Book Review: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor by Amy M. Reade

23450152Title: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

Author: Amy M. Reade

Genre: Romance, Mystery, Suspense

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Do you know what stories Sarah could tell you about the things that happened in these little cabins? They’d curl that pretty red hair of yours.”
Outside of Charleston, South Carolina, beyond hanging curtains of Spanish moss, at the end of a shaded tunnel of overarching oaks, stands the antebellum mansion of Peppernell Manor in all its faded grandeur. At the request of her friend Evie Peppernell, recently divorced Carleigh Warner and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house to refurbish the interior. But the tall white columns and black shutters hide a dark history of slavery, violence, and greed. The ghost of a former slave is said to haunt the home, and Carleigh is told she disapproves of her restoration efforts. And beneath the polite hospitality of the Peppernell family lie simmering resentments and poisonous secrets that culminate in murder—and place Carleigh and her child in grave danger…

All right, so for some reason, I expected The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor to be a ghost story. Jeez, could it be… I don’t know, the title? Or the synopsis that focuses so much on ghosts!  And with ghost story, I mean remotely creepy. It’s not. It’s a romantic mystery (with not even that much of a mystery), and only a limited amount of suspense. There is a ghost, yes, but she’s mentioned so scarcely she may as well not be mentioned at all.

We do meet the ghost, Sarah, in the prologue and sporadically throughout the novel (although we don’t see her, we just hear about her from another one of the characters) but rather than scary, she just comes across as tragic. Then we focus on the main character, Carleigh, and from that point on, the book stays stuck on her POV. Carleigh and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house, Peppernell Manor, to refurbish the interior. Carleigh is glad to escape her ex and to spend some time with her college friend, Evie. The renovation is not entirely approved by all the members of Evie’s family though – some of them seem keen on selling the property to investors, while Evie’s grandmother wants to keep it in the family. With all these lies and secrets buried underneath, Carleigh finds herself in the middle of a family drama, that may end in a bad turn…

So, when leaving out the ghosts, the book is actually not all that bad. But the synopsis is so misleading! It keeps on focusing on the ghost, and then the murders, as if they’re connected somehow, which they aren’t. A lot of time is spent dealing with the renovation – seriously, I almost feel like I know how to start renovating a house now! And I wouldn’t have minded that, had the plot not been so dull and straightforward. Even the characters lack complexity. Carleigh makes some weird choices sometimes, and she’s not always likeable either.

The problem is: the plot, the writing, the characters, none of it is bad. But it’s not good either. There’s no excitement, no tension, no suspense. I’d only recommend this one if you don’t mind a slow plot, or if you want a story about house renovation.

 

Book Review: Unbreakable by Emma Scott

frontONLY_LTitle: Unbreakable
Author: Emma Scott
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Romantic Suspense
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Alex Gardener has her life planned out, down to the smallest detail. She has a skyrocketing career as a litigation attorney, a close group of socialite friends, and is engaged to one of the most successful businessmen in Beverly Hills. Everything is just as she wants it: comfortable, predictable, secure…if lacking passion. Fire.

Cory Bishop is a struggling working man, trying to make ends meet while fighting to keep custody his young daughter. He knows that working hard is the only way to achieve his goals, but lately it seems everything he wants hangs just out of reach.

The bank robbery changes everything.

Alex and Cory spend three harrowing days as hostages locked in a bank with fifty frightened people and six criminals who grow more desperate–and dangerous–by the hour. Alex and Cory find comfort and safety with each other and reveal their deepest hopes and fears and secrets, unknowingly building a bond forged out of desperation and fear, one that they can’t break, even once outside the bank’s walls.

Their lives are turned upside down, irrevocably altered, and they seek to move on and put the robbery–and each other–behind them.

But some bonds, once forged, cannot be broken.

When I read the synospis for Unbreakable, I knew I wanted to read it. Alex is a strong character. Up until now, she’s had her life completely planned out, except it lacks one thing: passion. But the robbery changes everything, and from the moment it started, and Alex was taken hostage, everything moved so fast, its pacing relentless.

Cory is an interesting character too. He struggles to make ends meet to keep custody of his daughter. He’s brave, caring, and I loved him right away. Alex and Cory form a strong bond due to both being hostages, and they share hopes and dreams, and it brings them so close together. It was an amazing story, suspenseful and entertaining. I had to keep reading until the end.

