Last Woman Standing

Last Woman Standing
Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams

The Tea Planter's Wife

The Tea Planter's Wife
The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies- Feature and Review

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past - a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds - that her husband refuses to discuss. Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can't stay buried forever . . .



The Tea Planter's WifeThe Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries is a 2015 Penguin publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and the LIbraryThing early reviewer program.

The Tea Planter’s Wife is an exemplary novel, written with a lush literary prose, which pulls me deep into the landscape and historical setting of colonial Ceylan.

Gwen, only nineteen, marries Laurence, a widower, after a whirlwind romance. Laurence is a tea planter running a successful plantation, and Gwen is determined to learn the business and be a good asset to her husband.

However, almost from the beginning, Gwen finds her husband is still haunted by the death of his first wife, the staff behaves oddly, and then Gwen finds she must cope with her sister-in-law, Verity, who wishes to keep Laurence all to herself, as well as watching another woman try to steal away her new husband.

If this were not bad enough, Gwen will soon face a crisis that will tear her heart to pieces while the atmosphere around her becomes almost oppressive.

This story is so absorbing and haunting, I couldn’t bear to continue reading it, but couldn’t stop turning pages. This book taps every emotion imaginable, as Gwen tries to navigate her new surroundings and faces one wall of opposition after another, one trial after another, while carrying a heavy burden on her heart.

I became frustrated with all the characters at one point or another, and Verity is most certainly a poisonous character, but I often found myself irritated with Laurence, who constantly turned a blind eye to those issues plaguing Gwen and the people causing her such great heartache.

This couple will encounter incredible adversity, survive hardships, and endure much heartache, make mistakes and harbor dark secrets in their souls. Naturally, the racial divide is one which causes so many misunderstandings, and it is so very sad to think how this situation could have turned out differently if not for that prejudice.

But, ultimately this is a love story, one that proves love’s power to overcome vindictiveness, jealously, grief and pain, and can give the heart the fortitude to forgive, accept, change, and move on with renewed hope.

This is a well written novel, with very interesting historical details, set in a magical location, and is packed with riveting dramas that kept me engaged and very invested in the characters on an emotional level.

I loved the atmosphere in this one, the slight Gothic tones, and the tantalizing pace that swept me away to another time and place.





In 1985, the sudden death of Dinah Jefferies’ fourteen year old son brought her life to a standstill. She drew on that experience, and on her own childhood spent in Malaya during the 1950s to write her debut novel, The Separation. The guns piled high on the hall table when the rubber planters came into town for a party, the colour and noise of Chinatown, the houses on stilts, and the lizards that left their tails behind.

Now living in Gloucestershire, Dinah once lived in Tuscany working as an au pair for an Italian countess; she has also lived in a ‘hippy’ rock’n roll commune based in an Elizabethan manor house, but started writing when she was living in a small 16th Century village in Spain.


The Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams- Feature and Review


Two decades after the Civil War, Josephine Marcus, the teenage daughter of Jewish immigrants, is lured west with the promise of marriage to Johnny Behan, one of Arizona’s famous lawmen. She leaves her San Francisco home to join Behan in Tombstone, Arizona, a magnet for miners (and outlaws) attracted by the silver boom. Though united by the glint of metal, Tombstone is plagued by divided loyalties: between Confederates and Unionists, Lincoln Republicans and Democrats.

But when the silver-tongued Behan proves unreliable, it is legendary frontiersman Wyatt Earp who emerges as Josephine’s match. As the couple’s romance sparks, Behan’s jealousy ignites a rivalry destined for the history books…

At once an epic account of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American tale, The Last Woman Standing recalls the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral through the eyes of a spunky heroine who sought her happy ending in a lawless outpost—with a fierce will and an unflagging spirit.

The Last Woman StandingThe Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams is a 2016 Lake Union Press publication.

I have been curious about Josephine Marcus since watching the wildly popular motion picture, “Tombstone.”

I know Hollywood often takes huge liberties with the facts, so I decided to do an internet search to see what information was available about Wyatt Earp’s common law wife. To be honest, there really isn’t a lot of absolutely, positively true and documented facts about ‘Sadie’ or ‘Josephine’. There are large gaps of her life that are murky and much speculation has developed over time. Josephine went to great lengths to keep her life in Tombstone from becoming public knowledge.

So, I was immensely curious how the author would present Josephine’s life story in this work of fiction. Naturally, the book is written in first person narrative, as Josephine looks back on her life leading up to her arrival in Tombstone, how she met Wyatt, and how the two ended up embarking on life’s journey together.

The author bravely taps into the black hole of time that Josephine worked so tirelessly to keep private for so many years.


I loved the way Josephine came to life, her voice raw, pure, and brutally honest, revealing her naïvete, foibles, bad luck with men, and how she was rescued from a harsh life not befitting her beauty and talent by Wyatt Earp.

