2018 Book #15 – A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch

51txp+4sRrLTitle: The Devil in Scotland
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 2/13/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in the No Oridinary Hero series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The dawning of desire
1806, Scotland. Wild, reckless Callum MacCreath is in no hurry to become someone’s husband. But when his responsible, steady older brother Ian announces his engagement to their childhood friend Rebecca, Callum makes a startling discovery: he wants the lovely young lass for himself. But it’s too late, and when Ian banishes him for his duplicity, Callum is only too happy to leave Scotland forever.

…is delicious and dangerous 
1816: Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Will he remember their spirited, fiery connection or does he blame her for his brother’s unexpected death? This time neither of them can deny their scorching attraction. But will their hearts be burned in the blazing heat of scandal?

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

A second chance with first love

Rebecca loved Callum in her youth, but as Callum was a wild and reckless young man, Rebecca decided that for her future she would be better off married to Callum’s staid and steady brother Ian. Flash forward ten years though, Ian has died and Callum returns from America to figure out what the hell happened to his brother. Rebecca’s character is exactly what I look for in a heroine. Though she was a bit naive in the beginning, it is evident throughout the story that she is intelligent and has such amazing strength as a female character. Callum also is exactly what I look for in my heroes – while he was intent on protecting Rebecca he always treated her like a partner without being the usual overbearing male “I know best and we’re going to do it my way” alpha male. Callum and Rebecca were such a great pair in this novel and it was really wonderful to read. And I loved that the villain from the last three books, including this one, finally got what was coming to him. The plot was ok and was even exciting in parts but this one really was about the love story for me. It was very romantic and I thought the author did a great job of infusing the emotions into the writing.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #14 – You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston

51hQYpC879LTitle: You Will Be Mine
Author: Natasha Preston
Date finished: 2/9/18
Genre: Fiction, young adult, horror, suspense
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Love turns deadly in a new heart-pounding thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Cellar and The Cabin!

ROSES ARE RED
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
WATCH YOUR BACK
I’M COMING FOR YOU

Lylah and her friends can’t wait to spend a night out together. Partying is the perfect way to let loose from the stress of life and school, and Lylah hopes that hitting the dance floor with Chace, her best friend, will bring them closer together. She’s been crushing on him since they met. If only he thought of her the same way…

The girls are touching up their makeup and the guys are sliding on their coats when the doorbell rings. No one is there. An envelope sits on the doormat. It’s an anonymous note addressed to their friend Sonny. A secret admirer? Maybe. They all laugh it off.

Except Sonny never comes home. And a new note arrives:

YOUR TURN

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Killing for revenge on Valentine’s Day

Lylah and her friends try to outrun a killer bent on revenge and fixated on their little household. They obviously don’t do too well though since more than one of them ends up murdered. The characters in this novel were ok, although I found Lylah to be a tad whiny, but I guess that’s to be expected when your friends are being killed off. The plot of the book was really good. Even though I did kind of see the plot twist at the end coming, it was still super creepy and dark/twisted and I thought it was great. The book was appropriately creepy too, I found myself looking over my shoulder for bad guys while I was reading it. I also like that this was a horror story centered around the Valentine’s Day holiday, I thought that was a fun twist on what is normally just a mushy day. My issues with the story line mostly consisted of what felt like holes in the plot or incomplete sections. At one point Riley and Lylah argue and I don’t think the reader knows what happens to Riley then but Lylah goes upstairs and goes to sleep with Chase. Just felt a little scattered with the plot line in some parts. Other than that I liked the book a lot and I thought it was a great book for what’s normally a romantic holiday.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #10 – The Burial Society by Nina Sadowsky

51j018gCG4LTitle: The Burial Society
Author: Nina Sadowsky
Date finished: 1/28/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A woman running from a dark past stumbles upon a tangled nest of seductions and secrets in this psychological thriller of obsession and betrayal.

