The Charming Predator by Lee Mackenzie-2/5 Star Review

Lee Mackenzie has climbed her way back up from rock bottom.  At the bottom of the pit she was known to those close to her, particularly her husband, as Donna.  This book is the true story of how she met and married her husband, Kenner Jones, despite being countries apart.

Donna had traveled to London and met Kenner at a tourist shop.  Through conversation, Kenner discovers that Donna is in need of a place to stay.  So he offers his mother’s hospitality and Donna takes him up on it.  She endured story after story from Kenner’s mother, Primrose, but took it as worth the money she saved.

Donna had returned to her home country, Canada, and started receiving letters from Kenner.  Kenner had ended up in prison as the victim of a misunderstanding and his mother is in need of financial assistance.  Donna sends money from each paycheck to Primrose and continues to correspond with Kenner.  This is the second step down into the pit of naiveté.

Upon Kenner’s release, Donna goes back to London to visit him.  He proposes.  She accepts and goes back to Canada to save up for their wedding and future.  They marry in Canada and then everything starts to fall apart.   The deception builds as their marriage crumbles.  Donna is caught in a landslide of broken dreams, debt, and torn between her husband and her future.
This is all told in Donna’s point of view and partly in letters from Kenner to Donna.  These letters provide a deeper glance into who Kenner portrayed himself to be.  Without these letters, I do not believe I would have continued to read the book.  I would have just tossed it aside as a bitter tale of a woman scorned.  The other added depth to the book was the inclusion of other people deceived by Kenner.

Although this book is classified as true crime (which is my tv preference) it did not leave me gasping in disbelief.  Rather, it left me putting it down often and picking up another book instead.   It felt like when one goes to get a coffee with an acquaintance or old friend and the cell phone tucked away in a purse or pocket is more tempting than hearing more bitter stories.  It was predictable and the details that were focused on did not add to the story, in my opinion.

I would not recommend this book for anyone offended by deception and miscarriages.  I did not note any foul language, violence, or sexual themes.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel by Amy Engel-a 4/5 Star Review!

Lane Roanoke has spent childhood desperate to find out more about her family. Frustrated by her mother’s depression and secrecy, she is still stunned when she discovers that her mother left this world and her behind by suicide. Even more stunning is when she discovers there has been a family waiting to meet her and bring her back to her mother’s childhood home.

But Lane only stayed for one summer. One summer was far long enough and chaotic enough for her to understand why all of the Roanoke Girls are special. And why they all leave. Or die.

Although Lane makes it out of Roanoke alive, she is called back years later when her cousin Allegra goes missing. Lane and Allegra were inseparable that summer that she spent at Roanoke. Despite the time and distance that separated them, Lane knew immediately that she had to go back and find her.

Roanoke does not seem to have changed much in the time Lane has been gone. Nor do the people in it. Can she find her way back out alive once again?
This novel was a dark and twisted novel about how things can be too good to be true. Also, it is about how those who seem perfect on the surface often have twisted secrets buried deep away from the light.

My favorite character was Cooper because he worked hard to overcome what he came from. This is a daily struggle and he strives to make the right choices. Lane tests these choices yet he continues to try to do the right thing, and is understanding and forgiving with her. I also enjoyed that he was somewhat of an underdog figure in the beginning. A character that could be easily assumed would never change, yet develops and deepens the more contact the reader has with him.

This book jumps from the past to present every other chapter. It is mostly told in Lane’s perspective, however, there are a few brief chapters where the perspective is given to the other Roanoke Girls. I thought the alternating perspectives in this case added to the story as it mostly told about how those Roanoke Girls left or died.

The main thing that is holding me back from giving this book a five star review is that there were some points throughout the novel where I felt it lagged in action. Furthermore, the setting was beautifully described but the heat of the summer discussed far too much that it seemed repetitive to me.

I would recommend this book for those interested in a dark novel about how family secrets can stay with us forever, regardless of how far we try to stretch our ties.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be uncomfortable with the following: foul language, violence, explicitly sexual scenarios, adultery, incest, depression, suicide, abortion, miscarriage, substance abuse, manipulation, and physical abuse.

