Saturday Series Spotlight & Giveaway: Lauren Layne’s Oxford

Title: Irresistibly Yours by Lauren Layne
Oxford Series Book One
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 260 pages

Summary:

Meet the men of Oxford magazine! In the first captivating spin-off of Lauren Layne’s Sex, Love & Stiletto series, a not-so-friendly battle of the sexes turns into a scorching office romance.

Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.

Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.


Title: I Wish You Were Mine by Lauren Layne
Oxford Series Book Two
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 283 pages

Summary:

Perfect for fans of Alice Clayton and Emma Chase, Lauren Layne’s Oxford series heats up in this story of forbidden desire as a brooding jock hoping for a comeback falls for a woman who’s strictly off-limits.

A year ago, Jackson Burke was married to the love of his life and playing quarterback for the Texas Redhawks. Now he’s retired, courtesy of the car accident that ruined his career—and single, after a nasty scandal torpedoed his marriage. Just as he’s starting to get used to his new life as a health and fitness columnist for Oxford magazine, his unpredictable ex shows up on his doorstep in Manhattan. Jackson should be thrilled. But he can’t stop thinking about the one person who’s always been there for him, the one girl he could never have: her younger sister.

Mollie Carrington can’t say no to Madison. After all, her older sister practically raised her. So when Madison begs for help in winning her ex-husband back, Mollie’s just glad she got over her own crush on Jackson ages ago—or so she thought. Because as Mollie reconnects with Jackson, she quickly forgets all her reasons to stay loyal to her sister. Tempted by Jackson’s mellow drawl and cowboy good looks, Mollie is sick and tired of coming in second place. But she can’t win if she doesn’t play the game.


Giveaway

I am giving away one eBook from the Oxford series-WINNER’S CHOICE. Here’s how to enter the Saturday Series Spotlight contest:

You must Do TWO of the Following:

1. Sign up for e-mail updates (upper left corner). One email daily with the day’s posts.

OR:

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OR:

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Make sure you have filled out the contest entry form:

4. To be eligible to enter contests on Book Reviews and More by Kathy you MUST fill out the contest entry form (found HERE). This form only needs to be filled out ONCE. Your privacy is important to me, and I will not share your information.

And don’t forget to:

5. Fill out the form below by 5 PM Mountain Time Monday afternoon.

*I am the only person who will have access to info that is submitted to me UNLESS a publisher or author has donated an eBook for the giveaway. For a prize donated by an author or publisher, I will forward your e-mail and format selection to the person responsible for distributing the eBook. In the event the contest form is not working, please leave your book selection in the comments below.*

It’s that easy! The winner will be selected using random.org. I will e-mail one lucky winner the eBook of their choice in their preferred format. The winner will be posted HERE on Tuesday.

***The eBooks in this giveaway have been purchased by Book Reviews & More by Kathy.***

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Tour Stop, Excerpt & Giveaway: Whistle Blower by Dev Bentham

Title: Whistle Blower by Dev Bentham
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 214 pages

Summary:

Money can’t buy happiness. Jacob Nussbaum knows this better than anyone. He’s a corporate lawyer deep inside a huge New York firm, where he works overtime, sacrifices any chance at a personal life, and has been selling his soul for years. With a secretary as his only friend, he trudges on, until his whole world is blown apart by a manila envelope of photos—evidence that one of the firm’s partners is the dirtiest lawyer in one hell of a filthy business.

In search of the truth, Jacob travels to a small northern Wisconsin fishing resort. There he meets Ben Anderson, a brutally lonely man, who knocks him off his feet. Ben prompts Jacob to reevaluate his life. He’s a dozen years older than Jacob, still recovering from the death of his long time love, and doesn’t want to leave anyone a widower. But a jaded New Yorker on a soul-searching mission might be just the man to convince the grieving Ben that it’s never too late to begin again.

Read my review HERE.

Add to Goodreads.

Purchase Links: Dreampinner Press * B&N * Amazon * Kobo * ARe


Excerpt

Ben got waylaid by a bunch of little things, so it took him longer than he’d expected to get back to the dock for Nussbaum’s—Jacob’s rowing lesson. As Ben approached the dock, Jacob was facing away, staring out over the lake. Which was good, since he was naked except for a skim of bright red Lycra that barely covered his ass. And what an ass. What a body in general. It had been a long time since Ben had seen a muscular olive-skinned back on which dark hair grew in such fascinating patterns. Manny had a back like that. Ben had loved to run his tongue along the thin lines of fur along his lower back. Manny hadn’t been hairy, really, just never quite naked. Jacob had that same look, except he was younger, stronger, and better built.

