A Lady’s Virtue (Everton Domestic Society #3) by A. S. Fenichel- A 5/5 Star Review!

Sylvia Dowder, surrounded by shame from a broken engagement, joined the Everton Domestic Society.  This way her twin sister could still have a chance at an engagement this season.  Dumped due to her social status being lower than her fiancée’s, she gets back at the ton by moonlighting as a secret gossip columnist.  This is a creative outlet for her sparky nature to put certain gossipers in their place by calling them out in this column.  Getting a job through the Everton Domestic Society working for Anthony Braighton, the new Earl of Grafton, makes it harder to keep her writing a secret.  What other secrets is she able to keep?

 

Not too surprisingly, I loved this book! I have been a fan of A. S. Fenichel’s writing since the beginning of the trilogy before this series, the Forever Brides series (see my reviews #1, #2, #3, and Bonus).  The first book of the Forever Brides series (Tainted Bride) was about Sophia Braighton, Anthony’s sister.  It was fun to read the interactions between Anthony and his sister Sophia.  It was also fun to see the dynamic differences between the American siblings, Anthony and Sophia, and the rest of the English characters.  I found it very interesting how the author contrasted the character reactions to the new social status of Sylvia’s former fiancée and Anthony Braighton.  What also enriched the plot was how Sylvia and Anthony’s frank personalities brought them together.

 

This book is the third in the Everton Domestic Society series (see my reviews on the earlier here  and here ) but it can be read as a standalone.  There are references to previous characters, however, there are brief background updates for each of them that does not halt the pacing of the story.  I was very excited when a familiar character came into the story and it felt like a party was building with the familiar guests showing up.

 

I would definitely recommend this book for romance readers, particularly those fond of Regency Romances.  The romance is slowly built over situations and time making it more authentic for me as a reader.  I would recommend this book for adults as there are some graphically sexual scenarios.

 

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered or offended by: graphically sexual scenarios, public shaming, alcoholism, parental dominance, or mild foul language.

 

Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

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She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens #1) by Gytha Lodge – A 2/5 Star Review

One girl has to tag along embarrassingly with her older sister on a camping trip with her sister’s friends. One night of secrets. One death that will take 30 years to solve. One Detective who knows more than he lets on.

This book was kind of hard to fly through at times. There is a fine line between detailing the setting and overloading on details as filler. However, it could also be the case that the overwhelming amount of details was due to it being the author’s debut novel. It was mostly very heavy on the interactions and operations of the office.

Furthermore, there is a subplot on a newbie detective with an abusive stalker of an ex-boyfriend that forces her to spend the night in a hotel at one point. The main issue with this is: there doesn’t seem to be a point to it. Since this is the first book in a series, perhaps the author is setting up a villain for the next book. Or could it be that the author was trying to humanize the character? There is not a resolution to this issue and it makes the plot a bit sporadic.

Another reason why I did not care for this particular book is because of the alternating narratives. Authors like Liane Moriarty (see review ) can pull off weaving multiple storylines and distinct narratives into one cohesive plot. Unfortunately, this did not happen in She Lies in Wait. Mostly because it starts off solely as alternating narrators of DCI Jonah Sheens in the present and Aurora in the past with chapter separation. Then, the narration switches between a random assortment of characters with only Hanson as a fairly common one with her confusing subplot. Furthermore, some of the other detectives are not established well so sometimes it was confusing on who the narrator was even supposed to be and pretty much muddied the plot.

The final reason why I did not care for this book is because it was almost obvious who the killer was from the early chapters. I had hoped that it couldn’t possibly be that obvious and must be a red herring but I was disappointed.

And so I can’t say that I am eager for the next book in the series. I do give props to the author as it is very hard to get your debut novel published. I would imagine it is even harder if that book is the first in a series. But, for me, this book is not one that I would recommend.

The following things were found in my reading of the book that may be offensive or trigger some readers: violence, drug use, alcohol use, drug abuse, sexual assault, sexually suggestive scenarios, foul language, murder, stalking, and psychological abuse.

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

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton-A 5/5 Star Review!

