KeturahAuthor: Lisa T. Bergen

Series: The Sugar Baron’s Daughters #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Historical fiction is a difficult genre for some of today’s authors but Bergren does it with ease giving an amazing setting and characters we can’t help but long to see succeed.

Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson has found herself in a difficult spot. The year is 1773 and she and her sisters are about to lose everything their family has worked so hard for. As the heiresses of their father’s estates in England and the West Indies, they know they must leave the comforts of their English home and sail to the West Indies in order to save all they have.  An unprecedented venture for women did at this time, but that doesn’t stop Keturah and her sisters from continuing their journey without a man. Keturah has been under the thumb of men all her life and refuses to let herself be put in a helpless position again. No matter how hard she tries to avoid it, every man on the island tries endlessly to win her hand, and with it the ownership of her family’s plantation.  The only person she can trust is a childhood friend that has journeyed to the island as well to gain his own wealth. She isn’t sure of his motives but she has no one else besides her sisters and without letting him help she risks losing everything.

It doesn’t seem to matter which genre Bergren writes in, she is always able to provide readers with a story they won’t soon forget and long for more. I loved her YA series and have been a fan of her work ever since. The setting of Keturah was beautifully described along with the characters and the struggles they faced.  The three sisters are forced to band together and work harder than they ever have in order to save the family plantation and secure their future.  I love the way they come together and work this out instead of looking to a man to give them the security they could have and so many others probably would. Keturah knows that she is in charge of her future and happiness and I love the way she lets her strength shine through even with the trials she has faced in her past. The relationship between Ket and Gray develops well and I enjoyed seeing him win her trust and how loyal they both were to the people around them.  With this being the first in a new series, I am curious to see how the next will play out with the other sisters most likely taking the lead.  I recommend this book to readers that enjoy historical romance with a beautiful setting and characters they can’t help but fall in love with.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Family Gathering

The Family gatheringAuthor: Robyn Carr

Series: Sullivan’s Crossing #3

Publisher: Mira Books

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

More second chances occur in Sullivan’s Crossing for more than just one new couple!

Dakota Jones spent several years of his life as an army ranger. But one decision to protect his men by defying a direct order left him discharged trying to figure out what to do with his life.  After a walkabout in Australia, he decides to head to Timberlake, Colorado to visit his brother Cal and meet his newborn niece.  His sister Sierra has also decided to stay in Timberlake with her fiancée Connie.  Shortly after arriving, he can understand why his family feels rooted her.  He also starts to meet the local women and has two prospects almost immediately.  Alyssa has a hair salon and Neely is a looker that comes on a little strong the first time he meets her.  In both cases, he is just not that interested.  He is interested in the bartender at a local bar and grille, but she is not interested in him.  Sidney has had a bad divorce and doesn’t know if she can ever trust men again, but Dakota is persistent.  However, the other women don’t like that they are not receiving his affection and he has picked up a stalker.  Can Dakota show this young woman that he is truly enraptured by her?  Or will someone beat him to the punch?

Of the Sullivan Crossing series, this book probably goes the deepest of any of the characters. Each main character is so real, flawed, and raw that they become alive instantly.  Dakota and Sid’s past romances were really tough to stomach based on the loss that each had.  Sierra and Connie’s predicament will likely make readers very emotional.  All this combined made the story fly off the page.  I couldn’t wait to get back to Sullivan’s Crossing after the last book as I was interested in what was going to happen to the final Jones sibling.  I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.  I would love to see this series continue with the family to see how the future plays out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Exhibit Alexandra

Exhibit AAuthor: Natasha Bell

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Release Date: March 13, 2018

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intense, twist turning thriller that will take you for a ride though art!

Alexandra Southwood has gone missing. She was supposed to come home at night for her girls swimming lessons, but never showed up. Her husband Marc is going frantic, pacing the floor trying to get the police to start looking for her before she has been gone for 48 hours.  Finally they start looking for her and discover her bloody belongings by the river.  Everything points to a homicide investigation rather than a missing persons case, but Marc cannot let go that she may still be alive.  He hunts through all their personal belongings trying to find some sort of clue that would tell him where she is.  Marc should focus his attention on his daughters, but he is fixated on finding Alexandra.

