20Backlistin2020: Book Review: Devil’s Lair by Sarah Barrie

Devils LairThis book has been sitting on both my shelf and my kindle for over a year and after reading Sarah Barrie’s newest book Deadman’s Track, I was keen to finally get this one read.

This was an absolutely brilliant romantic suspense novel. Once again set in Tasmania, we get to meet the characters from Bloodtree River and Deadman’s Track again and this time it is Connor’s turn to find happiness. After what he went through in Bloodtree River, he is understandably in two minds about starting anything new. When he meets Callie, who is trying to fly under the radar after her own traumatic experiences, he finds it hard to stay away from her.

This novel had me reading well into the middle of the night, there was plenty of tension, secrets, and ritualistic murders, alongside romance, new friendships, and new beginnings.

There were so many twists and turns in this story that I just did not see coming, every time I thought I had things figured out, I would have that theory pulled out from under me.

Callie was a very strong character, for someone who had been through what she’d been through, losing her husband in a violent incident and a lengthy court case, the fact she came through it as sane as she did amplified that strength.

The cottage and house that Callie stays in thanks to her friend Paisley’s help, is both beautiful and very creepy, I don’t think I could have stayed there.

The character that creeped me out the most was Paisley’s brother Ned, talk about stalkerish and crazy, I’d have had a restraining order out on him from the start no matter how harmless people were telling me he was. There was something seriously wrong with Ned from the beginning and he was just one of the spine-chilling aspects of the story.

I loved the romance that blossomed between Connor and Callie and their relationship made me smile plenty even when they were having their disagreements.

This novel also deals with the important issue of mental health issues and how support or lack of support can affect people who suffer with these illnesses.

I highly recommend this novel and though it can easily be read as a standalone, I recommend reading them in order: Bloodtree River, Devil’s Lair, Deadman’s Track.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Blazing Fear by Leisl Leighton

Blazing FearThe second book in the CoalCliff Stud series, book #1 Climbing Fear was a great introduction to the CoalCliff Stud and the extended family that live there, I enjoyed returning to CoalCliff Stud and it’s cast of characters along with some new ones including the new doctor in town Prita and her adopted son Carter.

Prita is a tough and capable doctor who is starting a new life in town whilst hiding from some personal issues she doesn’t want to deal with. She is being threatened and she thinks she knows who the culprits are, but when things escalate she has to start taking the threats more seriously.

Flynn from out at CoalCliff Stud lost his wife a few years before in a fire and is determined not to get emotionally entangled again. Unfortunately, his connection with Prita is stronger than his determination to stay away from her. I really liked the connection that was between Prita and Flynn and I liked the fact that when push came to shove they weren’t able to fight it.

As the secrets Prita has been running from catch up with her, they really highlighted the difference in the way people perceive things and how with communication, so many misunderstandings could be avoided. They also showed what a giving person Prita was and the sacrifices she had made for others. I liked that she was realising that it was time to focus on what she needed and wanted.

I really enjoy the friendships and family connections that this series contains and the way everyone is there to help when needed. There is definitely something to be said for small-town communities. There is plenty of suspense in this novel and while I thought I knew who one of the bad guys was, I wasn’t completely sure until the end.

Another great read in this series and I really hope there is more to come in this series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle

IMG_20200616_120841I’ve had a lot of trouble reading recently due to some stressful things going on, but on Monday it was all over, and although there are other stresses now to deal with, the big one which has been taking all my energy and brainpower is now finished and I was hopeful I might be able to pick up a book and also catch up on some reviews. I have been going for light romances to try and keep my mind off of everything, but on Tuesday I thought I’d try something different. Thanks to Allen & Unwin, I had a copy of The Octopus and I waiting to be read and I think its serious nature and beautiful language and metaphors, was just what I needed.

I became totally absorbed in this novel, I could feel and empathise with all the tumultuous feelings that Lucy, the main character was feeling and dealing with. Lucy has survived breast cancer, with her ‘fake’ new breasts, she feels she has lost who she is and what her body means to her now. While I thankfully haven’t had to deal with this myself, I could still understand and empathise with Lucy and her struggle to love her body again. 

I really slowed down to read this novel, it was beautifully written and the octopuses and the other sea life that play a part in telling the story were at times touching and beautiful and at other times quite violent and disturbing. There was one chapter about a seal that I found particularly hard to read.