I do believe Josephine was a woman ahead of her time, a true adventurer, but also a person who suffered through some real regrets for the poor choices she made in her youth. She did not live like many ‘respectable’ ladies, and never went through a formal, legal wedding ceremony, which was perhaps more common in some places, like Tombstone, but was still quite scandalous. She lived unconventionally, and was quite an interesting figure who lived life with gusto and was lucky enough to find her soul mate and true life partner in Wyatt.


This fictional accounting of Josephine’s life mixes a few documented facts in to create a plausible portrait of a legendary figure of the old west. I think it’s as good a guess as any about the enigmatic actress that captured the heart of Wyatt Earp. It was fun to see all the legendary historical figures we have come to know in film and countless documentaries and books, come to life in this fictional take on events in Tombstone, seen through the eyes of Josephine Marcus.

Overall, this in a provocative read, interesting and engaging. If you enjoy Historical Fiction, this book is one you may want to try.





THELMA ADAMS' novel PLAYDATE was reprinted in paperback by St. Martin's Griffin in March 2012, following its hardback debut in 2011. The book is an Oprah Beach Read and a Parade Magazine pick of the week. She is a Contributing Editor at Yahoo! Movies, following eleven years as the film critic at Us Weekly, and six years at the New York Post. She has twice chaired the New York Film Critics Circle. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Parade, The Huffington Post, Marie Claire, More, Interview Magazine, The New York Times, The international Herald Tribune, Cosmopolitan and Self. She has appeared on CNN, E!, NY1, NBC's The Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, Fox News Channel, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Bravo and VH1. In 1993, she earned an MFA in fiction from Columbia University; in 1985, she earned an MBA in Arts Management from UCLA; she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley in 1981. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband, son, daughter, three cats, one spaniel and a flock of wild turkeys.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

With Every Breath by Maya Banks- Release Blast + Review + Giveaway!


Eliza Cummings fought free of a monster who terrorized her when she was an innocent teenager and helped put him away for good. She took a job with Devereaux Security Services and devoted every hour to taking down the very thing she’d nearly become. No one, not even those closest to her, know her darkest, shameful secrets. But now the killer has been set free on a legal loophole and it’s only a matter of time before he comes for her. Eliza’s only choice is to run and lead the monster away from the people she loves.

Wade Sterling has always lived by his own rules, a law unto himself who answers to no one. He’s never professed to be a good man, and he’s definitely not hero material. Wade never allows anyone close enough to see the man behind the impenetrable mask—but one woman threatens his carefully leashed control. He took a bullet for her and the result was more than a piece of metal entrenched in his skin. She was under his skin and nothing he did rid himself of the woman with the courage of a warrior and who thinks nothing of putting her life before others.

But when Wade sees a panicked and haunted Eliza he knows something is very wrong, because the fool woman has never had been afraid of anything. And when she tries to run, the primal beast barely lurking beneath his deceptively polished façade erupts in a rage. She may not know it, but she belongs to him. This time, Eliza isn’t going to play the protector. She was damn well going to be the protected. And as long as Wade breathes, no one will ever hurt what is his.


Baby,” he whispered, watching as her eyes became cloudy and then shiny with tears when he murmured the endearment. As though she mattered to him. Didn’t she understand she was the most important thing in the world to him? No, she didn’t. Not yet. But she would. “Lay your burden down. It’s time to let someone carry it for you.”
He’d said it before but this time it seemed to really register with her and hit home. For a brief moment there was a spark of hope and so much yearning in her eyes that he automatically squeezed her tighter in his arms.
She wanted to lean on him. He’d seen that in her eyes right before defeat registered and with it her loss of hope. She truly believed that no one could help her, even if she wanted it. How to make her believe in him? How to make her believe that there was nothing he wouldn’t do for her, to alleviate the pain and guilt in her eyes, to permanently remove those bruising shadows?


With Every Breath (Slow Burn, #4)With Every Breath by Maya Banks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Every Breath by Maya Banks is a 2016 Avon publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

While the last book in the ‘Slow Burn’ series was pretty good, this one tops it, and is more on board with the type of romantic suspense I usually go for.

In ‘Safe at Last’, we met Wade, a close friend of Gracie’s, and it was clear something was brewing between him and Eliza, which provided some comic relief as the two traded barbs, until things got serious, with Wade proving his mettle and becoming a hero in his own right.

However, any hope the relationship might somehow continue is lost when Eliza receives a disturbing call that will alter the course of her life forever. Planning to free the world of a notorious killer, even if it means sacrificing her own life, Eliza puts a plan in motion, one that does not involve Devereaux security. But, Wade knows something is terribly wrong with Eliza and makes it his business to find out what it is and keep her from doing anything that would put herself in danger, even she fights him every step of the way….

Eliza’s foe is formidable and is one she must do face to face combat with in order to free herself of the ghost of the past. But, even Eliza will need help with this enemy and Wade intends to fight alongside her every step of the way.

I really enjoyed this installment in the series for a number of reasons. One, the bad guy is really creepy and has a backstory that actually links to Eliza in a personal way, instead of the vagueness the enemies possess in previous chapters of the series. This heightened the suspense to a whole new level and gives the story a sense of urgency that has never been present before now.

