Tour Stop & Giveaway: The Downfall of Catie Bloom by Brooke Stanton

Title: The Downfall of Catie Bloom by Brooke Stanton
Bloom Sisters Series Book Three
Publisher: Coco and Bee
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic, Comedy
Length:

Summary:

Catie’s little white lies have finally caught up to her…

The award-winning Catelyn Bloom is back! And she’s still got it all. A husband, a successful career, and she’s America’s #1 Domestic Goddess. Except, it’s a big fat lie. She can’t cook, she’s a slob, and her husband left her years ago. But she’s trying to change all that and become an honest woman.

Too bad someone has other ideas for her.

Catie’s life comes crumbling down when she’s outed on national TV by a person she thought she trusted. And in that instant she loses everything. Her job, her sister, and the man she loves—Sam Harding. So much for “the one.” When Catie needs Sam the most he disappears…with his ex. Then two miracles happen: a new man steps into the picture eager to help Catie, and a New York socialite hires Catie to do the one thing Catie’s truly talented at: interior design. The great news: the multi-million dollar loft Catie’s designing will be featured in all the top design magazines. The bad news: Catie has to keep her involvement a secret.

As she tries to find a way to reveal she’s the woman behind the design, Sam returns. And with him comes a twist she never saw coming.

Will Catie find her happily-ever-after or will her big white lies ruin her life forever?

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Excerpt

In the back corner of the bar, there’s a woman tucked away from the revelry. Something about her makes me stop. At first, it looks like she’s laughing, but she wipes her eyes and I see she’s crying. Then she lifts her head, and I feel like one of the skis above the bar has kicked me in the gut. I suck in air, but I can’t seem to get any down. The room is spinning, and for a moment, I feel like I might pass out.

How can she be here? I step closer but keep hidden behind a group of older men, devouring pizza and beer, their faces chapped from the slopes.

It’s definitely her. Liv.

Why is she here and not in Manhattan with her husband? Is she on assignment? But she doesn’t write for the sports section. She’s a metro reporter and only writes about local news. There’s nothing local about this comp.

The air escapes my lungs in a rush when I spot Sam standing above the table where Liv sits. He’s been here a day, but he already has a touch of Raccoon face—white half-moons down his cheeks under his eyes, the bottom of his face pinkish from the sun and wind.

He slides into the booth next to Liv and puts his arm around her and pulls her in tight, comforting her. He kisses her head, and the love on his face is unmistakable. So is the pain. The pain of seeing her in pain.

His eyes glance up and widen in surprise when he sees me. I step back, bumping into a young man, his beer spilling down the inside of my sweater, the liquid cold against my skin.

I hurry out of the bar and rush back toward the lodge, but as I turn the corner, I hear Sam’s voice calling my name. A few moments later, his hand grabs hold of my arm, turning me around as his bright-blue eyes capture mine, as they always do, making my rapid breathing stop short.

“You’re early. You’re supposed to be coming in tonight,” Sam says. His voice sounds surprised but not upset. “Where’s your luggage?”

“At the hotel.” I step back, and he drops my arm. “What is she doing here?”

“Oh, she…” Sam rubs his hand over his face, considering something. “It’s…I don’t think she’d want me to say. She needs to escape her life for a while. She got some bad news.”

“Well that’s not your problem.” The words sound harsh, especially after I saw how upset she was. But what the hell is she doing seeking comfort from Sam? In Tahoe?! She has her own damn family. “You shouldn’t have to comfort her.”

“Catie, show a little compassion. Look, if I told you what was going on, you’d understand, but I promised her I wouldn’t say anything.”

“Compassion?!” I spit out, shocked at his words. “My whole life was flipped on its head and beaten to a pulp. My career is over, and I’m hanging on by a string here. I don’t have many people I can count on right now, but you should be one of them.”

“If I told you what’s going on, you’d understand.”

“Then tell me.”

His forehead crinkles, and worry sits on his face, showing his internal struggle. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe he’s standing there acting as if she has any right to him and his loyalty. He was going to propose, and she cheated on him. With his friend.

Unless…seeing her the other night sparked all the old feelings in him. It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened. Doesn’t everyone have the-one-that-got-away somewhere in their past? Well, maybe not everyone, but lots of people do. And maybe Liv is the one. Not just the one that got away, but the one.