Please note: a paperback copy of this book was generously provided for free in exchange for an honest review.

The Merman’s Kiss (Monsters for Mates #1) by Tamsin Ley-2/5 Star Review

Brianna’s world is over. She lost her baby and her marriage. She puts on weights and walks off a pier into the ocean wanting to end it all. What she did not plan on was entering a whole other world underwater. Merman Zantu finds her and breathes life back into her. Shortly thereafter, they fall into lust and mate. Brianna’s life starts over in a new world with a new mate because when merman mate, they mate for life.

Zantu has a hard time selecting a mate because all mermaids are greedy, manipulative, and leave mermen and their merchildren behind. Having recently witnessed this happen to his brother, he avoids mermaids even more, viewing them as predators. While treasure hunting, he comes across a human who needs rescued and breathes into her allowing her to breathe underwater. Saving her life forever changed his.

I tried to like this book but it was irritating at times. Zantu calls Brianna “my little angelfish” redundantly and the sweeping concept that all mermaids are greedy and malicious did not add to the book. Furthermore, it felt like they were having sex every five pages and then they were telling each other that they love each other after only a brief amount of time. The final redundant part for me was how Zantu kept thinking about how females cannot be trusted because they will leave you. Yet Zantu left Brianna behind on more than one occasion!

It was a novella and easy to read in one sitting. It is difficult to tell if this book was originally written with the intention of shorter length because it felt like a lot was left out. The plot holes seemed to be covered up by more sex scenes. Furthermore, there were big transformations that happened but were not explained how. It just did not feel like it flowed well, in my opinion.

I am adding the second star because there was a lot of detail regarding the marine world. Not only with what it was supposed to physically look like, but how all of the marine creatures interacted.

I would not recommend this book for those who dare bothered by explicit sex scenes, suicide attempts, infidelity, abandonment (particularly maternal abandonment), depression, violence, and coercion.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Foolish Bride by A.S. Fenichel-5/5 Star Review!

Elinor and Michael are engaged. This engagement came from love rather than a business transaction, which is rare in their town. Michael is in the military and takes one last mission before their wedding to secure a title for he and his new bride.

It is this final mission that changes everything.

Michael is injured and is no longer able to bear children. Elinor’s father has just received a higher ranking title and refuses to allow any bad gossip to spread about his daughter. He cowardly dissolves the engagement as Michael is still on bedrest to recover.

Elinor refuses to allow the engagement to be dissolved and fights for their love. But it is Michael that she fights because he has given up on their romance in the hopes that Elinor may marry someone more suitable.

Along comes Preston, a Duke, who seeks Elinor’s hand. Michael fights his jealousy, Elinor fights her conflicting feelings, and the ton is in a gossiping frenzy. Will Elinor choose love or convenience?

I have only read a couple of regency romances that I enjoyed which caused me to hesitate to read this one. I feared it would be too many details about the ton, dresses, and overall scenery rather than focusing on the plot. I was pleased that this was not the case with Foolish Bride. The plot moves so quickly that I read it in one day!

Furthermore, there was strong character development with both Elinor and Michael. Elinor began their courtship acting as the role of “perfect wife” as her mother had raised her to be. The devastation after her engagement was called off caused her to reveal her stronger, unfiltered self. Michael, after being called out by Elinor, realizes that he had been selfish in how he handled the fall out of their engagement as well as how he had treated his own siblings.

Lastly, I was very pleased to find that this book is a part of a series. It read as a standalone and (thankfully) there was not a cliffhanger. My favorite character was Michael’s best friend, Thomas Wheel. I was excited to discover that the next book revolves around him and Elinor’s best friend, Dory. I will be on the hunt for the first book in the series, Tainted Bride, and look forward to the third!

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a romantic story about fighting for love. I also recommend this book for readers who enjoy surprises as well as historical fiction.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be put off by explicit sexual scenarios, violence, mild foul language, and kidnapping.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lola: A Novel by Melissa Scrivner Love-a 5/5 star review!

The Crenshaw Six is a gang based in Los Angeles working tirelessly to maintain and expand their turf. Working with and against rival gangs’ leaders to show their strength and earn respect is a race for time and survival. The Crenshaw Six are also working to keep the true identity of their leader a secret. Most think that Garcia is the leader but only few know that it is actually his girlfriend, Lola, that is the leader.