Another reason this book stands out from the others is because in previous installments the female protagonist has been so vulnerable they are perilously close to the 'damsel in distress' type, rescued by the ultimate alpha male. But, in this book we are treated to a strong woman, capable of holding her own in a male dominated field.

The only man who has ever penetrated the walls she built around her heart, is Wade, and as he chips away at her rough exterior, he exposes her deepest fears, her immense guilt, and releases a flood of emotions that carry them both away.

The romance is intense, hot and steamy, and I think the chemistry between Wade and Eliza makes them the better suited couple, so far. They make a great team and hopefully Wade will team up the Devereraux’s again someday.

The writing has also tightened up quite a bit as well, with much less repetition and the dialogue is sharper too, giving the story much more depth.

Overall, this is the best of the series to date and if the author continues to develop it in this same vein, it could become a ‘go to’ series for me, despite the rocky road we took to get to this point. It may not have been smooth sailing, but arriving to this destination was definitely worth the bumpy ride.


Buy Links:     Amazon | B & N | Google | iTunes | Kobo




Maya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.
She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Monday, August 22, 2016

Decades of Doubt by Eric Wilson with John Turner- Feature and Review + Giveaway

A high-profile and tenacious defense attorney. Three elusive suspects. An investigation that stretches across four decades. And two frenetic murder trials. Decades of Doubt: the John McCabe Murder Saga is a gripping true-life mystery that follows the case of a 15-year-old boy bound and strangled in Massachusetts in 1969, the ensuing investigation that continues for over forty years, and the shocking events of the resulting trials.
Decades of DoubtDecades of Doubt by Eric Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Decades of Doubt by Eric Wilson- with John Turner- is a 2016 Waldorf Publishing publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

As often as I watch shows like 48 Hours Mystery, I could not recall this case, which made me very curious to see if the murder was ever solved, who committed the crime and if justice was finally served after nearly four decades.

This book is inspired by a ’48 Hours Mystery’, which airs on CBS. The case centers around the murder of teenager John McCabe way back in 1969. The case went cold for years, got hot a couple of times, but inevitably remained dormant. But, finally investigators and prosecutors believed they had gathered enough proof to arrest a trio of men for the crime. But, when defense attorney Eric Wilson takes one of the defendants on as a client, he discovers the evidence is not all cut and dried, and so begins a rigorous defense for his client.


This book is the about the crime, and the trial, which provides answers to some questions but leaves many others unresolved. Did the police arrest the right people? Were all three men involved or just one?

Read about Eric’s search for the truth and learn how the cold case was finally closed after all these years. You will have to decide for yourself if the verdict was the right one and if justice was ultimately served….

This cold blooded murder of a teenager in the small town of Tewksbury, Massachusetts is grisly and so sad. My heart went out to John’s parents, who never gave up hope that their son’s killer would someday be held accountable.

The facts in the case are laid out very nicely, walking the reader through the gathering of evidence, the interviews, the strange incidences that occurred while the police searched for clues, some of which sent chills down my spine, eventually taking us through two trials which ended with surprising results.

Edward Alan Brown, Michael Ferreira, and Walter Shelley

The construction of the book is unlike many other true crime books, which often read like novels. This book takes the reader down the same path as the investigators, and creates a ‘real time’ atmosphere which had me looking at the case with a critical eye, and thinking over all the odd twists and revelations that continued to come in years after the crime was committed. There is a lot to digest and the waters are pretty dark and murky, most of the way through.

Eric Wilson did a brilliant job of defending Mike Ferreira and is apparently a principled man with a stellar work ethic, and very good lawyer. The courtroom drama is thick with tension as Eric took the case apart right before our very eyes.

But, the fact remains that two other men were arrested in the connection with the murder and despite the way things turned out, the sad truth remains, ‘Who killed John McCabe?”

The case is weird, just plain weird, and very disturbing. The murder just doesn’t make a lot of sense and is so puzzling, but when those on the perimeter of the victim’s life are examined up close, it’s hard to decide how to feel about it all.

The book had me riveted, and I have to confess all the information is fascinating for a lack of a better word. The trial is gripping, enthralling, and well, I have to say, Eric Wilson is pretty impressive. But, at the end of the day, we are left with as many questions as answers, and can only hope they got it right. I have been chewing on this for a while now, and I suppose we will simply have to take it on faith that the right man is sitting in prison, because frankly, I don’t think we will ever know the whole truth.

Nevertheless, this is an intriguing case that all true crime readers should look into. Was justice served? You decide.


a Rafflecopter giveaway ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Eric Wilson is a native of Nashua, New Hampshire. After graduation from Nashua High School, he served in the United States Marine Corps. Following his enlistment, he obtained a bachelors degree from Keene State College. Thereafter, he attended and graduated from the University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly known as Franklin Pierce Law Center).