Feeling uncomfortable with that comparison, Ben tore his eyes away from Jacob’s body. Aside from leaving him feeling unfaithful to Manny’s memory, this was neither the time nor the place and, in all probability, not the man to indulge that kind of fantasy. Ben cleared his throat, and Jacob turned around. Jesus. Who’d have thought under all those clothes, there’d be this—high definition, perfect tone, and all that gorgeous skin. Ben forced himself to meet Jacob’s eyes. He reached into the boathouse, pulled out one of the clean tee shirts he kept for changing after rowing, and handed it to Jacob.

“It’s easy to get sunburned out here.” For the love of God, he had to cover up the guy if he was going to teach him anything, other than…. He cleared his throat again. “The beginner scull is up here.” He walked back up the dock to the boat rack, yelling at himself the whole way for unprofessional thoughts.

As Ben uncovered the practice scull, he was hit by an unexpected wave of memory. Manny had bought it for him their first summer in the Northwoods. It had taken Ben two years to outgrow the added stability and another to decide to try Manny’s MAAS. He ran a finger over the fiberglass patch from when he’d run the boat into the shore. Manny, from his own scull twenty feet away, had admonished, “Never get in a fight with a rock. The rock always wins.”

From behind him, Jacob asked, “Need any help?”

Ben straightened and walked to the far side of the boat. “Get the stern, would you?”

Jacob picked up his side of the boat, and in a monkey-see-monkey-do motion, lifted it onto his shoulder. Ben turned around, settling the bow onto his left shoulder, and led the way back down to the dock. On three they flipped the scull into the water. Ben squatted beside the boat, pointing and describing the various parts until he felt comfortable enough in his role as teacher that he could glance over at Jacob, who knelt beside him. Jacob was focused on the boat, taking in Ben’s instructions. Ben exhaled. Jacob covered up and concentrating on the boat was easier to deal with than he was as a just-about-naked man basking in the sun at the end of the dock.

Ben noticed Jacob’s shoes for the first time. No shorts, no water shoes. Evidently Mr. Nussbaum had been expecting an entirely different resort vacation, probably involving mai tais on the beach and plenty of bikini-clad young women. If he tipped over in the scull, which he was going to do, everyone did when they were starting out, those shoes would take a long time to dry. Ben had an extra pair of water shoes. Maybe they’d fit.

“What size feet do you have?” he asked.

Jacob glanced up. “Ten. Why? Does it matter for the stirrups?”

Of course he wore tens, because otherwise the physical comparison wouldn’t be perfect. “Your shoes will be awkward as hell in the stirrups. You need something lighter and better in the water. Don’t worry. I’ve got some you can borrow.”

Jacob wouldn’t fit in Ben’s nine and a halfs, but Manny’s old tens were still where they’d always been, on the top shelf in the boathouse. Ben found them. He brushed off the dust and cobwebs. The shoes weren’t sacred, and it wasn’t disloyal to let Jacob wear them. They were just old water shoes with cracks in the soles. Ben grabbed a pair of oars and stepped back onto the dock, dropping the shoes by Jacob. “Try these. I’ll get the oars set up.”

Ben fixed each oar in its oarlock, concentrating hard so he wouldn’t have to watch another man put on Manny’s shoes. Then he set about teaching Jacob Nussbaum the rudiments of rowing.


Author Bio

Dev Bentham writes soulful m/m romance. Her characters are flawed and damaged adult men who may not even know what they are missing, but whose lives are transformed by true love.

Author Links: Facebook * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter * Goodreads


Giveaway

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Filed under Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt

Review: Whistle Blower by Dev Bentham

Title: Whistle Blower by Dev Bentham
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 214 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

Money can’t buy happiness. Jacob Nussbaum knows this better than anyone. He’s a corporate lawyer deep inside a huge New York firm, where he works overtime, sacrifices any chance at a personal life, and has been selling his soul for years. With a secretary as his only friend, he trudges on, until his whole world is blown apart by a manila envelope of photos—evidence that one of the firm’s partners is the dirtiest lawyer in one hell of a filthy business.

