Category Archives: Mira

Review: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

Title: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Domestic noir at its best. Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel. 

They built a life on lies 

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Review:

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison is a twist-filled, suspense laden mystery about a missing wife whom the police eventually suspect the husband might have murdered.

Sutton and Ethan Montclair are a seemingly perfect couple.  Both are successful authors who lead a somewhat glamorous life. They live in a beautifully remodeled home in an upscale neighborhood. However, after enduring an absolutely heartbreaking loss, cracks appear in their once rock solid happy marriage and both suffer a few upsetting career setbacks.  So when Ethan wakes up to find that Sutton has disappeared without taking any of her personal possessions, he is concerned about her in spite the note she left for him telling her not to look for her.  After Ethan reports her disappearance to the police, he becomes their prime suspect after they uncover damning information that leads them to believe he might have murdered Sutton. One of the investigators on the case, Holly Graham, is not quite convinced that Ethan is responsible for his wife’s disappearance but will she uncover the evidence she needs to clear him of wrongdoing?

The mystery surrounding Sutton’s disappearance is gripping and initially, Ethan’s version of events rings true. However, disquieting information is quickly disclosed that allows doubts to gradually creep in. His behavior is erratic and some of his reactions seem just a tad bit… off. The information the police uncover is sinister but would Ethan really be stupid enough to leave evidence if he is actually responsible for Sutton’s suspicious disappearance?

Interspersed with the unfolding events are chapters from an unidentified person’s perspective. These chilling entries paint the picture of a very disturbed individual. The addition of this unknown entity ratchets up the tension as the search for Sutton intensifies.

Lie to Me is an extremely clever mystery with a dark and twisted storyline that keeps the novel moving at a blistering pace. The characters are not likeable and as the story progresses, they become increasingly unreliable. Readers will remain glued to the pages of this diabolical thriller as they attempt to piece together the truth about whether or not Ethan has anything to do with Sutton’s disappearance.  Through a series of cunning twists and shocking turns, J.T. Ellison  brings the novel to a jaw-dropping conclusion. A masterfully written thriller that I absolutely LOVED and highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, JT Ellison, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Title: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr that Kirkus calls “a blissful beach read.” The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.

That was then… 

For the Hempsteads, summers were idyllic. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now…

After an accident turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. None of the Hempstead women speak of what happened, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

Robyn Carr has crafted another beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

Review:

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr is a multi-layered novel about a once close-knit family that was torn apart by tragedy.

Once upon a time, sisters Louise and Josephine, along with their daughters, spent idyllic summers together at the family’s lake house.  They each had three daughters and the cousins were just as close as their mothers. However, in the aftermath of  a tragic accident, Lou and Jo become somewhat estranged and their daughters’ lives take very troubling turns. Fast forward to the present and Lou’s daughter Meg decides it is time for the family to reconcile and she invites everyone back to the lake house for the summer.  There is never any doubt Meg’s sister Charley will agree to her sister’s plan but will cousins Hope, Krista and Beverly accept her invitation? And is it too late for Lou and Jo to repair their long strained relationship?

Alternating between the various characters’ perspectives, Robyn Carr’s newest release is not a light or happy read and quite frankly, it is a bit of a chore to even like many of the characters. Meg is the most sympathetic, and while she sets the reunion into motion, she remains firmly in the background as the story unfolds. Her sister Charley is probably the least likable as she alienates her long-term partner, Michael, after she loses her job. On the other end of the spectrum is their cousin Krista whose life took a dramatically wrong turn but she is incredibly appealing as she faces each challenge with a positive and cheery attitude. Krista’s sister Hope makes a couple of very memorable guest appearances that will leave readers shaking their head in disbelief. Their other sister Beverly remains on the periphery of the unfolding drama. Jo is an utterly fantastic character and she never hesitates to do whatever is necessary to help her daughters.  Her sister Lou is nowhere near as personable and well, it is not easy to feel much sympathy for her even though she has endured some very painful losses.

Despite a somewhat slow start, The Summer That Made Us is an engaging novel with an interesting (but sometimes overly busy) storyline.  While not a particularly joyful read, it is easy to become swept up into the various characters’ story arcs.  Robyn Carr brings the novel to a bittersweet yet uplifting conclusion.  

