in sight.

But no one can foresee the storm that will bring it all to a tragic end.

Afterwards, Black Rabbit Hall, their home, with its endless corridors and ancient creaking clocks, is a twisted and changed place, set to steal the last vestiges of their childhood and innocence. A home that not all of the Altons will be strong enough to survive.

Now, thirty years later, a message from one of the Alton children is discovered carved into an old oak tree. Could the tangled truth of that terrible summer finally creep into the light? Or should some secrets be left in the past for good?

REVIEW: The Alton family has owned Black Rabbit Hall in Cornwall for a long time. It is quite old, very large, and slowing crumbling. While the family lives in London, vacations are always spent here. Mrs. Alton is originally from Boston. Her husband and their twins, Amber and Toby and younger daughter, Kitty, and younger son, Barney, all love their time spent here. When a sudden storm hits, Mrs. Alton ventures out on her horse to get her son, Barney, only to be killed when the horse rears up. The children are all devastated at the loss of their beloved, fun-loving mother.

Within a year, their father brings a wealthy woman named Caroline and her son, Lucien, to visit with them at the Hall. The children immediately dislike her. Amber and Lucien soon settle into a type of friendship but Toby hates him and the boys fight. When their father marries Caroline, the children have no choice but to learn to tolerate her. She is strict to her stepchildren but adores her own son, Lucien.

As the story continues, we find more than a friendship develops between Amber and Lucien leading to serious results. This is when Caroline steps in and her real selfishness is shown.

The story switches back from the late 1960s to present day. Today, Lorna and Jon are looking for the perfect wedding venue and when she finds the Hall on the internet, something clicks in her memory and she knows she must visit the place and see if it will be suitable for their wedding. What she finds is more than she had expected which leads to her past becoming clear.

I have tried to give a brief snippet of this story without giving too much away. For me, the book is dark and somewhat depressing. It’s not exactly what I thought it would be. I have to admit that once you start reading it, you will definitely want to finish it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Clayton’s Honor’ by MK McClintock

ch mkmcSTORY: On the windswept shores of Ireland, a British Agent must leave behind duty to country for the sake of his honor.

Anne Doyle lost her father to a foolish war and her mother to madness. Left with debt and an ancient family home, she struggles to keep the rest of her family together even as an enemy attempts to take them away. After witnessing a brutal murder, Anne must enlist aid from the only family she has left if she is to save those she loves.

Devon Clayton had no intentions of leaving behind his life of adventure and danger, but when he is charged with protecting a witness and her family, he must choose between duty to the country he serves and a woman who tests his honor and willingness to change.

Together they will discover that nothing is what it seems and that without honor, love and life are for nothing.

The British Agent Historical Romantic Mystery Series (stand-alone titles):
Book One – Alaina Claiborne
Book Two – Blackwood Crossing
Book Three – Clayton’s Honor

REVIEW: I sat captivated from the beautiful cover to the last page. There’s a mystery, murder, lies, secrets, and of course romance. Anne is my kind of heroine. She’s strong willed and stands up for herself and those around her be it family, friend, or stranger, and will fight to her very end if need be. Devon has his hands full with this bit of Irish spunk and before he knows it, he’s questioning his life’s direction.

This was the first time I have read anything by M.K. McClintock and I was very impressed. She gave me just enough of the previous book’s characters in the British Agent series to connect them all and enough that I never felt I had missed something by not having read the two previous stories. Great writing that kept me enthralled. Ms. McClintock, you have a new fan.

Leah for b2b

I won this print copy on Free Book Friday website

‘The Rebel Princess’ by Judith Koll Healy

trp jkhSTORY: Paris, October 1207. There is nothing that Princess AlaÏs of France wants more than to settle down with her lover, William of Caen, and to reveal to his ward, Francis, that she is his mother. but intrigue is afoot in the palace, and tensions are pushed to the brink when a much prized relic is stolen and young Francis goes missing. frantic for his safety, AlaÏs will risk life and limb to find the boy—donning a disguise to outwit cunning enemies as she makes her way into unfamiliar territory to save her son, and perhaps prevent a bloody holy war that threatens her beloved France.

From the opulent halls of Paris to austere monasteries in the south of France, The Rebel Princess combines history and suspense in an unforgettable tale involving one of the most enigmatic and intriguing female figures in medieval history.

REVIEW: Where to start? This was a very, very, very long read for me. I would start reading it and stop, then repeat the exercise for the next month and a half.

For me, reading this historical fiction which, mind you, was very well written and full of many, many historical events, was pure torture.

It might be (but I doubt it) because I hadn’t read the book before it, THE CANTERBURY PAPERS. Or it might be too much of history and not enough of fiction; but whatever it was, I wasn’t able to connect to it. That doesn’t mean that you’ll fail to connect as well. Your tastes might lead you to love it.

I’ll blame my personal taste, and not the style of writing or the prose, that caused me to disconnect with the protagonists and the story itself.

In all honesty, I can’t recommend it to romance lovers; BUT I can to all you history buffs, and for that reason alone I’m giving this novel Four Roses. I’ll be glad to pass it along to someone that would appreciate it more than I did.

Melanie for RRAH