In search of the truth, Jacob travels to a small northern Wisconsin fishing resort. There he meets Ben Anderson, a brutally lonely man, who knocks him off his feet. Ben prompts Jacob to reevaluate his life. He’s a dozen years older than Jacob, still recovering from the death of his long time love, and doesn’t want to leave anyone a widower. But a jaded New Yorker on a soul-searching mission might be just the man to convince the grieving Ben that it’s never too late to begin again.

Review:

Whistle Blower by Dev Bentham is a sweet and sultry novel of healing for widower Ben Anderson. Still grieving the death of his longtime partner of twenty-five years when he meets Jacob Nussbaum, Ben gradually comes to terms with his loss but is he ready to commit to another relationship?

In his mid-thirties, Jacob has sacrificed his personal life to achieve professional success and despite making partner, he still continues to work long hours. After receiving an envelope from an anonymous source containing damning evidence against senior partner Marvin Voss, Jacob suffers a crisis of conscience over his chosen profession. As a corporate lawyer who helps major corporations settle disputes to their advantage, he has always maintained a degree of separation from the victims in the law suits. However, after viewing the photos from the chemical spill case he worked on with Voss, Jacob decides that no matter the cost to his career, he has no choice but to find proof that Voss is guilty of ethical misconduct.

The first step in Jacob’s investigation is to track down opposing lawyer Carl Halverson at a remote Wildcat Island Resort in northern Wisconsin. Upon his arrival, he discovers that Carl has changed his arrival date but Jacob decides to take advantage of his time off. Although completely out of his element, he relaxes for the first time in years and he enjoys spending time in Ben’s company and learning to row a scull. At the same time, Jacob continues to re-evaluate his life but he remains uncertain about his plans for his future and the situation with Voss.

After Manny’s death, Ben moved to Wisconsin and began operating the lodge year round. Although he has been gone for two years, Ben cannot bring himself to clear out Manny’s clothes or spread his ashes. Despite indulging in a couple of meaningless one night stands in the intervening years, Ben is nowhere near ready for another relationship which is why his attraction to Jacob catches him completely off guard. He genuinely likes the younger man and while he is willing to agree to a no strings fling, Ben is unprepared for his growing feelings for Jacob.

Ben and Jacob’s relationship begins with friendship and gradually turns to sexual once they decide to act on their mutual attraction. Their encounters are deliciously steamy and both men are surprised by their emotional connection. When it is time for Jacob to return to New York, their parting is a little bittersweet and they begin corresponding by e-mail. Jacob returns to Wisconsin to meet face to face with Carl and while waiting for his arrival, he resumes his fling with Ben. Both men realize their feelings run deeper than desire, but Ben refuses to take their relationship to the next level in an effort to protect Jacob from future heartache. Another trip provides Jacob vital information about Voss and unexpectedly leads to disagreement with Ben that completely derails their burgeoning romance.

Whistle Blower is a beautifully written romance that is remarkably free from unnecessary drama or angst. Ben and Jacob are well-rounded protagonists who are flawed yet immensely appealing. The resort setting is quite unique and Dev Bentham brings the remote island and its surroundings vibrantly to life. With its distinctive storyline and charming cast of characters, Whistle Blower is a realistic and engaging love story that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dev Bentham, Dreamspinner Press, M/M, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Whistle Blower

Tour Stop, Interview & Giveaway: A Kind of Truth by Lane Hayes

Today I would like to welcome Lane Hayes, author of A Kind of Truth, to Book Reviews & More by Kathy.

Hi Lane, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Thank you for having me!

1) Talk to us about your characters in this book. What makes them unique?

I think the entire cast of characters in A Kind of Truth is a unique group. Rand O’Malley is a charismatic and confident lead singer who hopes to bring his band Spiral to the next level with a move to New York City. Rand is the kind of guy who commands an audience without trying. He’s sexy, funny and silly one minute then infuriatingly headstrong and difficult the next. Readers caught a glimpse of him in Better Than Safe as Seth’s best friend. You may remember Paul thought he was a bit of a handful. :) Will on the other hand, is Rand’s opposite in every way. He’s a quiet, shy, serious musician with secrets. I love Will’s inner strength of character and how it takes someone vivacious and over-the-top like Rand to reveal his real nature. They’re wonderful separately and unstoppable together!

2) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in getting your book from start to publish?

So far, all of my books have been published with Dreamspinner Press. DSP is a class act, professional publisher with a staff who know their stuff. The most surprising part for me in the beginning was how diligent the editors were. Thank goodness! Their thoroughness took some getting used to, but is now much appreciated. :)

3) Have you ever gone to a convention? If so, how was it? If not, do you think it’s something you’d like to do in the future?