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B, Review, Robyn Carr, The Summer That Made Us, Women's Fiction

Review: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

Title: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Domestic noir at its best. Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel. 

They built a life on lies 

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Review:

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison is a twist-filled, suspense laden mystery about a missing wife whom the police eventually suspect the husband might have murdered.

Sutton and Ethan Montclair are a seemingly perfect couple.  Both are successful authors who lead a somewhat glamorous life. They live in a beautifully remodeled home in an upscale neighborhood. However, after enduring an absolutely heartbreaking loss, cracks appear in their once rock solid, happy marriage and both suffer a few upsetting career setbacks.  So when Ethan wakes up to find that Sutton has disappeared without taking any of her personal possessions, he is concerned about her in spite the note she left for him telling her not to look for her.  After Ethan reports her disappearance to the police, he becomes their prime suspect when they uncover damning information that leads them to believe he might have murdered Sutton. One of the investigators on the case, Holly Graham, is not quite convinced that Ethan is responsible for his wife’s disappearance but will she uncover the evidence she needs to clear him of wrongdoing?

The mystery surrounding Sutton’s disappearance is gripping and initially, Ethan’s version of events rings true. However, disquieting information is quickly disclosed that allows doubts to gradually creep in. His behavior is erratic and some of his reactions seem just a tad bit… off. The information the police uncover is sinister but would Ethan really be stupid enough to leave evidence if he is actually responsible for Sutton’s suspicious disappearance?

Interspersed with the unfolding events are chapters from an unidentified person’s perspective. These chilling entries paint the picture of a very disturbed individual. The addition of this unknown entity ratchets up the tension as the search for Sutton intensifies.

Lie to Me is an extremely clever mystery with a dark and twisted storyline that keeps the novel moving at a blistering pace. The characters are not likeable and as the story progresses, they become increasingly unreliable. Readers will remain glued to the pages of this diabolical thriller as they attempt to piece together the truth about whether or not Ethan has anything to do with Sutton’s disappearance.  Through a series of cunning twists and shocking turns, J.T. Ellison  brings the novel to a jaw-dropping conclusion. A masterfully written thriller that I absolutely LOVED and highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, JT Ellison, Lie to Me, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: The Swallow’s Nest by Emilie Richards

Title: The Swallow’s Nest by Emilie Richards
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Three women fight for the chance to raise the child they’ve all come to love 

When Lilia Swallow’s husband, Graham, goes into remission after a challenging year of treatment for lymphoma, the home and lifestyle blogger throws a party. Their best friends and colleagues attend to celebrate his recovery, but just as the party is in full swing, a new guest arrives. She presents Lilia with a beautiful baby boy, and vanishes.

Toby is Graham’s darkest secret—his son, conceived in a moment of despair. Lilia is utterly unprepared for the betrayal the baby represents, and perhaps more so for the love she begins to feel once her shock subsides. Now this unasked-for precious gift becomes a life changer for three women: Lilia, who takes him into her home and heart; Marina, who bore and abandoned him until circumstance and grief changed her mind; and Ellen, who sees in him a chance to correct the mistakes she made with her own son, Toby’s father.

A custody battle begins, and each would-be mother must examine her heart, confront her choices and weigh her dreams against the fate of one vulnerable little boy. Each woman will redefine family, belonging and love—and the results will alter the course of not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone they care for.

Review:

The Swallow’s Nest by Emilie Richards is an emotional novel of forgiveness, motherhood and second chances.

Lilia Swallow and her husband Graham Randolph’s lives were turned upside down by his cancer diagnosis. A year later, they have cause to celebrate after his cancer goes into remission following aggressive treatment.  However, Lilia’s joy quickly turns to devastation when Graham’s business associate Marina Tate shows up with a three month old baby boy named Toby.  Marina hands Lilia the baby and delivers a stunning blow with her vindictive announcement that Toby is Graham’s son.  Understandably upset and furious, Lilia leaves Graham and Toby to visit her family in Hawaii where she tries to figure out what to do next.  Despite her anger and hurt, Lilia cannot bring herself to walk away from her marriage until they are out from under the massive debt from Graham’s medical expenses.  Will Lilia’s tangled emotions about the circumstances of Toby’s birth prevent her from loving the baby?  Is there any possible way for their marriage to survive Graham’s betrayal?