Eric is a founding member of the law firm Wilson, Bush, Durkin & Keefe, located in Nashua, New Hampshire. Eric’s practice includes criminal defense cases in all state and federal courts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In addition, he represents clients in criminal appeals in the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Eric started his legal career in 1992 as a trial associate at a local law firm. He focused and excelled in the practice of criminal defense litigation. He tried many jury trials, including murder, negligent homicide, rape and major felony cases. He continued his career in 1998 when he, John Durkin and Timothy Bush formed Wilson, Durkin and Bush, P.C. Since then Eric has represented thousands of clients and tried hundreds of trials for those charged with offenses from driving while intoxicated to homicide.

In addition to his trial practice, Eric has successfully represented clients in the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. He successfully obtained precedent-setting decisions from the Supreme Court limiting police ability to search people arrested and principles of self-incrimination.

Eric’s practice is now limited to criminal offenses. He currently represents hundreds of clients annually charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)/Driving Under the Influence (DUI), as well other misdemeanor and felony offenders. His clients enjoy a high success rate of acquittals. In addition, he has represented a number of police officers charged with criminal offenses. A number of local and state police unions retain Eric to represent their members in the event that they are charged with or are subject to criminal charges.
John Turner (b. April 29, 1970) is a native Mississippian currently residing in Los Angeles. A 1997 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BFA, Acting/Music), John relocated to New York in 1999 to begin his acting career; in 2002, he was the victim of a brutal mugging and assault, and suffered a traumatic brain injury in the attack. After that incident, John no longer had the physical capabilities to perform, so he re-established a career as a writer. John recollects the terrible mugging (along with other life lessons) in his first novel, a collection of humorous short stories called "Confessions of a Gimp."

In 2014 John relocated to California to be with the love of his life, his wife Kari.

Toasting up Trouble by Linda Wiken- Feature and Review

A delicious new cozy mystery series featuring the Culinary Capers Dinner Club—who are fearless when it comes to cooking up new dishes and putting the lid on crime...Event planner Jennifer “J.J.” Tanner has a full plate, but that’s the way she likes it. First, it’s her turn to choose the recipe for the next meeting of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club, a gathering of foodie friends who experiment with entrées for their creative and gastronomical pleasure. Second, she’s organizing an Italian princess party for the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a high-tech millionaire.

But one thing J.J. didn’t plan on is that the caterer for the event—hotshot chef Antonio Marcotti—would end up murdered the night of the party. Or that she’d end up being a prime suspect after having had a heated argument with the unscrupulous chef. Now it’s up to J.J.—with help from her fellow Club members and a handsome if mysterious private eye—to turn the tables on the real killer...


