15 for 2015: My Best Books of the Year

2015 winding down

As always, compiling my best books of the year list is both a labor of love and a pain in the ass. On that one hand, I have to go through my entire year’s reviews at Reading Reality, The Book Pushers, Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly and Library Journal. I inevitably miss something, as I did when I put together my long list for the Best of 2015 Giveaway Hop and left out The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, which was thought-provokingly awesome.

It’s also a surprise to me that no romances ended up on the final list, although Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz and Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh made the longlist. There are two entries that have a touch of fantasy romance, but they felt much more like epic fantasy with a romantic subplot than purely romance.

How will mine stack up to yours? Read the entries and see for yourself.

ancient peace by tanya huffBased on this list, I enjoyed my trips to other worlds a lot this year. An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff (reviewed here) is the lone pure SF title to make my list. I loved An Ancient Peace because it is epic space opera/military SF in a series I was so sorry to see end. And I’m so glad that it hasn’t.

I also really liked Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, but it wasn’t quite as good as the first two books in the series, Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. Jean Johnson’s The Terrans should have made the list, but I finished the second book in the series, The V’Dan, a couple of days ago. And as my review at The Book Pushers elaborates, The V’Dan just didn’t stick the dismount. Awesome 9/10ths of a book, and the last 1/10th fell a little short.

Four titles on the list are epic fantasy in one way or another. Or at least they felt epic to me.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (reviewed at The Book Pushers) is an absolutely marvelous economic empire type fantasy. It is also a convoluted story about making bargains with the devil, paying the price, and finding out in the end that you have become the devil you intended to fight.

Both The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy and Uprooted by Naomi Novik are epic fantasies with a strong romantic subplot.

In The Talon of the Hawk (reviewed here) we see the epic conclusion to a journey of sisterhood. Three princesses become three strong queens who have to cut the shackles of their past to achieve a painful if necessary future. Talon is the story of the oldest princess and heir, and Ursula makes a strong, determined and absolutely fascinating warrior princess who has successfully put her emphasis on being a warrior, and can’t be bothered with the princess folderol – until she has to step up and be Queen.

uprooted by naomi novikUprooted by Naomi Novik (reviewed at The Book Pushers) is also a heroine’s journey, but in this case the heroine is a mage rather than a warrior, and she is also anything but a princess. And the story turns all the tropes about the village sacrificing the maiden to the dragon completely on their heads. It’s a terrific coming-of-age story and a marvelous tale where the battle between good and evil is not required to be invested in a big bad monster but still evokes plenty of evil.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho and The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott were the two “honorable mentions” in this category.

Two urban fantasies also made the list, Last First Snow by Max Gladstone and A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark by Harry Connolly.

Last First Snow (reviewed here) is the latest entry in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence. Even four books in, I still see this series as an urban fantasy set in an epic fantasy world. On the one hand, the underlying plot of this story is all about urban renewal (or urban removal) and the way that the projects always get spun and the original, generally poor, residents always get the shaft. But it’s also a story whose progress and conclusion are monitored by necromancer-lawyers, and whose protagonist is a failed priest who succeeds in the wrong place at the worst time.

A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark (reviewed here and on my Best E-Originals list at LJ) is pure urban fantasy, with a twist. The long and awkward title is a summary of the book, but the reader only figures that out as it unspools. What makes this book different and compelling is its heroine Marley Jacob. Marley is one of those traditional, strong, kick-ass, magic wielding urban fantasy heroines. Only 30 years later, and she is waging peace instead of war, which is much, much harder. Not so much “age and treachery beat youth and skill” as “age and experience beat youth and recklessness” but it works. The dragon in Puget Sound was a nice touch for this former Seattle resident.

mechanical by ian tregillisOne final trip to another world made this list. The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis (reviewed here). In the author’s Alchemy Wars, the year is 1926, and the world has gone down a different path than the history we know. In the 17th century the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens discovered the method for creating mechanical servitors. The slave-race of “clakkers” has made life much easier for humans, but the slaves are more than just mechanical parts. They may not be biological, but they have free will and the desire to forge their own paths. How they will achieve their freedom is anyone’s guess, but it is bound to upset society as they know it. I’m in the middle of book two in this series, The Rising, as I write this. And so far, it’s equally as awesome as The Mechanical.

There’s a saying that “the past is another country, they do things differently there.” While I’ve discovered that I like historical romance less and less as time goes by, my love of history, historical fiction and historical mysteries continues unabated.

One piece of nonfiction made my list, and it’s specifically narrative nonfiction. In other words, even though the story is all true, the author spins it out in the best narrative fiction style. Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake reads like a compelling story, as well as a fascinating look at the end of a Golden age and the early years of World War I. Through diaries, letters and survivor interviews, Larsen makes the Lusitania sail again.

Speak Now by Kenji Yoshino, Freedom of Speech by David K. Shipler and The Interstellar Age by Jim Bell were “runners up” in nonfiction.

shakespeares rebel by cc humphreysThere were several historical fiction titles that made my final list. Shakespeare’s Rebel by CC Humphreys (reviewed here) is a gripping story of the later years of both William Shakespeare and Elizabeth I, as seen through the eyes of an actor who should never have been near the halls of power. John Lawley finds himself an unwelcome and sometimes unwitting observer as Shakespeare struggles to write Hamlet and Gloriana makes herself a fool for love one last time. It feels like you are standing amongst the groundlings at the Globe as this marvelous tale unfolds.

Two of my favorites this year were historical, but covered a much, much later period. A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott gives the reader an entrée into Hollywood’s Golden Age through the eyes of a young scriptwriter befriended by Carole Lombard. As our heroine watches Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh bring Gone With the Wind to glorious technicolor life, we also see her world as the stage darkens over the run up to World War II. A coming-of-age story wrapped in a love story surrounded by a war story.