The only convention I’ve gone to so far is GRL (Gay Rom Lit). I’ve gone for the past two years (Chicago and San Diego) and plan to go the next one in Kansas City. I loved meeting fellow readers and authors who love this genre as much as I do. It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re preferred reads are MM romance. Unfortunately, it isn’t usually requested at the average book club. In fact, I bet a lot of people who love het romance still don’t know the genre exists. I’m planning to attend the Romance Times Convention in Vegas this year too. It seems like a great opportunity to spread the word!

4) Would you like to be a full-time writer?

I am very thankful to be a full-time writer. It’s been a couple years now and I absolutely love what I do!

5) Design the ultimate pizza.

Oh boy… yummy airy dough with pesto, mozzarella, sausage, fennel, onions, basil, arugula and shaved parmesan. Served with a big glass of Pinot please!


kind truthTitle: A Kind of Truth by Lane Hayes
A Kind Of… Series Book One
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance, Erotica
Length: 230 pages

Summary:

Rand O’Malley dreams of superstardom. He hopes to one day sing the blues like a rock god. Moving to New York City and hiring a new manager are steps to make his dreams a reality. But nothing moves as fast as Rand would like, and everyone has opinions, for example that he should keep certain pieces of himself quiet if he plans on making it in the Big Apple. Like his bisexuality.

Will Sanders is a gifted musician who dazzles Rand with his ability to coax gorgeous notes from an electric guitar one moment and play the piano like a professional the next. He’s a geek, but Rand isn’t concerned about Will’s pressed exterior clashing with his tattoos. His focus is music. Yet there’s something about Will that makes Rand think there’s much more to the quiet college student than he lets on. As Rand’s dreams begin to materialize, he’s forced to reconsider his priorities and find his own kind of truth. One that might include Will.

Add to Goodreads.

Purchase Links: Dreamspinner Press * Dreamspinner Press (Paperback)


Excerpt

Watching Will’s face turn pink then red was extraordinarily entertaining. I nudged his elbow playfully and tried to gain control of my smile before it threatened to take over my entire face. When I couldn’t take the building pressure of emotion, I winked at the girls then leaned in and kissed his lips, loving that I took him by surprise. The elevator doors slid open a moment later. Will stepped into the empty corridor and gave me a wide-eyed incredulous stare.

“I cannot believe you just did that.”

“What? Kissed you on an elevator? It’s not like farting, ya know.”

Will huffed a sigh that clearly said he thought I was hopeless before turning to walk down the hall. “I was talking about the underwear comment but yeah, the kissing part was awkward too. No one wants to watch two people going at in a confined space. And besides, we’re supposed to be playing this strictly straight while we’re in public.”

He stopped to unlock the door to the classroom then pushed it open, pausing to give me a perturbed look before he moved inside ahead of me. I barked a quick laugh as I set my guitar on the back table and shrugged my jacket off.

“First of all, that was hardly going at it. It was a peck. You were the one advertising I left my clothes at your place in front of a couple cute girls. And who said anything about playing straight?”

“Were we not in the same room two mornings ago talking about this?”

“We were. In fact, we were naked in your bed. Decidedly un-straight. But the way I remember it, I was one who was holding back the gay while you were the one going for it. But let’s go back to the elevator. I think you purposefully blew my cover back there with those girls. Were you jealous?”

He snorted and rolled his eyes. “You’re unbelievable.”

“Thanks.”

“It wasn’t a compliment,” he quipped as he made his way to the piano.

“Well, the next time you announce you’re holding my underwear hostage in a crowd, all bets are off, baby.” I gave him a lascivious once-over and waggled my eyebrows before tightening the strap on my guitar.

Will chuckled. “I’ll keep that in mind. But I’m pretty sure your tighty-whities never came up. My comment was perfectly innocent. There’s a big difference between hats and underwear.”

“I’m on to you, Will. You wanted those girls to know something’s going on between us. They’re probably talking right now. Bet they’re wondering if we’re in here having sex. Hell, they could be outside that door listening. Maybe we should give ‘em something to talk about.” I made a show of unbuckling my belt and the top button on my 501s. “Is there a camera in this room?”

“Keep your pants on. I’ve got two months left till graduation and I’d prefer not to get kicked out of school, please,” Will said primly, smacking my hand away.

“You won’t get kicked out. I doubt we’d be the first anyway.”

