Review: Torn & Restored by Austin Williams

Title: Torn & Restored by Austin Williams
Rusty Diamond Series Book Three
Publisher: Diversion Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, suspense
Length: 260 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In this gripping last installment of Austin Williams’ Rusty Diamond series, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond is beckoned back to Vegas to reconcile his sordid past in one final, decadent showdown—but will he make it out of Sin City alive?

When a mysterious box containing a greeting card, a sheet of textbook paper, three human teeth, and an adult index finger severed just above the knuckle arrives unannounced on Rusty “The Raven” Diamond’s doorstep, he realizes he can no longer hide on the beaches of Maryland. Someone wants Rusty to pay for what he did years before, and if Rusty is going to survive, he’ll need to take the fight Vegas.

Rusty was once the hottest act on the strip, a magician who commanded sell-out crowds for his death-defying act. But with bigger risks come bigger enemies, and it seems Rusty has made one of the most sizable the Nevada desert has to offer. A mobster-turned-politician with every resource available aims to not only close the curtain on Rusty, but make sure he pays dearly beforehand.

Rusty’s final reckoning with his past will draw him into a trap that, even at his most Houdini-esque, he may not be able to escape. Taut, fast, and gripping at every turn, Torn & Restored builds to a spectacular denouement that will leave readers buzzing for days.

Review:

Torn & Restored, the third novel in Austin Williams’ Rusty Diamond series, finds the former illusionist turned amateur sleuth returning to Las Vegas to face the final piece of his unresolved past.

While Rusty initially ignores the anonymous packages he is receiving, the contents in the latest missive are too grisly to ignore. Although he has no idea who is sending them to him or why, he knows it is finally time to return to the city where his career crashed and burned three years earlier. Once he is back in Las Vegas, Rusty reaches out to former co-worker Charlotte Rains to help him figure out the significance of the items sent to him. The information he uncovers leads him to a sketchy bar in a rundown part of town and a creepy site on the dark web, but Rusty still has no idea who lured him to back to Las Vegas.

As soon as he steps off the plane, Rusty is overwhelmed by the memories of the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of his career. Unable to forget the horrific events that preceded his hasty escape from town, he is a little off balance as he tries to make sense of the puzzling items he received in the mail. Charlotte is the only person in Vegas that Rusty implicitly trusts not to betray him and her assistance quickly proves invaluable. Despite the information she helps him uncover, Rusty remains uncertain who is masterminding the plan that forced his return to Vegas.  However, he does quickly realize this person has intimate knowledge of the various acts he performed during his show at Caesar’s. Rusty also cannot help but wonder how his final gig plays into the increasingly diabolical and horrifying events that are occurring.

Rusty’s investigation takes him into some of the lesser known and seedier areas of Las Vegas. Far away from the glitz and glitter of the Strip, the homeless population is incredibly vulnerable to predators who find it easy to prey upon them without fear of reprisal. The flood tunnel system under the city is an enticing but unsafe haven for those seeking shelter. When Rusty is forced to become an active participant in the vengeful plan taking place in these tunnels, he once again relies on his skills as an illusionist to (hopefully) extricate himself from a tricky and highly dangerous situation.

The third (and perhaps final) installment in the Rusty Diamond series, Torn & Restored is a fast-paced and suspense-laden mystery. With plenty of action and unexpected twists and turns, Austin Williams  brings this latest mystery to a pulse-pounding and action packed conclusion. An absolutely outstanding mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Austin Williams, Contemporary, Diversion Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Rusty Diamond Trilogy, Torn & Restored

Review: In This Moment by Karma Brown

Title: In This Moment by Karma Brown
Publisher: Park Row Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women”s Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Bestselling author Karma Brown is back with a morally infused and emotionally riveting exploration of one woman’s guilt over an unexpected—yet avoidable—tragedy

Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she’s able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes.

After school pickup one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street…just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him.

Meg can’t help but blame herself for her role in this horrific disaster. Full of remorse, she throws herself into helping the boy’s family as he rehabs from his injuries. But the more Meg tries to absolve herself, the more she alienates her own family—and the more she finds herself being drawn to the boy’s father.

Soon Meg’s picture-perfect life is unravelling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she’s been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide: Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart?

Review:

In This Moment by  Karma Brown is an affecting exploration of unresolved guilt and grief.