And then there’s The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson. In its early 1960s setting, we see the conditions that led up to the rise of feminism, but that isn’t the real story. The real story is of one woman who is living the road not taken every night when she dreams. But as she explores her two very different lives, she is forced to confront the less-than-idyllic situations that make up both of her possible presents – and she is forced to figure out which life is real, and which is merely an illusion. As I said in my review, this one really got me in the feels.

nature of the beast by louise pennyAlthough I also read a lot of mysteries this year, one stood out over all the rest. That was The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny. As always, Louise Penny’s latest character study, with retired Surêté du Québec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache leading the investigation, was the best mystery I read all year, and one of the best books as well. Gamache’s four sayings that lead to wisdom resonate for me with every book, “I was wrong. I’m sorry. I don’t know. I need help.” In this case, I know I’m not wrong, and I know you won’t be sorry if you read this series. Start with Still Life. But the more of it you read and the more you know about the characters, the more fascinating it becomes.

As is evidenced by this list, I enjoy historical fiction. I particularly love the place where historical fiction meets mystery in historical mysteries.

One of my best books this year is another latest entry in an ongoing series, A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd, 7th in his Bess Crawford series. As World War I is finally beginning to wind down, this story finds nurse Bess Crawford visiting one of her former patients, only to discover that something is seriously wrong back home. Her duty as a nurse is all about patching up the wounds of war, but she uncovers a wound that she can’t patch. This is a story about the evil that men (and women) do in the name of justice. It’s also a story about just how easy it is to stoke mob violence, and how simple it is to turn blind prejudice into murder.

And for my two best books of the year. (Drumroll, please!)

These books aren’t much like each other, making it difficult to say that one is better, or more superlative, that then other. But I’ll try.

jade dragon mountain by elsa hartJade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart (reviewed here) is a beautiful and evocative piece of historical fiction wrapped around the conundrum of a solving a murder. On a deadline and with very little support (and the detective’s possible own execution waiting at the end). Li Du is an exiled Imperial Librarian turned wandering scholar in early 18th century China. He stumbles over the death of a Jesuit priest, and refuses to let the local magistrate pronounce a lazy and face-saving verdict of death by natural causes. As Li Du pokes his curiosity into the dark corners of the regional palace administration, he finds a quiet rebellion that no one is willing to admit exists, and a plot to overthrow the Emperor that has been years in the making. He could walk away from saving the Emperor who exiled him. In the end he risks his own life in the service of the truth. And as Li Du winds his way through the court intrigue that he hoped to leave behind, we get a fantastic peek into a world that was closed to Westerners even at the time, and that peek is utterly absorbing.

And I saved the very best (at least according to my reading) for last.

grant park by leonard pitts jrMy favorite book of 2015 is Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr. This is a story that fictionalizes and encapsulates two pivotal moments in 20th century American history, and views them through the eyes of two men whose lives were forever changed by those events. In 1968, Malcolm Toussaint and Ben Carson are young men marching for civil rights in the shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. They are both there in Selma the moment when King was gunned down. And their lives were never the same. Forty years later, in 2008, they both work for one of the major Chicago newspapers on the eve of Barack Obama’s election. Toussaint is now a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist (not unlike the author) and Carson is his editor. Toussaint choses to throw his career away by publishing one angry column about his exhaustion at White America. He is utterly certain that in spite of the polls, Obama will not be elected. In the column, he pulls no punches, he pretends no remorse. He’s tired of being lied to. Unfortunately for Carson, Toussaint needs one last lie to get the column published – he uses Carson’s credentials to login to the system and approve the column to go to press. In the aftermath, both men lose their jobs. Then a couple of white supremacists kidnap Toussaint to use as a symbol in their terrorist act against the possibility of a black President. As Toussaint tries to save himself, Carson hunts him down in the hopes of getting a bit of payback at being collateral damage. But as the plot winds down, and the terrorists wind themselves up, both men reflect on that long ago afternoon, and how far we’ve come. And how far we haven’t.

And that’s a wrap for this year. Next week, I’ll be taking a look at the books I’m most looking forward to in 2016. In the meantime, here’s the covers for all the books mentioned in this list:

Review: Between a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica Sims

Review: Between a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica SimsBetween a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica Sims
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 384
Published by Pocket Books on December 29th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.org

In the wickedly funny spirit of bestselling authors Kerrelyn Sparks and Molly Harper, this sexy paranormal romance features an estate broker and a 600-year-old vampire out for revenge.
Lindsey Hughes loves antiques and couldn’t be happier to make a living in the estate sale business. But when her assistant accidentally buys an entire estate without her approval, Lindsey is forced to clean up the mess herself.
Lindsey travels to the newly purchased, age-old house in Venice, Italy, and soon discovers more than she (never) bargained for. While digging through the hoarder’s trove that fills every floor, she finds a secret staircase behind a wall that leads to a strange coffin…with an even stranger inhabitant.
Vampire Rand FitzWulf has been in his coffin for 600 years. But now that he’s awake, he’s ravenous, and there’s a delicious-smelling woman with a rare blood type in his basement. Luckily, Lindsey has more to offer than blood: she agrees to travel throughout Europe with Rand to help him get revenge on the one who turned him. But as the unlikely pair grows closer, will the billionaire vampire be overtaken by his thirst for blood—or his thirst for love?

My Review:

First of all, as the author states in a Goodreads post about this book, even though a lot of the promotional material for this book said that it was #5 in the author’s very popular Midnight Liaisons series, it isn’t. It’s not even in the same universe as the Midnight Liaisons series.

And color this reader disappointed. I was expecting another story about the Midnight Liaisons paranormal matchmaking agency. I love that series, as reflected in my review of the fourth book, Must Love Fangs. Let me put it this way, I love this series enough that I mostly buy them instead of getting free ARCs. Unfortunately for the purpose of a trail of evidence, when I spend my own money I don’t always write a review.

beauty dates the beast by jessica simsThe Midnight Liaisons series is purely snarktastic fun with a paranormal romance twist. For a good time start with Beauty Dates the Beast, and keep reading until you can’t stop laughing out loud at the dialog. Then keep reading so your buzz continues.

