‘Alice’ not in Wonderland.

Alice is visiting South Africa with her husband Dr. Magnus McCroy as the full-time carer of his mother. After a crisis with Magnus, she decides to leave him and embark on a trip of self-discovery. In the meantime, Dr. McCroy sends private investigator Toni Mendez to South Africa to find Alice and take her back to England. But nothing is as it seems and Alice will have to learn who to trust…

This is a novel hard to categorise and even harder to review without giving anything away. Let’s just say that the story follows the premise that, as the blurb says, ‘all reality is subjective’. Even though there are scenes of lesbian love, this isn’t a romance but there is a good amount of intrigue and psychological thriller. This is the second book featuring P.I. Toni Mendez which follows her story after Ms. Skyborne’s ‘Risk’. It’s not necessary to read them in order and ‘Alice’ can be read as a stand-alone.Read More »

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 ‘1st Impressions. A Cassidy James Mystery’ by Kate Calloway.

Cass James moved to the small lake town of Cedar Hills, Oregon after her partner died. Not needing to work, she finds herself learning the private detective ropes after her best friend suggested it. Erica Trinidad stopped by her uncle’s lake house on her way to Canada. That night, her uncle was murdered and abandoned in the lake. Erica ends up hiring Cass to help solve the murder for which she has now become the prime suspect. Things get more complicated as Cass unravels the case and finds herself in the thick of it.

This is a fun story that grabs your attention with the very first sentence. The setting is this little town of a few hundred where crime is not common. However, it seems any of the residents are capable of murder overnight. It was fun to “come along” with Cass for the interviews and have a guess at who was involved in the crime. That said, there was no major plot twist, which may disappoint serious mystery/thriller readers alike. The story could have also benefited from more action scenes early on instead of saving most of it until later in the book.

I actually did not realize this book was published during my freshman college year, 1996, until I finished it. There was mention of poor cellphone reception in the town but I assumed it was just due to the location. Now I see how it was simply because cellphone networks were not well established then. It was interesting to see how Cass had to call from a pay phone and check her home answering machine! That’s a blast from the past.

This is the first of eight books in the series. The mystery is the book’s main focus and the romance is the side story, but it feels more like the foundation for more to come. I will be reading the rest of the series to see what happens with the leads and the rest of these likable characters.

Overall a nice read culminating in good action. 3.5 stars

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Review of ‘Love’s verdict’ by Carsen Taite.

Carsen Taite excels at writing legal thrillers with lesbian main characters using her experience as a criminal defense attorney. Lately, she has written the ‘Lone star law’ series which was inspired in the 1980s ‘Dallas’ soap opera which, in my opinion, didn’t showcase her knowledge of the American legal system. I’m happy to see that with ‘Love’s veredict’ she’s back at what she does best.

Attorneys Landon Holt and Carly Pachett work for a prestigious criminal defense firm with their eyes on a single opening promotion to partner. As one of the firm’s clients is accused of murder, they are both assigned to the case which means that they have to work as a team but only one will get to be appointed as partner. As hours shared together go by, their initial antagonistic feelings develop into something else which can jeopardise both their careers.

This is a legal thriller with a romance at the side. The focus of the book is the procedural intricacies of a murder case, including details of the grand jury process, jury picking and defence strategies. Ms. Taite puts in layman’s terms all these procedures and that are very informative and interesting. However, you might be disappointed if you are looking for romance as it is much in the background. Despite this, the main characters are multilayered and their chemistry is hot. There are also a couple of good secondary characters, such as Skye (from Taite’s book ‘The best defence’) and Carly’s nosey neighbour. The ‘baddies’ are a bit stereotypical and predictable but despite that, the book is entertaining and the plot twists and turns keep the reader turning the pages.

Overall, an enjoyable novel by Carsen Taite that will satisfy more legal thriller fans than romance ones. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘The girl on the edge of Summer’ by J.M. Redmann

This is book 9 in the Micky Knight’s series by this author. It follows the adventures of a private detective based in New Orleans who has a tendency of getting into trouble while trying to solve difficult cases. If you want to make the most of the series I suggest that you read them all in chronological order as you might miss a lot of background about different secondary characters and Micky’s romantic life. However, it’s understandable if you don’t want to commit to so much reading so you can read this one as a stand alone story. I’ve read them all in the span of a few years and I’ve found some better than others. This one is ok but not my favourite.
Normally the strength of this series is the combination of Micky’s investigations and her romantic life. We don’t see any of the latter in this one as the character is dealing with a painful breakup. It makes sense in the overall series plot design but the readers are going to miss the romantic aspect on this book. Her family and friends are also almost absent which is a pity as some of them are really likeable and bring wittiness and fun to the plot. The Micky we get to see in this book is a more subdued version of herself which is understandable considering what she is experiencing but it’s a loss anyway. The two mysteries themselves are interesting and have twists and turns to keep the reader entertained and there are the usual fast paced dangerous scenes to account for.
Overall, an entertaining read charged with action but Micky isn’t at her best. 4 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Girls with guns’ by Ali Vali, Carsen Taite & Michelle Grubb.

This book is a compilation of three different stories under the umbrella of girls with guns: Bow and Arrow by Carsen Taite, Hammersmith by Michelle Grubb and Hell Fire by Ali Vali. Coincidentally, this was the order of my preference.

In ‘Bow and Arrow’, Carsen Taite reintroduces her character from the ‘Luca Bennet bounty hunter’ series. This series has three books that I recommend to read chronologically and maybe even before this story, though this novella stands on its own. Luca Bennet is my favourite character of all Ms Taite’s novels and she manages to keep her as funny, entertaining – and sometimes even deep – as in the previous installments. The chemistry with cop Jessica Chance is great and the secondary characters add to the entertainment of the story.

‘Hammersmith’ by Michelle Grubb describes the issue of suicide bomber, very original to this genre. However, the chemistry between the main characters didn’t work for me and sometimes the story didn’t seem completely believable. I’ve lived and used London’s transport system for seven years and even for me sometimes the description of the lines and stations of the “tube” was a bit tedious. I can only imagine that it’d be at least a bit confusing for a complete outsider. However, I think this story is worth a try and I’ll definitely read something by this author in the future.

‘Hell Fire’ by Ali Vali didn’t work for me at all. At times, the story seems too sketchy for the novella format and the amount of characters and the complexity of the story deserve more development. I got confused with the story line and the chemistry between the main characters didn’t work for me. It was also hard to maintain the suspension of disbelief as much of the plot seemed quite implausible to say the least. Without this last story, I would have rated this book with 4 stars but I feel that a third of this book let me down hence the 3 star rating.

I’ve received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.