Review: Carol Wyer’s The Dare

Alright y’all I have got to talk about one of my new favorites, Carol Wyer. I actually came randomly across Carol Wyer’s The Dare while browsing on Netgalley, and was immediately intrigued by the premise. I of course had a blonde moment and requested the book without realizing it was actually the third in its series. (Side note: thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for allowing me early access to this ARC!) Luckily, I was able to read the story without feeling like I missed out on anything. Wyer does a great job of explaining any plot/character growth that may have occurred in the past that is relevant to know. I didn’t feel left out at all. Even so, I’m quickly going back and reading the first and second in the series, so hopefully I can eventually review the series as a whole.

Long intro aside, I loved Carol Wyer’s The Dare, the third book in the Detective Natalie Ward series.

spoiler free: There was so much that I loved in The Dare. First, I can’t praise Carol Wyer enough regarding the quality of writing. I genuinely felt as though I was a part of Ward’s investigation team. I actually felt as though I was in the midst of a serial killer. Wyer lets you (the reader) in on each stage in the investigation and it makes it feel hauntingly real. If you’re a fan of Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds or true crime/police investigations – you will love this book.

I also loved reading through the perspective of Natalie Ward. She was an amazing character to focus on. She felt so well rounded – like I could actually walk into a police station and find her sitting there. I also really enjoyed the contrast between the intense situation in her work life and the drama of her home life. Wyer shed light on just how difficult it is to have a demanding career and balancing the intricacies of being a parent (especially a parent to teenagers). Natalie Ward was complex, flawed, and fiercely dedicated. This made for a compelling main character.

Lastly, let us talk about, you know, the actual mystery here. I truly flew through his book – it had be hooked from the very first chapter. The plot is fairly complex, and I didn’t know the killer’s identity until the book revealed it (and then of course, I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it.)

During the middle of the book, the plot did feel a bit slow as the case felt somewhat hopeless as the team was left with so few clues. Yet, I felt this was intentional. It was slow and a bit frustrating as a reader, because it was slow and frustrating to the team. This just added to my connection with the story. I felt like I was in the thick of it with them.

Overall, I gave this one a 5/5. I recommend this fully, however if you’re new to Carol Wyer – I may suggest starting at the beginning of this series as I’m about to now!

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get more info: Visit Carol Wyer’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find The Dare on Amazon

The Dare is Carol Wyer’s third book in the Detective Natalie Ward series. It is classified as a thriller, and it releases on April 25, 2019. It is available for pre-order now.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. Netgalley and the publisher were kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Peter Swanson’s Before She Knew Him

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Hi y’all! I am happy to announce I am a proud new member of the Book of the Month (BOTM) club, a book box subscription. Each month BOTM chooses five (hardcover) books and allows each subscriber to choose the one they are most interested in reading. The book choices vary in authors and genres so there really is something for everyone.  It’s $14.99/month and shipping is always free and you can skip any month you want. What I love most about BOTM is the sense of community it creates. Seriously, check out Bookstagram. It’s flooded with BOTM choices. But, I digress. The point of this long intro is that Peter Swanson’s Before She Knew Him was my March BOTM and I was very excited about it. (*not sponsored lol*)

Before She Knew Him follows Hen. Hen lives with her husband, Lloyd, and they have just moved to a quiet suburb outside of Boston. Hen is an illustrator and artist, and she finally feels her life is at a point of peace. Oh, and she also suspects her neighbor, Mathew, is a murderer.

spoiler free: Before She Knew Him was an unconventional thriller read for me. I remember thinking within the first thirty or so pages that I knew everything there was to know about the story. I felt like the author let me in at every angle, so I always felt like the other shoe was about to drop. Around the fifty page mark, I remember thinking ok so I know x, y, z…where is this story headed? For me, that was exciting. I felt like the author freed up the second half of the book to go anywhere. It felt like a very fresh take on a whodunnit.

In that same vein though, I felt like the beginning of the book was a bit slow. The suspense really picked up in the last third and it was great. However, I felt like the suspense was a little lacking at the beginning just because of how much I (thought) I was “in on” regarding the story. But this was my only complaint.