Catherine, no last name, doesn’t bury the dead. She rescues the living—from intolerable, abusive, dangerous lives. Her darknet-based witness protection program, the Burial Society, is the last hope for people who desperately need to disappear. Catherine takes care of them and provides new identities. She is effective and efficient—until she discovers that her slipup may have compromised a client, maybe even killed her. Powerless to help without exposing her shadowy profession, Catherine makes a drastic move.

With her covert service relocated to Paris, Catherine’s done her best to move on. But when a dark part of her past suddenly appears in the City of Light, she refuses to run—and her life takes a harrowing turn.

Using all the tricks of her unusual trade, Catherine weaves her way through a dangerous landscape of treachery, infidelity, paranoia, and secrets that bind as deeply as blood. But the evil of the enemy she’s pursuing runs deeper still—to the bone. And even Catherine’s most cunning skills may not be enough to save herself.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book alternates between present day, when Natalie and Jake’s father is found murdered, and three years ago, when Natalie and Jake’s mother, Mallory, disappeared without a trace. The book also alternates between multiple different characters’ points of view, allowing the reader into multiple characters’ thoughts. The author did a great job of transitioning between time frames and mind sets but it was still a lot to keep up, so it did get a bit confusing at times. The plot also was really well done, and there were some great twists and turns in the book. It was just very sad, what happened to pretty much everyone in the book and all the events that occurred. But overall it was a really good story and I enjoyed it a lot.

Catherine was my favorite character in this book. There were some vague references to what had happened to her in her past but I would’ve loved to get more details about her back story. Maybe that will be a sequel

Link to author website

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2018 Book #7 – Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

51mDRlMABVLTitle: Wallflower Most Wanted
Author: Manda Collins
Date finished: 1/17/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Studies in Scandal series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

THE PICTURE OF ROMANCE
A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overheard conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even if it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…

Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

A talented artist painted into a tale of true love

Sophia Hastings is another of the Beauchamp heiresses, a talented painter and artist. She finds herself paired up with the local vicar, Benedick Lisle, to solve a mystery. Unbeknownst to them both Sophia was actually charged with this task by Celeste Beauchamp herself, though they will find this out later in the story. Sophia and Benedick’s story line was very similar to those in the previous two novels, and while things did start to feel a tad repetitive, Sophia and Benedick had a story all their own. One of the things I love most about this series is that it features intelligent and strong women, and also women that form a deep and meaningful friendship with each other even though they’re all technically “competing for their own legal rights to this house. I think that it is so inspiring to read about such strong and talented ladies. That being said, the characters weren’t as fully formed as I think they could have been and also with the plot it felt almost like we dove right in without much preamble, which felt a bit jarring at first. I thought this was a sweet story though and a good romance novel, and a good addition to the series. I look forward to reading the rest of the ladies stories (hoping for one on Serena’s story too!).

Link to author website

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2018 Book #1 – The Dry by Jane Harper

51MFa84Sb9LTitle: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Date finished: 1/2/18
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 326
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A small town hides big secrets in The Dry, an atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I was provided with this copy from BookBrowse and will be participating in an online book discussion, feel free to join us and participate in the discussion!

This book really delves deep into the darker side of humanity and how a mob mentality can twist and morph in a very dark direction. While I thought the town’s treatment of Aaron as an adult was entirely frustrating (he’s a cop and they’re still treating him like a delinquent), the characters and the plot of this book were intriguing and the author did a great job of developing the plot through the twists and turns. The ending really took me by surprise too, I did not expect it to turn out that way. I thought this was a really interesting and engaging read and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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The Scot Beds His Wife BLOG TOUR!!

Blog Tour Banner

The Scot Beds His Wife will be released this coming Tuesday, October 3rd, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and an author interview! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

The Scot Beds His Wife is the next lush, captivating Victorian romance in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne.