I have a friend who had her breasts removed due to breast cancer and went down the same road is Lucy in choosing to cover the scars and skin with tattoos, I could imagine how Lucy felt as the tattoo emerged and she dealt with the changes that were going on both on the outside and on the inside as she allowed herself to heal.

There is a small cast of characters, Flo, Harry and Jeb, who play important roles in Lucy’s life after her breast cancer and then after an accident she has whilst trying to save a pregnant octopus. Flo, an older lady who she connects with initially over catching octopuses, becomes such an important support system for Lucy and she learns many lessons through the interactions she has with her. Life can be confusing and people can be enigmas and difficult to understand. Lucy’s relationship with Jeb is like this and as Lucy struggles to understand herself, her relationship with Jeb suffers and she has to take a good look at the both of them. Harry, Flo’s son is a quiet character who really ‘gets’ Lucy, he really sees who she is and seems to understand the journey she is on. I really liked Harry and the part he played in Lucy’s journey of self discovery.

A heartfelt and emotional read, it was exactly what I was looking for.

 

New Release Book Review: The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon

IMG_20200531_120111I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently, flitting from one book to another without really being pulled into any of them. The Cake Maker’s Wish however ended that slump, hopefully for good. I had two extremely late nights reading this novel, I did not want to put it down, but sleep was calling at 2am.

Though I have a few Josephine Moon books on my bookshelves, I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet, but after this one, I’ll be making time to catch up on them.

I was pulled into Olivia and her son Darcy’s life as they arrive in the small village of Stoneden in the Cotswolds after leaving Tasmania for a new start as part of a Renaissance Project to bring life back to the dying village. What a massive step for her to have taken, to move to the other side of the world with her young son, knowing no one and not knowing if the project will work out, I thought Olivia was very brave to do this. But after her grandmother’s death, she needs a fresh start and an extra incentive is her son’s father, who lives in Norway. These two have never met and their whole relationship is based around skype videos, this is the chance for them to hopefully forge some kind of real relationship.

There are quite a few wonderful characters who have also moved to Stoneden for this project, all for different reasons and most having a past link to the village. For Olivia it is her grandmother who grew up there and then moved to Australia. Olivia would love to find out more about her life, but there are plenty of secrets in Stoneden and they won’t be shared easily.

Not everyone is happy about the newcomers to the village, for various reasons, and some make this felt more than others. There are some very underhanded events that occur to the newcomers’ businesses, making them feel unwelcome and even scared. I really felt for these people who are only trying to make a new start and help the village become alive again.

Olivia and Darcy make some wonderful friends, as well as there being a potential love interest in a dairy farmer. There’s also complications that arise with Darcy’s dad.

There’s so much to love about this novel, from misunderstandings about cake ownership, to stolen apples, friendship and secrets, hope for the future, and holding on to the past, this novel has it all.

Thanks to Better Reading Preview and Penguin Michael Joseph for my cpy of this book in return for an honest review.

#AWW2020

 

 

New Release Book Review: Bound by the Stars by Suzanne Cass

Bound by starsThis is the third book in the Island Bound series, and we finally get to meet Logan who has been off the grid for a couple of years, his sisters and their partners make it their mission to go and find him, and find him they do, and he’s in a whole world of trouble.

Logan is hiding from some pretty bad guys, he’s been flying under the radar for a while, he’s currently living on his boat in the Caribbean and working with a turtle rescue group. But his peaceful life has just gotten complicated.

Mia is a dancer and is paying off a debt to a particularly nasty businessman.

The chemistry between these two is immediate, but both are hiding so much and trouble has found them in a big way. This novel is action-packed from the start and as Logan and Mia try to find a way to escape the people who are after them, the hits just keep coming and they find themselves getting pulled deeper and deeper into trouble.

It’s a good thing Logan’s sisters and their partners turn up because after what they have been through themselves, they definitely aren’t going to let their brother fight this fight on his own.

I thoroughly enjoyed the third book in this series, this family sure does seem to be a magnet for trouble, but by the end, they are all closer than ever and there’s happy ever afters for them all.