Aiden Bishop awakens in an unknown forest with only one name resonating in his mind-Anna.  He does not know where he is, when it is, and he does not even know his own name.  The only thing he knows is that he has to get out of here.  Fast.

As he later discovers, he cannot get out of Blackheath until he solves the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle repeating the same day in a different body.  The clues will be given to each character and the events cannot and should not be changed.  Meanwhile, danger lurks in the shadows, in every corner, and not everything is what it seems.

Although the main character, Aiden Bishop, has to inhabit 8 individual bodies, the storyline remained the same and details from previous perspectives bring clarity to the mystery.  Not only does Aiden have to figure out who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle to save his own life, he also has to figure out how to save the life of both Evelyn and Anna.  This is made more difficult as there are others who are also trying to escape and manipulate him to advance their chances.  There is also the issue that the more bodies that Aiden resides in, the more voices and characters compound his psyche.  As if that was not complicated enough, he also has to do all of this while protecting his hosts from being prematurely murdered by The Footman who is stalking him and ready to pounce at any moment to shorten his day and thus reducing his chances of solving the murder and escaping.

All of these factors intertwine into a fantastic plot with surprises, mystery, and an epic finale.  I would recommend this book for all adult mystery readers.  It is very fast-paced and I felt myself rooting for Aiden and Anna through their many obstacles.  I loved the small details that became big clues later on in the story.  The fact that this is Stuart Turton’s debut novel is incredible!

Conversely, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered or offended by the following: arranged marriage, murder, revenge, death, graphic violence, and suggestions of rape.

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

A Lady’s Escape (Everton Domestic Society Book 2) by A.S. Fenichel-A 5/5 Star Review!

Millicent Edgebrook has had plenty of experience of societal backlash from the ton. Orphaned as a teenager and sent to live with her endearing yet notoriously eccentric scientist uncle, her reputation was not off to an easy start. An indecent incident with a boy during this trying time had her feel as if she were ruined forever-all as a teenager! Therefore, she decides to make something positive out of her life and become an Everton Lady.

Ladies of the Everton Domestic Society dedicate their lives to accomplish certain tasks requested by their clients. Accompanied by a chaperone, they are to be professional at all times and get the task done efficiently. They certainly are not to be distracted. They certainly are not to be flirtatious. And they most certainly are not to fall in love with their client. But who can truly stand in the way of true love?

I enjoyed this book and it was very easy to become immersed in this environment. I enjoyed the symbolism of chess as the power play between king and queen, yet also used as a symbol of Millicent and Preston as being treated as equal players. Furthermore, I enjoyed the dog and the kitten that were rescued and became family pets. They were my favorite characters in the book as they were not only adorable characters but also another way that Preston and Millicent bonded.

This is the second book in the Everton Domestic Society, however, it can be read as a standalone. This book also references characters from the Forever Brides series but can be read even if the reader has not read those series as the author provides a brief background on each of those characters. On the other hand, I had read the Forever Brides series (see my reviews: Forever Brides #1Forever Brides #2Forever Brides #3 , & Everton Domestic Society #1) and was very happy to see those characters added into this series as it was like catching up with old friends!

I would recommend this book for adult readers who enjoy regency romances, romances that defy society standards, and romances that develop after adversity. I would also recommend this book for dog, cat, and chess lovers. However, I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended or triggered by fire, parental death, manipulation, and explicitly sexual scenarios.

Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review-thanks!

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan-a 5/5 Star Review!

I know what you might be thinking, dear reader. It’s far too early to be reading a Christmas book. And I would be inclined to agree with you-it’s not even Halloween yet! However, the temptation to read another Sarah Morgan romance novel outweighed the holiday timing principles. Make no mistake: I will be reading this again during the holiday season. It was <i>that</i> charming and magical.

This is a story mostly about three sisters: Posy, Hannah, and Beth. These three sisters each have very tricky relationships with each other, with their adopted parents, and with their respective significant others. Each one is also trying to overcome their own significant hurdle in their lives but all things come back to the one fateful night that their parents died in an avalanche years ago just a days before Christmas. That night has not only impacted their lives, but also the lives of those who would come to know and love them afterwards. How can they move forward 25 years later when that night comes back to haunt them every Christmas?