 They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

 Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

 Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kerrigan ByrneWhether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

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AUTHOR Q&A

  1. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?
    1. There are more authors than I can name who’ve influenced and inspired me, but I’d say that I rely heavily on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic when I need inspiration to write. It reminds me to make my own art, to rely on the magic of story. The necessity of in my life and the lives of others. I do always love to read Christopher Moore, Lisa Kleypas, Lindsay Faye, and Rhys Bowen.
  2. Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical work day.
    1. I couldn’t say I have typical work days. I do try to keep banker’s hours. But it’s best for me to write when I’m alone because I do have a rather embarrassing ritual. I tend to try out my character’s dialogue (terrible accents and all) out loud. I’d die of mortification if anyone heard!
  3. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you?
    1. I tend to know how a book is going to begin and end, but I’m not always certain of the road from point A to point B. That journey I love to discover as I go.
  4. Have you read anything lately that you loved?
    1. I recently read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, and it’s something I’ve read again and again because it is both hilarious and helpful!
  5. What (if any) research did you have to do for this novel? What was your favorite piece of research you did for this novel?
    1. I’d say for The Scot Beds His Wife, my favorite research was for Samantha because, while I’ve done extensive research on the UK for other stories, I know very little about cattle ranching, cowgirls, or shooting pistols! It was the most fun I’d had in a while and was an interesting change of pace.
  6. What do you do to cure writer’s block? Do you have issues with this often or hardly at all?
    1. I’ve come to learn recently that stress is the enemy to creativity. I was hit with several crises at once in a short period, and it wasn’t like my drive to write was lessened, it was as though my ability to write totally deserted me. After struggling with this for a while, I’ve learned that gutting through the hard days can still be successful. Even if what I put on the paper isn’t my best work, it’s something, and that keeps me moving forward.
  7. Who is your favorite character in this story and why?
    1. I’d say I had two favorite characters! Locryn and Calybrid, the two old cowhands who can’t live with or without each other. Their relationship provided me with many much-needed giggles in a sometimes-dark story.
  8. We’d love to hear more about you! Give us 3 “good to know” facts about you?
    1. I am a video game nerd. On my days off, I love to play Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc. It’s what I call “active rest,” where my mind is resting but my hands are active.
    2. I’m pretty much prejudiced against all things “80’s.” I’m not a fan of the music, the dress, or the pop culture. Though I’m a child of the 90’s, my husband and friends are mostly children of the 80’s and we have many spirited debates!
    3. I’m only second-generation American, and I’d always been told my family is from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. However, I’ve recently taken a DNA test, and found out I’m 50% Scandanavian and only 30% Irish. I’m mostly a Danish and Norwegian!
  9. What drew you to historical romance in the first place? 
    1. I started pilfering my grandma’s harlequins back when I was too young to be reading them, and I enjoyed the contemporaries enormously. However, the moment I picked up my first Victoria Holt novel, I was lost to the romance of the past.
  10. Have you ever been to Scotland or Ireland?
    1. I’ve never been out of the US! I’m terrified of flying, but I’m going on my first plane trip in 15 years next month. So that’s one step closer to international travel.
  11. Would you say that your Celtic ancestry provides a source of inspiration for your characters and settings?
    1. I remember the stories my grandparents told in their accented voices. I saw their paintings and their pictures of home. I love the mythology of the old gods, the old ways, and the traditional music. There’s always been something wild and romantic about the Celts, and I believe that calls to me on a personal level.
  12. Similar to your other series the Victorian Rebels Series as a whole has seen great reviews. What do you think appeals most to the readers?
    1. I’m so grateful to have been blessed with incredible fans and readers who have often become friends. I would say that not only do we women love to fall for a tortured hero, but we also like to read about other women who share the same hardships and triumphs that we do. I like to write about women who are employed, who know adversity, and work hard for their successes, they are both wise, capable, flawed, and feminine. These ladies can fight their own demons and those of the men they love. They are not damsels who need to be saved by their heroes. They become partners who save each other. To me, that is true romance.
  13. If you could describe the main characters Gavin and Samantha’s relationship in 3 words, what would they be?
    1. Contentious. Forgiving.
  14. What do you love most about this story?
    1. I love that a Highlander who considers himself the most wild, willful, and independent man of his acquaintance, meets a woman who possibly has him outgunned, in every sense of the word!
  15. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
    1. I would love to keep writing historical romances for as long as people would keep reading them! Eventually, I’d love to sprinkle some paranormal historicals in there. Since I’m so enamored of Celtic myth, I’d like to bring the romance of some of those myths to passionate life.
  16. This book is all about Gavin St. James, the Earl of Thorne. What would you say is his greatest weakness? What is his greatest strength?
    1. I would say that Gavin’s greatest weakness is his vendetta against his family. He often lets his anger blind him to logic, and can make enemies of those who love him because he won’t let go of his past. I am certain that his greatest strength is his protectiveness of those he feels responsible for. His mother, his employees, the strays and outcasts he tends to collect. He cares for them more than he likes to admit. He has such a large heart beneath all of that rippling muscle. 😉
  1. The heroine, Samantha Masters, has quite the predicament on her hands. What was your favorite part about writing her character?
    1. I sort of loved her struggle with her secrets and lies. She’s an outlaw who really desires to be a good person and doesn’t quite know how. That was a great deal of fun to write.
  2. Your books tend to be a little darker than the usual historical romance. What is about writing about these characters that draws you in?
    1. Life has its darker moments for all of us. I think sometimes people go through darkness and feel that they are ruined by it. I like to write about people who go through that darkness, and are redeemed from it. Made stronger by it. It gives me hope to write about it, I hope it give hope to others to read about it, as well.
  3. What did you have the most fun with while writing THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE?
    1. I had the most fun using Samantha to humble a Scot as arrogant and handsome as Gavin. I loved that she had a wit just as scathing and a mouth just a foul as his. She refuses to be impressed by him, and that only makes him try harder to get everything he wants.
  4. If you had to describe this book in three words, what would it be?
    1. Rapid fire romance.

