‘Fatal’ by John Lescroart

f-jlSTORY: Kate loves her life. At forty-four, she’s happily married to her kind husband, Ron, blessed with two wonderful children, and has a beautiful home in San Francisco. Everything changes, however, when she and Ron attend a dinner party and meet another couple, Peter and Jill. Kate and Peter only exchange a few pleasant words but that night, in bed with her husband, Kate is suddenly overcome with a burning desire for Peter.

What begins as an innocent crush soon develops into a dangerous obsession and Kate’s fixation on Peter results in one intense, passionate encounter between the two. Confident that her life can now go back to normal, Kate never considers that Peter may not be so willing to move on.

Not long after their affair, a masked man barges into the café Kate is sitting in with her best friend, firing an assault weapon indiscriminately into the crowd. This tragedy is the first in a series of horrifying events that will show Kate just how grave the consequences of one mistake can be.

REVIEW: Kate and Ron Jameson have a happy marriage, two children, and live in San Francisco. When their friends invite them to have dinner with them and another couple, new to them, something about the guy, Peter Ash, sparks a passion in Kate and she wants to have sex with him. Knowing this is a crazy idea, she can’t seem to stop before herself actually bringing it to fruition. After an afternoon in a hotel room and agreeing that this is a one time thing, Kate seems to be able to put it behind her, but Peter realizes that if this ever got out, his wife would ruin him.

Kate’s good friend, Beth Tully, is a single mom with one daughter. Kate and Beth have been best friends since college. Beth spent years as a patrol cop and is now an inspector and is quite good at her job.

Kate and Beth have met up at a popular public place for coffee where Kate is about to confide in her about her affair with Peter. Just then, terrorists strike the area killing and injuring many people. Both Kate and Beth are injured.

Months later after lots of healing, Beth is just back at her job just as Peter Ash is murdered. As Beth and her co-worker, Ike, investigate his murder, many things open up and it appears the killer might be among Kate’s friends and family.

This is my first book by John Lescroart and now I realize why my husband is such a fan of his. This mystery is well-written with characters that seem so real, it’s like talking about your next-door neighbor. The book kept my interest all the way through making me wonder who the murderer was. I liked this book very much. My only skepticism is the “terrorist” attack centered on a small place in San Francisco. Had there been other attacks elsewhere, it may have seemed more feasible. But, that did not stop me from giving this book 5 stars.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘The Marriage Lie’ by Kimberly Belle

tml-kbSTORY: Even the perfect marriage has its dark side… 

Iris and Will’s marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane.

Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core.

REVIEW: Will and Iris Griffith have been married for seven years and are very much in love. They have bought their dream home in Atlanta and are finally trying for a baby. Will is a computer scientist and Iris is a school counselor for a swanky private school.

Will has just left for a business trip to Florida when Iris learns that a plane taking off from the Atlanta Airport has crashed. Irish quickly checks and finds with great relief that it is not the plane Will is on. That is until she learns that his name is on the passenger list of the plane that crashed and was heading to Seattle.

Grief overwhelms her as she tries to sort through not only the loss of her husband but why was he on a different plane than he said he was going to be. Iris’s family comes to try and comfort her and help figure out why Will lied to Iris.

As her family helps her dig into Will’s past, more questions arise. Who is Will and what really happened to him? Soon, they discover that they might be exposing a bigger mystery that can mean certain danger.

This is a very moving story that exhibits the depth of grief and how it affects people. In addition, the plot the author has put together is quite good. This book kept my attention from the first to last page and I highly recommend it.

Connie for b2b

‘Crowned and Dangerous’ by Rhys Bowen

cad-rbSTORY: Nothing is simple when you’re thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, least of all marriage. But with love on their side, and plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O’Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules…

With Darcy driving me out of London in a borrowed motor car, I soon discover that he isn’t planning to introduce me to the pleasures of sinning in secret—as I had hoped—but to make me his wife!

Of course, there are some quibbles to be dealt with, such as my needing special permission from the King to marry a Roman Catholic and the question of where we might live after the honeymoon. Though he will inherit a title, Darcy is as broke as I am. Even his family’s Irish castle has been sold to a rich American who now employs Darcy’s father as a hired hand.

Throwing these cares to the wind, nothing could deter us from our mission—except perhaps the news that my future father-in-law has just been arrested. It seems the rich American was murdered and Darcy’s father had more than enough motive to do the deed. With the elopement postponed, we head for Ireland where he insists he’s innocent, and it’s up to us to prove it—for better or worse.

REVIEW: November 1934

Lady Georgina (Georgie) Rannock and the Honorable Darcy O’Mara are in a motor car heading north from London having just attended the wedding of Princess Marina to the Duke of Kent. Now, Georgie and Darcy are headed to Gretna Green to be married.

When a snowstorm stops them followed by news that Darcy’s father has been charged with murder, once again Georgie and Darcy must go their separate ways.

Back in London, Georgie receives a phone call from Darcy who breaks off their engagement. As she is 35th in line to the British crown, Darcy does not want to risk her reputation by having her involved with him. Georgie refuses to accept this and travels to Darcy’s family home, Kilkenny Castle, in Ireland.

Darcy’s father had been overwhelmed with financial problems and agreed to sell the family Castle to a wealthy American while Mr. Darcy remained the head of the stables with an excellent line of horses. After the death of a horse from doping before a race, the American fired Mr. Darcy. Shortly after, the American was found clubbed to death and the club had Mr. Darcy’s fingerprints on it.

