Category Archives: Mira

Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Review:

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz is a very atmospheric mystery with a slight element of romance.

Now in her mid twenties, Allison Lamarque has not seen or heard from any foster family members since leaving neurosurgeon Vincent Capello’s home (dubbed The Dragon) thirteen years earlier. Just as her current relationship is ending, she receives a letter from her foster brother, Roland Capello, letting her know that Dr. Capello does not have long to live. Conflicted about whether or not to return to the sprawling home on the Oregon coast, Allison decides to make a quick visit before doing some traveling. Soon after arriving at mansion, Allison begins to remember some of the events that precipated her  hasty departure and although Dr. Capello fills in some of the blanks, she cannot help but wonder if he is being entirely truthful. But that brings up the question: what possible reason would he have for lying to her?

Allison has no living relatives so she is a bit adrift after her long term arrangement with her older lover ends.  She is nervous about returning to Oregon due to the circumstances of her leaving, but she decides it is time to face her past. Immediately reconnecting with her long ago crush, Roland, she remains uneasy about committing to staying longer than a few days. Despite her happy memories of  her time at The Dragon,  Allison becomes a little suspicious when she becomes aware that Dr. Capello is not being truthful with her. She also learns that her foster siblings, Thora and Deacon, have been less than honest with her as well. In the course of trying to unearth the truth, Allison is shocked to learn the fate of several other foster children who were also in Dr. Capello’s care. Unraveling the web of lies, the truth about her foster siblings shocks Allison to the core and she inadvertently puts herself in danger in the process.

The Lucky Ones by is a very riveting mystery  with a bit of a gothic feel to the storyline. The characters are quite fascinating  but also somewhat mysterious due to the many secrets they are keeping. Allison’s investigation into her long ago accident takes a very unexpected turn as she uncovers very appalling information.  The mystery aspect of the storyline is completely wrapped up but Tiffany Reisz leaves it up to readers to guess what comes next for one of the couples. All in all, an engrossing mystery that fans of the genre are going to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Lucky Ones

Review: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery

Title: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery
Mischief Bay Series Book Four
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The grass is always greener on your sister’s side of the fence…

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

Review:

Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery is a winsome story about three generations of women and their sometimes complicated relationships. This  fourth installment in the Mischief Bay series easily stands on its own, but I highly recommend the previous books as well.

Forty-two year old Harper Szymanski is a divorced mom who loves her sixteen year old daughter Becca but works long hours trying to keep her virtual assistant business going.  She is a people pleaser who lets people walk all over her since she has a difficult time standing up for herself.  Her relationship with her mother Bunny is a bit of a mess since Bunny is firmly stuck in the ’50s where a man is always right and a woman should always put her husband and family’s needs before her own.

Harper’s younger sister, forty year old Stacey Bloom, is a super smart and socially awkward scientist who works on the cutting edge of MS research. She and her husband Kit are about to become first time parents and Stacey is greatly concerned over her lack of maternal instincts. She is also worried about Bunny’s reaction to their nontraditional plan for Kit to become a stay at home dad while she continues  working. But what troubles Stacey the most are her fears about what effect a baby will have on her and Kit’s relationship.

Becca is a typical teen who is insecure, somewhat self-absorbed and struggling with the loss of one of her closest friend’s after she moves out of state. She is also quite unhappy with the situation with her father who makes promises to her that he never keeps. He has virtually disappeared from her life which leaves her feeling unloved. Just when Becca reaches her lowest point, she meets Kit’s nephew, Ashton, and their friendship becomes a highlight in her life.

One of Harper’s favorite clients, Lucas Wheeler, is a fifty year old cop whose dating life is an endless array of short term relationships with vapid young women in their early twenties. He is a frequent visitor in their home whose friendship she greatly treasures. Lucas is surprisingly attentive to Becca and he becomes a father figure of sorts after he spend a lot of time with her helping her get her driver’s license.  Lucas and Harper unexpectedly fall into a relationship but since she is so different from the women he typically dates, will there be a shelf-life to their fling?

Sisters Like Us is an emotionally compelling novel that is poignant yet humorous. The chapters alternate between Harper, Stacey and Becca’s points of view as each of them attempt to overcome their personal issues. Harper and Stacey are both struggling with Bunny’s negative influence in their lives as she continues to make them both feel inadequate. Becca matures with guidance and advice from Lucas and a surprise romance of her own. Lucas and Harper’s transition from friends to lovers is understated and their interactions are laugh out loud funny and quite moving. Old and new fans of  Susan Mallery are going to love this newest addition to the enchanting Mischief Bay series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Mischief Bay Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sisters Like Us, Susan Mallery, Women's Fiction

Review: Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Title: Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Review:

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt is an intriguing mystery about two best friends and the suspicious death of one their husbands.