I was impressed by the ending and truly did not see it coming. I think I was so focused on the fact that I (thought) I *knew* everything, that I was constantly waiting for something to pop up out of nowhere. Due to this, I felt like I missed so many signs that were right in front of me. I didn’t know the reveal until the author showed me, and that’s an impressive feat. I enjoyed the last 1/3 of the book the most.

Overall, I this was a 4/5 for me. I really did enjoy it and I can’t wait to read more from Peter Swanson in the future. The only reason it isn’t a full 5/5 is because the beginning was a bit slow for me, but I still highly recommend this one!

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Before She Knew Him is an adult thriller, and it was published in March of 2019.

get more info: visit Peter Swanson’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Before She Knew Him on Amazon; visit Book of the Month

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.

Review: Daphne James Huff’s This Summer at the Lake

Daphne James Huff’s This Summer at the Lake is told in third-person POV as we follow our two main characters, Logan and Cassie. They are both spending their summer before college in a small Montana town. Logan’s only goal is for this summer to fly by so he can head off to college in New York. Cassie’s only goal for the summer is to have one last hurrah before she heads off to the college of her parents’ choosing. Yet, one eventful night pulls them both together and intertwines their lives in more ways than one.

spoiler free: I want to start off with what I liked about this book. For one, I really liked the author’s writing style. Personally, I have some difficulty with third-person POVs. It just feels more natural for me to read first-person as it allows me to feel as though I’m really connected to the character(s). However, Daphne James Huff wrote a very compelling third-person POV. I felt connected to the characters the entire time and genuinely invested in their development.

The author also weaved the mystery throughout the book quite nicely. There was foreshadowing from the very first chapter and this alone kept my interest throughout the story. It added an extra layer of interest to your typical YA contemporary love story.

With that being said, I do not recommend This Summer at the Lake for a multitude of reasons. My biggest qualm with this story is a plot-spoiler, so I’ll go in depth in the spoiler-section. Without spoiling it, there was an action taken by the main “hero” character, Logan, that was unforgivable (in my opinion). Honestly, it was unforgivable because the male love interest made this decision and he was supposed to love the female love interest, Cassie. I tend to have higher expectations for people to do the right thing when it potentially affects someone they love. Regardless, a normal human being shouldn’t have made the decision that Logan made. I know this is a very abstract critique, but it is hard to explain without spoiling it. Just know this plot point is a trigger warning and I did not like the way the author wrote it or the way the characters reacted to it.

Further, it was difficult for me to read through Logan’s character because he was so judgemental. This would have been ok if his character had developed throughout the story. Nope. He was judgmental in the beginning and judgemental at the end. He felt static, and this made his viewpoint less enjoyable to read.

Overall, I had to give this one 1/5. The issues I had with the book just made it impossible to enjoy on the whole and I can’t in good confidence recommend it to y’all. Even though there were elements there that I liked (it had the potential to be a very cute YA), it fell flat for me.

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This Summer at the Lake is a young adult contemporary, and it was published in January of 2019.

get more info: visit Daphne James Huff’s website; find the book on Amazon

spoilers ahead: So my main gripe with this book is the plot point surrounding the final party/climax of the novel when Spencer “slips something” into Cassie’s drink, which she doesn’t realize. Logan, instead of being a normal human being and a) stopping him b) telling Cassie c) preventing her from being harmed? drugged? d) all of the above… he instead thinks “let her deal with the consequences herself” (?????). Even though he eventually goes back to the party and confronts Spencer, he still ends up thinking he “Wanted to save her. Even when she had betrayed him. Why?” Perhaps because any decent human being would want to prevent someone from being drugged? Although, the worst line of all was “I was still so mad, and so drunk, I thought you deserved it.”

Yeah, sorry. No one – ever – deserves to be drugged and/or sexually assaulted. I almost couldn’t force myself to continue reading at this point, but followed through to see if the author could potentially fix this situation. Nope. This toxic victim blaming (even though Logan expressed regret/remorse/went back to try and save her) was horrible to read. Cassie pretty much instantly forgives him without a second thought. Like, she literately doesn’t care.