Book Review: One Last Hold by Angela Smith

OnLastHold_CVR_MEDTitle: One Last Hold
Author: Angela Smith
Genre: Romance / Suspense
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

He has a shaded past…
Wesley Webb is at the pinnacle of his auto racing career when his main rival is murdered hours after their confrontation. That, along with evidence found at the scene, shades him as prime suspect. Now he’s under intense press scrutiny, particularly from Caitlyn Daniels, an ex-girlfriend who knows all about his secret past.
And she’s the one woman who could expose him…
Caitlyn thought to never see Wesley again. Now, his life could be in her hands. Ten years ago, a tragedy tore apart everything she held dear, including their relationship. When she’s assigned to do an exclusive story with the reluctant race car driver she once loved, she believes this could be her purging. But chemistry tears apart her resolve to stay strong. Can they work out their differences and fall in love again, or will tragedy keep them apart?

One Last Hold is an engaging novel that manages to combine romance and suspense in an entertaining read. Wesley Webb is an auto racer at the prime of his career when his main rival is murdered. Evidence at the scene makes him the prime suspect. He’s under press scrutinity particularly from Caitlyn Daniels, an ex-girlfriend who knows all about his secret past.

Caitlyn thought she’d never see Wesley again, but as soon as they meet, the chemistry between them plays up again. They try to put aside the past and figure out what’s going on and who is trying to frame Wesley.

The characters are great and they have wonderful chemistry. The writing is amazing, the plot is solid, and overall it’s a very enjoyable read.

Book Review: Winterkill by P.H. Turner

coverTitle: Winterkill
Author: P.H. Turner
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

A beautiful reporter and a charming rancher are caught in a web of mayhem, murder…and lust.

Reporter Sawyer Cahill returns home to Cheyenne, Wyoming to report for the local station. But leaving behind the coverage of the gangland murders of San Antonio only lands her smack in the middle of the ritualistic animal mutilations. Harassed and threatened by the  freak behind the bizarre murders, Sawyer plunges into her investigation, reaping the attentions of two local ranchers.

Local rancher, Jake Spooner, tangles with a tug of war relationship with Sawyer. Tormented between his smoldering desire for Sawyer and his wish to keep her safe, their passion flames in a mountain snow storm.

In Winterkill, Sawyer Cahill, a reporter, has returned home to report about ritualistic animal mutilations that have happened all over her hometown in Cheyenne, Wyoming. While Sawyer focuses on reporting the mutilations, her investigations brings her to local rancher, Jake Spooner. In the style of a murder mystery – although it involves cattle, rather than people – the reader follows Sawyer and Jake as they try to find out who is behind the cattle mutilation, and why this freak seems interested in Sawyer.

The murder mystery is the background story for the romantic plot, and it serves it well. Both the mystery and romance are intriguing. I definitely rooted for Jake and Sawyer. The romance was light though, and it didn’t take long for both characters to fall in love. It wasn’t too fast, but they didn’t really take their time either.

Overall, an enjoyable, well-written story ideal for fans of mysteries with a dash of romance (or romance stories with a dash of mystery, whatever you prefer).

Book Review A Dead End in Vegas by Irene Woodbury

DeadEndVegasTitle: A Dead End in Vegas
Author: Irene Woodbury
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

When the nude body of Dave Sloan’s wife, Tricia, is found dead at the Bellagio in Vegas, he’s stunned.  Why was she even there when she told him she was going to a conference in Phoenix?  Tricia Sloan’s mysterious death shatters, and later transforms, the lives of those closest to her.

In A Dead End in Vegas, we meet Dave Sloan, who is leaving for the airport when we first meet him. He’s ready to pick up his wife, Tricia, when he gets a phone call from the Las Vegas cops, who tell them his wife’s nude body was found that very morning in a hotel room.

Dave didn’t even have a clue his wife wasn’t at the teacher’s conference in Phoenix, like she told him. Instead, she drove to Vegas to meet with a man she met through the internet, a man who was married none the less. And then the next morning, she’s found, murdered.

Tricia’s death changes the lives of everyone around her – her husband starts looking for revenge, even growing obsessed with it. Her close friend, Sally, tries to overcome her grief at losing her. Tricia’s early demise is the keystone that sets it all rolling, and the reader gets to watch as lives are shattered and some people find love in the unlikeliest of places.