Alice Campbell’s normal day with her husband, Todd, and their two children Liam and Bridget, is quickly interrupted  when the police take Alice in for questioning about the death of her best friend Katherine “Kat” Grant’s husband, Howard.  Three days earlier, while Kat was out of town, Howard fell from their balcony to his death. Despite the fact he was extremely drunk at the time of the fall, a new witness casts doubt his death was accidental.  The police want to know very intimate details of Kat and Howard’s marriage that only her closet friend might know and Alice is the logical person to answer their probing questions.

Alice is a former math professor turned stay at home mom who met the very wealthy Kat three years earlier and despite their very different socioeconomic backgrounds, she considers Kat her best friend.  Alice is slightly uncomfortable with Kat’s wealth but their connection easily outweighs her misgivings.  Both women are slightly unhappy in their marriages but for very different reasons.  Alice and Todd are always one unexpected emergency away from financial ruin since they are living well beyond their means. Kat’s unhappiness stems from her Howard’s infidelities and she is somewhat trapped in her marriage due to the lack of a prenup.

As the police investigation gains traction, Alice has very good reason to wonder whether or not she knows Kat as well as she thought especially since her friend has not responded to any of Alice’s phone calls or texts.  She is further thrown off balance when Kat’s family hires a lawyer for her, and  Alice soon realizes, her new attorney might not be acting in her best interest. With one of the detectives on the case convinced she killed Howard, Alice begins to look back on her friendship with Kat with new eyes and quickly becomes convinced that she might not be able to trust anything her friend has told her.

Weaving seamlessly weaving back and forth in time, Best Friends Forever is a riveting psychological mystery. The glimpses of  Alice and Kat’s three year friendship are quite insightful and Margot Hunt effortlessly keeps the tension high with cliffhanger endings to the chapters.  A chilling portrait of manipulation begins to emerge but readers will be completely stunned by the jaw-dropping revelations at the novel’s conclusions. An absolutely brilliant debut that fans of the genre are sure to love.

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Filed under Best Friends Forever, Harlequin, Margot Hunt, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox

Title: The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Historical (70s & 80s), Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Hollywood, 1978

Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti—and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister and learns that her new husband’s past holds dark secrets…

Tuscany, Present day

Lucy Whittaker needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Strange sounds come from the attic. The owner of the house will never meet her in person.

The fountain in the courtyard is silent—but has never run dry.

Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa.

And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…

Review:

Seamlessly weaving back and forth in time, The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox is a vaguely sinister mystery which takes place in an isolated Tuscan mansion.

Needing to escape from London, Lucy Whittaker is hired to work for reclusive former actress, Vivien Lockhart in Italy. With no internet or cell service at the spooky mansion, Castillo Barbarossa, she is blissfully unaware of whether or not the mistakes from her past have been exposed. Instead of dwelling on her own problems, Lucy is instead extremely curious about what happened to Vivien and why she lives such a solitary life with no company other than her maid, Adalina and groundskeeper, Salvatore.  After experiencing a few strange events she cannot explain, Lucy tries researching the history of Castillo Barbarossa and Vivien’s past. Finding little information, she teams up with Max Conti, Vivien’s former housekeeper’s nephew. When her personal life begins to implode, Lucy becomes more determined than ever to unearth the truth about Vivien and what happened at Castillo Barbarossa.

In the mid seventies, Vivien escaped her abusive father and fled to Hollywood where she discovered she had to a pay a pretty steep price for fame and fortune.  Just as her life was spiraling out of control, she unexpectedly finds romance with Italian doctor, Giovanni “Gio” Moretti.  Deliriously happy yet wary of his younger sister, Isabella, Vivien eagerly accepts his wedding proposal.  Her dream wedding is marred by a vindictive act by Isabella and soon the three are ensconced at Castillo Barbarossa.  Their initially happy marriage soon falters as Gio works long hours on a secret research project while Vivien grows increasingly frustrated by his refusal to believe Isabella is trying to drive Vivien away. As the years pass, Vivien and Isabella are locked in a battle of wills that culminates in tragedy.

Lucy has not had an easy life and once she is on her own, she makes a terrible decision when she puts her trust her boss, James Calloway. Now that things have gone horribly wrong, she feels incredibly guilty for her perceived role in what happened.  The job in Italy is the perfect opportunity for her to leave the past behind, but she is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with some of the inexplicable and eerie phenomena at  Castillo Barbarossa. While at first curious about the history of the Castillo and what happened to Vivien, Lucy’s quest for answers eventually turns urgent amid her fears about the increasingly disturbing incidents she is experiencing. At the same time, her past is beginning to catch up with her and Lucy is soon facing an inescapable decision about how to handle the situation.