Meanwhile, Alexandra is being held in a room against her will. A man shows her newsreels of Marc pleading help for finding Alexandra.  News clippings and press releases are left for her to view while she tortures herself wondering how her family is coping with her disappearance.  The man seems to have something in mind but will never tell her what it is.  Will she ever be free to see her family again?

This was a twisted story that was well told. From the beginning, the reader understands that Alexandra is being held against her will, but the truth will set readers spinning.  Told from Alexandra’s point of view, we have speculation of what Marc and the girls must be going through and how they are putting their life in order after Alexandra’s disappearance.  Each chapter is separated by a letter between Alexandra’s college roommate Amelia telling of how she misses Alexandra and how dull life  has become.  The book may be a little predictable for readers who enjoy mysteries, but it was still exciting to put the pieces together.

There is some strong foul language throughout the book that would be expected of the characters. Based on the content of the book, I recommend it for mature readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Wild Inside

The wild InsideAuthor: Jamey Bradbury

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: March 20, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A stunning debut novel that you will either love or hate.

Tracy Petrikoff is a natural when it comes to hunting and trapping. Growing up in the Alaskan wilderness and the daughter of a famous dog sled musher who won multiple Iditarod’s, it only made sense that she follow in his footsteps.  And she does, right up until her mother dies.  Things for her dad start to fall apart after that, including dog sled racing.  But Tracy is determined to get back on a sled to race.  One day while in the woods near the house, she is suddenly attacked by a stranger, but manages to get her knife before she is knocked unconscious.  The next day, a stranger stumbles onto their property with a stab wound and her dad takes him to the hospital.  Tracy fears for her freedom if it is the same man that she may have stabbed.  Then another stranger shows up asking about lodging in their shed.  Tracy doesn’t trust him from the start, but can’t share her full suspicions with her dad as he doesn’t know about the attack.  How can Tracy get herself out of this tangled web?

This was a very interesting book set in the Alaskan wilderness. The scenery was set beautifully by the author and the way of life in the wilderness really brought the concerns families in this area have to life.  Occasional strangers passing through the areas that may or may not have good intentions, even though most are probably on a bucket list item to see Alaska as a survivalist.  I enjoyed the difference in culture that always educates me on other areas.

Tracy was a very flawed character, to say the least. She is basically a wild she-devil living out in the wilderness.  She gets her fill when she is out hunting and sometimes just by drawing blood.  Having the book told from her perspective was interesting and confusing at the same time.  There were times that I had to go back to a previous part to make connections and understand where she was taking the story.

I’m also not a fan of sans quotation mark dialogue. This is just a personal preference, but unfortunately I’ve seen more books going this direction and I really just don’t like it.  Sometimes it hinders the story line and can be just plain confusing.   Aside from that, there were some items that would keep this book from being suitable from a young audience.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Worth Killing For

Work Killing ForAuthor: Jane Haseldine

Series: Julia Gooden Mystery #3

Publisher: Kensington Publishing

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When her past comes back to haunt her, Julia Gooden uses all she has learned as a reporter to solve a cold case that has been clinging to her for decades.

Julia Gooden is a crime reporter that just can’t let go of her past. Her parents neglected her and her siblings growing up and then left them for good when her brother disappeared.  Julia has tried and seemed to be succeeding in overcoming the odds of such a difficult childhood.  Her boyfriend, Ray Navarro is one of the best things in her life, along with her two boys and she wants to continue the streak of happiness she has found.  However, after three decades, ghosts from her past have come back to haunt her when she sees her father.  After so long, she wants to know what he is doing back in town and why he left in the first place.  She also has a feeling deep down that he was involved in whatever happened to her brother and if so needs to make him pay for taking him from her.  As Julia looks deeper into things, she starts to see a pattern for what is happening now and what happened thirty years ago, leading her to believe she may finally find out what happened to her brother all those years ago.