The focus isn’t so much on who killed Tricia, as it is in how everyone deals with what happened, exploring the aftermath of such life-changing events for Tricia’s husband, Dave, and for everyone else closely connected to her. The characters are easy to relate to, but at the same time, they’re dark, consumed by either grief or guilt, and that has a way of leaving scars, even on the reader. This isn’t a light read, or one you can just put down, and then stop reading. It’s a novel that grips you by the throat and doesn’t let you go until the very last page.

Book Review: This Beautiful World by Elisabeth Jackson

ThisBeautifulWorld500x750Title: This Beautiful World

Author: Elisabeth Jackson

Genre: Romance / Suspense

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

As children, RaeAnne and her sidekick King were held captive after they discovered the body of a boy their age in a crate of apples in their small town’s peculiar orchard. Now RaeAnne is grown and the mother of a troubled young daughter. After her mother is killed in an accident, she travels home to her father with her daughter. But RaeAnne finds that she is not welcomed by everyone, and frightening incidents start to happen involving her and her family. As RaeAnne unravels the mysteries of her childhood, including what happened to her older brother, who vanished on the same night RaeAnne and King found terror in the orchard, she reunites with King. The boy she knew has grown up to be very handsome and guarded. But can the two ever be more than old friends who share a terrifying secret?

This Beautiful World is an interesting, different novel. With strong characters and a dynamic plot, and a suspenseful mystery, it’s definitely engaging and entertaining.

I iked RaeAnne ‘s personality, and her relationship with her daughter was great. Kids often play smaller roles in books that mostly concern the adults, but I didn’t get that feeling here. She focuses on her daughter often, and it’s obvious she’s the most important person in RaeAnne’s life.

King was great too. He’s the perfect sidekick – always standing next to RaeAnne and supporting her. I liked traveling back to the past and reliving their childhood memories, especially the ones regarding that they went they found the body of a boy in a crate of apples. King and RaeAnne obviously have a deep connection, and they work well together. He’s a genuine, nice, compassionate, considerate guy, and his personality fits well with RaeAnne’s.

The mystery was great. I kept on guessing what happened, who was involved, and how it would all work out. Some twists were completely unexpected, and I enjoyed reading this book from start to end. Recommended to all fans of mysteries and romance.

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Book Review: Saving Jamie by Carol Braswell

Saving Jamie 3-DTitle: Saving Jamie
Author: Carol Braswell
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Her secret can get her killed!

The only thing standing between Jamie and the Cartel is FBI agent Rex Garret, but he can’t protect her when she disobeys orders. When a dead body turns up and evidence places Jamie at the scene she becomes the number one suspect. Will he have to arrest the woman he’s come to care about or will he find her dead?

Can he save her this time?

Jamie Kenner barely escapes abduction alive, but at what cost? A traumatic head injury leaves what little memory she has left almost useless. An unlikely friendship with a reclusive, but kind rancher eases her pain and frustration. Yet something isn’t right. Fear haunted her. A secret is locked inside her head, dancing just out of reach…a secret someone is willing to kill for.

When I read Carol’s first book, Finding Amy, I really enjoyed it, and had no idea that I would enjoy the next book by this author even more. Saving Jamie is a thrilling, suspenseful read where things aren’t always what they seem, and with romance hiding just behind the corner.

Jamie is a great protagonist. She showed personality, courage, and sometimes a dash of stubbornness. Her life is in danger, and she’s traumatized by fear, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to find out the truth, and trying to unlock the secrets she’s hidden in her mind. I liked Rex too – he was sweet, caring, reliable, but also firm and confident.

The book was a quick read – it’s over three hundred pages, but it feels much shorter. All the characters are well-developed, and each of them has a distinct personality. Jamie was my favorite character though, since we get to spend most time with her.

Recommended to all fans of romantic suspense.

Book Review: Surviving by J.L. Sprague

SurvivingTitle: Surviving
Author: J.L. Sprague
Genre: Romance / Suspense
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Living in a world where there are only lows and never highs, Jenna’s memory has trained itself to forget. Forgetting the bad was never a problem for Jenna until she forgets the one memory she never should have forgotten.

Landon has never forgotten, even when he desperately wishes he could. She haunts him. By chance they meet again but Jenna still does not remember Landon. What Landon doesn’t know is that Jenna has secrets. Secrets that change everything.