“You know, it doesn’t count if you eat a Truffle on a Friday. Calorie-wise, that is. Especially if it’s the first Friday of the month.”
            J.J. Tanner grinned at her friend and colleague, Skye Drake, then popped the chili dark chocolate truffle into her mouth. She closed her eyes as she chewed, and finished it off with a long sigh. “What about eating two truffles?”
              “Don’t push it,” Skye answered, laughing. “So tell me, what do you think? Aren’t they to die for?”
            “Oh, yeah. I’d go for it, Skye. I think we could work these into any event and I like the idea that we’d be the exclusive distributor for the truffles. And maybe as part of this new venture, she’ll keep us in our own personal supply.”
            Skye slid out from behind her desk at Make It Happen, the event planning business she owned, and struck a goddess pose. “You think this body needs any more calories?” She looked down at herself and smirked. “Not likely. You on the other hand, my slender young nymph, are welcome to my share if this comes to pass.”
            “Young,” J.J. sniffed. “I do recall us being classmates at Champlain College and it wasn’t all that long ago. Are you finding it more difficult to remember things these days?” She flashed a grin. “Anyway, happy to help, as always. So this means the corporate bash is wrapped up?
            “As ready to go as it will be. Saturday night is the big event. I’ll be very relieved when it’s over. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve worked as an event planner, I always hold my breath until clean-up begins. How is your Italiana princess party coming along?” Skye hefted a hip onto the edge of her desk and folded her arms across her chest. She wore her long blonde hair up in a chignon on days when she had meetings with clients. Today had been one of those days.
            J.J. sighed. “I’m excited about it.  The Italian part of the theme is a done deal. After all, what else would it be when the sweet twenty-one-year old to be is of Italian heritage. And I think the “princess” is delighted with my suggestion of making it an Italian Designer Delight. Everyone invited is being asked to wear in some manner, or carry, an Italian designer item. Angelica Portovino wants to be a fashion designer herself, you know. She’s a very fashion-conscious gal, even though her purchases are far out of line with most twenty-one-year-olds I know. But with a wealthy Italian dad who’s made it big in technology, the sky’s the limit, so to speak.”
            “You’ve been waiting to use that one, haven’t you?”
            “Absolutely. Seriously, it will all come together once I have the replacement caterer and menu wrapped up.”
            “Who’s at the top of your list?”  
            “Evan is really pushing for Antonio Marcotti. He decorated Marcotti’s restaurant last year and says the guy’s a marvel with food. Italian, of course.’
            “Is he the one who owns the place on Hart Street?”
            “Yup. Bella Luna. I was pleased that he did agree to take on the job when I phoned him earlier this week. It’s such short notice but when I’d filled him in on the theme, along with a couple of food requests from the client, and the budget he said it all sounded fine. Actually, I think the name of the client was the major selling point. We have a meeting on Monday afternoon to go over the menu.”
            “Sounds like a good fit. And talk about lucky. Think about it, if the original caterer had been even one week later in giving notice, you may have been up that proverbial creek without a paddle.”
            “Don’t I know it.” J.J. looked at the clock that hung above the credenza that served as a coffee station as well. She started to tidy her desk. “I really can’t believe Marcotti is able to fit this event in at such short notice. I take that as a good omen.”
“And what about your own personal food dilemma?”
            “Ah, you mean the one where I have to come up with a cookbook and then choose an entrée from it and furthermore, actually prepare it for the Culinary Capers? My second hosting of the dinner club?”
            “That would be the one.”
            “I don’t have anything in mind yet but I’m on it.”
“I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t point out that it’s been nearly a week since the last dinner club evening. That’s right isn’t it? One week on Sunday?” Skye peered over the red frames of her reading glasses.
            “Are you enjoying this inquisition?”
            Skye smiled. “Yes, I am. Thanks for asking.”
            “I have had other things on my mind, namely work, boss. But it won’t be a problem. Tomorrow morning we’re all meeting at Beth’s coffee shop and I’ll announce the name of the cookbook, hence the need to hit the bookstore tonight. That’ll still give everyone three weeks to go out and buy the book, or borrow it, and come up with a dish to go along with the entrée I choose. I’m sort of leaning towards Italian.”   
            “Hmm, wonder where that comes from?”
            “You’re right. I think I’m on a roll. I’m even dreaming Italian these days. In fact, I may just ask Antonio Marcotti for a few suggestions. However, it still remains that the major problem with choosing the main course is the part about having to cook it myself.”
            “Oh come on now. You pulled off the last dinner you hosted, didn’t you? Everyone loved the whatchamacallit you made.”
            J.J. sighed. “You can’t go too wrong with chicken jambalaya. There was a reason I chose a Southern cookbook, you know. But I do think my period of grace is coming to an end. I’ve been a member of Culinary Capers for six months now. I really need to come up with something a bit more complicated or I could lose my spot. And I’m trying. How does this sound - al dente or al forno, sautéed or seared?  Don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about?”
            Skye gave her a thumbs up.
            J.J. sat back and laughed.  “Wow, who’d have thought I’d actually be contemplating making an elaborate meal?”
            “Could have knocked me over with a feather when you said you were joining the dinner club,” Skye answered with mock sincerity.
            J.J. threw the small stuffed beaver, the revered mascot from their college days, which sat on her desk for just such moments, at Skye. “Thanks for the support.”  
            “You’re welcome and remember who you bring the leftovers to.” Skye waited a beat before continuing. “By the way, since the princess party is still two weeks away, are you able to meet with a new client tomorrow?”
            J.J. paused in the middle of corralling her hair in a ponytailer.  She knew it was seriously time for a haircut but wouldn’t you know it, the week she’d planned it, her hair fell just right, in soft curls well below her shoulders. And the bangs had even behaved. Now, if it could only be that agreeable the rest of the month. She picked a long dark brown hair off her white Cashmere top. “Business is really picking up these days. That’s two new clients this week, right? Which one is mine?”
            Skye walked back around her desk and scrolled down her computer screen before answering. “Her name is Olivia Barker and she’s the Communications person for Kirking Manufacturing. They’re planning, to quote her, “a very special retirement party” in, I think she said, five months.”
            “I love a client with a long timeline. It sounds like fun. Who’s on your list and I hope it’s a long way off also. I know you have that fundraiser coming up next month.”
            “Don’t remind me.”
            “Still having problems with the chairperson?”
            “She is a diva in her own mind. Very much the reason I prefer dealing with the male gender.”
            “So that’s why I get Ms. Barker,” J.J. shot back, smiling all the while.
            Skye shrugged. “You might get lucky. She may be a gem.”
            “Perhaps. Or I may need to do a little polishing along with the planning. Is there anything I can help you with?”
            The phone rang before Skye had a chance to reply. She shook her head in answer while picking up the receiver.  J.J. watched her old friend, and more recently, her boss as she wound a thick strand blonde hair that had escaped its bonds, around her finger. She’s tired. It had been a long week, what with the current client list, the new ones being added, and trying to come up with ideas that would re-vamp their website. They weren’t yet at the stage where they had too many clients.
            J.J. could help with the first but not the latter, although she loved tossing out ideas. That’s the part she loved the most about being an event planner – not the final product, but the process of creating it. She smiled as she checked her email for a final time that day. She was lucky to have landed on her feet and in such good company.
Toasting Up Trouble (Dinner Club Mystery #1)Toasting Up Trouble by Linda Wiken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Toasting Up Trouble ( Dinner Club Mystery #1) by Linda Wiken is a 2016 Berkley publication.