Between a Vamp and a Hard Place is a beast of an entirely different color, type and species. It’s a lot closer to Kerrelyn Sparks’ Love at Stake, Katie MacAlister’s Dark Ones or Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau series.  Those are series where rich vampires in the 21st century meet modern women and get their attitudes dragged into modern times as they fall for each other in spite of all sorts of barriers both real and imaginary. The story is told mostly for humor, with a slice of HEA, or should that be bite, added for spicy good times.

In Between a Vamp and a Hard Place, would-be antiques dealers Lindsey and Gemma have one month to clear out an abandoned apartment in Venice in the hopes that they will find something worth the $10,000 that Gemma paid for the privilege. They do find antiques. They also find a vampire who has been dormant for six centuries with a stake through his heart. A lot of traditional vampire lore gets skewered in the service of fiction, but that part works pretty well.

Rand FitzWulf has a lot to learn about the 21st century and the women in it. But before he can, or if he can, settle down to life with his new blood vassal Lindsey, he has to find the vampire who ordered his staking all those centuries ago, and do unto him before Rand gets done onto again.

In this fish out of water story, Rand ends up charmed by Lindsey, and Lindsey falls in love with Rand. How much of the start of their relationship is due to Rand’s powers is an open question to the reader. And how much Rand’s love for Lindsey has its roots in her extra tasty Hh blood group (which does surprisingly exist) is an equally questionable conundrum.

But as Rand and Lindsey chase his nemesis across Europe using his vampire “spidey-senses”, the slightly lost vampire and the in way over her head modern woman become partners, friends and eventually lovers.

Lindsey always believes that her time with Rand is temporary, but when they come face to face, and fang to fang, with the original Dracula, no one expects to get out alive as Lindsey, Rand and Gemma trip over themselves trying to save each other.

It’s so crazy it just might work. But at what cost?

Escape Rating B-: Some of my rating is due to my disappointment. I just didn’t get the book or the experience I was expecting.

On the other hand, the scenes of Lindsey choking down garlic to make her blood poisonous to Rand’s enemies were absolutely priceless. It sounds awful, but the descriptions are awfully funny.

The way this story is set up is an interesting way of dealing with the vast power differential between a vampire and a human, especially a relatively young one. Lindsey starts out feeling a bit sorry for Rand, and Rand is forced to admit he needs Lindsey as his guide to the 21st century, and for that he needs her willing and not under his thrall. He can force her into doing whatever he wants, but when he does that he loses access to her knowledge of how the world works. And he needs that knowledge badly. Understanding a language, which he does by magic, is not the same as understanding the meaning behind it.

So there’s a strong feeling of Stockholm Syndrome in Rand’s love for Lindsey. And an equally strong feeling of responsibility in Lindsey’s love for Rand. He needs her and she needs to take care of him. It works for them, and it works as part of a very high-stakes road trip to Hell. But I just wasn’t totally sold on the romance. I could see them bonding, but I couldn’t see them staying bonded. Of course, things change.

Between a Vamp and a Hard Place had lots of interesting bits, and Lindsey’s and Rand’s banter is often hilarious. But this story just didn’t put the bite on my happy place the way that the Midnight Liaisons books do.

Review: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean + Giveaway

Review: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean + GiveawayThe Rogue Not Taken (Scandal and Scoundrel, #1) by Sarah MacLean
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #1
Pages: 384
Published by Avon on December 29th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.org

The youngest of the infamous Talbot sisters scandalized society at the Liverpool Summer Soiree, striking her sister’s notoriously philandering husband and landing him backside-first in a goldfish pond. And we thought Sophie was the quiet one…
When she finds herself the target of very public aristocratic scorn, Sophie Talbot does what she must to escape the city and its judgment—she flees on the back of a carriage, vowing never to return to London…or to society. But the carriage isn’t saving her from ruin. It’s filled with it.
The Marquess of Eversley was espied descending a rose trellis—escaping an irate Earl and his once-future countess. No lady is safe from Eversley’s Engagement Ending Escapades!
Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, a quality that results in a reputation far worse than the truth, a furious summons home, and a long, boring trip to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the trip becomes anything but boring.
He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, and suddenly opposites are altogether too attractive…

My Review:

When I started compiling my Best of 2015 lists, I noticed that I hadn’t read a lot of historical romances this year. Not merely that there weren’t any on my “Best” list, but that I hadn’t picked up more than a handful to read at all. Plenty of historical fiction, and LOTS of historical mystery, but very few historical romances.

So when the opportunity to get this book for a tour came up, I decided that a revisit to the Regency and its aftermath was in order. And now that I’ve come back from that journey, as much as I enjoyed this book, I understand why I’ve been turning away from historical romances in general.

I prefer romances where the heroine and the hero are relatively equal. Possibly not in social standing, but in intelligence, action and agency. She has to have something, be something, more than a pretty face and nubile body willing to swear undying devotion in order to be interesting as a character.

On of the things I liked about Eva Leigh’s Forever Your Earl is that she found a way to give her heroine independence and agency that wasn’t so anachronistic as to be completely unbelievable.

I’ve also discovered that I really dislike the artificiality and ridiculous lack of mores of the ton. I can understand a desire for material comfort (can’t we all) but I can’t seem to let go of my willing suspension of disbelief enough to understand why anyone would want to join this set of complete fakers.

I will try to get down off my soapbox now.

As I said, I really did enjoy The Rogue Not Taken, and I think it is because the rogue in question, and also the road that Sophie Talbot travels down with him, are unexpected. That road sets them both loose from society and its expectations. Even though Sophie knows that her temporary freedom is just that, temporary, she has still come to the conclusion that whatever time she manages to steal from the expectations of society is totally worth it.