I rezipped my jeans and started to back up, but at the last second, I reached out to cup his chin between my thumb and forefinger. I traced his jaw and let my thumb roam higher to caress his cheekbone just under his glasses. His eyes fluttered shut. I loved the contrast of his fair skin and darker lashes and eyebrows. He was so damn pretty. And those lips. They were sensuous. That was the word. I leaned in and brushed my nose against his. I could feel his breath on my lips. The urge to plunge my tongue inside and take what I was very sure we both wanted was strong, but I waited for his permission.

When he didn’t respond, I let my hand fall to my side and started to pull back. Maybe he really was serious about propriety in the classroom. I wasn’t used to curbing my impulses to suit someone’s else’s sensibilities. I’d spent twenty-five years doing only what I wanted. Screw anyone else. Now here I was, attempting to hide my gay side publicly while trying to follow Will’s lead in private. It felt strange, I thought, just as Will launched himself at me.

I grunted in surprise when he wrapped his arms around my neck and crashed his mouth over mine. He softened the connection and tilted his head as he raked his fingers through my hair. I responded but let him control the tempo. Until he tentatively licked my lips. Fuck, he tasted sweeter than I remembered. Like peppermint candy or hot chocolate. I pulled him flush against my chest and slid my tongue alongside his, twisting and colliding in a passionate fusion. When he gasped for air I pulled back only to have him grind his hips into mine and lick my jaw. He swayed into me with a moan and lost his footing.

“Steady there.”

Will was sexier than he knew, which spelled potential danger for me. It was better to let the music take over for now.


Author Bio

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions in the 2014 and 2015 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and the coolest yellow Lab ever in an almost empty nest.

Author Links: Facebook * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter * Goodreads


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Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: 288 pages

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband’s family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf 

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

Review:

In Heather Gudenkauf’s newest release, Missing Pieces, Sarah Quinlan grows suspicious of her husband Jack after learning he has been lying about his past for the last twenty years.

As soon as Jack gets the news that his beloved Aunt Julia has been gravely injured in a fall, he and Sarah make a hurried trip to his rural hometown in Iowa. It does not take long for Jack’s carefully constructed past to come tumbling down when his sister Amy makes cryptic comments about their family home, where their cousin Dean and his wife Celia now reside. Pressing her husband for answers, Sarah quickly learns that Jack’s parents did not die in a car crash as he has long professed. She is stunned to discover his mother, Lydia, was bludgeoned to death in the cellar of their farmhouse when Jack was fifteen years old and that his long missing father John remains the prime suspect in her murder. When Julia unexpectedly succumbs to her injuries, the Quinlan family falls under suspicion when Sheriff Verne Gilmore announces she was the victim of foul play.

Sarah’s shock and distress over Jack’s lies is understandable as is her search for answers, but her immediate suspicions about him make it difficult to like her. Given the circumstances with his aunt’s precarious health, it is little wonder he has the desire or energy to rehash his sordid past. Jack’s downplaying of old relationships is definitely cause for concern but Sarah’s resulting jealousy seems misplaced.

Sarah does not give Jack the benefit of the doubt upon learning he deliberately mislead her about his past nor does she give him much of a chance to explain his reasons for his deception. Instead, with each new discovery, she grows convinced he killed his mother and although there is no way he is responsible for his aunt’s initial injuries, she cannot help but wonder if he had a hand in her death as well.

Turning to an unlikely source for help, Sarah manages to get the police reports from his mother’s murder. As she listens to his police interviews and reads the witness statements, a troubling picture soon emerges about fifteen year old Jack and she becomes certain he is responsible for Lydia’s death. This quick indictment of her husband clouds Sarah’s judgment and gives her tunnel vision during her amateur investigation of both murders.

Events unfold at a breakneck speed and there is a strong sense of urgency to discover the truth as Sarah tries to piece together the truth about what happened to Jack’s mother and his Aunt Julia. Sheriff Gilmore’s primary concern is finding Julia’s killer and although certain he has the right person in custody, he continues searching for evidence. He eventually makes a shocking discovery that casts doubt on his theory about Lydia’s death but whether this has any bearing on his current investigation remains unclear. When Sarah finally understands the meaning behind a puzzling series of e-mails, she is certain she has uncovered the motive for the murders, but only time will tell if her supposition is correct.