Sarah Morgan is easily my favorite author (see reviews: #1#2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, & #8,). Every book she writes has characters that are authentic, complex, and hard-working. In this book, each sister handled the traumatic experience of their parents’ death differently. Yet each sister needed to rely on the other in order to overcome it many years later. Each sister had their own mountain to climb but learning to work together rather than only relying on their own self made it easier to face.

I seem to have a problem choosing my favorite character in each book Sarah Morgan writes. In this book, I choose Stewart. Stewart and Suzanne took in the three orphaned sisters and raised them as their own. Stewart is the calm yet adventurous, quiet yet funny, father figure that we honestly could all use. I found him to be incredibly endearing and entertaining.

I would recommend this book for all adult readers, regardless of the time of year, as it pulls you into the Scottish Highlands and takes you to new heights. I would also note that there is a big surprise about 70% into the book that changes everything.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who do not enjoy or may be triggered by parental death, grief, mild foul language, or sexually suggestive scenarios.

Please note: an Advanced Reader Copy of this book was generously provided for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Our House by Louise Candlish- a 5/5 Star Review!

Fiona (Fi) Lawson and her husband Bram have separated but are trying a “Bird’s Nest” custody agreement in order to have shared parenting of their two boys. One parent is at an apartment while the other parent has their time with the kids at their enviable home in a well-known suburb. This way the kids are always at the house and the effort for stability is enforced as each parent takes turns between the house and the apartment. They try their best to keep everything together in a civil manner for the kids. That is until everything fell apart.

One day Fi comes to the house for her turn with the kids but someone else is moving into her house and her husband and children are nowhere to be found. How can everything turn upside down in an instant? When the rug gets pulled out from under you by those you trust.

This story is told through alternating perspectives between Fi in a podcast transcript format and Bram in a Word document. It was a unique way to read a story that I had not experienced before but once I got used to it, I enjoyed it. I honestly can’t decide if I liked the comments that were added at the end of each segment of Fi’s podcast with usernames and comments but they did eventually grow on me as the comments became funnier. It kind of reminded me of the comedian Jim Gaffigan and how he imitates what he thinks the audience thinks of him during his skits. It also reminded me somewhat of Shakespeare’s use of the chorus as a character in some of his plays.

Although some of the surprises were predictable, there is so much going on as the complex plot builds that it is almost a relief to have the main character, Fi, discover these secrets. The storyline accelerates as the pieces begin to fit together so, as a warning to my fellow readers, it is increasingly harder to put down the further into it you get. This is a twofold story about loyalty: between spouses and between friends. A balance between renewed faith and betrayal. I highly recommend it for adult readers that enjoy a thrilling plot and betrayal.

For those who may be sensitive/triggered: there are themes of violence, murder, road rage, manipulation, fraud, adultery, sexually suggestive scenarios (mild), bullying, suicide, and alcohol abuse.

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

Believe Me by JP Delaney- a 4/5 star review!

Claire Wright is a British immigrant in NYC with a passion for acting.  While waiting for her big break, she moonlights helping a private investigator catch cheating spouses.  Until one night, a client is brutally murdered.  Was Claire the last person to see the client alive?  Did Claire go too far and commit murder?

Another great book by JP Delaney! I should have known better than to think I had Believe Me all figured out halfway through.  It is a roller coaster ride with an epic conclusion.  This book is only similar to his previous book, The Girl Before, was my favorite book of 2017 because of it’s twisted ending that had me floored.   It is very heavy on theater as a whole as well as heavily focused on the poet Charles Baudelaire making the extreme research very apparent.

However, I did take one star away because although the main character, Claire, was dark and complex, I couldn’t feel connected to her.  She seemed very self-centered and shallow for most of the book.  This is told mostly in Claire’s perspective with the occasional input from other characters in script form (again, heavily focused on theater).

For those who may be sensitive to certain themes or triggered: there was mild foul language, graphic violence, sexually explicit scenarios, mental illness, stalking, and manipulation.

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