The colorful cast of characters are zany, interesting, and at times very mysterious. I loved the banter between J.J and Ty, as they start off on the wrong foot with each other, but wind up making a pretty good team.

There is a secondary thread running through the book as well. J.J. discovers someone is stealing her event planning ideas, which added a little more depth to the story, without taking too much away from the main mystery.

I think J.J. is going to be a terrific amateur sleuth and I can’t wait to see what mystery she will help solve next and how things will progress with Ty.

The book also has a couple of yummy recipes included!

Foodies and cozy mystery lovers will definitely want to give this book a try!
This review is the copyrighted copy of Night Owl Reviews

To read the full review, click on this link:



For 14 years, Linda Wiken owned the mystery specialty store, Prime Crime Books in Ottawa, ON. It was with sadness and a sense of anticipation that she closed the store in 2010. Now, she's embarked on a life of crime between the pages. Her first novel in the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries, A Killer Read, was published April, 2012 as her alter ego, Erika Chase, and was shortlisted for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel at the Malice Domestic conference. There are now five books in the series.

She embarks on a new writing adventure as the real Linda Wiken with another series, the Dinner Club Mysteries, also from Berkley Prime Crime. The first book, Toasting Up Trouble, will be released on July 5, 2016.

Her short stories have appeared in the seven Ladies’ Killing Circle anthologies (three of which she co-edited), and in the magazines Mysterious Intent and Over My Dead Body. She has been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award, Best Short Story, from Crime Writers of Canada.

Bedded Bliss - by Cari Quinn and Taryn Elliott- Release Blast + Giveaway

A hot night in Vegas is just what the rockstar ordered... 
until someone ends up married.

Found in Oblivion #1
Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
Releasing Aug 22nd, 2016
Rainbow Rage Publishing

Michael Shawcross is living the dream, opening up for his idols, Oblivion, on his band Warning Sign’s first tour. Until an overzealous fan goes too far and his hard-partying ways catch up to him in the form of an ultimatum from his manager, Lila Crandall.

Clean up your image—or else.

Single mom Chloe Adams is in Vegas for a rare girls’ night out. She wasn’t ever supposed to be attracted to another rockstar. In fact, she’s in rockstar rehab, and the cure for her addiction definitely isn't a sexy, smart-assed guitarist with wicked fingers.

She never expects to accidentally end up his wife. Or to have her new husband suddenly decide that she’s the solution to all his problems. And surprise…he’s happy to show his appreciation in a number of interesting, inventive ways.

Pretending their marriage is real might just be the hottest proposition she’s ever been given.

But what happens when a lie becomes the truth? 

BEYOND OBLIVION - A Rockstar Romance full of sexy fun set within the world of our Lost in Oblivion series! You never know who you'll see show up in the books. 

USA Today bestselling author Cari Quinn likes music and men, so she figured why not write about both? When she's not writing, she's screaming at men's college basketball games on TV, playing her music too loud or causing trouble. Sometimes simultaneously.

USA Today bestselling author Taryn Elliott is obsessed with rock stars, men, and her unending playlists--maximizing these things seemed like a very good idea. When she's not writing, she's losing hours to hot men on TV, and/or a graphic design project. Multitasking is her middle name.

They decided to combine forces and found that hey...this writing deal is even more awesome when you collaborate with your best friend.

And so Lost in Oblivion was born.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Insidious- An FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter- Feature and Review + Giveaway

Insidious is the twentieth thriller in #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter's FBI series. FBI agents Savich and Sherlock must discover who is trying to murder Venus Rasmussen, a powerful, wealthy society icon. They soon find out that the danger may be closer than expected.

Venus Rasmussen, a powerful woman who runs the international conglomerate Rasmussen Industries, believes someone is poisoning her. After Savich and Sherlock visit with her, someone attempts to shoot her in broad daylight. Who’s trying to kill her and why? A member of her rapacious family, or her grandson who’s been missing for ten years and suddenly reappears? Savich and Sherlock must peel away the layers to uncover the incredible truth about who would target Venus.

Meanwhile, Special Agent Cam Wittier leaves Washington for Los Angeles to work with local Detective Daniel Montoya to lead the hunt for the Starlet Slasher, a serial killer who has cut the throats of five young actresses. When a sixth young actress is murdered, Cam comes to realize the truth might be closer than she’d ever want to believe.