Despite a few improbable plot points and a somewhat unsympathetic lead protagonist, Missing Pieces is an intriguing mystery that is quite riveting. Heather Gudenkauf cleverly conceals the both the motive for the murders and the killer’s identity right up until the novel’s dramatic conclusion. All in all, a suspense-laden novel that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Heather Gudenkauf, Mira, Missing Pieces, Mystery, Rated B, Review, suspense

Review: Breakdown by Jonathan Kellerman

Title: Breakdown by Jonathan Kellerman
Alex Delaware Series Book 31
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman has been universally hailed as the master of psychological suspense, and the blockbuster new thriller featuring Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis confirms his status as today’s preeminent practitioner of saber-sharp storytelling.

Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware meets beautiful and emotionally fragile TV actress Zelda Chase when called upon to evaluate her five-year-old son, Ovid. Years later, Alex is unexpectedly reunited with Zelda when she is involuntarily committed after a bizarre psychotic episode. Shortly after Zelda’s release, an already sad situation turns tragic when she is discovered dead on the grounds of a palatial Bel Air estate. Having experienced more than enough of L.A.’s dark side to recognize the scent of evil, Alex turns to his friend LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis for help in finding out who ended Zelda’s broken life.

At the same time, Alex is caught up in another quest: the search for Zelda’s missing son. And when other victims vanish from the same upscale neighborhood, worry turns to terror.

As Alex struggles to piece together the brief rise and steep fall of a gorgeous, talented actress, he and Milo unveil shattered dreams, the corruption of a family, and a grotesque betrayal of innocence. With each devastating revelation and damning clue, Alex’s brilliant mind is challenged as never before—and his determination grows to see a killer caged and the truth set free.

Review:

Breakdown by Jonathan Kellerman is an exceptionally well-written and intriguing addition to the Alex Delaware series. In this outing, psychologist and police consultant Alex Delaware and police lieutenant Milo Sturgis stumble onto some very perplexing murders while at the same time searching for a missing young boy with ties to one of the victims.

Although Alex’s history with Zelda Chase and her young son Ovid was brief and occurred several years earlier, he agrees to evaluate her when contacted by a psychiatric outpatient facility. He is rather stunned to see the once beautiful actress’s mental state has greatly deteriorated and he grows very concerned about Ovid once he learns she has been living on the streets. Deeply medicated and mostly uncommunicative, Zelda is unable to answer questions about his whereabouts so Alex enlists Milo’s help in locating the missing boy. Knowing there might be a glimmer of truth in Zelda’s psychotic ravings, Alex tries to separate fact from fiction after her untimely death and he quickly becomes obsessed as he tries to uncover new details that he hopes will lead to Ovid.

Sadly, Zelda quickly ended up homeless after her sitcom was cancelled and finding anyone who knew her is like finding a needle in a haystack. With little to go on, Alex tracks down her former cast mates and while he does not learn much new information, their observations reiterate his suspicions she suffered from bipolar disorder. Quickly exhausting the scant clues he uncovers, he finally gives up actively investigating her life and death, but two perplexing disappearances in the same area where Zelda died revitalizes the investigation. Piecing together the connection between Zelda’s death and the two missing maids takes the case in a very surprising direction, and Alex and Milo continue to struggle to make sense of the evidence. Another seemingly unrelated death is too coincidental to ignore but finding the link between the murders is seemingly impossible.

Alex and Milo are both too stubborn to give up despite their lack of progress and initially, Alex does a lot of the legwork on the different cases. Utilizing some of Milo’s police contacts, he uncovers new information about a long ago disappearance, but he quickly hits yet another dead end. Once the truth about closely guarded family secrets is exposed, the pieces begin to fall into place, but Milo and Alex are prevented from searching for new evidence by bureaucratic red tape. Alex cleverly maneuvers around the legal obstacles that stand in their way and the case is eventually cracked wide open when they uncover the evidence they need to make arrests for the murders.

Breakdown is a riveting police procedural that is full of shocking twists and turns. The storyline is complex but very easy to follow and each new development brilliantly advances the novel toward its stunning conclusion. As with the previous novels in the Alex Delaware series, Jonathan Kellerman provides enough background information about Alex, Milo and their longstanding friendship/professional collaboration that newcomers to the series will have no trouble reading this latest installment (but I highly recommend the entire series). An outstanding crime drama that fans of the genre are to enjoy.

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Filed under Alex Delaware Series, Ballantine Books, Breakdown, Contemporary, Jonathan Kellerman, Mystery, Rated B+, Review