I need more Cash in my life.

Review of ‘Cash and the sorority girl’ by Ashley Bartlett.

4.50 Stars. I just love this series. This is the third book in the series and my favorite so far. I just didn’t want to put this book down. I was actually mad when I had to stop reading to eat dinner. Food, who cares about food when a good book is in front of you. If you are new to the series, I highly recommend reading these books in order.

I know having a drug dealer for a main character can put some people off from reading this. I had no idea what to expect when I picked the first book up. I was not disappointed for a second and I hope other people won’t let this series pass them by.

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Review of ‘Moonlight Avenue’ by Gerri Hill.

Finley Knight is an ex-cop turned into a private investigator living a solitary life in Corpus Christi, Texas. She prefers working solo but when former security guard Rylee Moore offers her services as a receptionist / assistant, Finley cannot resist her charms. When an apparently routine cheating-wife case changes into a murder investigation, Police Detective Dee Woodward gets involved. Dee prefers to do things by the book while Finley was never a stickler for the rules, but as events escalate and get extremely dangerous, the three women will need to work together and leave their differences, and their feelings, aside to defeat an extremely violent gang.

This is a very entertaining, fast-paced, crime mystery book by Gerri Hill with a romance at the side but with a lot of prominence in the story. The mystery plot is quite complex with many layers to unveil and a good number of suspects. Despite this, Ms. Hill manages to pull off a credible and absorbing story that keeps the reader guessing until the end. The novel is written from the point of view of Finley, Rylee, and Dee who are multilayered characters with distinctive personalities and backgrounds. The age-gap romance is slow-burn and sweet, with very well-written chemistry in which opposites attract. The sex scenes have all the ingredients known to Ms. Hill: they are hot, sensual and romantic all at the same time.

The landscape of Corpus Christi (Texas Gulf Coast) with its beautiful beaches and bay area is a frequent feature in Ms. Hill’s romances. By setting this novel during winter time with its foggy and cloudy days, however, the author sets the perfect tone for the mystery. The depiction of the impoverished neighbourhoods where most of the action takes part also contributes towards an eerie backdrop and makes a great contrast with the most affluent areas which the Gulf Coast is known for.

Even though the case is completely resolved and the main romance has a satisfying conclusion, there is room for a sequel to this novel. I hope that Ms. Hill decides to write a book that features Dee more prominently and develops Finley’s relationship with her estranged mother. I wouldn’t hesitate to read book 2.

Overall, a very entertaining and page-turning mystery with a sweet, slow-burn romance at the side. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Meant to be me’ by Wendy Hudson.

Engineer Darcy Harris is on a quest to find long-lasting love and no one will stop her, not even a creepy stalker or her demanding best-friend. A chance encounter with Eilidh Grey has the potential to develop into something meaningful but as the stalker’s threats escalate, all three women get involved in a dangerous game in which no one knows who they can trust.

Ms. Hudson is consolidating her voice within the lesfic genre as an accomplished suspense writer with a British feel. After reading her excellent debut novel ‘Four steps’, I have to admit that I was a bit let down by her second book ‘Mine to keep’. However, I’m happy to say that ‘Meant to be me’ exceeded my expectations.

This novel is set in Inverness, Scotland, and the author’s depictions of the landscape perfectly set the tone of a suspense thriller. According to the publisher, this is a romantic suspense novel, but it’s light on the romance and heavy on the suspense. Don’t be fooled by the few first chapters that seem to set the tone for a romance novel, the love interest is more a plot device than an end in itself. There isn’t much development of intimacy and the only sex scene is fade to black. However, this makes sense in the context of the whole story and doesn’t make it less interesting.

‘Meant to be me’ is written from the point of view of everyone involved in the plot, including the stalker, so we get to know how their twisted mind work. This knowledge doesn’t stop us from being surprised by a few twists and turns that the plot takes, despite that a couple of them are a bit predictable. All the main characters are very well written and have their own distinctive voices coherent with their background stories. It’s good to see that the author took her time in the last few chapters and the epilogue to give the story the proper closure it deserves and, at the same time, keeping the reader interested.

Overall, a very good romantic suspense thriller full of twists and turns with the beautiful setting of Scotland. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Not the marrying kind’ by Jae.

Ashley Gaines is a florist adamant to remain in the closet as she lives and works in a conservative small town. Her neighbour and bakery owner Sasha Peterson is a pansexual who likes to stay away from relationships. Living in a small place, they know each other but aren’t friends. When they are asked to help organising Leo and Holly’s wedding, they start sharing more time together and eventually realise that they are attracted to each other. But Ashley is determined to stay in the closet and Sasha isn’t the marrying kind anyway. Will they find their happily ever after?

This is book two of the ‘Fair Oaks’ series which started with ‘Perfect rhythm’. Even though this novel reads as standalone, many events refer to the previous book and it catches up with Leo and Holly’s relationship. Having said that, Ashley is not a likeable character in ‘Perfect rhythm’ so, if you read that first, it might take you long to warm to her in this new book.