I can’t condone this type of behavior in anyone – and I certainly don’t want to see it in my romance novels.

To make matters worse, there was the entire situation regarding her father’s lawsuit/potential sexual assault on his female workers. This was not handled well. There was a lot of victim blaming and overall lack of responsibility on behalf of Cassie’s dad. I have no idea why the author thought it would be ok to bring up such a sensitive, important topic and then refuse to hold any of her characters accountable for this? It seemed like there was no resolution/finality on this issue either.

Overall, I think there are many, many other YA contemporaries out there that I would recommend instead. I think the author got it wrong here, and the actions of the characters were irredeemable.

Let me know if you all read this one or have any YA contemporaries that you’d like to recommend!

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. Netgalley and the publisher were kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: R.S. Grey’s Make Me Bad

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I was so fortunate to receive R.S. Grey’s newest release as an ARC. I’ve been sitting on this review for a week and I’m so happy to announce it is finally out!

It’s Madison’s birthday, and her only birthday wish is for her life to have some excitement. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so vague, because her life gets a whole lot more exciting after an introduction with the town’s wealthy, “bad boy,” Ben. Madison is tired of living her life by the safe harbor, so she asks Ben to help her break out of her shell – to make her bad.

spoiler free:  Make Me Bad had me hooked from the very first chapter, or more accurately, the very first sentence. R.S. Grey is one of my auto-buy authors. I know when I’m reading one of her books I’m getting a witty, laugh-out-loud, steamy book with great emotional depth. R.S. Grey is rom-com at its absolute best, and Make Me Bad was no exception. In fact, this is my favorite R.S. Grey book to date. Ben is so swoon-worthy.  Madison’s character growth was amazing! I was her biggest cheerleader. I saw so much of myself in her. Add in a slow-burn romance and a little bit of danger – I’m sold.

Overall, this is definitely a 5/5 read from me. But, don’t take my word for it. Go and read it yourself!

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R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including The Foxe and the Hound. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Make Me Bad is R.S. Grey’s newest novel, and it released on March 7, 2019.

get more info: visit R.S. Grey’s website; sign up for the author’s newsletter; connect with the author’s Facebook group; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Twitter; find Make Me Bad on Amazon

If you want to hear more about why R.S. Grey is one of my favorite new adult authors, read here.

spoilers here: I can’t get over the beginning few chapters of this book. The fact that Madison being held up at gun point still managed to be funny to me says something about the quality of R.S. Grey’s writing. Plus, one of Madison’s first thoughts was to protect her new book, and I’ve never related to a character more.

I loved Maddie’s character arc. I love how she realized that she didn’t need anyone else to make her into the person she wants to be. She has that power within her all on her own. Very empowering message. Plus, the epilogue just filled my heart. It is seriously so sweet.

Overall, I can’t recommend Make Me Bad enough. A full 5/5 rom-com. If you’re looking for more R.S. Grey recs, start with Hotshot Doc, Arrogant Devil or The Foxe and the Hound – three of my favorites. Stay tuned for a future post where I blog a mashup post (quickly) reviewing all the R.S. Grey books!

What rom-coms are you reading? Did y’all enjoy Make Me Bad?

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. The author was kind enough to provide me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Dana Mason’s Accidental Groom

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I was able to read my first Dana Mason book this week thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture who provided me an advanced copy of Accidental Groom in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, thank you!!

Accidental Groom is the first book in the Accidental Love series. This book tells the story of two strangers – Kelley and Mac. Their connection to one another is instant and their chemistry is pretty off the charts. Both leads have somewhat intense backstories, yet they are drawn to each other. Their relationship begins with a fun “no strings attached” weekend together. But, 24 hours after arriving – they’re (accidentally) married. Enter the will-they-or-won’t-they.