The beginning scene of the book displays just how little agency that Sophie, her sisters, and upper class women in general, have in that society. She catches her brother-in-law the Duke in flagrante delicto at a house party with a woman other than her pregnant sister. And when Sophie verbally lays into him to defend her sister’s honor, he is the one who society follows. He’s a duke and she’s an upstart. It doesn’t matter that she is right and he is an ass and boor and a cad. He’s quality and she’s not and that’s it.

And her sister is just supposed to quietly bear it all, and no one except Sophie ever defends her. While one wants to stand up and cheer for Sophie, the way that it all fell to her and then on her feels uncomfortable for 21st century readers. Possibly historically accurate, but squirmy-wrong.

Sophie’s story is all about her escape. In one decisive moment, she decides to go back to the place she used to be happy – her childhood home. If her only way of getting there is to buy a footman’s livery and masquerade as the Marquess of Eversley’s footman, so be it.

What I enjoyed about this story was their journey, because they are outside society. Eversley initially doesn’t want Sophie around, and disparages her, often unintentionally, at every turn. But the sparkle of her unconventional personality, and just the simple way that she attracts trouble like a magnet, keep him amused. It isn’t that she is pretty, although she is. It’s the way that she approaches life and moves past roadblocks that has engaged his attention like nothing has in years.

Kingscote Eversley is having fun, and doesn’t want it to stop.

Sophie Talbot is having freedom, and she doesn’t want it to stop, either. While she is often a bit naive about the amount of danger that a young woman can bring down on herself by traveling alone, she is determined to reach her destination with as little help as possible. King finds himself protecting her without being overbearing about it. She needs a bit of looking after, and he needs someone who rushes into new experiences with eyes and mind wide open.

That they fall in love with each other, while inevitable, wasn’t half as much fun as their journey to get there.

Escape Rating B: I liked Sophie a lot. Just as Sophie does, one comes to like King Eversley as the journey goes on. I’ve discovered that I hate the ton and all it represents, and I enjoyed this story a lot more when it was far divorced from the society from which it sprang.

The Rogue Not Taken comes to a nice but conventional ending. I found the journey much more unconventional, and therefore much more fun than the destination. And I loved that King was proven completely and utterly wrong. Sophie was definitely not the “unfun” Talbot sister after all.



Sarah and Tasty Book Tours are giving away a paperback set of her complete Rule of Scoundrels series to one lucky U.S. commenter:

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Review: Anything For You by Kristan Higgins + Giveaway

Review: Anything For You by Kristan Higgins + GiveawayAnything for You (Blue Heron, #5) by Kristan Higgins
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Blue Heron #5
Pages: 384
Published by HQN Books on December 29th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.org

Before you get down on bended knee…
…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she's got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it's the perfect time to get married.
When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who's now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for her.
But this time, Connor says it's all or nothing. If she doesn't want to marry him, he'll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he's never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn't quite as sure as she thinks…

My Review:

If you think of the phrase, “anything for you” as having a similar type of resonance to Wesley’s famous “as you wish” in The Princess Bride, you’ll get an idea of the relationship between Connor O’Rourke and Jessica Dunn, with the reversal that he’s the prince and she starts the story as something less than a stableboy.

This is not a pretty story, because Jessica does not have a pretty life. It does finally have a mostly happy ending, although there are lots of times during the story where the reader rightfully wonders how these two are ever going to get there. Their romance has a lot of roadblocks in it, and while they both contribute to those roadblocks as adults, the ones they start with from childhood are difficult to get past, and with good reason.

Like so many of the stories in Higgins’ Blue Heron series, Anything for You tells a lot of its story in flashbacks. In fact, the entire first half or possibly two thirds of the book is a flashback. The story begins with Connor’s failed attempt at asking Jessica to marry him, and then goes all the way back to their occasionally intersecting childhoods. Connor’s memories of their past move closer and closer to that fateful evening, without any references to their present circumstances until after the story reaches that heartbreaking NOW. And then moves forward into a future that takes a lot of twists and turns to look brighter.

in your dreams by kristan higginsIn my review of In Your Dreams, I referred to Jack Holland’s willingness to be any woman’s date for any function where she needs an escort as him being a gentleman, and that he specifically is not the town bicycle. He helps a lot of women out of emotional jams caused by some other man – he doesn’t have sex with every, or even most of, the women he helps.

On the other hand, Jessica Dunn really was the town bicycle in high school. To the point where most people called her “Jessica Does” instead of Jessica Dunn. It sounds kind of sleazy and sordid, until we find out why. Jessica was gathering a group of strong and caring young men who would be willing to protect her younger brother Davey from bullies in exchange for sex with Jessica Does. Davey was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and needs all the protection that Jessica can give or gather for him.

Both of their parents are alcoholics, and Jessica has been the only person really responsible for Davey since the day he was born. She was 7, and she’s been his parent and his caregiver and his protector ever since.

But in the flashbacks, we see Jessica’s relationship with Connor from the very beginning, and from its rocky start things only go downhill for a long time. Davey’s dog Chico mauls 12-year-old Connor, and Connor’s distant and stuck-up dad drags Connor to the trailer park so he can punish poor Davey by having the dog hauled away to be euthanized. Davey, who can only see the world in black and white, spends his life convinced that Connor killed his dog.

So when adult Jessica and Connor begin their on-again/off-again friends-with benefits arrangement it is with the explicit understanding that it will remain a secret so that the volatile Davey never finds out.

Because Jessica has always and will always put Davey first. Even at the cost of her own happiness. But who is she really protecting? Davey or herself?

best man by kristan higginsEscape Rating A-: Anything for You was not quite as straightforward a romance as the earlier entries in this series. Also, it isn’t necessary to read every book in the series to get what’s going on in this one, but Manningsport is a nice place to visit with interesting people. If you like small town romances, start with The Best Man (reviewed here) to get in on all the fun.