Their love for one another is the only thing that can heal years of abuse – for both of them.

When tragedy strikes memories are triggered and Jenna’s whole world changes.

Can Landon help Jenna survive at the hands of a madman?

Surviving was an interesting read, even though it took a few chapters to relate to the main characters. The first few chapters switched from past to present, they switched POV between Jenna and Landon, and showed how both characters had met before. Lanodn had never forgotten that night, but Jenna’s memory is trained to forget.

The book starts out slowly, with Jenna and Landon meeting each other again after spending a night together years ago. Landon feels attracted to this mysterious woman, who can make him feel a thousand things no other woman has ever made him feel before. Jenna is always a bit hesitant, reluctant. Not that she doesn’t like Landon, but almost as if she’s afraid of something. They start spending time together, and the relationship between them grows.

Things got interesting when we start to figure out more about Jenna’s past, and when a madman starts chasing her. The secrets, mystery and suspense, was what really pulled me into the novel, and I wouldn’t have minded had the suspense started picking up a bit sooner.

The writing was okay, the plot was intriguing, especially toward the last half of the book, and the characters were interesting. I liked Jenna more than Landon, mostly because of his history with women. I’m not too fond of guys who can only threat one woman respectfully, and with Landon it seems the only woman he’s decent to, is Jenna.

A good read for people who like romantic suspense with a bit of a darker side.

Book Review: Bird of Prey and The Plot Thickens (Sémya Slotin Mystery Series)

Bird Of Prey updated CoverTitle: Bird of Prey and The Plot Thickens

Author: Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Who killed the infamous Johanna Cartier? Sémya Slotin is thrown back in the business of solving mysteries when she found her body. With the help of her best friend Polliannah Koch, DCI Ally Gibbons and the mysterious but extremely sexy Josh Heinz, she vows to see this through.

This was supposed to be an easy case… 

Sémya Slotin had spent the last three years living in London with her best friend Polliannah Koch staying away from solving cases. After Hawaii, she was taking a break from puzzles, cases and mysteries that could potentially get her killed. Instead, she had been doing her second and third favorite things, drinking and selling expensive vintage wines and having earth-shattering sex with the mysterious, sexy, beautiful but ever so secretive Josh Heinz. Life in London was good….until her funds ran out. Too much wine drinking, not enough wine selling!

 When fashion designer and adoptive mother, Annika Slotin, summoned her back to Paris to hire her for what Sémya considered being the easiest case of her amateur sleuth career, all she could think of and see was money signs and a well-deserved Cuban holiday once it was solved.

What Sémya didn’t see was her stumbling on the fresh corpse of supermodel Johanna Cartier. She didn’t think that male model turned fashion designer Julian Marais-Caldwin, who also happened to be Sémya’s ex, would be suspected of brutally murdering her. Johanna was his girlfriend, his muse and he loved her. Sémya didn’t see the dead bodies piling up or the conspiracy theories.

Sémya was a little rusty. But then again, it was supposed to be an easy case and she was going to solve it. One vintage wine at a time… Sémya Slotin was officially back in business!

In Bird of Prey, Sémya Slotin has to make end meets after living like a king for the last few years, selling expensive wines with her best friend Polliannah – or Polli, if you like to keep it short. With the two of them almost running out of money, Sémya accepts a job from her mother, even though she wants nothing to do with the woman. The job involves corporate espionage: Sémya has to check out some design sketches by a competitor’s fashion house owned by Julian, Sémyas ex-boyfriend. But when Sémya runs into Julian’s new girlfriend, Johanna Cartier, she knows the woman is hiding something.

A few days later, Sémya stumbles upon Johanna’s corpse. The cops point to Julian, but Sémya is convinced he didn’t do it. Desperate to prove his innocence, she starts investigating the case herself, but for every stone she turns, she uncovers one more secrets. Some people weren’t who she thought they were at all, and this case may have sounded easy at first, but it’s anything but.

Sémya was an okay character. She was a bit arrogant at times, but apart from that, she sounded like a fun person to be around. I liked how she put everything on the line to save her friend (and ex-boyfriend, Julian), while at the same time she did everything she could to stay close to her current boyfriend, Josh. Her life definitely wasn’t easy. My second favorite character was Polli. She was fun, laid back, and relaxed, but also quite brave.