Lola is fearless, determined, strong, and does not let emotions interfere with her job as the leader of the Crenshaw Six. Only Garcia and her brother, Hector, know her personality outside of the job. That is until a little girl named Lucy comes along. Lucy reminds Lola of what her childhood was like and Lola immediately takes to protecting the girl and wanting a better life for her. Lucy becomes a liability and a target when Lola’s identity as the leader is slowly revealed. Can Lola provide a good life for Lucy and still remain the leader of the Crenshaw Six?

There were many twists and action scenes in this book that was riveting to read. There were physical battles and emotional battles that were nerve-racking. Lola is not someone to assume that you can predict what she will do next. She is fearless yet loyal. She is battling her past by dealing with her recovering addict mother as well as collateral from past decisions she made in her process of becoming the gang leader. She is also battling her present relationship with Garcia whose ex-girlfriend seems to make her attempts at impressing Garcia very obvious. Lastly, she is battling egos by being the alpha as a female with loyalties from 5 males.

My favorite character was Lucy because she has the innocence of a child yet has gone through far too much for her five years. She wants to make others happy in a selfless way. She also brings out the inner child in Lola and her presence is a large factor in the plot.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy action, female empowerment, metaphors, and an unpredictable plot.

However, I would not recommend this book for those uncomfortable with violence, foul language, and drug abuse.

Please note: a complimentary physical copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya-1/5 Star Review

Sarah’s life is an ongoing storm. She lost her job as a paralegal and lost her beloved apartment as a result. Crashing on her best friend’s couch, the only thing that helps her keep her mind off of the chaos is browsing through online “Missed Connections” ads. She dreams of the day when someone will write one about her. One day her dream comes true and the storm becomes a tornado.

The plot was predictable and the main character was immature. I think the intention may have been to make her more of a damsel in distress but she came off as a manipulator playing the victim. She was stuck between developing feelings for someone online and trying to resist her feelings for someone she had been friends with for a long time offline. She only calls her best friend, Pete, to talk about her problems but not to listen to his problems. He calls her out on it at one point and his character kind of falls to the wayside after that. She enjoys getting revenge and creating drama. She was a paralegal but had to take a job at a new age spa. This is beneath her and her co-workers and bosses are out to get her. One co-worker who is especially out to get her has the name Phyllis, but the rest of the book she is called “Phuking Phyllis”. It may have been a clever moniker the first time that I read it but it was redundant the other times. All in all, I would not recommend this book.

Points of potential concern for other readers: there was foul language, bullying, stereotyping, potential for a hate crime, and sexual scenarios. If you are in or interested in the New Age lifestyle, this is definitely not a book for you.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was provided for free from Sourcebooks Casablanca via daily e-mails containing excerpts. You can sign up for these e-mails by going to http://books.sourcebooks.com/casablanca-stay-in-touch/ and clicking on the Free Romance Reads Daily Email.

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella’s-5/5 star review!

Katie (“Cat”) Brenner is a country bumpkin trying to find herself in the big City, London. She has a decent job at Cooper Clemmow with the hopes of moving up in the company now that she has the foot in the door. 
Her boss, Demeter, has everything that Cat wants: great job, great house, great husband, and great kids. What is actual perfection and what is an illusion? 
I have read almost all of Sophie Kinsella’s standalone books, with the only exception being Finding Audrey. I get excited for each new release because I know it is going to take me right to my happy place. The same applies for My (Not So) Perfect Life. I forced myself to slow down reading this book because I wanted to savor it. It was romantic, a bit silly at times, and yet there was a lot of character development amongst multiple characters. It gets deep yet some characters are shallow. There are misconceptions that get out of hand yet there is empathy. It is modern yet It comes back to the age-old question: is the grass always greener on the other side? 
I highly recommend this book, as well as Sophie Kinsella’s other books, for anyone looking for a relatable and humorous light read. 
I would not recommend this book for any reader that is offended by foul language, bullying, or sexually suggestive scenarios. 
Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.