Author Bio

After her own misadventures in New York City, LA, and London, Brooke Stanton now lives in sunny South Florida. She’s an award-winning author who has contributed to Natural Awakenings Magazine, wrote a column for Examiner.com, and is the author of The Bloom Sisters series. Visit her website brookestantonbooks.com.

Get a FREE copy of the prequel, IGNITE, here: http://ilovemyfans.info/ignite-download/

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads


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Review: The Visitors by Catherine Burns

Title: The Visitors by Catherine Burns
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side….

Review:

The Visitors by Catherine Burns is a rather dark character study featuring a middle aged woman who lives in the family home with her brother who harbors a chilling secret.

Marion Zetland is in her mid fifties and she has never moved out of her family home. Now residing with her brother, John, she escapes her somewhat dreary existence with her elaborate daydreams about people she meets, watching TV and binge eating. Marion also lives in fear of disappointing John who has a quick temper and a dark secret. After John falls ill, Marion has no choice but to face what her brother has been doing all these years in their cellar.

Life in the Zetland household has always been dysfunctional. The youngest of the siblings, Marion was never anywhere close to being John’s intellectual equal and she struggled to pass any of her classes. Plagued with social awkwardness, she endured painful bullying from her classmates but Marion could always count on John to make her feel better about herself. Their parents had extremely high expectations for John’s future, but Marion always fell short of the mark and as a result, she does not feel worthy of anyone’s love or respect. Her loyalty to John is absolute and she will do anything to make him happy.  Even if that means turning a blind eye to his activities and never questioning what he is doing in their cellar.

The pacing of the story is quite slow since the main focus is the minutiae of  Marion’s day to day life.  These chapters are boring and repetitive since she does little beyond watching the TV while soothing herself by overeating.  She has a rich fantasy life in which she  lapses into elaborate daydreams about her imaginary relationships with people from her real life.  There are also long passages that flashback to her childhood and while these chapters offer insight into what shaped her into the woman she is today, they are overly detailed and excessively long.  Marion is occasionally worried about the strange noises emanating from the cellar but she easily pushes her concerns aside.

The Visitors has an unusual premise but readers might be a little frustrated due to the lack of suspense surrounding John’s cellar activities and a rambling storyline. It is not very difficult to deduce who the visitors are or what John is doing with them. Marion is initially a sympathetic character but it is easy to become impatient with her complacency. With a few not completely unexpected revelations, Catherine Burns brings the novel to a twist-filled conclusion.

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Filed under Catherine Burns, Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Mystery, Rated C, Review, Suspense, The Visitors

Review: White Bodies by Jane Robins

Title: White Bodies by Jane Robins
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

This chilling psychological suspense novel—think Strangers on a Train for the modern age—explores the dark side of love and the unbreakable ties that bind two sisters together.

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered?

A page-turning work of suspense that announces a stunning new voice in fiction, White Bodies will change the way you think about obsession, love, and the violence we inflict on one another—and ourselves.

Review:

Jane Robins’ debut, White Bodies, is a mesmerizing mystery with a very suspenseful storyline.

Twin sisters Tilda and Callie Farrow are as different as night and day both in looks and temperament. Tilda is quite beautiful, outgoing and popular whereas  Callie is quiet, shy and socially awkward. Tilda’s light shines brightly and her acting career is currently on the upswing. Callie enjoys her job working in a bookstore where she is comfortable discussing books with regular customers. Despite their differences, Tilda and Callie talk daily and get together once a month for movie night.

Although Callie enjoys hanging out with her sister, she is a little taken aback when Tilda begins frequently inviting her to spend time with her and her new boyfriend Felix Nordberg. Callie is initially impressed with Felix’s ability to rein in her somewhat flighty sister but after witnessing a couple of troubling incidents, she becomes convinced that Tilda is the victim of domestic violence. When Tilda brushes off her concerns, Callie joins an on-line support for advice and after she befriends two women on the forum, she has to decide just how far will she go to protect her sister.

