Category Archives: Contemporary

Review: Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame

did i mentionTitle: Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame
DIMILY Trilogy Book One
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Love is everything but expected.

Eden Monro came to California for a summer of sun, sand and celebrities – what better way to forget about the drama back home? Until she meets her new family of strangers: a dad she hasn’t seen in three years, a stepmonster and three stepbrothers.

Eden gets her own room in her dad’s fancy house in Santa Monica. A room right next door to her oldest stepbrother, Tyler Bruce. Whom she cannot stand. He’s got angry green eyes and ego bigger than a Beverly Hills mansion. She’s never felt such intense dislike for someone. But the two are constantly thrown together as his group of friends pull her into their world of rule-breaking, partying and pier-hanging.

And the more she tries to understand what makes Tyler burn hotter than the California sun, the more Eden finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t…

Did I Mention I Love You? is the addictive first book in Wattpad sensation Estelle Maskame’s DIMILY trilogy: three unforgettable summers of secrets, heartbreak and forbidden romance.


Did I Mention I Love You? is the first installment in Estelle Maskame’s DIMILY trilogy.  This young adult novel centers around Eden Munro and her forbidden relationship with her new stepbrother, Tyler Bruce. Since they have just met, the romance between them does not really cross over into taboo territory, but some readers might find this aspect of the storyline a little on the squeamish side.

Eden Munro has mixed feelings about spending the summer with her long absent father, but needing a break from an unpleasant situation with two of her friends, she decides to take him up on his offer. Dreading a summer of babysitting her stepbrothers, she is delighted to discover the boys are not the toddlers she envisioned. While she likes the two younger brothers right from the beginning, Eden is not quite so enamored by her introduction to seventeen year old Tyler. Rude, brooding and angry, Tyler seems to enjoy pushing everyone’s buttons and his out of control behavior alienates him from the rest of the family.

Eden is a difficult character to like. She is a little too whiny and a HUGE pushover when it comes to her new friends and Tyler. She has serious issues with her dad and although her animosity is understandable, she does little to clear the air between them. Instead her resentment simmers in the background only to spill over in angry outbursts when she finds herself in trouble for some of her irresponsible behavior. Her instant dislike and snap judgment of her stepmother is also a irritating considering her parents have been divorced for three years. While she has good reason for her bitterness, Eden really did not think through her decision to spend two months with a father she dislikes and an unfamiliar stepfamily.

Tyler is an absolute mess and he crosses the line from charming bad boy into just plain old bad pretty much right from the start. He is completely unmanageable and his contempt for his mother’s and stepfather’s attempts to curb his deplorable (not to mention illegal) behavior quickly becomes tiresome and repetitive. He is trouble with a capital T and he is just plain toxic to anyone unfortunate enough to get caught up in his orbit.  Neither the brief glimpses of Tyler’s charm and sweetness nor the reason for his illicit activities are enough to redeem him.

Eden, Tyler and their friends do little other than hit one party after another for pretty much the entire eight weeks of Eden’s visit. Sure, there are a few shopping and sightseeing trips thrown into the storyline, but even then, their conversations gravitate to their next party.  The ease in which they can obtain booze is mindboggling and the fact that many of their parents are in the house while the teenagers are boozing it up is astounding. Equally astonishing is the lack of punishment when the kids stay out all night, break curfew or come home wasted.

Despite these issues, Did I Mention I Love You? is a well-written novel. For the most part, it is fast-paced and engaging although the story hits a bit of a lull in the middle. Tyler might have been a more sympathetic character if the reasons behind his behavior had been revealed earlier in the story and Eden would have been more likable if she had been able to withstand peer pressure even the tiniest bit. This first installment in Estelle Maskame’s DIMILY trilogy is a little overly dramatic and somewhat unrealistic, but it is definitely a compelling read that I recommend to older teen and adult readers due to the underage drinking and drug use

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Filed under Contemporary, Did I Mention I Love You?, DIMILY Trilogy, Estelle Maskame, Rated C+, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Fire, Young Adult

Review: Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas

girls whoTitle: Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A hilarious, deftly written debut novel about a woman whose wanderlust is about to show her that sometimes you don’t have to travel very far to become the person you want to be…

There are many reasons women shouldn’t travel alone. But as foul-mouthed, sweet-toothed Kika Shores knows, there are many more reasons why they should. After all, most women want a lot more out of life than just having fun. Kika, for one, wants to experience the world.

But ever since she returned from her yearlong backpacking tour, she’s been steeped in misery, battling rush hour with all the other suits. Getting back on the road is all she wants. So when she’s offered a nanny job in London – the land of Cadbury Cream Eggs – she’s happy at the prospect of going back overseas and getting paid for it. But as she’s about to discover, the most exhilarating adventures can happen when you stay in one place…

Wise, witty, and hilarious, Girls Who Travel is an unforgettable novel about the highs and lows of getting what you want—and how it’s the things you least expect that can change your life.


In Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas, heroine Kika Shores’ most important journey is one of self-discovery. This fast-paced and engaging novel has a cast of adorable characters and a surprisingly thought-provoking storyline and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light-hearted read.

Now her yearlong globetrotting adventure is over, Kika is working a dull office job that leaves her pining for her ex-lover Lochlon O’Mahone and the freedom to travel. Not exactly the most reliable or engaged employee, it is no surprise that Kika finds herself unemployed due to her lackluster performance. But as luck would have it, she is quickly hired as an au pair for a wealthy American family living in London. Surprisingly, Kika turns over a new leaf as she begins to look more to the future than her past, but will a reunion with Lochlon force her to rethink her plans?

Kika is a sassy, smart and colorful heroine that is a bit immature at first, but slowly but surely comes into her own after moving to London. She is fun-loving but she takes her duties as an au pair seriously and the two young girls in charge begin to thrive under her tender loving care. No one is more shocked than Kika when, instead of taking short European holidays during her weekends off, she begins to save money and create a serious business plan for her on line shop.

While still looking forward to reconnecting with Lochlon, Kika is confused by her unexpected attraction to next door neighbor Aston Hyde Bettencourt. Their first meeting was quite inauspicious and their subsequent encounters are full of misunderstandings. Therefore, Kika is quite stunned when Aston rescues her from a potentially damaging meeting with someone from her past. Afterward, Kika finally clears the air with Aston and they form an unlikely friendship that has strong undercurrents of mutual attraction. However, her rendezvous with Lochlon is imminent so she keeps her relationship with Aston firmly in the friend zone. Kika’s reunion with Lochlon becomes a turning point but a series of unexpected events becomes another obstacle for her to overcome.

Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas is an entertaining novel that has a surprising amount of depth. Kika is a wonderful protagonist and watching her grow and mature is immensely gratifying. The storyline is quite refreshing with several unpredictable twists and turns. An all around delightful read that fans of contemporary women’s fiction are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Girls Who Travel, New Adult, Nicole Trilivas, Rated B, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

what she knewTitle: What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…


With a truly unique approach to storytelling, What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan is a cleverly written psychological thriller. The investigation into the disappearance of eight year old Benedict “Ben” Finch is revealed through the dual perspectives of his mother, Rachel Jenner and the detective leading the search, James “Jim” Clemo, blog posts and comments, e-mails, transcripts from counseling sessions and newspaper articles.

During their typical Sunday walk in the park with the family dog, Rachel is a bit distracted when she allows Ben to run ahead of her to play on the park’s swing. Arriving just minutes behind him, she is shocked to discover Ben has vanished. Frantically searching the darkening woods around her, Rachel finds no trace of her son and the police are quickly summoned to the scene. In the nerve wracking investigation that follows, Rachel is vilified by the press and on social media as the police try to discover the truth about what happened to Ben.

Rachel is still reeling from her unexpected divorce when Ben disappears. She is hurt and angry over her ex-husband’s new marriage but Ben seems to have finally bounced back from the unexpected changes in their life. In the aftermath of Ben’s apparent kidnapping, Rachel second guesses many of her decisions and she, of course, blames herself for his disappearance. Sympathy for Rachel soon turns to suspicion after she goes off script during a news conference. When information from the investigation is leaked to an inflammatory blog, she is soon tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. While speculation runs rampant that she knows more than she is telling, the police uncover a shocking secret that causes Rachel to mistrust someone close to her.

Under intense pressure to locate the missing boy, DI Jim Clemo slowly begins to unravel during the course of the investigation. While at first thrilled to be selected for such a high profile case, as the days pass with no new leads or information, he begins to identify a little too closely with the family and his objectivity becomes compromised. A stunning revelation from someone Jim cares deeply has lasting repercussions on his emotional well-being and a year after the case is over, his lingering anxiety leads to mandatory counseling. Although Jim initially resists co-operating during his sessions, many of the events that occurred during the investigation are eventually revealed through the probing questions of the psychologist assigned to his case.

A well-written work of fiction that reads like true crime, What She Knew is an incredibly riveting mystery that is quite different from the usual police procedural. Beginning with a prologue a year following the kidnapping, much of the investigation is revealed with the benefit of the key player’s hindsight. This adds depth to the storyline and builds suspense as the novel races to its stunning conclusion. With plenty of twists, turns and brilliant red herrings, it is an authentic and realistic mystery that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gilly Macmillan, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, What She Knew, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: An Evil Mind by Chris Carter

evil mindTitle: An Evil Mind by Chris Carter
Robert Hunter Series Book Six
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, thriller
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From a Top 10 Sunday Times (UK) bestselling author comes an action-packed thriller featuring Robert Hunter, a criminal behavior psychologist turned LAPD detective, who must race to identify the most brutal, clever, and elusive serial killer yet…

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the sheriff’s department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery—a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing, and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years.