Connor’s life has been relatively easy, and he is perfectly aware of it. He’s not self-centered nor does he think he’s perfect or God’s gift to women or anything like that. He’s just a guy who knows that he has mostly been lucky. His parents were upper middle-class, and while his dad was generally a selfish and self-absorbed bastard, he made sure that his family was well provided for financially if not emotionally. If Connor hasn’t exactly forgiven his dad for leaving their mother for a much younger (and very pregnant) woman, he is also perfectly civil about the whole thing. And his much younger sister Savannah is one of the lights of Connor’s life.

But Connor has loved Jessica Dunn for 20 years, and that isn’t going to change. He has taken whatever bits of her she can manage to give him, and he’s finally realized that it isn’t enough. He’s in his early 30s now and wants to be married to the love of his life and start a family. He’s also not willing to settle for second best – meaning a woman other than Jessica.

So Connor has to somehow get past his past with Davey, who throws a head-banging temper tantrum whenever he sees Connor.

And while Davey may only have an IQ of 50, he is as good as any child at emotionally manipulating his parental figure, in this case, Jessica.

Jessica is caught between several rocks and all kinds of hard places. Growing up as the only responsible party in a house of alcoholics, Jessica has no faith in anyone but herself. Her experience is that she is the only one she can trust not to let her down. She’s also sure that with her background, Connor can’t possibly love her. She’s certain that their relationship is all about the thrill of the chase. And while she is wrong, it is so easy to understand how she would feel that way.

She can’t let herself even think about a future with Connor, or about how she really feels about him, because she is certain that happiness is not for her. And because Davey hates Connor.

The author has done an excellent job of portraying an adult child of an alcoholic. Everything that Jessica is dealing with in the present are a natural response to the unpredictable insanity of her childhood.

Connor’s solution to their many dilemmas is ingenious, and also heartwarming. He has to create a relationship with Davey on Davey’s terms. When things backfire, it is up to Connor to point out how much of Jessica’s reaction isn’t about Davey, but is about Jessica. It’s only when they work things out from there that they have a chance.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Kristan and Little Bird Publicity are giving away a copy of Anything for You to one lucky U.S. commenter:

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The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 12-27-15

Sunday Post

sttfa rey posterWe saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for the first time last weekend. I know we’ll see it again in a theater, possibly more than once, before it finishes its run. Unlike the three prequels that shall not be named, Force Awakens was absolutely the Star Wars I remember. I saw the original movie the summer it came out. I was in college at the time. I didn’t go to many first run movies on a student budget, but the dad of the guy I was dating at the time took us both to see Star Wars. As much of a Trekkie as I was and still am, very few movies have topped the “sensawunder” engendered by that first viewing of the first Star Wars movie. And as a Trekkie, I’m doubly grateful. The overwhelming popularity of Star Wars made Paramount look through their back catalog to figure out whether or not they had a property that might take advantage of the sudden interest in SF. They made a not-very-good movie on the strength of that popularity, the often maligned Star Trek: The Motion(less) Picture. Which, in its turn, made just enough money to get us Wrath of Khan. And that, as they say, is that.

If you have fond memories of the original Star Wars, and have yet to see Force Awakens, GO! And may the Force be with you.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop

silence that speaks by andrea kaneBlog Recap:

Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop
A Review: The Silence That Speaks by Andrea Kane
Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour
B+ Review: Cat Bearing Gifts by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Happy Holidays 2015
Stacking the Shelves (165)



rogue not taken by sarah macleanComing Next Week:

Anything for You by Kristan Higgins (blog tour review)
The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean (blog tour review)
Between a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica Sims (review)
Best of 2015

Stacking the Shelves (165)

Stacking the Shelves

I woke up in the middle of the night dreaming that the room was spinning. I woke up and it was! I have positional vertigo. If I lean sideways, or lay on my side, the room spins until I throw up. And I’ve just discovered that writing about the experience ALSO makes the room spin! So much fun.

If this is what hangovers feel like, I think I’ll pass.

For Review:
The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones
Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt
The Rogue Retrieval by Dan Koboldt

Purchased from Amazon:
On a Barbarian World (Phoenix Adventures #8) by Anna Hackett
Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse (Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis #1) by Stephanie Osborn


Happy Holidays 2015

grumpy cat xmas

As someone who does not celebrate Christmas, my attitude is sometimes a lot like the one that Grumpy Cat exhibits above. Some of my fondest Christmas memories are of driving around Chicago at Christmastime, listening to a compilation of Dr. Demento Christmas carols and hunting out the most outrageous and over-the-top Christmas light displays in the neighborhood.

This year, no one seems to be dashing through the snow – mostly because there isn’t any snow! Except, of course, for Anchorage, none of the places that we have lived are remotely cold enough to snow this year. Not even Chicago! And the northeast is having a heat wave. (We’ll be in Boston in a couple of weeks, and I’m crossing my fingers for the unseasonable warmth to continue!)

But seriously, even though Christmas is not everyone’s holiday, this year, just like every year, we could all use a little more “peace on earth and goodwill to all”.

So Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy (belated) Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and best wishes for whatever you celebrate this year. Including the two lovely four day weekends in a row!

Review: Cat Bearing Gifts by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Review: Cat Bearing Gifts by Shirley Rousseau MurphyCat Bearing Gifts (Joe Grey, #18) by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, large print, audiobook
Series: Joe Grey #18
Pages: 320
Published by Avon on August 27th 2013
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.org

In this latest entry in Shirley Rousseau Murphy's award-winning series, feline P.I. Joe Grey and his four-legged cohorts are plunged into a nightmarish mystery.
On the way home from visiting their friend Kate Osborne, tortoiseshell Kit and her elderly housemates, Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw, are hurt in a terrible car crash. The accident is terrifying enough, but then two dangerous men steal the Greenlaws' Town Car, making off with a secret hoard of jewels and gold—a gift bestowed from Kate's newfound treasure. A badly shaken Kit hides from hungry coyotes in the forested hills above the highway, waiting for Joe, Pan, and their human companions, Ryan and Clyde Damen, to rescue her.
Back home in Molena Point, yellow tomcat Misto, discovering a faded photograph of a child living fifty years ago, becomes lost in his memories of that past century—while Joe Grey and his tabby lady prowl an abandoned stone cottage where they've discovered two men hiding. The cats smell mildewed money and soon smell human blood, too. Though the cats know more than the thieves about the unique items stolen, their investigation is still in trouble as they claw their way to justice.