Now, it is up to Darcy, Georgie, other family members and friends to try and find the true killer. Thus, we begin yet another adventure in Ireland and the countryside.

I have followed this series for a long time and have read most of the author’s Royal Spyness Mystery series. These are great characters and the story is always a good mystery. I highly recommend the entire series.

Connie for b2b

‘The Couple Next Door’ by Shari Lapena

tcnd-slSTORY: You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?  

REVIEW: Anne and Marco Conti live next to Cynthia and Graham. Cynthia is flirting heavily with Marco at a dinner party. Anne has drunk more than she should – as all of them have. But Anne can’t help but wonder if Marco and Cynthia are having an affair. Mother of a 6-month-old baby girl, Cora, Anne is fighting postpartum depression. Since their neighbors have no children, they asked Anne and Marco to leave the baby at home. Since the baby sitter cancelled at the last minute, they reluctantly leave the baby in her crib and take the monitor returning to check on her every half hour. But when they return home at the end of the night, they find the front door unlocked and the crib empty.

Detective Rasback is working the case and knows that in many instances like this, the parents are guilty. Anne’s parents are wealthy and she wonders if someone took the baby for a ransom.

As we delve further into the story, facts slowly emerge – each one bringing a new shock. What really happened to baby Cora? Where is she and who is guilty?

This is a wonderful mystery that keeps the reader glued to the book turning pages. I loved how the author created this story and cannot wait to read more books by her.

Connie for b2b

’39 Bayshore’ by Donna Grisanti

39b-djgSTORY: Carolyn Reynolds’s health problems force her to sell her wildly successful company to avoid scandal if the truth comes out. Her mother’s tragic hit-and-run death plus day-to-day business pressures have overwhelmed her. Her aunts’ solution to relieve Carolyn’s maladies only make matters worse. The dilapidated fixer-upper mansion, Cass, Muriel, and Bee, gift her only comes with more stress-filled problems.

First, two scared teenager vagrants with a baby with nowhere else to go add to meeting the other two lot owners: an ex-con contractor trying to get the job to rebuild Bayshore and a pastor trying to lessen Carolyn’s problems. Despite initial reservations, Carolyn comes to care about them all, as her own past comes back to haunt her. Her search for her mother’s killer has led someone to renew a dangerous interest in Carolyn’s life.

The two other Bayshore tenants have their own problems. Contractor Shealds Jackson hopes to prove he’s really a good man after a stint in prison tarred his name. Pastor Peter Allred aims to move on from a violent incident in his past. Both men will grow closer to Carolyn as murder and mayhem threaten to destroy, not rebuild, their lives.

REVIEW: The story opens with Attorney Lucas Crandall enjoying a dinner left for him by his housekeeper. He hears a noise and the next day he is found shot to death. He had been ready to crack a cold case.

Carolyn Reynolds is flying to see a home her three aunts have purchased for her with stock settlement money from her firm that has just force-sold. Already a very wealthy woman, she truly does not need this home.

Carolyn’s mission has been to try and track down the driver who killed her mother in a hit-and-run five years ago. Her aunts have been her protectors since she lost her mother. Now, they are going with her to help renovate the place they bought for her.

At age 35, Carolyn knows she should concentrate on finding a husband and starting a family, but her all-consuming need is to solve the cold case and find her mother’s killer. In addition to her excessive worry over her mother, she has health problems.

The aunts broke the property into three parts and sold one to a group of three ex-convicts who have a construction business and the other to a minister/psychologist with a “past.”

As these new neighbors come together, but how will they all get along?

When the book first starts, it appears that it might be interesting, but the addition of more and more layers of characters and plots, left me somewhat confused. Too many characters in a book is one of my pet peeves and that is why I gave the book a lower rating.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Arrowood’ by Laura McHugh

a lmchSTORY: A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds

Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.

Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.

REVIEW: At age 8, Arden Arrowood was there the day her twin sisters, Violet and Tabitha, just under 2 years of age, vanished. Arden said they were kidnapped by a man in a gold car. At the time, her family was living at Arrowood. Now at age 25, after the death of her father, Arden finds that she has inherited Arrowood, the huge family home built many years ago and located on a bluff on the Mississippi River in the town of Keokuk. Once a very prosperous town with large mansions, it has lost many businesses and become rather rundown. No one has lived in Arrowood since the family moved away not long after the disappearance of the twins. After an exhaustive search, the authorities were never able to find the girls.

Moving back to the home reopens many memories of Arden’s childhood there and makes her even more determined to find out what happened to her sisters. She meets Josh whose goal in life is to solve cold cases. The information he shares reopens old wounds but also makes her question more things. Her childhood friend and next door neighbor, Ben, still lives in town as does his mother. As the Arrowood family has been a part of the town for well over 100 years, they are well known and there is a lot of history here.

We meet people from the past and wonder if they know anything about the disappearance of the girls. The house itself is rather spooky but Arden is not afraid to live there. As more clues come to light, we think we know who was responsible.

I suspected the truth at one time but other clues seemed to knock that out. Do come and read this enthralling story and see if you can solve the mystery. It will truly keep you guessing right up to the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope other readers will as well.

Connie for b2b

 

‘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