Thanks to the author for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Amazon AU

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020   35/50

New Release Book Review: Montana Son by Juanita Kees

Montana SonMontana Son is book #3 in the Calhouns of Montana series, #1 Montana Baby (Overdrive), and #2 Montana Daughter (Fast Lane) were really great reads about the first two of four siblings. In book #3 we get Mason’s story and his chance for redemption.

Mason has always been the bad boy who has struggled with his part in the death of his brother. He has never been able to forgive himself and his girlfriend, Paige, for the accident which took his life.

Paige left their hometown of Bigfork after the accident, running away, unable to cope with the guilt. Now she is back and Mason and Paige must work through their respective guilt and forgive themselves and each other in order to move on.

Paige has to deal with more than just Mason though, her mother and father are more than a little unsupportive and essentially have disowned her for her part in the accident as well as for her relationship with Mason. The Calhoun’s have always had problems with Paige’s dad, the Sheriff of Bigfork, and he continues to make their lives difficult.

Paige and Mason have great chemistry between them, even after their time apart and the guilt they both feel, and I enjoyed the struggle they both undertook to move on. I also enjoyed the way they stuck together to uncover what was going on with the sheriff’s grudge against the Calhoun’s and his determination to close the drag strip they had opened in the previous book.

In Montana Daughter we met 9-year-old Tyler who through a tragic car accident had lost his legs, we catch up with him again as Mason struggles to build a relationship with him due to his feelings about the accident he was involved in. It was wonderful to see Tyler begin to recover from his accident and the changes he and Mason work upon each other.

I read just yesterday that we might get the 4th sibling Grace’s story sometime in the near future, as well as Carter’s story. I could definitely read more about the Calhoun’s of Montana.

Thanks to the author for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Published 2/6/2020

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New Release Book Review: When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard

IMG_20200420_125856When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard is the second novel I have read by this author, I do have a few more of her novels waiting on my shelf and I do aim to get to those as soon as is possible. This was a very enjoyable read, there was so much in it to explore and uncover. A dysfunctional family and grief being two important themes running through the story. There is also romance and forgiveness, relationships, friendship, and discovering who one truly is and what they want out of life regardless of age.

I found this a hard book to put down and even took it to work with me just in case I got the opportunity to read some, which amazingly I did.

The family members in this novel are all so different and so complicated. Grace, the eldest of the four siblings was sent away to boarding school at a young age and she’s never fit into the family in quite the way she wished because of this. She has a high power job with a financial institution and is off to London to start a new position. This is the catalyst to a load of changes that are about to happen to the Fairley family members.

Grace goes to London, following a dream she thought she wanted, before she left, she met Aaron while she was back in Miners Ridge saying a last goodbye to her family, and Aaron causes her to question some of the things she believed she wanted and didn’t want out of life. I could really feel the struggles that Grace was going through, things she’d always controlled changed once she left Australia, her family seemed to be changing and making decisions without her and she meanwhile was feeling very much out of control and conflicted in the choices she’d made.

Grace’s mother, Sarah, was a complex character, she’d left her husband and children a few years after the death of her youngest son and this caused a lot of strain and severing of ties with her children and the town she had lived in for over 30 years. She has struggled to come to terms with what she has been through and when Grace leaves and her elderly mother passes away, she has to take a look at her life and at nearly 70 years of age, she is determined to make some changes. I really loved the journey that Sarah went through, the growth she found, and the relationships she formed, through taking a chance on changing her circumstances.

Sarah’s decisions also cause a domino of changes to her other two children and her ex-husband who live back in Miners Ridge, the town she left 8 years before. There is plenty of emotion, recriminations, and learning that happens for all the family members who all have some pretty big issues of their own to deal with.

There are so many dynamics in this novel and I was completely absorbed in the lives of this family. I loved all the characters, though the jury is out on Grace’s father Doug.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Publication date 18/5/2020

Buy from HarperCollins Australia

#AWW2020    27/50

New Release Book Review: The Boundary Fence by Alissa Callen

The Boundary FenceI always like returning to the town of Woodlea and in The Boundary Fence, book #7 in the series, it was wonderful to reconnect with the characters from the previous books as well as experience a new couple falling in love.

I loved meeting Ella again and learning more about her and what she had been through to cause her to swear off relationships. The same goes for Saul, a newcomer who has bought the property next to Ella’s. Both have some serious issues with relationships, but the chemistry between them means that they are both struggling to keep the boundaries they’ve spent so long building, standing.