Callie is devoted to her sister so it is not any surprise that she is a little worried about some of her disturbing observations. With a long history of trying to protect Tilda from her own frailties and any type of harm from the people around her,  she immediately begins compiling extensive notes in which she documents practically everything about her sister and Felix. Callie soon comes across as obsessed as she goes to extreme lengths to gather information about Felix and his relationship with Tilda.

As Tilda begins pulling away from her sister, Callie begins to heavily rely on two friends she has made on the domestic abuse forum.  After tragedy strikes,  one of the women she has befriended proposes a rather extreme plan but will Callie agree to this outrageous scheme? When Felix unexpectedly dies, Callie is under unbearable pressure to act on her online friend’s behalf, but can she take such a drastic measure?

Fast-paced and engrossing, White Bodies is an intriguing mystery that is impossible to put down. With a meticulously crafted storyline, an increasingly unreliable narrator and clever plot twists, Jane Robins brings the novel to a completely unexpected but satisfying conclusion.  A brilliant debut that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Jane Robins, Mystery, Rated B, Suspense, Touchstone, White Bodies

Pre-Order Spotlight & Giveaway: One Summer Night by Caridad Pineiro

Title: One Summer Night by Caridad Pineiro
Release Date: October 3, 2017
At the Shore Series Book One
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages

Summary:

An offer that’s impossible to accept . . .
Maggie Sinclair has tried everything to save her family’s business, including mortgaging their beloved beach house on the Jersey Shore. But now, she’s out of options.
The Sinclair and Pierce families have been neighbors and enemies for almost thirty years. That hasn’t stopped Owen Pierce from crushing on Maggie, and he’s determined to invest in her success. Now he has to convince her that he’s more than just trouble with a capital T…

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Pre-Order Links (Available October 3, 2017): Amazon Kindle * Amazon Paperback * B&N * iTunes


Excerpt

Tracy Parker was in love with being in love.

That worried her best friend and maid of honor Maggie Sinclair more than she cared to admit.

In the middle of the temporary dance floor, Tracy waltzed with her new husband in a satin-and-lace designer gown, gleaming with seed pearls and twinkling sequins. But the sparkle dimmed in comparison to the dreamy glow in Tracy’s eyes.

The sounds of wedding music competed with the gentle rustle of seagrasses in the dunes and the crash of the waves down on the beach. The fragrance from centerpiece flowers and bouquets battled with the kiss of fresh sea air.

Connie and Emma, Tracy’s two other best friends and members of the bridal party, were standing beside Maggie on the edge of the dance floor that had been set up on the great lawn of Maggie’s family’s beachfront mansion on the Jersey Shore. Huddled together, Maggie and her friends watched the happy couple do a final whirl.

“She’s got it so bad,” Maggie said, eyeing Connie and Emma with concern past the rim of her rapidly disappearing glass of champagne.

“Do you think that this time he really is The One?” Connie asked.

“Doubt it,” Emma replied without hesitation.

As the DJ requested that other couples join the happy newlyweds, Maggie and her friends returned to the bridal party dais set out on the patio. Grabbing another glass of champagne, Maggie craned her neck around the gigantic centerpiece piled with an almost obscene mound of white roses, ice-blue hydrangea, lisianthus, sheer tulle, and twinkling fairy lights and examined the assorted guests mingling around the great lawn and down by the boardwalk leading to the beach.

She recognized Tracy’s family from their various meetings over the years, as well as some of Tracy’s sorority sisters, like Toni Van Houten, who in the six years since graduation had managed to pop out a trio of boys who now circled her like sharks around a swimmer. Although the wedding invite had indicated No Children, Toni had done as she pleased. Since Tracy had not wanted a scene at her dream beachfront wedding, Emma, who was doing double duty as the wedding planner for the event, had scrambled to find space for the children at the dinner tables.

“Is that Toni ‘I’ll never ruin my body with babies’ Toni?” Connie asked, a perplexed look on her features.  At Maggie’s nod, Connie’s eyes widened in surprise, and she said, “She looks…happy.”

A cynical laugh erupted from Emma. “She looks crazed.”

Maggie couldn’t argue with either of their assessments. But as put-upon as their old acquaintance seemed, the indulgent smile she gave her youngest child was positively radiant.