EXCERPT

51PMluAPISLChapter Two

Union Pacific Railway, Wyoming Territory, Fall, 1880

Samantha Masters squeezed the trigger, planting a bullet between her husband’s beautiful brown eyes.

She whispered his name. Bennett. Then screamed it.

But it was the woman in his grasp she reached for as he fell to the ground.

Though they’d known each other all of twenty minutes, she clung to Alison Ross as though the younger woman were the most precious soul in the entire world, and they sank to their knees as their strength gave out.

Alison’s hold was just as tight around her, and their sobs burst against each other’s in a symphony of terror, shock, and abject relief.

What in the hell just happened?

Not twenty minutes ago, Samantha and Alison had been no more to each other than amiable fellow passengers on an eastbound train, chugging across the wintry landscape of the Wyoming Territory.

What were they now? Enemies? Survivors?

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Samantha repeated the words with every short, sobbing exhale. Though she couldn’t have said who the apology was to, exactly. To Alison? To Bennett? To whoever had been shot on the other railcars?

To God?

This morning she’d been the irate, disillusioned wife of a charming and dangerous man. An insignificant and unwilling member of the outlaw Masters Gang.

This afternoon, she’d been the new acquaintance and confidant to Alison Ross, commiserating over childhoods spent on secluded cattle ranches.

This evening, because of what she’d just done, of what they’d all just done . . . chances were good that she’d be hanged.

This train job was supposed to be like any other. Each of the Masters boarded on the last platform for miles and miles. To avoid detection or suspicion, Bennett, Boyd, and Bradley Masters would each take a seat in separate passenger cars.

Samantha would be placed in the least populated car, usually first class, as it was also the least dangerous. Once civilization completely fell away, the signal was given, and the men would strike, rounding up all passengers into one car.

This was done for the safety of the passengers as much as the Masters, themselves, as the gang didn’t generally rob people. Cash, jewelry, and personal items were never as valuable as actual cargo. The Union Pacific Railway didn’t only deliver citizens across the vast American continent. It delivered goods, sundries, and often . . . federal funds.

Even in these modern times, when it seemed all the gold had been mined from the rich hills of California, American currency was still minted in the east. Which meant everything from company payrolls, to government bonds, to cash and precious metals were transported by transcontinental railways.