With breakneck speed and unexpected twists and turns, Coulter’s Insidious will leave you breathless until the shocking conclusion.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Saturday night

Marty Sallas moved quiet as a thief, which is what he was, to one of the side windows of the small pastel blue house, his glass cutter in his hand. It was a good fifteen minutes from the Strip in a quiet middling residential neighborhood. Perfect, really, for what he had planned. He’d kept his eyes on his princess, called Legs by everyone in the cast of the Beatles Retrospective, for the past two days, ever since he’d noticed a rich guy coming on to her.  Last night he’d seen the dude give her an expensive emerald and diamond bracelet from Laszlo’s, a not-so-subtle inducement to hit the sheets. Tonight the rich guy wasn’t with her, he was playing high-stakes poker again at the Mandalay, where he’d seen her singing and dancing in her show. Molly Harbinger was her name, but to Marty, she was his princess who would give him her crowned jewels. He looked at his watch, lit a cigarette. Of course, he’d stick the butt in his pocket. Soon now, Molly should fall into bed exhausted after her three-hour workout in the show.
Marty used the time to think about how he’d spend the money he’d get from this job. He was considering the San Juan Islands off the coast of Seattle, perfect weather this time of year, not like this hell hole, and who cared there’d be no hot girls hanging out drinking beers? He’d buy himself a wet suit and swim in Puget sound. He had to pay off Alf, a security guard at Laszlo’s, who’d texted him about the bracelet. The rich dude had shelled out fifteen big ones. So one thousand to Alf. It always paid to keep his boys happy.
Marty froze when the kitchen light came on at the rear of the house. He moved around so he could see into the kitchen, crouched behind the bushes. Why wasn’t she in bed, getting her beauty sleep? He’d seen her caress the rich guy’s hand just that afternoon over two glasses of chardonnay, the bracelet sparkling in the dim bar light, and heard her thank him again, tell him she had two shows tomorrow, and she needed to get to bed early, but -– lovely pause -- she was off Sunday. The guy had bowed out gracefully, no doubt he’d wet-dream his night away. Marty hoped he would win big at poker and give her more bling. The princess deserved that.
It was after midnight and there she stood, wearing a pink pajama boxers and a tank top, drinking water over the kitchen sink. Back to bed, Princess, back to bed, time’s a-wastin’. Come on, honey, it don’t pay to hang around in one place too long.
He heard a man’s wheedling voice, but couldn’t make out the words, then the princess yelled, “I told you to get out of here, Tommy! What you did this time tears it. You gambled away all the money I’ve saved. Get out now, you loser, I don’t want to see your stupid face again.”
Marty had thought she’d already drop-kicked Tommy, a car salesman she’d been seeing over on Marian Avenue. No loss, the jerk. The fact is, he’d believed she was alone. Where was Tommy’s car? Marty didn’t like this, didn’t like it at all. He had to be more careful.
Whatever, boot the jerk out, Princess. Get your beautiful self back into bed and into dreamland and I’ll give you something to guarantee a good night’s sleep.
Marty eased back toward the front of the house, eased down into a mess of red bougainvillea. He waited patiently for Tommy to come trooping out the front door when he heard a motorcycle coming down the quiet street. It was moving slow, as if the driver was looking for an address. At this hour? What was wrong with people? Even in Las Vegas regular people slept at night. It was only delusional brainless yahoos flying in here from who-knew-where who stayed up all night.
The motorcycle stopped out in front of the house, idled. What was this crap? Had Tommy called a friend to pick him up? Or was it someone else sniffing on Marty’s turf? Nah, another thief wouldn’t be cruising around on a loud-ass motorcycle. He’d be hiding, like Marty, biding his time. Marty cursed low. All he wanted was to get in, lay a chloroform mask over his princess’s nose, watch her snap awake, then breathe in and pass out, ten seconds, tops. He’d find that bracelet and get out with no one the wiser, but no, he couldn’t catch a break. First a boyfriend and now this motorcycle, and who was this guy? He heard the front door slam. So Tommy had called a buddy to come get him. Everything was all right. Tommy climbed aboard and the motorcycle revved and rocketed down the street. No more drama. Neither idiot was wearing a helmet.
Marty would give her another twenty minutes at least. If she was mad at the boyfriend, it’d take her longer to calm herself and float off to dreamland. He waited, listening, and now there was only the sounds of crickets, a coyote in the distance, but nothing else except a light desert breeze.
Finally Marty pulled the glass cutter out of his pocket, and walked quietly toward the second bedroom window.
Then he heard something, like a door opening real quiet, like someone sneaking around who didn’t want to be heard. No, impossible, it couldn’t have come from the princess’s house. She was alone. But his heart still pounded. Maybe he was getting too old for the business. He waited, the glass cutter poised in his hand.
Marty pressed the button on the side of his watch, lit up the face. Nine minutes after one o’clock now. He hadn’t survived this long by being stupid. He waited another five minutes. Nothing, no light, no sound. Everything was as it should be. The neighbors were all tucked in, pets snoozing, Tommy and his motorcycle buddy watching a late movie, guzzling beer.
Marty carefully carved a small circle in the glass, gently lifted it out with tape, and eased his hand through the opening to unlock the window. He hoisted himself up and carefully eased inside the second bedroom, more an office, he thought, seeing the small desk, the laptop, a chair. He quietly closed the window, no sense taking a chance that a sudden noise outside would awaken her. He stood a moment in the darkness, listening, then pulled out the cloth wrapped around a small bottle of chloroform from his jacket pocket, and soaked it good. He walked silently to the door, opened it, looked out into the darkened hallway. There wasn’t a sound, not even an air conditioner, and that was good, it meant the princess was fast asleep. Would she have the bracelet on the nightstand next to her? That would make things easy. In his line of work, though, Marty had learned early on that something that easy happened maybe once in a decade.
He crept toward her bedroom at the end of the hall, his sneakers not making a sound. The bedroom door was open. He slowly looked around the edge of the door.
And nearly fainted. He managed to keep his shriek in his throat, but the figure bending over his princess sensed his presence, turned, and Marty saw his face in the shaft of moonlight coming in the bedroom window. He was wearing goggles smeared with blood and had a bloody knife in his hand. As the man jerked away from the bed, Marty saw his princess covered with blood, saw her head bent at an impossible angle, saw blood still oozing from her neck, all in a millisecond. And he could smell the blood, thick and hot and coppery. Marty ran back down the hall, threw a bookshelf down behind him. He heard the killer’s shoes hitting the wood floor in the hall behind him as he ran back into the small office. Marty dove out the window headfirst, cutting his hand on his way through, but he didn’t slow. He rolled to his feet, clutched his hand to his chest, and ran to where his car was parked three streets away. Only when he was driving away did he look back. He didn’t see anyone. Had the man seen his face? Would he be able to find him?
Marty’s heart pounded and he was still panting from his run and from stark terror. He’d never been so afraid in his life. He felt the pain in his cut hand only then, smelled his own blood, only not nearly as thick and fetid as the smell in her bedroom.
It wasn’t until later, after his hand had been stitched in the ER across town, and he was cruising on morphine, did he feel rage at what the monster had done.  He’d stuck that knife into the princess -- his princess – he’d slit her throat. And then he’d come after Marty.