Maggie skipped her gaze across the gathering to take note of all the other married folk. It was easy enough to pick them out from her vantage point on the dais where she and her friends sat on display like days’ old cakes in the bakery. They were the last three unmarried women in an extended circle of business and college acquaintances.

“How many times do you suppose we’ve been bridesmaids now?” Maggie wondered aloud. She finished off her glass and motioned for the waiter to bring another.

“Jointly or severally?” asked Connie, ever the lawyer.

“Way too many,” replied Emma, who, for a wedding planner, was the most ardent disbeliever in the possibility of happily ever afters.

Maggie hadn’t given marriage a first thought, much less a second, in a very long time. She’d had too many things going on in her life. Not that there hadn’t been a few memorable moments, most of which revolved around the absolutely worst man for her: Owen Pierce.

But for years now, she’d been dealing with her family’s business and its money problems, which had spilled over into her personal finances. As she gazed at the beauty of the manicured grounds and then back toward her family’s summer home, it occurred to her that this might be the last time she hosted a celebration like this here. She had mortgaged the property that she had inherited to funnel money into the family’s struggling retail store division.

Unfortunately, thanks to her father’s stubborn refusal to make changes to help the business, she spent way too much time at work, which left little time for romance. Not to mention that none of her casual dates had piqued her interest in that direction. Looking down from her perch, however, and seeing the happiness on so many faces suddenly had her reconsidering the merits of married life.

“Always a bridesmaid and never a bride,” she muttered, surprising herself with the hint of wistfulness in her tone.

“That’s because the three of us are all too busy working to search for Prince Charming,” Connie said, her defense as swift and impassioned as if she were arguing a case in court.

“Who even believes in that fairy-tale crap?” Emma’s gaze grew distracted, and she rose from her chair. “Excuse me for a moment. Carlo needs to see me about something.”

Emma rushed off to the side of the dance floor, where her caterer extraordinaire, Carlo Teixeira, raked a hand through his thick brown hair in clear frustration. He wore a pristine white chef’s jacket and pants that enhanced his dark good looks.

Emma laid a hand on Carlo’s forearm and leaned close to speak to him, apparently trying to resolve a problem.

“She doesn’t believe in fairy tales, but her Prince Charming is standing right in front of her,” Connie said with a sad shake of her head.

Maggie took another sip of her champagne and viewed the interaction between Carlo and Emma. Definitely major sparkage going on, she thought.

“You’re totally right,” she said with an assertive nod.

Connie smiled like the proverbial cat, her exotic green-gold eyes gleaming with mischief. “That’s why you hired me to represent your company as soon as I finished law school. Nothing gets past me.”

“Really? So what else do you think you’ve seen tonight?”

Raising her glass, her friend gestured toward the right of the mansion’s great lawn where some of the fraternity brothers from their alma mater had gathered. One of the men slowly turned to sneak a peek at them.

“Owen has been watching you all night long,” Connie said with a shrewd smile.

“Totally impossible, and you of all people should know it. Owen Pierce has absolutely no interest in me.”

She set her glass on the table to hide the nervous tremble of her hand as her gaze connected with his for the briefest of moments. Even that fleeting link was enough to raise her core temperature a few degrees. But what woman wouldn’t respond like that?

In his designer tuxedo, Owen was the epitome of male perfection—raven-black hair, a sexy gleam in his charcoal-gray eyes, broad shoulders, and not an ounce of fat on him, which made her recall seeing him in much, much less on a hot summer night on Sea Kiss Beach. She had been staying in the quaint seaside town on the Jersey Shore with her grandmother that summer, much as she had all her life. As they also had for so many years, the Pierce boys had been residing next door for the entire season.

The two beachfront mansions had been built side by side decades earlier, before the start of the Pierce and Sinclair rift. The cost of waterfront real estate had escalated so drastically since their construction that neither family was willing to sell their beloved home to put some distance between the warring clans.

Well, make that the warring fathers, because as far as Maggie was concerned, she had no beef with Owen. They had played together down on the beach as kids. She couldn’t count the many sand castles they’d built or the time they’d spent out in the surf.

But after her mother had died, things had changed, and the carefree spirit of those halcyon days had disappeared. The Pierce boys had stopped coming down to the Shore for the next few years, and combined with the loss of her mom, it had created an emptiness inside her that hadn’t really gone away.