My Review:

cat on the edge by shirley rousseau murphyUsually I would say that anyone who likes feline sleuths will not just love Joe Grey, but could start anywhere in his series. Although the whole thing is so much fun that starting with Cat on the Edge makes for a lovely bunch of binge reading.

However, while I definitely enjoyed this entry in the series, I don’t think it is a good place to start. Too much of the action in this one is dependent on events in the past, and on people who have been introduced in previous books. Also, unusually for the series, the focus is very much on the humans in this one. The cats take a back seat (sometimes literally) as crisis after crisis strikes their human families, and everyone rallies round to protect the most vulnerable and find the guilty parties.

Many of the events in Cat Bearing Gifts were set up in Cat Telling Tales (reviewed here). An acquaintance of Ryan’s from art school barges into Molena Point demanding free room and board for herself and her two daughters based on a short and not all that friendly relationship from several years back. Ryan packs Debbie and her two girls off to one of the houses that she and Clyde are rehabbing. While Ryan knows that Debbie won’t lift a finger for upkeep on the rent-free house, everyone involved feels sorry for Debbie’s younger daughter Tessa, who is bullied by her sister and her mother nearly to the point of abuse. Tessa is being watched out for by Pan, one of the intelligent, talking cats, and everyone is trying to find a better solution for her than either her mother or Child Protective Services.

cat telling tales by shirley rousseau murphyDebbie’s mother Sammie was found murdered underneath her own house in Cat Telling Tales, but Sammie left her little bungalow to her friend Emmylou. Emmylou and Sammie were two of a kind, tough older women who lived alone and independently and took care of themselves and kept themselves mostly to themselves.

But Sammie’s brother Byerly wanders back to Molena Point several months after Sammie’s death. Byerly calls himself a hobo. He’s a wandering vagrant who has always touched base with his sister but never returned home to live. He’s also easily influenced and manipulated, and he returns to Molena Point with his ex-con friend Vic. With Sammie dead, Byerly and Vic break into a neglected cabin on the property and begin a mini-crime spree.

Vic also fences the stolen goods that Debbie shoplifts.

But the mini-crime spree turns maxi when Vic and Byerly cause a hit and run accident on the road from San Francisco back to Molena Point. They wreck their old truck, total a semi, and drive Pedric and Lucinda Greenlaw off the road. Vic beats up Pedric and Lucinda, and steals their car.

catswold portal by shirley rousseau murphyAnd that’s where the case really begins. Because little Kit is a witness to the original crime, and wants to make sure Vic gets his just desserts the minute she is rescued. And because the Greenlaws’ car is concealing all the mysterious, magical and valuable treasures that their friend Kate brought back from the dying world on the other side of The Catswold Portal.

A lot happens in this story, and at first it seems almost all bad. While Vic and Byerly thankfully don’t have the tools to discover the treasures concealed in the doors of the Greenlaws’ Lincoln Town Car, Vic has more than enough ambition (although not much sense) to take his possession of the big car and its keys and turn them into an invasion of the Greenlaws’ home as well as license to commit even more crimes as he hides the car all over Molena Point and tries to plot his way out of the town and his life as a hobo.

But the first thing he has to do is get rid of his injured partner Byerly. And the second thing he has to do is get one last score out of the disgusting Debbie. And last but certainly not least, Vic has to find a way to dodge the pursuit of all of the cats who are suddenly following him everywhere in town.

In the end, no one ever manages to get the better of Joe Grey, Dulcie, Misto, Pan and especially, Kit.

Escape Rating B+: Cat Bearing Gifts is quite a bit darker than many of the stories in this series. It is sad and scary to see the Greenlaws, who are fit and feisty but definitely in their 80s, brought down, even temporarily, by a nasty piece of work like Vic. There’s a certain amount of fear on the reader’s part, and definitely on Kit’s, that some of the damage may not be recoverable, or may cause lasting infirmities.

Kit is certainly forced to acknowledge that her chosen humans are elderly and that she will lose them someday in the foreseeable future, even if that day is not today. Kit discovers that one of the flaws of having human intelligence is that it means a little cat is able to see the awful stuff that’s coming. She is not happy about it, and neither are we.

Because Pedric and Lucinda are in the hospital recovering for a lot of this book, the humans are rightly taken up with that crisis. Everyone rallies round, but everyone is also too busy to pay attention to what the cats are doing. And the cats themselves are naturally distracted. They all care for the Greenlaws, and are worried. There’s also a certain amount of necessary deception on the part of both the cats and the humans to sneak Kit into the Greenlaws’ hospital beds, very much against medical orders.

So everyone is distracted and no one has the time or the energy to get together and compare notes about the strange doings the cats witness surrounding Vic, Byerly, Emmylou’s house and Debbie’s shoplifting. Everyone knows a piece of the puzzle, but there is no opportunity to put the pieces together.

While this was an interesting way for the plot to take care of what sometimes seems like feline omniscience, all the events that they watch are very sad and go on quite a while. The reader will want Debbie to get her comeuppance long before it finally does. And as is often the case where the detectives are very scattered, more than a few bad deeds occur because the puzzle pieces just don’t come together in time.