The Silent Fountain is an atmospheric mystery with increasingly ominous overtones.  While Lucy’s story is interesting, readers will most likely find Vivien’s story arc the most compelling.  With the chapters flipping back and forth between past and present, Victoria Fox ratchets up the tension as Vivien’s secrets are slowly revealed. With numerous twists, turns and shocking revelations, the novel comes to a an poignant yet satisfying conclusion. A truly spell-binding, suspenseful mystery that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Historical, Historical (70s), Historical (80s), Mira, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Silent Fountain, Victoria Fox

Review: Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Title: Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story—a big one.

Little dolls full of secrets

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

Review:

Set in a slowly dying town in Australia, Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra is an intriguing mystery that begins with arson and quickly moves to the creepy porcelain dolls being left for the townspeople’s children.

Rose Blakey’s mom and stepfather are forcing her to move out of the family home and she is counting on a cadetship with a newspaper to help her realize her dream of becoming a journalist. In the meantime, her hometown of Colmstock is plagued by a series of fires and unfortunately, the latest fire claimed the life of thirteen year old Ben Riley.  When a porcelain doll is delivered to her home that bears an eerie resemblance to her younger sister Laura, Rose is shocked to discover a few other children have also received similar gifts.  In an order to jumpstart her journalist career, Rose writes a sensational story that is published by a tabloid. Under intense pressure, the police investigation fails to uncover any leads. Rose’s subsequent articles ratchet up the town’s fears but they lead to unintended consequences.

Rose and her best friend Mia are working dead end jobs at the local tavern. While Mia seems resigned to remaining in Colmstock and marrying a local, Rose is ambitious and cannot wait to leave the economically depressed town behind. Growing desperate following numerous rejections for her articles, she eagerly takes advantage of the uneasiness of the town’s residents following young Ben’s death and the deliveries of the frightening dolls. Rose also exploits the cops who visit the tavern to get insider information for her titillating articles. As events begin to spiral out of control, how far is Rose willing to go in her pursuit of her ambitions? How many people will suffer the consequences of her actions?

Little Secrets is a rather slow-moving novel and quite frankly, none of the characters, including Rose, are particularly likable.  The storyline is interesting and the town’s decay, the townspeople’s fears for their safety and their economic struggles are palpable. Despite the unlikable characters, the bleak setting and the story’s slow pace, Anna Snoekstra brings the novel to a twist-filled conclusion that very neatly ties up all the various story arcs loose threads.

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Filed under Anna Snoekstra, Contemporary, Harlequin, Little Secrets, Mira, Mystery, Rated C+, Review, Suspense

Review: Lilac Lane by Sherryl Woods

Title: Lilac Lane by Sherryl Woods
Chesapeake Shores Series Book 14
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

No one writes about friends, family and home better than Sherryl Woods. Told with warmth and humor, Lilac Lane is a brand-new story in her beloved Chesapeake Shores series, one readers all over the world have waited two years to read!

At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancé suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens.

Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.

Review:

Featuring a heartwarming romance, close family ties and delightful friendships, Lilac Lane is an endearing addition to Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores series.

Following the sudden death of her mother Keira Malone’s fiancé, Moira O’Brien is worried about her mom so she comes up with a foolproof plan to lure her to the US from Ireland. She convinces her mom that her husband Luke could use her help in his pub and she could use a helping hand with their baby.  Keira readily agrees to visit temporarily and while waiting for her visa issues to be fully worked out, she is working at the pub as a consultant. Keira has not had an easy life and she is not one to mince words or hold back from voicing her opinions. Needless to say, she immediately gets on the pub’s chef Bryan Laramie’s nerves, who is not always amenable to her suggestions.

Bryan is haunted by the fact that he has not seen his daughter since his wife walked out on him years ago and he has never stopped looking for her. Although he is always pleasant, he is a bit of a loner who is devoted to his job. He wants to get along with Luke’s mother-in-law, but Keira always manages to irritate him with her unsolicited advice. However, when she moves in next door to him, the unlikely pair end up spending a lot of time in each other’s company.  After his daughter unexpectedly re-enters his life, Keira is instrumental in smoothing over the rough spots in their reunion.

The relationship between Bryan and Keira is originally a little antagonistic as they bicker back and forth at the pub. Their peaceful moments are often short-lived due to their respective baggage.  Their surprising friendship paves the way for their unlikely yet incredibly sweet romance but Keira’s fears come between them on more than one occasion.  She is quick to put obstacles in their path since she is afraid of risking her heart again. Until Bryan meets Keira, his unsettled past with his wife makes him hesitant to become seriously involved but his growing feelings for the feisty Irishwoman are the catalyst he needs to take steps to resolve these issues.

Lilac Lane is an engaging novel with a fantastic cast of characters and a slow moving but heartfelt romance.  Readers who enjoy close-knit families, small town settings and clean romances are sure to love this newest installment in Sherryl Woods’ homespun Chesapeake Shores series.

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Filed under Chesapeake Shores Series, Contemporary, Harlequin, Lilac Lane, Mira, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sherryl Woods