Lilia’s decision to return to Graham is not arrived at easily nor does she know what the future holds for them as a couple.  She cannot in good conscience walk away from him considering their staggering debt. Despite Graham’s remission, he is not psychically strong enough to work long hours and they are relying on Lilia’s income to help them recover financially.  Needing to keep expenses to a minimum, she and Graham continue living under the same roof but they lead separate lives. Toby slowly but surely works his way into Lilia’s heart and without hesitation, she becomes his primary caregiver.

Marina’s abandonment of Toby is not for his well-being; it is completely self-serving and rather spiteful.  While Graham’s decision to begin an affair with her is selfish and uncaring, she entered into the relationship with her eyes open and completely aware of his marriage. Marina is entirely self-absorbed and lacks any empathy for the impact his cancer diagnosis and treatment has on his life.  She never regrets her decision to leave Toby in Lilia and Graham’s care and Marina feels nothing but relief that he is no longer her responsibility.

Just as Lilia, Graham and Toby are well on their way to becoming a family, tragedy strikes and Graham’s estranged mother, Ellen, sees her grandson as an opportunity to make up for her mistakes with her son. She sets in motion a plan without giving any thought to Toby’s well-being or her daughter-in-law’s feelings.  Gaining Marina’s cooperation is instrumental to bringing the plan to fruition and after some consideration, Marina agrees to help Ellen. Will Ellen’s reprehensible scheme succeed?

The Swallow’s Nest is a beautifully rendered novel that quite poignant yet ultimately uplifting.  Emilie Richards tackles very difficult subject matter with ease and the resulting story tugs on readers’ heartstrings. Lilia and Toby are wonderfully developed characters who are easy to like and root for. The secondary characters are marvelously developed and provide a wonderful support system for Lilia. Marina and Ellen, however, are not likable or sympathetic but they do undergo a great deal of growth by novel’s end.  A truly captivating story that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Emilie Richards, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Title: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr
Sullivan’s Crossing Series Book Two
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating:B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan’s Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It’s a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love.

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

Review:

Any Day Now by Robyn Carr is a captivating novel of new beginnings, healing and love. This second installment in the Sullivan’s Crossing series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the first book in the series as well.

Sierra Jones has finally gotten her life back on track and moving closer to her older brother Cal and his new wife Maggie provides her the opportunity to leave her troubled past behind. She quickly finds a new job but when she needs a less stressful place to live, she takes Sully (Maggie’s father) up on his offer to live in one of the cabins at his campground. In exchange for her living accommodations, she is more than happy to fill in wherever Sully needs an extra hand.  Easily settling into the slower pace of life and forming new friendships, Sierra is not looking for love but will meeting firefighter Conrad “Connie” Boyle change her mind?

Sierra has worked hard to leave behind her poor choices and concentrate on turning her life around. While at first, she was just trying to escape from a truly horrifying experience, she instead discovered she had more problems than she imagined. Through hard work and determination, she manged to overcome several of her demons but she continues to work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Needing a fresh start and wanting to reconnect with Cal, Sierra is looking forward to her new life in Sullivan’s Crossing. Despite her past troubles, she is well-adjusted and upbeat with a refreshingly positive attitude. Living one day at a time, Sierra is not looking too far in the future when she meets Connie.

Having his heart broken in the past, Connie is not looking for a serious relationship when he is introduced to Sierra. He is rather wary when their paths continue to cross but he is also quite drawn to her as well. Once their friendship begins to deepen, Connie is surprisingly open to exploring his unexpected feelings for her. He is content to let Sierra control the direction of their surprising romance, but he does become a little impatient over her reluctance to fully confide in him once she is ready to fully face her past.

A secondary story arc featuring Tom Canaday and Sierra’s co-worker Lola will delight readers who are fond of older characters unexpectedly finding love. Although it has taken a while, Tom is finally moving on from his divorce and he is suddenly viewing Lola in a whole new light. However, Lola’s life is plenty busy and lacking self-confidence when it comes to dating, she is not exactly looking for a relationship. Once they realize how much they have in common, an easy friendship springs up between them, but Tom never gives up hope Lola will eventually be open to taking their relationship to the next level.