The writing was good. It didn’t venture off into endless descriptions, but instead told the reader the story in an easy, laid back way. It kept things simple whereas the mystery was anything but simple. The plot was pretty good, and it took me about as long as it took Sémya to crack the mystery.

In The Plot Thickens, a novella that is set during the story of Bird of Prey, the main character is Polli. The novella focuses on Polli’s relationship with John Allen, who she believes is her very own Prince Charming. Unfortunately reality is no fairytale, and John may not be who he seems after all. He has his own agenda, which is quite dark – I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s quite a bit darker than what we saw in Bird of Prey – and to accomplish his goal, he needs to get close to Polli. Little does he know that by trying to get her to fall for him, he might fall for her as well.

I actually enjoyed The Plot Thickens more than the first book. It was overall a bit darker, and I don’t mind my mysteries dark and suspenseful. Bird of Prey was a tad lighter. Even though a murder mystery, it still took place in the world of fashion and drama. Both books were solid reads though, and when read together, they make a great start to a new mystery series.

Book Review: The Muse by Kenya Wright

TheMuse.v2Title: The Muse
Author: Kenya Wright
Genre: Multicultural Mystery Romance
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

“What happens when Death is the Muse?”
On the first day of her nude modeling job, Elle deals with a corpse, an eccentric dark artist, his sexy brother, and a grandmother that can see someone’s future by just touching their hands. Although these crazy distractions shove her on edge, it’s just what she needs to mend her battered heart and forget about her ex-boyfriend. Besides, she does get to live in their castle for the whole three months.
Everything seems magical and perfect. Until more dead bodies are discovered.
There’s something going on at night, right in the artist’s garden. Under the moonlight, young women are being cut and sliced, and no one has a clue to who’s doing it. And the more Elle is around the weird family in the castle, the more she realizes that they all are hiding secrets.
The Muse is a Sexy Multicultural Romance involving Love, Art & a Deadly Mystery.

The Muse was an interesting story, at times shocking and a little disturbing, at times romantic and sweet. Our main character, Elle, has just gotten out of an emotional abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Michael. He got famous painting her, and her nickname as a model is the “Archangel”, based on a series of portraits he did featuring her. However, she’s now gotten a job offering from Hex, an artist of the macabre, whose work is a stark contrast to work she usually posed for. Hex is Michael’s arch nemesis and greatest rival, and if he found out she was working for Hex, he’d be more annoyed than ever.

Meanwhile Elle arrives at Hex’s castle, which is occupied by other models and artists Hex likes to invite. She meets his brother, Alvarez, who is the rational mind to Hex’s near-hysteria. He takes care of the business side of things, makes arrangments, and in general does what’s best f or his family – Hex and his grandmother, who dabbels in an ancient religion involving spells, herbs and sometimes even blood rituals.

When people start showing up dead in and around the castle, Alvarez wants to find out what’s going on. He is afraid that Elle, who he’s had a crush on since the moment he met her, might be in danger as well. What starts is a race against time as the bodies begin piling up.

I liked Elle. She’d stepped out of an abusive relationship, and was now truly finding herself. She became stronger and more independent with every passing page. That’s why I wasn’t so fond of her relationship with Alvarez, and their growing attraction. He was another pillar for her to support upon, someone who’d have her back, while it seemed to me the most important thing for her was to learn to have her own back. Either way, she lacked personality, especially at the start, but it wasn’t a bad thing here. It genuinely seemed like she’d based most of her personality on who she was when she was with Michael, as if she could only have a personality reflected in his personality. At the start of the novel, she was lost, trying to find herself, and the only personality trait she had was being a movie buff. But as the story progressed, she gradually found herself, and discovered her own personality.

Hex was actually my favorite character. I’m a fan of the tormented artist as a protagonist, and he played the role well. Plus, the name. How can you be called Hex and not be amazingly awesome? Impossible, right?

The writing was decent, and the story flowed well. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t too pleased with the relationship between Elle and Alvarez. Not only did I feel like she should get to know herself first before jumping into another relationship, I also felt like their relationship progressed way too quickly. I’m not a fan of insta-love, or even anything close to that, so maybe that’s why. A few kisses I wouldn’t have minded, but the way Elle depended on Alvarez completely, and almost right away, that bothered me a little.

The mystery was great – I only figured it out toward the end, only a few pages before it’s revealed. The characters were great, the story was strong, and in general, I’d recommend this book to all fans of mystery romance novels.