Ok there was a lot that I loved here. First, the novel was well written and the dialogue was fun and felt very fresh. There were bits of dialogue that I actually found myself laughing out loud. My favorite thing about Accidental Groom though was Mac’s backstory. It felt so refreshing to have a male love interest with a complicated backstory, especially one that I can honestly say that I haven’t seen in new adult romance. I loved the way that this particular issue was explored throughout the book and how it attributed to both characters’ growth. The backstory wasn’t a quick fix and it was something Mac took responsibility of his past and the decisions that he made. (I don’t want to spoil it – it was great going in and not knowing!)

I am very curious to see who the second book in the series is going to be about. I’m hoping it’s Mac’s sister. (*fingers crossed*) I will definitely be continuing this series and keeping Dana Mason on my radar. Overall, this one gets a 5/5 from me.

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Accidental Groom is a new adult contemporary, and it releases on April 2nd, 2019. It is available for pre-order now.

get more info: Visit Dana Mason’s website; Pre-order Accidental Groom on Amazon; connect with the author on Twitter; connect with the author on Facebook; connect with the author on Instagram

spoilers ahead: Ok so first I wanna say that I totally bought in to the (somewhat) insta-love. Sometimes this can bother me in a story, but here I was all in. I think one of the reasons why is that the author wrote it so well. I loved the scene where Mac leaves to go get food, but basically he’s just having a panic attack. He loves Kelley, but it takes him awhile to understand these feelings are love. I love that he shows that he’s overwhelmed – he’s not freaking out because he doesn’t want/love her, he’s just dealing with an overwhelming change in life.

I also love how the author handled Mac’s alcoholism. The scene where he picked up the drink – ugh I felt like my heart was pounding. I loved how she wrote the scene where he tells Kelley that it’s his responsibility and no one is responsible for his relapse. He just really owns his shit, and it was so refreshing. The scene where he calls his sponsor – the way the author writes his tone of voice, his actions – it all felt so real. I have unfortunately seen addiction first hand, and I could really relate to this scene.

Overall – this was a complex new adult contemporary. It’s steamy, it’s romantic, but it’s also filled with complicated characters. It mimics life in the best way. Please give this one a try – go and pre-order it! Let me know if you’ve read any other Dana Mason books.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. Netgalley and the publisher were kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: M.F. Lorson’s Stage Kiss

StageKiss.jpgHi y’all! I’m back with a YA contemporary review. Before I dive in, I just want to say thank you to both Netgalley and M.F. Lorson for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

So Stage Kiss is a YA romantic comedy with a vibe straight from the 2000s. This book reminded me of one of my favorite movies, She’s All That, so I was hooked from just hearing the premise alone. Erin, our main character, is in the running for Homecoming Queen, and her life is picture perfect…until it’s not. After catching her boyfriend with her best friend – Erin is out of a boyfriend, best friend, and a homecoming date. Feeling the pressure, Erin enlists the help of fellow quirky theatre member, Peter, to ensure she’s the one with the crown. Romantic comedy ensues.

spoiler free review: I enjoyed this sweet teen romance. For me, it brought me right back to high school with references to AIM, vhs, homecoming court, football games, and romcom references. Perhaps my favorite part of this story, though, was Erin’s dynamic arc. She felt very multifaceted and it was fun to watch her grow as a character. If you’re looking for throw-back romcom, look no further than M. F. Lorson’s Stage Kiss.

I gave this one a 3/5 stars. I had fun with this one and enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a lighthearted YA book, this one is for you! There were some minor things that held this one back a little for me (see spoiler’s section), but overall, I recommend Stage Kiss.

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get more info: Visit M.F. Lorson’s website; connect with the author on Instagram; connect with the author on Facebook; find Stage Kiss on Amazon

Stage Kiss is a young adult contemporary, and it was published in January 2018.

spoiler’s ahead: One thing that held me back from rating this one a bit higher (even though I did have fun reading it) is that I just wanted a little bit more of the romance. The romance between Erin and Peter felt very secondary to Erin’s character progression, which sometimes can be fine. However, for me, I just really needed more chemistry between the two for the ending to truly be “swoonworthy.”