As a long-time reader of this series, I was glad to see the pieces finally connected between The Catswold Portal and Joe Grey. As someone who is fascinated by the relationship among the cats, it was really interesting to see the argument between Kit and Pan. While it is obvious that they are mates, they feel both in the human and the cat sense. Their argument about goals and purposes and futures was very human, but the motivation behind it was very cat. As was the resolution.

cat shout for joy by shirley rousseau murphyI’m looking forward to a happier story in this series in the next book, Cat Shout for Joy. Joe Grey and Dulcie are having kittens!

Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour


Welcome to my stop on this holiday Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour. While the tour features six lovely holiday book treats, my special guest today is Nana Malone, the author of Mistletoe Mantra, half of the Wrapped in Red story bundle with Sherelle Green’s White Hot Holiday.

wrapped in red by nana malone and sherelle greenMistletoe Mantra is a terrific little holiday story that puts together some tried-and-oh-so-true romance themes and wraps them up in a red Christmas bow. This is story where, as Nana says in her guest post below, nice guys do not finish last. Not only that, but this particular nice guy has been hiding a big streak of naughty from his best friend for years and year. Because while Nomi Adams has never figured out it, she has always been Lincoln Porter’s “little redheaded girl”. Just like Charlie Brown, Linc has loved Nomi from the day she walked into his life, and he has loved her from the shadows, while she and his sister (and Nomi’s best friend) grew up and got even more beautiful right before his eyes. What Nomi discovers when she returns home after years away, is that Lincoln has had his own moment of transformation, and that the shy little boy she remembers has been replaced by a very hot and incredibly thoughtful man with some big secrets of his own. Including a secret that Nomi has come home to expose.

Guest Post by Nana Malone on Good Guys and Nice Girls

Good girl, beep beep…

Talking about a good, good girl…and guy. Well, maybe that’s not exactly how the song goes. But in a book world full of superalphas, I want to talk about the nice guy for once and his nice girl.

No, this isn’t your mother’s Mary Sue, and nice guys don’t have to finish last.
Okay, I get it. Inked, with a constant 5 o’clock shadow, alpha males are sexy and hot. They say what they think. They’re a little bit dirty. They flout authority. Having one as your book boyfriend keeps you on the edge of your seat and your heart racing. Because you never know when you’ll be on a train and they’ll slip a hand under your skirt…or maybe those are just my book boyfriends. LOL.

And don’t even get me started on the bad girls. You know the ones. They hang with the boys, wear killer stilettos and don’t seem to own a pair of panties.

But let’s face it, ladies. In every romance you’ve ever read, the tatted playboy changes for the heroine. Because of her, he becomes a better person.

I personally love a nice guy. You know, the one who thinks to bring you something when he comes home from a trip. The one who will walk your dog when you’re running a fever. But these guys can be super-sexy, too.

Just because they know how to open a door doesn’t mean in the bedroom, they can’t turn it on. Yes, I’m talking about the closet bad boys. The ones who are just a little bit dirty. The ones we get to muss up.

Who: the good guy.
Why he’s good: because he’ll always be the hero.
Why women miss out on him: because we think he’s boring or too stable.
Why he’s sexy: because he knows what you need before you do, and he knows how to give it to you.
Dirty little secret: he’s good with his words…in bed as well as out…

Can we just talk about the original good guy for a moment? Mmmmm, Mr. Darcy. Sure, he had his issues, but at the core of it, you could bring him home to Mama. LOL. He was respectful, kind and nowhere near being a rogue. But when it counted…whoo, that man was sexy.

Some of my favorites in books include Brody Lawson from Love So Hot, Josh Hudson from Can’t Shake You and even in my own books—Beckett from Sultry in Stilettos, Caleb from Sassy in Stilettos and let’s not forget Lincoln from Wrapped in Red.

Now let’s talk about my good girls. Nothing wrong with being nice. Jennifer Lawrence is nice, but she’s also hilarious. The trick is, no one wants their besties to be too nice, right? Nice girls these days aren’t like the ones from years ago. They might have a designer addiction like Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic series and my own Jaya from Sexy in Stilettos and Nomi. She could just be hopeless like poor Bridget from Bridget Jones’s Diary, but even the nice girl can be hot. The trick is, she can’t be Mother Teresa.

It’s all about the flaws. No one wants that bestie who is just perfect at everything and saccharine-sweet to boot. What makes today’s nice girls oh so sexy? They’re funny. They keep sweaters in their ovens, have addictions to shoes, chocolate, lingerie and books. They drink, they swear and gasp! get a little naughty in the bedroom. No more goody-goody nice girls who aren’t any fun.

Who: the good girl.
Why she’s good: because she’s fun and loveable, and everyone wants to be her bestie.
Why men miss out on her: because they think she’s too good and no fun.
Why she’s sexy: because she’s quirky and will try anything once.
Dirty little secret: she loves to role play…

So come on, who’s your favorite book nice guy and nice girl?

All About Nana:
nana maloneUSA Today Bestselling Author, Nana Malone’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she borrowed from her cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick butt heroines ever since.With her overactive imagination, and channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters. Waiting for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana, meantime works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as she thinks she is.

Nana is the author of three series. The Love Match Series includes sassy contemporary romances: Game, Set, Match and Mismatch. The In Stilettos Series includes ultra-sexy and fun multicultural romantic comedies, Sexy in Stilettos, Sultry in Stilettos and Sassy in Stilettos . The Protectors series includes dark and sexy superhero romances, Betrayed (A Reluctant Protector Prequel), Reluctant Protector and Forsaken Protector.

The books in her series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble best seller lists as well as the iTunes Breakout Books list and most notably the USA Today Bestseller list.

Until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find Nana working hard on additional books for her series as well as other fun, sassy romances for characters that won’t leave her alone. And if she’s not working or hiding in the closet reading, she’s acting out scenes for her husband, daughter and puppy in sunny San Diego.