Meg Pepper is a busy working mother who has never quite made peace with a tragedy that occurred when she was a teenager. Her long buried feelings of guilt come to the surface in the aftermath of a car accident involving the twin brother of her fifteen year old daughter Audrey’s boyfriend Sam Beckett. After Meg waves Jack across the road, he is struck by an inattentive driver traveling in the opposite direction. She immediately blames herself and in the aftermath, her guilt takes a huge toll on her marriage to Ryan, her career and her relationship with Audrey as Meg begins making questionable decisions.

Even before the Jack’s accident, Meg is already struggling to keep up with the details of her personal and professional lives. She is also a little resentful that Ryan does not seem to take her career seriously. Like many working mothers, she is expected to juggle the demands of her job with motherhood and the duties around the house. After Jack’s accident, Meg becomes so guilt-ridden that she cannot sleep and when she does, she is plagued with nightmares about tragic events that occurred when she was a teenager. Sleep-deprived and incredibly stressed, Meg begins making mistakes at work and at home, she and Ryan begin bickering.

Up to this point, Meg is a very involved and protective mom who tries to ensure Audrey does not make the same mistakes she made as teenager. Before Jack’s accident, Audrey never gives her or Ryan any reason to worry about the choices she makes and they trust her implicitly. Almost immediately after the accident, Audrey’s behavior begins to change but she and Ryan are slow to realize exactly what is going on with the daughter.

With trouble brewing both at home and the office, Meg becomes her own worst enemy as she refuses to talk about her profound guilt over her self perceived role in Jack’s accident.  Although Ryan knows about what happened to her as a teenager, she cannot bring herself to admit that Jack’s accident has brought all of her unresolved feelings to the forefront. Meg’s downward spiral leads to discontent in her marriage and she makes a fateful choice that threatens her relationships with everyone she holds dear.

In This Moment by Karma Brown is a poignant and thought-provoking read but some elements of the storyline become repetitive.  Meg’s guilt over her role in what happened in both the past and present seems a little extreme and it is very difficult to understand why she won’t talk to Ryan about the things that are bothering her.  Although not everything is completely resolved, the novel’s optimistic conclusion is quite satisfying.  

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Filed under Contemporary, In This Moment, Karma Brown, Park Row Books, Rated C+, Review, Women's Fiction

The Week Ahead May 22-27

Here’s a look at what’s happening this week at Book Reviews & More by Kathy:

This week’s book reviews:

May 22: In This Moment by Karma Brown (Upcoming release 5/30)
May 23: Torn & Restored by Austin Williams (New Release)
May 25: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf (Upcoming Release 5/30)
May 25: Toughest Cowboy in Texas by Carolyn Brown (Upcoming Release 5/30)

Blog Tours:

I am taking the week off from blog tours!

Winning Wednesday (May 24) eBooks up for grabs:

Grand Slam by Heidi McLaughlin
From the Start by Cheryl Etchison
Farlough by Xavier Maybe

Click here for more info on entering the eBook contests.

This week’s Friday Feature: Harlequin Authors’ Early Summer Rituals & PRINT Giveaway.

This week’s Saturday Series Spotlight is Kelly Moran’s Redwood Ridge and contest for one of the books in the series (winner’s choice).

Have a great week!!

***All the eBooks in this week’s Winning Wednesday & Saturday Series Spotlight giveaways have been purchased by Book Reviews & More by Kathy.***

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Saturday Series Spotlight & Giveaway: Diana Copland’s Delta Restorations

Title: David, Renewed by Diana Copland
Delta Restorations Series Book One
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 244 pages/Word Count: 81,993

Summary:

Delta Restorations: Novel One

When interior designer David Snyder buys a beautiful century-old house in eastern Washington, he is reeling with heartbreak and looking for somewhere to put down roots. Unfortunately his new home comes with a laundry list of problems: electrical, plumbing, heating… things David knows nothing about. When his mother offers him the business card of a local handyman, David pictures an overweight, balding man in his fifties. But Jackson Henry couldn’t be further from that stereotype.

Dark-haired, muscular, and handsome, Jackson left a large construction firm in Seattle to take care of his sick mother. However, his hometown still has an active “good old boy” network, and finding employment in construction is almost impossible for an openly gay man. Determined to persevere, Jackson takes odd jobs as a handyman. He’s exactly what David needs—in more ways than one.

David isn’t ready for his attraction to Jackson, not considering the way his last relationship ended. But as the two men get to know each other, it becomes clear that the heart often knows best, and it rewards those willing to listen.


Title: Michael, Reinvented by Diana Copland
Delta Restorations Series Book Two
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 220 pages/Word Count: 75,059

Summary:

Sequel to David, Renewed

Delta Restorations: Novel Two

Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.

Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.

Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever.