The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception—but can he be believed?

The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behavior psychologist and lead detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD Robert Hunter is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man.

These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could have foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed—until now…


In Chris Carter’s newest release, An Evil Mind, a grisly discovery in the trunk of a car pits LAPD Detective Robert Hunter against a sadistic serial killer. This sixth installment in the Robert Hunter mystery series is a chilling psychological thriller that will keep readers on the edge their seats until the last page is turned.

After the owner of the car is arrested and transferred into FBI custody, he refuses to speak to anyone but Robert Hunter. Robert does not recognize the prisoner’s name, but as soon as he sees a picture of “Liam Shaw”, he knows exactly who the FBI have in custody. Certain a mistake has been made, Robert agrees to fly to Quantico to talk to the prisoner and after their first meeting, he remains convinced the FBI have arrested the wrong man. However, soon after their investigation begins, he and FBI Special Agent Courtney Taylor are stunned by what they discover. When they return to discuss their findings with Liam, Robert is horrified to learn that Liam is probably one of the most vicious and prolific serial killers he has ever encountered.

In an effort to learn the breadth of his crimes, Robert and Courtney begin a series of interviews with Liam.  Liam agrees to reveal his victims’ names along with the location of their remains but only if Robert and Courtney agree to answer his questions with complete honesty. Wanting to bring closure to the friends and families of the missing persons, they reluctantly agree to Liam’s conditions. However, neither Robert nor Courtney are prepared for what Liam is about to reveal nor do they suspect how deeply personal he will probe into their lives. Liam’s queries about Robert’s painful past are met with resistance but in the end, Robert has no choice but revisit the unhealed wounds he carries with him.

With each interview session, the tension builds as Liam discloses the horrific details of his increasingly gruesome and sadistic murders. Staggered by the extent of Liam’s depravity, Robert must put aside his personal feelings when Liam makes an appalling announcement that puts them in a race against time to find his latest victim. Ignoring his instincts, Robert gives in Liam’s demands and accompanied by Courtney, the three embark on an adrenaline filled journey that is full of shocking twists and turns.

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter is a dark and twisted psychological thriller that is impossible to put down. With brilliantly developed characters, an unpredictable storyline and mind-boggling plot twists, this suspense-laden novel thunders at a breakneck speed to a dramatic and action-filled conclusion that will keep readers’ guessing the final outcome right up until the very last page. An absolutely outstanding police procedural that I highly recommend to old and new fans of the Robert Hunter series.


Filed under An Evil Mind, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Chris Carter, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Robert Hunter Series, suspense, Thriller

Review: Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford

fish stickTitle: Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford
Half Moon Bay Mystery Series Book One
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Romance, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 204 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


Deacon Reid was born bad to the bone with no intention of changing. A lifetime of law-bending and living on the edge suits him just fine—until his baby sister dies and he finds himself raising her little girl.

Staring down a family history of bad decisions and reaped consequences, Deacon cashes in everything he owns, purchases an auto shop in Half Moon Bay, and takes his niece, Zig, far away from the drug dens and murderous streets they grew up on. Zig deserves a better life than what he had, and Deacon is determined to give it to her.

Lang Harris is stunned when Zig, a little girl in combat boots and a purple tutu, blows into his bookstore, and then he’s left speechless when her uncle, Deacon Reid, walks in hot on her heels. Lang always played it safe, but Deacon tempts him to step over the line… just a little bit.

More than a little bit. And Lang is willing to be tempted.

Unfortunately, Zig isn’t the only bit of chaos dropped into Half Moon Bay. Violence and death strike, leaving Deacon scrambling to fight off a killer before he loses not only Zig but Lang too.


The first installment in Rhys Ford’s new mystery series, Fish Stick Fridays, is a delightfully heartwarming romance. The mystery aspect of the storyline is compelling, but the marvelous cast of characters is what makes this novel such an outstanding read.

From the wrong side of the tracks with a bit of a sketchy past, Deacon Reid turns his life around after his sister dies so he can become his niece Zig’s guardian. Deacon is WAY out of his comfort zone when it comes raising a little girl, but he is determined she will have a better life than he or his sister did. Deacon is patient but firm with Zig and although she tries to keep an emotional distance between them, he does a pretty good job giving her the stability she needs to heal from her traumatic past.

Bookstore owner Lang Harris is everything Deacon isn’t: refined, wealthy and privileged. However, this does not mean that his life is any more perfect than Deacon’s. Lang has been hurt in the past and he is still trying to move on from a disastrous relationship that left him both physically and emotionally shattered. His relationship with his family is also strained but Lang is quite happy with the life he has made for himself in Half Moon Bay.