Any Day Now is a heartwarming novel with a wonderful cast of charming characters and an engaging storyline. Sierra and Connie are an appealing couple and they are refreshingly well-adjusted despite the issues they have dealt with in the past. Their friendship provides a firm foundation for their slow growing romance and their relationship is delightfully free from unnecessary angst or drama. The issues from Sierra’s past are serious and provide the storyline with plenty of depth. Robyn Carr deftly handles this difficult subject matter in a sensitive and realistic manner. Old and new fans will absolutely love this latest addition to the Sullivan’s Crossing series.

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Filed under Any Day Now, Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Robyn Carr, Romance, Sullivans Crossing Series

Review: The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Time Travel, Women’s Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From the bestselling author of The Bourbon Thief comes a sweeping tale of loss and courage, where one woman discovers that her destiny is written in sand, not carved in stone.

Faye Barlow is drowning. After the death of her beloved husband, Will, she cannot escape her grief and most days can barely get out of bed. But when she’s offered a job photographing South Carolina’s storied coast, she accepts. Photography, after all, is the only passion she has left.

In the quaint beach town, Faye falls in love again when she sees the crumbling yet beautiful Bride Island lighthouse and becomes obsessed with the legend surrounding The Lady of the Light—the keeper’s daughter who died in a mysterious drowning in 1921. Like a moth to a flame, Faye is drawn to the lighthouse for reasons she can’t explain. While visiting it one night, she is struck by a rogue wave and a force impossible to resist drags Faye into the past—and into a love story that is not her own.

Fate is changeable. Broken hearts can mend. But can she love two men separated by a lifetime?

Review:

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz is a captivating novel about a women who travels through time where she discovers hope and healing.

Faye Barlow has suffered heartbreaking losses and fate steps in just as she is on the verge of making a much needed change.  Accepting a job offer to take pictures for a “Journey Through Time” calendar, she temporarily settles in Beaufort, SC.  Intrigued by the history of the lighthouse on Bride Island, Faye begins her project by taking dazzling photos of the lighthouse.  Inexplicably drawn to the island, she makes a stunning discovery during her subsequent research of the lighthouse and Bride Island.  As Faye tries to uncover more information, she meets retired priest Patrick Cahill who has surprising ties to the former lighthouse keeper.  Faye ignores his warnings to keep her distance from the decaying lighthouse and she is shocked when she is mysteriously transported back in time to 1921, when tragedy struck on Bride Island.  Will Faye’s presence on the island change history?

Faye has been unable to move past a tragic loss but she is finally ready to put an end to an unhappy situation that is not healthy for anyone involved.  Having made that first major step, she is excited about her upcoming photo project and after her arrival in Beaufort, Faye makes another decision that is surprisingly helpful.  Although she has no idea why she is so mesmerized by Bride Island, she cannot resist learning more about its history.  When Faye is struck by an urgent need to visit the island, she has no choice but to find a way to act on the unstoppable urge.

After she travels back in time to 1921, Faye is immediately immersed in life on Bride Island.  She is fascinated by the people the people she meets and the hardships they must endure.  As she becomes comfortable with her new circumstances, Faye is surprised by her sudden feelings of hope as the darkness that has surrounded her for so long begins to lift.  Experiencing happiness for the first time in years, Faye is uncertain whether or not she wants to return to her former life in the present.  But as events continue to unfold, will Faye have a choice in what happens next?

The Night Mark is a completely enthralling novel that is heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting.  The time travel aspect is quite imaginative and cleverly executed. The characters are beautifully drawn with realistic strengths and weaknesses.  The storyline is complex and Tiffany Reisz brilliantly keeps readers guessing how this wonderful story will end.  This spellbinding novel is as educational as it is entertaining. All in all, an absolutely delightful gem that I positively loved and highly recommend!

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Historical (20s), Mira, Rated B+, Review, The Night Mark, Tiffany Reisz, Time Travel, Women's Fiction