To say that this is a slow-burn romance is an understatement as the author takes her time to develop both characters’ personalities and their budding relationship. This makes the story credible in redeeming Ashley’s hurtful actions of the past and in challenging Sasha’s assumptions about commitment. Even though Ashley’s self-inflicted repressed sexuality might feel alien to younger generations or people living in big cities, Jae’s description of the circumstances that force Ashley to remain in the closet will strike a chord with many readers. In this series, the author continues to challenge our views about sexuality by introducing a pansexual character, in addition to the asexual and non-binary characters that were featured in book one.

‘Not the marrying kind’ balances the above-mentioned serious issues of diverse sexual preferences and society’s pressure on LGBTQA+ individuals, with the sensual world of baking and flowers. The use of the hidden meaning of flowers and baking metaphors, in addition to a few playful scenes and wonderful slow-burn chemistry, introduces lightness and beauty to the story. As usual, Jae excels in bringing out the romance and depicting the characters’ intimacy with, for example, an excellent remake of a famous ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ sequence plus a very steamy undressing scene. As a bonus, readers who enjoyed Jae’s ‘Damage control’ will have the chance to catch up with Grace and Lauren’s relationship.

Overall, an entertaining, sensual and fun slow-burn romance which raises deep issues of sexuality and coming out. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘A bittersweet garden’ by Caren J. Werlinger.

4.25 Stars. This was another good book by Werlinger. It seems like every time I read a new Werlinger book, I have lower expectations than I should. She is a damn good writer and I don’t know why I keep forgetting that. I need to read more of her back catalog. She is too good of a writer to only remember her when a new book comes out. Anyway, this was a good, sweet lesfic romance with a paranormal twist.

The story is about Nora, who is spending a long summer vacation in Ireland. She is renting a cottage in a small town where her relatives are from. Nora quickly falls in love with Ireland and its people. She also can’t help but have an attraction to horse trainer Briana, who works for her cousins. While exploring Ireland and friendship with Briana, Nora realizes there is more to her rental cottage than meets the eye. The cottage is haunted and it seems like the ghost might have a message for her.

I really enjoyed this read. I was hooked after the first few pages and only put the book down because it was late and sleep could no longer wait. This book actually reminded me a little of ‘When the Stars Sang’, which I also really enjoyed. Of course, it is quite different because of the paranormal twist, but I think fans of that book will enjoy this one too.

The romance is very sweet. If I remember correctly the sex scenes are all fade to black. That is not my first choice, but the mains had a strong enough connection that I didn’t miss reading that extra intimacy.

Besides the mains, the secondary characters really added to the story. Werlinger is good at making you feel as a reader that you really are in a small Irish town. There was also a little mystery and suspense with the paranormal angle so this book had plenty to keep me entertained.

If you are a Werlinger fan or a paranormal-romance fan, I recommend this. I actually don’t think you have to be a big paranormal fan to still enjoy this. The book is so well written that the paranormal part doesn’t seem so unbelievable after all.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘The blood runs cold’ by Catherine Maiorisi.

4.50 Stars. I enjoyed the first book in the Chiara Corelli Mystery series but I liked this one much more. This is a tried and true mystery book. It had everything I like in a good mystery and I could not set the book down. While I always suggest reading books in order, I do think you could start here if you really wanted. There are a few small references to book one and some characters you would be missing a little background on, but the overall mystery is all contained in this one book.

This story is about a lead detective Corelli and her partner detective Parker. Corelli went undercover to take down dirty cops so she is still shunned by many in the department. Parker, due to her family’s political connections is a bit of an outcast herself. The two teamed up out of necessity to watch each other’s backs, but they make a really good team anyway. A new case with plenty of media puts Corelli right back in the spotlight. Can she find the killer and still keep her job?

As I mentioned in my first review these are not romance books. While I would still call this a lesfic book, only one of the mains, Corelli, is a lesbian. Do not go reading this book hoping for two partners falling in love. These books are for mystery fans. However, I did notice a possible love interest for Corelli in book one. That character is back but we are still at the very possible beginning stages. I have my fingers crossed for some romance in the next installment because I like the chemistry between them.

I made clear this is a mystery book and this is where this book shines. I thought the mystery was really well written. There are a lot of characters and names so you do have to pay attention, but it is worth it. It was not until the 90% mark that I had an epiphany and figured out the killer. Because I love mystery books (and have read a ton) I usually figure them out too quickly. So when a mystery author can keep me in suspense and guessing for most of the book… well, I love when that happens. Plus the killer was not out of left field either. All of a sudden the clues Maiorisi carefully crafted all throughout the book clicked for me so I felt like I was actually there solving the crime. It was just well done and I’m a happy camper.

Another thing I was happy about is that the character of Corelli seemed to grow in this book. She is finally starting to realize she may have PTSD and how she doesn’t always treat her partner well. While I did like Corelli in the first book, she is not always a nice person. She was much more likable in this installment. These books and the character of Corelli remind me a little of the Micky Knight books by Redmann. There is not as much life drama, but both have well-written mysteries with a main character you don’t always like but root hard for anyway.

This book is easy for me to recommend to mystery fans. It is a book to read carefully, but it was a good put-together mystery with a worthy pay off. I’m excited about a possible book 3. I sure hope one is planned because I really like the way the story arc is heading.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.