By the time the Pierce brothers returned  years later, the feud had gotten worse, and Owen and Jonathan had been instructed to stay away. But an ill-timed and half-drunk kiss with Owen on a moonlit summer night had proved that staying away was impossible. It had also helped the emptiness recede for a bit. Since then, fate had seemed to toss them together time and time again in both their business and personal lives, keeping alive her fascination with him. She felt not quite so alone when he was around, not that she should get used to that.

Owen Pierce had left her once before when she’d needed his friendship the most: right after her mother’s death. His on-again, off-again presence in her life proved that she couldn’t count on him.

Owen stood next to his younger brother, Jonathan, who couldn’t be more different. While Owen was clean-cut and corporate, Jonathan had the scruffy hipster look going on. It was appealing in its own way, but not to her.

“Trust me, Maggie. Your families might be at war, but Owen would clearly love to sleep with the enemy,” Connie said.

She blew out a frustrated sigh. “More reason to avoid him. You know I’m not the kind to sleep around.”

Emma returned, color riding high on her cheeks, but not in a good way.

“Something wrong?” Maggie asked.

Emma kneeled between the two of them and whispered, “It seems the groom had a bit too much to drink and Tracy caught him being hands-on with an old flame.”

“Not Amy? Tracy always lost it if she spotted him with Amy,” Maggie whispered.

“Definitely Amy. Now Tracy is refusing to come out and cut the cake. I have to say, this takes the cake, literally. Married a few hours, and already there’s trouble.”

“Ever the hopeful romantic, Em,” she kidded.

“If you think you can do better, why don’t the two of you come help me talk Tracy off the ledge?”


Author Bio

Caridad Pineiro is a transplanted Long Island girl who has fallen in love with pork roll and the Jersey Shore, but still can’t get the hang of tomato pies. When Caridad isn’t taking long strolls along the boardwalk to maintain her sanity and burn off that pork roll, she’s also a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author with over a million books sold worldwide. Caridad is passionate about writing and helping others explore and develop their skills as writers. She is a founding member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers and has presented workshops at the RT Book Club Convention, Romance Writers of America National Conference as well as various writing organizations throughout the country.

Want to receive Caridad’s newsletter with exclusive content just for subscribers and special giveaways?

Just visit http://bit.ly/2cbxlYw to sign up.

Caridad values your privacy and will not share your e-mail or personal information.

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Pinterest


Giveaway

Caridad Pineiro is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • This giveaway ends midnight September 29.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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Follow the rest of the tour HERE.

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Review: Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah

Title: Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

She’s the most famous murder victim in America. What if she’s not dead?

Pushed to the breaking point, Cara Burrows flees her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied — by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake at the front desk… but soon Cara realizes that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving natural life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust — everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

Review:

In Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah, a British woman escaping from her family problems stumbles onto a mystery at an upscale resort in Arizona.

Overwhelmed and angry about her family’s response to an unexpected life-changing event, Cara Burrows books herself a two week vacation at a posh Arizona spa. Exhausted after the long flight, she arrives at the Swallowtail Resort and Spa in the middle of night where she is inadvertently assigned to a room that is already occupied by a man and a teenage girl. The next day, she overhears another guest report her sighting of Melody Chapa, a young girl whose parents have been convicted of her murder despite the fact her body has never been found.

Trying to avoid thinking about her own troubles, Cara googles the infamous case and she is stunned by the realization that Melody Chapa bears an uncanny resemblance to the teenager she briefly saw the previous night. With the help of fellow guests, outspoken florist Tarin Fry and her beleaguered daughter Zellie, the trio have barely scratched the surface of this intriguing case when Cara and the resort’s front desk clerk Riyonna Briggs inexplicably vanish. Tarin pressures local detective Orwin Priddey and his erstwhile partner Bryce Sanders to take Cara’s disappearance seriously after  former prosecutor turned abrasive talk show host Bonnie Juno suggests Cara left of her own volition. Is Cara’s unexplained departure connected to Riyonna’s disappearance? More importantly, is there a link between the missing women and Cara’s sighting of Melody Chapa?