Giveaway

I am giving away one eBook from the Delta Restorations 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:

2. Be or become a fan of Book Reviews & More by Kathy Facebook page

OR:

3. Follow me on Twitter (@BookReviewsMore)

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.

CONTEST OVER

*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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Filed under Contest, Saturday Series Spotlight

Friday Feature & Giveaway: Awaken My Heart by Maria K. Alexander

Title: Awaken My Heart by Maria K. Alexander
Tangled Hearts Series Book Three
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 350 pages

Summary:

Lies have a way of coming back to haunt you—a lesson Ashley O’Neil learns the hard way when she runs into the man she shared a steamy night with over fourteen years ago. Now tangled in a web of deception, she’ll need to right a wrong and chance losing her heart to the very man she deceived.

An unexpected encounter with the woman he had a one-night stand with has thrown Detective Nick DiFrancesco for a loop. Recently divorced, he’s cautious around women, but one look at Ashley has him considering taking a chance. Until he learns her secret…one that impacts him where it counts most—family.

When Nick’s drug trafficking case goes south, a lead puts him in Ashley’s path. With his family in danger and his heart on the line, he’ll need to fight for justice and risk it all for the woman he’s never forgotten.

Add to Goodreads.
Add series to Goodreads.

Purchase Links: Amazon * B&N * Google Play * iTunes * Kobo * The Wild Rose Press


Excerpt

She licked her lips. “Is that an order, detective?”

The corner of his mouth lifted. “A request.”

When his gaze slid to her lips, Ashley felt the tingling in the pit of her stomach move lower.

He stepped closer until his shoes brushed the tips of hers. “Twice in two days.”

She could smell the musky male scent of him, sexy and pungent. “What?”

“It’s the second time in two days we’ve run into each other,” Nick said.

“Coincidences,” Ashley said.

“Or a sign you should go out with me.”

Oh, how she wanted to. It would be easy to give in to him, to slide her hands up his firm chest, and lose herself in his embrace. In heels, she was only a few inches shorter, and her mouth was dangerously close to his.

She sucked in a breath. “I told you, I can’t.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

“It’s the same thing.”

“It’s not, and you know it.” He leaned closer, and his warm breath brushed her face. “You can’t tell me you don’t feel what’s happening.”

She lifted her chin and stared at warm brown eyes. “I don’t.”

“Liar.”


Author Bio

A romantic at heart, Maria K. Alexander spent hours as a young girl getting lost in and wishing to be one of the heroines in the stories she read. Books gave her the ability to go to another world where she loved meeting new characters, learning about their problems, and watching them fall in love.

Maria is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. When not writing, Maria loves to read, bake, downhill ski, visit the beach, and watch romantic comedies. Maria lives in New Jersey with her husband and children, and writes in her “spare” time between juggling a full-time job and her kids’ busy schedules.

Author Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the rest of the tour HERE.

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Filed under Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Friday Feature

Tour Stop, Excerpt & Giveaway: Play Chopin for Me by Max Vos

Title: Play Chopin for Me by Max Vos
Publisher: Max Vos, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 216 pages

Summary:

When the flames start to spark, Dale and Al, knotch it up even beyond their own beliefs.

After a devastating fire, Dale Lusk shows up at his sister’s door in nothing but his boxers and a raincoat, desperately needing her help. Losing both his restaurant and home has left Dale without direction or a place to live.

While pushing her handsome brother into a new wardrobe to match his model looks, Chrissie introduces Dale to Al Borkowski. Al is in desperate need of a roommate before his grandmother takes more control of his life.

Little did Chrissie know when she pushed the two men together the sparks that would fly and the changes that would happen in all of their lives.

Add to Goodreads.

Purchase Links: Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon AU * Amazon DE


Excerpt

Her mouth watered as Dale explained to her what he was doing as he made mango panna cotta, a creamy custard, which went completely over her head. She didn’t mind. She just loved spending time with him, something that they’d not done in some time. “Oh my god, that smells divine, Dale.” Chrissie closed her eyes and inhaled the aroma coming from the stove.


Author Bio

Max Vos is a classically trained chef with over 30 years of food service experience. After retiring in 2011, Max found himself with time on his hands and was urged to turn his talents to writing. ‘Cooking English’, a short story, now part of his anthology collection, Inappropriate Roads, is now available. My Hero was his first novel, which turned into an international best seller. Max now has a total of six completed novels, which are listed on his website, along with the entire Memories Series. My Hero: The Olympian, the sequel to My Hero was released late last year.

Author Links: Website * Tumblr * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt