2019 Book #60 – The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

51QgvPrXOnL._SY346_Title: The Arrangement
Author: Robyn Harding
Date finished: 8/13/19
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Gallery / Scout Press
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages in book: 352
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:

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.

Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

Emotionally powerful and packed with page-turning suspense, The Arrangement delves into the sordid, all-too-real world of shadowy relationships between wealthy, powerful men and the young women who are caught in their web.

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 finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start and finish 2 ARC’s between August 1st and August 30th” box since I’ve done that at this point!

I had read another book by this author, The Party, and enjoyed it a good amount. This next book by her was described as “a Pretty Woman tale that turns toxic and deadly” and that tag line really grabbed my interest. This book turned out to be really good – I both liked and hated how dark and twisted it was. Natalie was a deeply disturbed young woman but the other POV, her sugar-daddy Gabe, wasn’t much better. The plot twist at the end of the book was a tad predictable but was still done really well and everything came to a satisfying ending. I love how the book started with Nat saying she had killed someone to really ramp up the tension right from the beginning and draw in the reader. The book overall was a quick and pretty easy read – the chapters flew by. Everyone was just so deeply damaged in this book, it made it a little depressing with how sad I felt for each of the characters involved. Overall I liked the book though and I definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #29 – Next Girl to Die by Dea Poirier

41OqgV4QuzL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Next Girl to Die
Author: Dea Poirier
Date finished: 5/18/19
Genre: Thriller/suspense, mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: May 1, 2019
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Calderwood Cases 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:

Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.

It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.

Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.

When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.

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.

I think I ended up requesting this book mostly based on the cover (which looks great). I don’t usually love novels about a cop who is working to solve a crime, particularly one that is looking to set up for a series all about that same cop. So I did like this book and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite right for me – I’m just not interested in this particular style of novel. Claire as a character wasn’t my favorite either, she was a bit too gloomy for me. There were definitely some good parts to the novel and also there were a few very good plot twists. The ending felt pretty underwhelming for me, there weren’t any great twists at the end or anything too exciting. I still liked the book though and thought it was a good read, I think that the genre it’s in just isn’t for me. If you liked series like Rizzoli & Isles or other series about a cop who solves crimes, I’d check this one out!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #22 – Ricochet by Sandra Brown

51iJvQPeJzL._SX272_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Ricochet
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 4/29/19
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: 2007 (originally published August 15, 2006)
Pages in book: 515
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Purchased!

Blurb from the cover:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Seeing Red presents a spine-tingling story of murder and betrayal in high society Savannah, where a homicide detective finds his career—and life—on the line.

When Savannah detective Duncan Hatcher is summoned to an unusual crime scene, he knows discretion is key. Influential Judge Cato Laird’s beloved trophy wife, Elise, has fatally shot a burglar. She claims self-defense, but Duncan suspects she’s lying, and puts his career in jeopardy by investigating further. Then, in secret, Elise makes an incredible allegation, which he dismisses as the lie of a cunning woman trying to exploit his intense attraction to her. But when Elise goes missing, Duncan finds that trusting the wrong person could mean the difference between life and death for both of them.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I have read a lot of books by this author in the past and I just love her books. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus lately, between work and trying to catch up with having a semblance of a personal life, there hasn’t been much time left for reading. I decided to pick this one up to get re-started since Sandra Brown is one of my all-time faves.

I liked this book ok. There were some good plot twists, and there was a good amount of suspense to the plot. It was just so sad – I felt so bad for all the characters involved. And there was some darkness too, Duncan went to a pretty dark place in trying to catch Savich at the end and I thought he ended up a little too far outside the lines for me. This wasn’t my favorite of Sandra Brown’s novels but I enjoyed it and I think it’ll help me get back into the swing of reading again! I’d recommend giving it a try if you enjoy romantic suspense or a cop mystery.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #95 – Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Secret Sisters
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Date finished: 12/17/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Purchased!

Blurb from the cover:

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same. 

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants. 

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I have read a lot of books by this author in the past and I just love her books. I purchased this book from a discount book store in Williamsburg, VA while I was on vacation a couple months ago. I have been having trouble keeping up with my review schedule (I’m chafing against how constrained I’ve been in my reading schedule the past few years) so I decided to pick this up and read it! 

I haven’t been super thrilled with some of this author’s other recent releases. It started to feel like there was a “plot formula” that was being followed. And while this book’s plot does still feel a bit similar to those I’ve read in the past, I still really enjoyed it. There were definitely some things that felt different about this one, I felt really interested in how things were going to turn out. And although I had somewhat of an idea, the plot twists kept me guessing right up until the end. There was a great build up in tension within the plot line but I still thought there was a lack of chemistry between the main characters. It felt almost like the emotions at play were a tad forced, it didn’t feel like there was a depth of real emotions there. This could have just been me personally not being able to connect much with the characters, but I find that this is a common issue for me with this author’s more recent work. It didn’t take much away from my enjoyment of the story though since I enjoyed the plot line so much. I’d still recommend reading it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #92 – The Duke of Kisses by Darcy Burke

51eQF-PRE9LTitle: The Duke of Kisses
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 11/27/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Pages in book: 254
Stand alone or series:  The Untouchables series Book #11
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR 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:

Frances Snowden can hardly believe her good fortune when she’s whisked away from her boring life by her sister who is now a duchess. Instead of becoming the third wife of her parents’ stuffy neighbor, she can be anything she wants: a doting aunt to her newborn niece, a debutante in London, or even an independent spinster. But when she meets and kisses a mysterious man on a walk in the countryside, she knows exactly what she desires—him.

David Langley, Earl of St. Ives, is resigned to marrying the dull woman his parents chose when he was a child. His future is suddenly, and happily, diverted when he encounters a captivating young woman who shows him everything he’s been missing. Ready to embark on a blissful life together, a long-buried feud between their families makes their marriage impossible. Nothing is more important than duty and family, but can he turn his back on love?

My rating:  3.5 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.

I’ve been following this series for a little while now and I do enjoy each of the new stories that come out.  I really liked Fanny’s character in this book, though that is definitely not my favorite name for a heroine. David and Fanny were a really sweet couple and their story was definitely romantic. I felt bad for the other girl (Miss Stokes) since she seemed to like David and couldn’t really understand why she was being thrown out of the running. Also – there were a ton of characters in this book, and I had a lot of trouble keeping track of who everyone was, especially with their first and second names being used interchangeably. Other than that though, I did enjoy the book as it was romantic and sweet. I would recommend giving this book a read, along with the rest of the series!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #82 – A Rose in the Highlands by Heather McCollum

51nZ6ag7bULTitle: A Rose in the Highlands
Author: Heather McCollum
Date finished: 9/28/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: September 24, 2018
Pages in book: 349
Stand alone or series: #1 in Highlands Roses School 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:

1684, Scottish Highlands

Englishwoman Evelyn Worthington is resolved to build a school for ladies in her brother’s newly purchased Scottish castle. But when she arrives, not only does she find the castle scorched by fire, but a brawny Highlander bars her entry.

Clan chief Grey Campbell would rather die than see his family home, Finlarig Castle, fall into English hands, so Grey must win the battle of wills with the beautiful Sassenach who flashes a bill of sale before him.

When the war between Evelyn and Grey escalates, passions flare. But outsiders have their own plans for Finlarig. After secrets are revealed, and muskets are lit, the fates of the Campbell Clan, the school, and a possible future for Grey and Evelyn are in as much jeopardy as their lives

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 really liked this book, I haven’t read anything by this author before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but this book had a good plot and great characters. I loved the overall message of the book especially, that women are important and are just as intelligent, if not more intelligent, than men. It was interesting to see a feminist novel hiding within a Highlander romance novel. Grey’s character was a perfect hero, he was brooding and temperamental but so protective of Evelyn. At the same time, though, he was very open minded and was able to open his heart to an English woman and also able to realize the importance of women in the accomplishments of his society. There was also a little danger to the story, a few heart racing and suspenseful scenes. It was a good book, and honestly, I can’t wait to read Scarlet’s story and find out more about her character. I would recommend this book and look forward to reading more by this author.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #74 – The Killing Game by Nancy Bush

51szCW+gBIL.jpgTitle: The Killing Game
Author: Nancy Bush
Date finished: 8/24/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Rafferty Fmaily series #5
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 Rules Are Simple:

It’s the ultimate test of strategy and skill. The killer chooses each opponent carefully, learning each one’s weaknesses. Every meticulously planned move is leading to a devastating checkmate. Because in this game, all the pretty pawns must die.

First You Play

Andi Wren is fighting to keep her late husband’s company safe from vindictive competitors. When she receives an ominous note, Little birds must fly, she turns to P.I. Luke Denton. But though Luke has personal reasons for wanting to take down Wren Development’s opponents, his investigation suggests this is deeper and far more dangerous than a business grudge.

Then You Die. . .

In a basement on the outskirts of town, police detectives unearth piles of skeletons. As they learn the shocking truth about each victim’s identity, their case collides with Andi’s, revealing a killer’s ruthless plot and a chilling, lethal endgame. .

My rating:  3.5 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. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Released more than 30 days ago” box, since its a 2016 release. And this is also one of the books counting towards my Bout of Books 23 Goal. AND (there’s more) this is counting towards my  book as part of the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge,  for the “A book whose title begins with K, Q, J, X, or Z” category.

I’ve never read anything by this author before, but this one sounded pretty good so I thought I’d give it a try! The plot was pretty interesting and it was creepy enough. The bad guy was someone that I didn’t see coming – I was pretty surprised once we got to that plot twist. Overall though I didn’t find the book to be overly thrilling, I just couldn’t get fully into the story. I mean the plot held my interest, it wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in the story. I just couldn’t emotionally connect to the characters in the story. Andi was a little timid to me, and I thought her character development was a little choppy. I also thought that the transitions between the detective chapters and Andi / Luke story was not always the smoothest and sometimes it took me a minute to catch up. Other than those things the book was good, I liked it and it was a pretty good story. I would recommend trying it, and it might be better to try with the rest of the series.

Link to author website

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