Also, while I enjoyed the back story of Erin’s sister and Erin’s fears about driving, this felt a little flat to me. I felt like I wanted to see more of this arc. I don’t think Erin ever fully explained to Peter why she was afraid to drive/the situation involving her sister. For me, I just wanted this thread to be a little more fleshed out. While I really enjoyed the pacing, I really wish this book was a bit longer so I could have these arcs feel a little more “full.”

Overall though I loved Erin’s character. At first I was worried we were going to go the superficial popular girl route – but we were far from it. Erin is a complex character and it was fun to read her evolution.

Let me know if you try this one out! I am excited to read more from Lorson in the future.

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links. Netgalley and the author were kind enough to provide me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Karen M. McManus’ Two Can Keep a Secret

TwoCanKeepaSecret.jpgThrillers and mysteries are my jam. There is something about a whodunit that I literately cannot resist. So I was really excited to read Karen McManusTwo Can Keep a Secret. I unfortunately had the ending to her debut novel (One of Us is Lying) spoiled accidentally (thanks a lot internet. kidding), so this was my first read by her. Going into it, I only knew the book had murder and homecoming queens. I had heard it compared to Pretty Little Liars, so I was immediately intrigued. (Ugh that show and book series used to be my guilty pleasure.)

Two Can Keep a Secret essentially kicks off with Ellery and Ezra, teenage twins, who moved back to their mother’s home town, Echo Ridge, to live with their grandmother. Echo Ridge is famous for the murder of Lacey, the town’s Homecoming Queen. Lacey was murdered in the town’s fair ground, known as Murderland. Years before that, when the twin’s mother was in school, the mom’s twin sister disappeared…without a trace. Now the Murderland killer is back. With threats happening all over town, it seems everyone is keeping secrets.

spoiler free review: So, I flew through this book. I loved the autumn atmosphere and the Halloween-themed park (and murder site). It gave off an eerie vibe, which was great for a thriller novel.

I also enjoyed the dual POV. Ellery was always fun to read through, and as a fellow true-crime junkie, I related to her character. I enjoyed her naturally suspicious personality. I feel like I would be the same way if I suddenly found myself in a town where a murderer was sending out threats. Malcolm was also great to read through. Just imagining myself stuck in his situation, I can’t imagine how I’d handle it.

Overall, this was a really fun thriller read. I did not figure out the ending (although there were some things I did guess… I’ll explain more in the spoiler’s section below). There were some strings that I would have liked tied up in the end (see spoiler section). However, the last line of this book literately gave me chills.

Ultimately, I would give it a 3.5/5 stars. I liked it, and I would recommend it.

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get more info: Visit Karen McManus’ website; connect with the author on Twitter; connect with the author on Instagram; find Two Can Keep a Secret on Amazon; find One of Us is Lying on Amazon

This is Karen McManus’ second novel. It is a young adult mystery/thriller, and it was published in January 2019. McManus currently plans to release a third book (a sequel to One of Us is Lying) in January 2020 in addition to a standalone YA mystery as her fourth.

spoiler’s ahead: So I knew there was going to be some type of twin switch when I read the scene with the porcelain doll with the crack down her face. For some reason, in my head this made me think of two halves of a whole and then I suspected that the twins had switched in some capacity. (Then, I remember the bit in the beginning about twin switching, so I became sure of it). I will admit though that I didn’t fully figure it out – I was thinking more along the lines of Sadie had actually died and Lacey was alive (posing as Sadie) although the why/when I wasn’t sure. Clearly, I was somewhat off base, but I was still a little disappointed that I had figured out even that much. My favorite mysteries are when I have all the clues, but absolutely no idea how to put them together.

My only real issue with this book was the situation involving Sarah. I felt like I did not get enough closure on this issue! How did he get the twins mixed up? Did he kill Sarah because he thought Sadie was going to go public with their affair? I need answers!! Although, I guess if the book did answer all these then the last line would lose its punch (and it really was such a great sentence to end on.)

Overall, I recommend this one! I can’t wait to read what McManus comes out with next!

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.