And the Masters brothers, aspiring entrepreneurs, had decided that if the government wouldn’t allow them land, nor the banks grant them loans . . .

Then they’d take what they needed.

This was supposed to have been their fifth and final train job. It was supposed to have gone like the others.

No one harmed or robbed. Merely a bit inconvenienced and perhaps a little shaken. The Masters would escape with a few bags of money that the government could simply print again, a “frightened” female hostage as played by Samantha herself, and the papers would have an exciting story to publish in the morning.

The signal, both to each other and to the passengers, was one shot, fired at the ceiling, and then a command to disarm, get moving, and a gentle promise that all this would be over before they knew it. Samantha’s job was to act like any other passenger, and incite them to obey. Then, if necessary, act as the hostage to force compliance.

“People are sheep,” Boyd had always said. “They’ll follow a sweet thing like you to their doom.”

On this job, Samantha had been more comfortable than any other. At this time in October, with winter settling in but Christmas still a ways off, travel wasn’t foremost on the mind of the average American.

Her railcar had only two occupants other than herself. Alison Ross, a lively, bright-eyed San Franciscan socialite, and a well-dressed businessman more interested in his paper than conversation.

At first, Alison’s friendly overtures had vexed Samantha, as she found it hard to concentrate on responses when her blood sang with equal parts anticipation and anxiety. But, she realized, to not engage would be suspicious, and before long she’d found herself enjoying Alison’s company.

She’d not known many women her age, least of all friendly ones.

Samantha imagined that in another life, she and Alison could have, indeed, been friends.

Had she not been about to rob the train.

Had there not been more gunshots than were agreed upon . . .

Had Boyd and Bradley not bailed with the money, leaving Bennett to come after his wife, his white shirt and dark vest splattered with blood.

Oh God. What had they done?

Over the deafening beat of her heart, she’d heard Bennett say something about federal marshals. About someone taking a bullet in the shoulder. Boyd? And then a shootout.

Through vision blurred with tears, Samantha glanced at the businessman, dead-eyed and bleeding.

Her fault. All her fault.

Bennett had shot him without a word or warning. Then he’d grabbed Alison and put his pistol to her temple, because he’d known.

He’d known the second he’d seen the horror and denial on Samantha’s face at the blood on his shirt, that she wouldn’t have gone with him. That, while she’d have stayed married to an outlaw, she could never love a murderer.

“Come with me, Sam,” he’d ordered tersely. “Come with me now, and we will go to Oregon.”

It was in that moment Samantha had known he lied to her.

They’d fought about it the night before, when he’d said Boyd wanted to go south to Texas or the New Mexico Territory instead of north to Oregon like they’d planned. That oil towns were the new gold rush.

She’d railed at him. It wasn’t the life he’d promised her. They were supposed to go to the sea to make their fortune in lumber. He was going to build her a grand house on a cliff and make love to her while serenaded by thunderstorms. They’d only just escaped their desolate life on a cattle ranch in the high desert. She didn’t want to go back to bleak sweaty days beneath the harsh, unrelenting sunshine. She wanted pretty green hills, trees, and meadows. She wanted to live somewhere she could wrap a shawl about her and listen to sea storms toss rain against her windows.

Last night, she’d been shrill, and Bennett had been cruel.

But he’d awoken his charming self, randy as he ever was before a dangerous job. And she’d lain beneath his thrusting body, unable to relinquish the churning of her resentments and worries enough to appreciate his affections.

Then it was time to wash, and dress, and commit a crime.

Bennett had promised to revisit the issue. To make her smile again, to fulfill her dreams.

Problem was, Samantha had already lost faith in Bennett Masters’s charming promises. A part of her had begun to accept what she’d long feared. Bennett would never go against his brothers, brutal and backward as they were. If Boyd decreed the family was going south to work in stinking, desolate oil towns, then there was no other option but to do exactly that.

Boyd had once whispered to her in secret that, while Bennett might love her, he feared him more, and fear was always more powerful than love.

“He’d let me fuck you, if I wanted,” Boyd had threatened once when she’d been mouthy. He’d grabbed her through her trousers, his fingers digging painfully against her sex. “You’d best keep that in mind.”

She’d never forgotten that night five months ago. Because she’d told Bennett of Boyd’s behavior.

And, as Boyd predicted, he’d done nothing.

Now, when Bennett held his pistol to this helpless woman’s head, and ordered Samantha to open the door to the railcar, she’d looked into the eyes of her husband of four years.

And seen a stranger.

“You’ll let her go,” she’d reasoned evenly. “You’ll let her go, and we’ll get out of here.”

She’d opened the door. Bradley had the horses keeping pace with the train as it slowed around the McCreary Pass bend. She motioned to him, and he spurred his ride faster. They’d get off the train, and she’d figure out just what the hell had happened before making any hasty decisions.

“She’s seen us.”

Bennett’s words had frozen her blood as she realized that he wasn’t wearing his bandana.

“People have seen us before,” she’d said over her shoulder.

“Not like this, Sam. We can’t leave witnesses. She has to die—”

Samantha had reached across her body, drawn her Colt single-action, turned, and shot him between the eyes in the time it took him to pull back the hammer of his highercaliber, slower-action Smith & Wesson.

Only now, while clinging to a stranger on her knees, did she have time to think about what she’d just done.

She’d killed a man. Not just any man.

Her husband.

“Thank you,” Alison said ardently against her ear.  “Thank you. I know he was your man, but I wasn’t ready to die.”

Pulling away from Alison, Samantha noted the mark that Bennett’s recently used gun left on her pale temple. He had to have killed before, hadn’t he? He just . . . murdered that innocent man like it was nothing to him. He didn’t even hesitate. And then to even consider executing a slight and lovely girl like Alison?

Her husband of four years.

God, had she ever known him at all? Wood paneling splintered above them as a bullet pierced the wall, and Alison screamed, lifting her arms to cover the green silk hat perched above a wealth of mahogany curls.

Bradley.

Samantha’s head whipped around to see that he’d gained on their car, and had witnessed the entire thing. Luckily, of the four of them, Bradley was the weakest shot and only the second-best rider.

The distinction as the best, of course, belonged to her. Boyd was the gunslinger.

Samantha dimly remembered Bennett saying that Boyd had been wounded, and with any luck, those wounds would be fatal.

Bradley’s mount galloped closer, and Samantha realized that if he gained on the train, he’d be coming for her, and only one of them would survive the encounter.

She’d found her gun where she’d dropped it, but Alison stayed her hand. “I know a way to keep your neck out of a noose,” she said, her blueberry gaze surprisingly steady through the tears. “But we’ll have to . . . to get rid of the body.”

Samantha’s racing heart shriveled, but she and Alison stayed low as they rolled Bennett’s limp body the few feet to the door.

“You’re dead, Sam!” Bradley, unable to reload his pistol on horseback, was reaching across his saddle for his rifle. Which gave the women no time to pause. No time to hesitate.

Together, they pushed Bennett through the door, and the force of the train, the wind, and momentum pulled him sideways down the iron steps. The broken sounds his body made when he hit the earth nearly killed Samantha, but Alison slammed the door just as Bradley’s rifle had found purchase on his shoulder.

Samantha could tell his shot went wild, and waited a few eternal seconds for another.

Alison gathered her wealth of skirts and knelt on a seat, peeking through the window. “He’s stopped.” She breathed in obvious relief. “He’s stopped for your—for the body.”

It was only then that Samantha began to shake. Great, bone-rattling tremors coursed through her. All warmth leached out of her, and she slumped into a seat knowing her freezing limbs wouldn’t hold her weight for much longer.

Resolutely, Alison Ross claimed the seat across from her. A bone structure as sharp and perfect as hers was only accentuated by pink blush and rouged, full lips. Emeralds swayed and twinkled in her ears, catching the light as she leaned toward Samantha.