As well as the relationship between Saul and Ella, there is a mystery involving Violet who used to own Ella’s house. Her daughter went missing many years ago and Violet has always wondered what happened to make her disappear and what happened to keep her from coming back. Violet has always left the porch light on for her daughter in the hopes that one day she will return. Ella and Saul get drawn into helping Violet try and uncover what really happened all those years ago, working together on this doesn’t help the growing attraction each of them feels.

I really enjoyed this story, and I hope to return to Woodlea again and catch up with the characters, old and new.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

#AWW2020   32/50

 

Book Review Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Saving MissyI read this as a group read-along, it had been sitting on my kindle for a while, but this was the kick I needed to pick it up. We read it in 4 parts over 2 weeks, which is a lot slower than I would normally take to read a book, but stopping after each part for a group discussion about the novel was actually a really interesting way of reading and opened up some very interesting discussion, as well as some conspiracy theories.

Saving Missy was an enjoyable read, though it took me until part 2 to really get into the book, up until then, I really wasn’t a big fan of Missy, so if you feel the same way, I advise you to persevere.

Missy has had a life that wasn’t what I would call a great one, she married ‘the love of her life’, but I really didn’t like her husband at all, he seemed to me, from what Missy tells us, to be a pretty self-centred man. She has two adult children, one whom she doesn’t have the best relationship with, and we explore this as the story progresses, and the other lives on the other side of the world, but it is him she dotes on.

Missy isn’t a very likable character when we first meet her, but I did feel very sorry for her, she was a lonely soul, who thought nobody would be interested in truly being her friend.

One day while on a walk in the park, she meets Angela and her son Otis, this is a catalyst for all that is about to happen in Missy’s life. She also meets Sylvie, who is a force to be reckoned with. Between the two of them, and Otis, along with a dog called Bobby, Missy learns all about what true friendship is and these friendships change MIssy in ways she never expected at her age.

There were a couple of mysteries of sorts, which meant I had to keep reading to find out what was what, and there was an unexpected reveal near the end of the novel which I wasn’t expecting.

This was an easy read and an interesting exploration of expectations, life choices, and friendships, as well as motherhood.

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Book Review: One Summer Between Friends by Trish Morey

A Summer Between FriendsI wasn’t quite sure if I was going to enjoy this book when I picked it up, but I’m really glad I did because it was a really good read.

The story revolves around three friends, though it predominantly revolves around Sarah’s story, her friends’ Floss and Jules, play important roles in the past events and how the future will play out for all three of them.

Sarah’s marriage has failed and she was betrayed by her friends, now her world seems to be closing in on the past when she is needed to return to Lord Howe Island after her mother has a fall. Sarah’s mother, Dot, now there is a character I detested from the get-go. She was a nasty person indeed and how Sarah managed to grow up with a mother who continually put her down and said nasty things is beyond me, I continually hoped Sarah would stand up to her and tell her to “shut up!” I know if I had a mother like that, nothing would have dragged me back to help out, especially when it meant running into old friends who I’d been avoiding for several years. Sarah’s father, Sam, was a nice man, but I couldn’t understand why he never really stood up for her against her mother, the comment ‘you know how she is’ got old quickly.

Floss, married with five children, is struggling through her own issues with her husband Andy, and I felt for Floss in this struggle and the belief that perhaps her marriage was on the rocks.

Jules betrayed Sarah and for most of the novel, I was on Sarah’s side of this, but as the story went on and small things and secrets came out, I felt that though there had been betrayal, Richard was the one I disliked the most. Jules has an adorable daughter, Della who was an important part of this story.

There are many themes covered in this story, but one of the important ones is Jules’ diagnosis of breast cancer. The struggles of the treatment and the issue of being away from home due to where she lived, are ones women face every day, and I thought this was all handled very well.

There is a nice slice of romance in the novel, Noah, a locum police officer on the island, was just lovely and I enjoyed the relationship that formed between Noah and Sarah and was hoping there would be some way they could make things work seeing as they both came from different states and were only on the island for a short time period.

This was a really enjoyable read, culminating in a satisfying ending.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

#AWW2020   31/50