Zig is a precocious but lovable eight year old who steals every scene she stars in. She is tough, scrappy and swears like a stevedore but behind all her bravado is a scared little girl who is trying to cope with a painful past. Deacon will do just about anything to protect her and it is incredibly touching watching him go the extra mile to try to make the transition to their new life together easier for her.

The mystery element is understated but it is still an integral part of the storyline. Clever misdirects and a few red herrings make it impossible to figure the perpetrators’ identity until nearly the end of the novel. This aspect of the plot is action packed, intriguing and quite suspenseful.

Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford is a heartfelt novel of love and family that I highly recommend to fans of gay romances. It is a perfect blend of sweet and sexy with just a hint of danger. The characters are beautifully developed with slight imperfections that add to their overall appeal. This well-written and fast paced novel is the perfect beginning to the Half Moon Bay series and I cannot wait to read the next installment!


Filed under Contemporary, Dreamspinner Press, Erotic, Fish Stick Fridays, Half Moon Bay Mystery Series, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Rhys Ford, Romance, suspense

Review: The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells

wedding treeTitle: The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 424 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


National bestselling author Robin Wells weaves a moving epic that stretches from modern-day Louisiana to World War II-era New Orleans and back again in this multigenerational tale of love, loss and redemption.

Hope Stevens thinks Wedding Tree, Louisiana, will be the perfect place to sort out her life and all the mistakes she’s made. Plus, it will give her the chance to help her free-spirited grandmother, Adelaide, sort through her things before moving into assisted living.

Spending the summer in the quaint town, Hope begins to discover that Adelaide has made some mistakes of her own. And as they go through her belongings, her grandmother recalls the wartime romance that left her torn between two men and haunted by a bone-chilling secret. Now she wants Hope’s help in uncovering the truth before it’s too late.

Filled with colorful characters, The Wedding Tree is an emotionally riveting story about passion, shattered dreams, unexpected renewal and forgiveness—not only for others, but for ourselves.


The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells is a captivating tale of love, loss, forgiveness and healing.

At loose ends following the collapse of her marriage and the loss of her business, Hope Stevens volunteers to help her grandmother Adelaide sort through her belongings before moving into assisted living. Needing to find answers about an incident from her past, Adelaide recounts a long ago romance with a dashing World War II pilot and the events that led to her marriage to her late husband, Charlie. In between her duties for her grandmother, Hope works on the mural she is painting for Adelaide’s next door neighbor, Matt Lyons, a widowed father of two young daughters. Despite their inauspicious first meeting, she and Matt begin dating, but with Hope planning to return to Chicago once her grandmother moves, will their romance end in heartbreak?

Although Hope loved spending summers with her grandmother in Wedding Tree, LA, she and her late mother, Becky, lived permanently in Chicago. Following her mother’s unexpected death three years earlier, Hope rushed into marriage only to have her heart broken when she finds out her husband is cheating on her. With her confidence shaken by her misjudgment of the man she loved, her self-esteem is also low due to her ex-husband’s dismissive and derisive comments about her artwork. Spending time with her grandmother is a balm to her wounded spirit and with Adelaide’s gentle encouragement, Hope is excited about her upcoming project painting a mural for Matt’s daughters.

World War II afforded Adelaide the unheard of opportunity to take a job working in the dark room of a newspaper after her high school sweetheart, Charlie, goes off to war. Excited to finally get out from under her parents’ watchful eye, Adelaide enjoyed volunteering for the local USO where she eventually meets and falls in love with pilot Joe Madison. Her whirlwind romance comes to an abrupt end when Joe ships out for the Pacific and when the unthinkable happens, she reluctantly marries Charlie and returns to Wedding Tree. Their marriage is tempestuous and veers wildly between seething resentment and periods of contentment. However, Adelaide is haunted by a long ago incident and with the uncertainty of what happened now weighing heavily on her mind, she is hoping that Hope will be able to help her find the answers she is searching for.

Matt is through the worst of his grief by the time he meets Hope but he is still taken off guard by his attraction to his lovely neighbor. Hope is the complete opposite of the women he usually dates and he is surprised by how easy she is to talk to. Their friendship gradually transitions to dating but with both of them aware she is only in town temporarily, they agree to keep things casual between them. Matt soon realizes he has become emotionally invested in their relationship but Hope continually deflects his efforts to discuss their future. Hope is afraid to risk her heart but will Matt convince her to change her mind?

Written from alternating points of view, The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells is a heartwarming and uplifting novel that is quite riveting. The characters are vibrantly developed and immensely appealing. With plenty of small town charm and an intriguing storyline, this powerful story of healing is sure to be a hit with readers who enjoy multi-generational family sagas.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Rated B+, Review, Robin Wells, The Wedding Tree, Women's Fiction