Cara is a rather unlikable and unsympathetic character.  She is impatient with everyone and intolerant of Americans whom she judge to be excessively friendly and guilty of hyperbolic overstatement (all of which begs the question: why go to America if you disapprove of Americans???).  It is also a little hard to forgive her somewhat callous attitude towards her family and her reason for the trip is rather selfish and completely avoidable. While Cara’s reason for immersing herself in researching the circumstances of Melody’s disappearance and her parents’ murder conviction is self-serving, Cara is eventually truly concerned about the case.

The first part of the novel focuses on prickly Cara, her family situation and her internet research into the Chapa case.  The information about Melody’s case is revealed through on line articles, YouTube clips and a handful of segments from Bonnie Juno’s television show. The second part of the story concentrates on Tarin’s efforts to keep the investigators motivated to search for Cara. Detective Priddey plays his cards close to his chest as he quietly questions witnesses and follows leads. Bonnie Juno inserts herself into the investigation and loudly (and frequently) proclaims the Chapas’ are guilty as sin and behind bars where they belong.

Keep Her Safe is a rather engrossing mystery despite a disagreeable lead protagonist and the slow moving storyline.  An intriguing and creative premise make it easy to overlook some of the more improbable elements of the plot. Sophie Hannah throws in some brilliant twists and turns at the novel’s conclusion that are absolutely stunning.  All in all, an entertaining, twist-filled mystery that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Keep Her Safe, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Sophie Hannah, Suspense, William Morrow

Review: The Trust by Ronald H. Balson

Title: The Trust by Ronald H. Balson
Liam and Catherine Series Book Four
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 367 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The newest novel from Ronald H. Balson, the international bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers, finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle’s funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural.

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm.

Review:

As with previous novels written by Ronald H. Balson, his newest mystery, The Trust, is well-researched and historically accurate. Set in Ireland, the Taggart family and its history with the IRA are under the microscope after Liam’s estranged Uncle Fergus dies under mysterious circumstances.

Although Liam is conflicted about his cousin Janie’s request that he attend his uncle’s funeral, his wife Catherine easily him to make the trip.  He is stunned to discover that Fergus made him the executor of his estate which has been placed into a trust. Equally shocking are the terms of the will and Liam finds himself on the opposite side of his cousins Conor and Riley as they attempt to remove him as the trust administrator. In between the legal maneuvering, Liam teams up with the police inspector assigned to the case to try to solve his uncle’s murder.

Liam is quite upset that he never made the effort to mend the sixteen year rift with Fergus and he is utterly confused about his uncle’s conviction that he is the only person he can trust to carry out his wishes. The terms of the will are clear but unfortunately, everything about the last few months of his uncle’s life is rather murky. Liam quickly discovers Fergus was convinced someone was going to kill him, but he was deliberately vague about who the killer might be or why he might targeted.  Liam’s family is certain his murder is a vendetta from forty years earlier, but local police Inspector Farrell McLaughlin is equally convinced the killer is most likely related to Fergus.

The investigation is slow moving and Liam also must contend with inner family squabbles, overt threats and memories of his distant past. He vacillates back and forth between abdicating his responsibilities and returning home, but his remorse over his role in the longstanding estrangement is a powerful inducement to carry out Fergus’s last wishes. He is also a bit angst-ridden over Catherine and their baby’s safety but his wife is equally certain the threats she is receiving are nothing more than a bothersome nuisance. Even when the killer begins targeting other family members, Liam and the police are still unable to discern a motive for the murders and without a motive, it is even more difficult to narrow down the suspect list.

Rich with historical details, The Trust is an intriguing mystery that old and new fans of the Liam and Catherine series will enjoy.  Although the investigation into Fergus’s murder is interesting, readers might a little frustrated with the lack of progress and the narrow focus on a list of very obvious suspects while glaring inconsistencies with other characters are ignored. Catherine is a little blasé about her and their baby’s safety and Liam comes across as rather unfocused as he deals with the emotional aspects of his unexpected family reunion. Despite a few minor irritations with the mystery aspect of the storyline, Ronald H. Balson provides a fascinating look into Ireland’s deeply troubled past between Protestants  and Catholics that still reverberates amongst its citizens today.

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Filed under Contemporary, Liam and Catherine Series, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Ronald H Balson, St Martin's Press, Suspense, The Trust