Insidious (FBI Thriller, #20)Insidious by Catherine Coulter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Insidious by Catherine Coulter is a 2016 Gallery Books publication. I was provided a copy of this book as an XOXpert the official street team of XOXO After Dark, and Edelweiss.

This twentieth installment in Catherine Coulter’s FBI series takes on two separate cases, one featuring the popular husband and wife team, Savich and Sherlock, who must determine who is trying to kill an elderly socialite and an up and coming FBI superstar, Cam Whittier, takes on a serial killer in Los Angles who is targeting beautiful actresses.

With this book, the reader gets two full stories in one book, both of which are compelling with surprising twists and turns. Savich and Sherlock have a puzzling case in which it seems a family member is responsible for trying to kill their own grandmother. The suspects range from the heir apparent to the black sheep of the family who has recently become a prodigal son, returning to the nest after pulling his life back together.

Cam comes up against opposition in L.A. due to the FBI’s involvement, which has put some members of the LAPD on the defensive, but she handles herself with aplomb. However, the tension thickens when another murder takes place, and it looks like one of the actresses could have been the victim of a copycat killer.

I readily admit I struggled mightily with the older books in this series. However, the more recent releases have been pretty solid. I think the initial romantic suspense elements have been toned down a little with Savich and Sherlock being married for a little while now and raising a family. So, any new romance comes from secondary characters. In this case, the romance element is fast and furious, but lacks emotional connection, but did play a key part in the story.

While I love romantic suspense, it stands to reason that this series has evolved into more of a standard mystery thriller format, which is fine by me, since the storylines are firmer, and the characters have room to develop more as crime solvers. As a result, the crime stories are more complex and interesting. I am also enjoying the addition of new characters and side stories that help keep the series fresh.

I liked Cam a lot and hope to see her in future installments, and of course the trademark banter between Savich and Sherlock was entertaining, with their dialogue a little sharper this go around, giving me a few chuckles.

While the popularity of this series once left me scratching my head, the last several installments showed me why this series is so well received and has such a loyal following.

Overall, this is a pretty solid thriller and I like Savich and Sherlock working in concert, while allowing the spotlight to shine on other characters who get their very own crime to solve. While the author has employed this concept in previous installments, I still found this to be a unique approach and I thought it worked out quite well.


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Catherine Coulter is the New York Times bestselling author of 75 books. Her hugely popular FBI thrillers include The Cove, The Maze, The Target, The Edge, Riptide, Hemlock Bay, Eleventh House, Blindside, Blowout, Point Blank, Double Take, Tail Spin, Knockout, Whiplash, Split Second, Backfire, Bombshell, Power Play and Nemesis. She has a new international thriller series -- A Brit in the FBI -- co-written with JT Ellison. These include The Final Cut, The Lost Key and The End Game. Also now available is the first in her novella series, starring Grayson Sherbrooke (from the Sherbrooke historical romance series), titled The Strange Visitation at Wolffe Hall.
Upcoming new releases! The 20th book in her FBI thriller series, Insidious, will be out in September 2016, and the 4th book in the Brit series, The Devil's Triangle, will be out early 2017. Coulter lives in northern California with her three thriller cats and her thriller husband.