Contact Nana at: nana@nanamaloneromance.com


One grand prize winner will receive:
1 print copy of The Harder You Fall by Gena Showalter, White Wedding Christmas by Andrea Laurence, A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Wrapped in Red by Nana Malone and Sherelle Green
1 eBook copy of A Copper Ridge Christmas by Maisey Yates and Under the Spotlight by Kate Willoughby
100,000 Harlequin MyRewards points
2 Harlequin Classics limited edition notebooks
1 Brenda Jackson Westmoreland limited edition notebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: The Silence That Speaks by Andrea Kane

Review: The Silence That Speaks by Andrea KaneThe Silence That Speaks (Forensic Instincts, #4) by Andrea Kane
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Series: Forensic Instincts #4
Pages: 336
Published by Mira on April 28th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.org

Forensic Instincts' first order of business is to find out who's targeting their client. Under the leadership of Casey Woods, the investigative team has the resources to do just that, working inside the law—and outside it. FI's strength is its members, among them Casey's associate Marc Devereaux, former navy SEAL and a man who's equal to any situation.
Except maybe this one…
Madeline's case hits too close to home for Marc. She's the only woman he ever loved, and she's his only weakness. Now a nurse at Manhattan Memorial, she's terrified because someone is trying to kill her. So she turns, reluctantly, to Marc and FI for help and protection.
Meanwhile, Manhattan Memorial is in turmoil. With a merger in the works, the staff is still haunted by their hospital administrator's sudden death—during heart surgery performed by Madeline's ex-husband, Conrad. A surgery at which Madeline was present. The killer seems to blame both Madeline and Conrad…
With a growing list of suspects—including the grieving widow and a string of scorned lovers—Forensic Instincts will have to figure out who has the greatest incentive to get rid of Madeline. And FI has to work fast to save her…before she's permanently silenced.

My Review:

While every book in this series is a taut, gripping thriller, it’s the team dynamic at Forensic Institute that makes these books so much fun to read – even while you are choking the pages in terror for one or more of the protagonists.

stranger you know by andrea kaneThe team was introduced in The Girl Who Disappeared Twice. In that first story, behavioral profiler Casey Woods puts together the core of the FI team – ex-SEAL Marc, tech genius Ryan, psychic sensitive Claire, and scent-evidence dog Hero – who find both the girl and the woman she became. In later stories, The Line Between Here and Gone (reviewed here) and The Stranger You Know (reviewed here), FI adds retired FBI Agent Patrick to the mix.

In The Silence That Speaks, a part of the story is the addition of a new member to the troupe. Now that the office has grown to six principals and their fame has increased, there is way more business and business detritus, than one highly sophisticated artificial intelligence. Even the real Yoda, with the Force, would have had problems managing this office, let alone one without opposable thumbs.

So the gang recruits Emma to be their new receptionist, file clerk, occasional undercover operative and resident pick-pocket. She acts like everyone’s know-it-all little sister and she fits right in. The team is going to need her.

Because the normally Spock-like Marc is completely off his game with this case. Their new client is Madeline Westfield, who once upon a time and in a galaxy fairly far away, back when Marc was still a SEAL and not an ex-SEAL, Maddy was the love of his life. And he let her go. Ten years and one divorce later, she is still the only woman he’s ever loved. And this time he’s never letting her go.

Providing he can get through the thick wall he’s built around his heart – and providing that FI can save Maddy’s much-threatened life.

Someone is out to kill Madeline Westfield, and she has no idea why. It’s only when the killer starts targeting Maddy’s ex-husband as well that the team turns its focus from whether her ex can’t let her go to who the star surgeon and the E.R. nurse might have pissed off so much that murdering them both is the only answer.

As the team investigates both Conrad and Madeline Westfield, and peers into the lives of every person at Manhattan Memorial Hospital who is even remotely near Conrad’s and Maddy’s orbit. While the team looks into the hospital’s potential merger and the family of a surgical patient Conrad lost on the table, the motive and the killer turns out to be hiding in plain sight.

Escape Rating A: The Silence That Speaks was exactly the book I was looking for over the weekend. As much as I usually find romances marvelously distracting, this was a weekend where I wanted a book I could really sink my teeth into, and this series always fills the bill. And there’s a bit of romance just for fun.

This series works for me because I like the team so much. All of the team members have very distinctive personalities (including the dog Hero!) and they mesh well. They are also very good at challenging each other when they need it, and that gives their interactions much more depth.

A lot of that challenge at the beginning is between Marc and Casey. Casey needs Marc to be his stoic and unemotional self. His very Spock-like detachment, as well as his abilities to knock out their adversaries, are a big part of what he brings to the team. Marc’s detachment is gone when it comes to Maddy, but it takes him a while to admit it. Once he does, he and Casey have some very tense moments around whether he can be emotionally involved and still do his job and protect the client. And be smart about it.

Emma is a tremendous asset to the team. Not just because she is still unknown and able to go undercover into the hospital as a candy-striper, but because she has the skills to pull off the kind of con they need while she’s there. And swipe a security badge. She’d be a terrible foe if she were on the side of evil, but on the side of the usually righteous, she’s a hoot.

The case itself is deliciously convoluted. The potential scenario is constantly changing, as the team goes from the extremely obvious (it’s usually the spouse or ex-spouse) to follow the money to the one they missed until almost the very end, cherchez la femme. What adds to the number of red herrings in the barrel is that there are so many femmes to cherchez. The original victim liked chasing women, and then paying them off at the end of his affairs. When the team finally focuses on the dead surgical patient and not the surgery itself, things start racing towards the finish.

And as they race, the readers are desperately following along, hoping that the team will figure out the final pieces before the killer claims a final victim. I couldn’t put this book down all day. I just had to see it through to the end.

If you enjoy fast-paced thrillers with real people dealing with interesting relationships while chasing complicated baddies, the Forensic Institute team is an absolutely fantastic way to lose a weekend. Start with The Girl Who Disappeared Twice and enjoy!