“He called you Sam,” she noted in a sweet voice that contrasted with her sharp tone. “That’s your name?”

“S-S-Samantha,” she managed through rattling teeth. “H-his brothers. T-they’re going to kill me. I’d rather hang.”

“You told me you grew up on a cattle ranch. Was this the truth?”

Samantha nodded, wondering if she’d ever be able to breathe again. Assaulted by the picture of Bennett’s handsome face marred by a perfectly round hole between his eyes.

“You can shoot, obviously. Can you ride, herd cattle, work figures?”

She nodded again, before the absurdity of Alison’s question registered. “W-why are you being kind to me? My—my husband almost—” She couldn’t bring herself to say it. It was too horrible.

In spite of everything, a corner of Alison’s painted mouth lifted at Samantha’s expression. “Where I come from, in my country, saving a life is no small debt. Also, in my savage part of the world, from the time we’re very, very young one law is paramount to all others. Tha an lagh comraich.”

Comraich?” Samantha blinked rapidly at the lovely, obviously wealthy woman. Either she’d gone mad, or Alison was speaking in tongues.

“It means sanctuary.”

Shaking her head, Samantha tried to understand the woman. That word had no meaning to her. What was Alison talking about, her country? She didn’t look or sound at all like an immigrant. Was she not American? Had she not said she had a fiancé in San Francisco? That her family had been wealthy ranchers and she was forced to travel east to settle a land dispute?

“I don’t know what you’ve been through, or what has happened to bring us to this place, but I think we can help each other,” the elegant woman was saying.

“I’m lost,” were the only words Samantha could conjure. Hopelessly, incredibly lost. Adrift. Misplaced. In every conceivable way.

Alison’s gaze gentled. “Tell me, Samantha, have you ever been to Scotland?”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kerrigan Byrne and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

 

2017 Book #80 – Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

514EgbkGzQLTitle: Pretend You’re Safe
Author: Alexandra Ivy
Date finished: 9/14/17
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Part of a series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

HE SEES YOU
First came the floods. Then came the bodies. The victims—strangled, then buried along the shores of the Mississippi—have finally been unearthed, years after they disappeared. He remembers every satisfying kill . . . each woman’s terror and agony. But there’s only one he truly wanted. And fate has brought her within reach again . . .

HE KNOWS YOU
Jaci Patterson was sixteen when she found the first golden locket on her porch. Inside were a few strands of hair wrapped around a scrap of bloodstained ribbon. Though the “gifts” kept arriving, no one believed her hunch that a serial killer was at work. Now Jaci has returned home . . . and the nightmare is starting once more.

AND HE’LL NEVER LET YOU GO
Back then, Rylan Cooper was an arrogant deputy sheriff convinced that Jaci was just an attention—seeking teen. It was a fatal mistake. There’s a murderer in their midst, someone determined to settle old scores and keep playing a twisted game. And it won’t end until Jaci is his forever . . .

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Jaci Patterson and Rylan Cooper. When Jaci and Rylan were younger, Rylan worked in the sheriff’s office as a deputy. It was there that he ignored Jaci’s cries for help and created this whole problem. Jaci had been receiving lockets with bloody hair attached to them when she was still in high school and she was (obviously) worried about what it meant. Rylan was a little less worried as he was convinced that Jaci is just making all of this up to get his attention. Fast forward to years later, the lockets have started arriving again. And when women she know start disappearing, it becomes obvious that her stalker is losing control. Luckily Rylan is back in town and is now ready to protect her at all costs.

Overall I liked this book, it was an ok story. The story line was interesting and the story built up but for some reason I couldn’t feel much build up of suspense from the story. Jaci as a character too was kind of annoying, and Rylan too I guess. I did like that I had trouble figuring out who the bad guy was, and I liked the way that Rylan eventually figured it out I thought it was very creative/different. Overall this was a pretty good book.

The bottom line: I thought this book was fairly good. The suspense piece of the book was a little lacking but other than that I liked the story.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page