Even though this is the third in a series, it can totally be read as a stand-alone. I didn’t realize that when I started reading it and don’t think it would have made much of a difference had I read the first two in the series.  The characters were intriguing, even if they were a bit predictable at times.  The boyfriend being a cop makes the story flow with getting information for the case and Julia having a source for her stories but they do fit well together.  The different family dynamics were interesting, I enjoyed how it showed Julia with Ray and her boys as compared to how she was with her sister and father.  Families are like that, some people get along better than others and that’s just life, so I enjoyed how the author played the story out in those dynamics contrasting each other.  It is clear from the beginning of the novel that the current case ties in with what happened to Julia’s brother all those years ago setting the stage for a nonstop page turner.  I enjoyed the way things tied together with many of the different characters that if you told me at the beginning would end up this way I wouldn’t have believed you, but somehow it all worked out beautifully.  I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good mystery with clues throughout but the ending not given away until the very end.  There was just a bit of harsh language throughout so I don’t recommend if for younger readers.

I received a compliment copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Reclaiming Shilo Snow

Reclaiming Shilo SnowAuthor: Mary Weber

Series: Shilo Snow #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The perfect book for those that are into the gaming world including what it could turn into in the future. A little darker than the first but oh so good!

Seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is one of the world’s greatest hackers alive. She has left our world to go to the alien planet Delon to find her brother Shilo who everyone believes is dead. She knows that isn’t true, she can feel it.  With the help of Ambassador Miguel, they seek out the truth in finding her brother and also letting the people of Earth in on the secrets about the alien planet and what intentions it has for Earth.  However, this isn’t the first time she has been with the Delonese.  When she was younger, she and her brother were taken by them, but she has no memory of this time.  As the second installment in the Sofi Snow series, readers will see what is next for this brother and sister and how it will impact all of Earth and beyond.

Not all books in a series have to be read in order but this one most definitely does. If you haven’t read The Evaporation of Sofi Snow or don’t remember the story very well it will be difficult to connect to this one.  With that being said, if you have read it, get ready to pick up where it left off and see how the rest of the story unfolds.  The characters continue their journey and we seem them grow closer to each other as the story unfolds.  There is sacrifice and betrayal and all the things that make a good story great.  I loved how Weber continued with the multiple viewpoints to give readers a deeper sense of what was happening in the story instead of sticking with one POV and having to figure some of it out without really seeing it unfold.  There were times in the story that I felt confused and thought I needed to go back to clear something up but within a few pages it all seemed to work itself out for me.  Readers that love YA/Dystopian novels and have a passion for gaming will not want to miss this one.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Before I Let You Go

Before I let you goAuthor: Kelly Rimmer

Publisher: Graydon House

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A heart wrenching, emotional ride that is sure to make you reconsider your opinion on those affected through the story.

At 2:00 AM one morning, Lexie receives a phone call. Even before she looks at the phone, she knows exactly who it is: her sister, Annie.  Even though they haven’t spoken in two years, she knows what it is going to be.  Annie is high and in some sort of trouble.  Sure enough she’s high, but then she throws a curveball that Lexie didn’t see.  She’s also pregnant and in severe distress.  Lexie and her fiancé Sam must make the decision to convince Annie to go to the hospital before something worse happens to both her and the baby.  As she is stabilized, she tests positive for heroin, which opens a new legal battle for Annie.  In Alabama, if a women test positive during a pregnancy it is considered chemical endangerment of the child.  Annie’s only hope of ever seeing her daughter again is completing a rehab course at a court appointment facility while Lexie takes care of her daughter.  But is it too much to ask after all they’ve been through?

If you’ve never had to deal with a close relative going through addiction, this book may change your opinion on the matter. If you have had this situation, this book may be very difficult to read.  People should take the time to really research the brain when it becomes addicted to a substance and how it becomes addicted.  It is really remarkable to understand that it is an illness and not just a willpower issue that many people consider.  So much so that people often shame or belittle those with addiction problems, which actually drives them further down in the addiction process rather than help them.  This concept is seen here in this story.  The emotional frustration and tension is evident from the first chapter.  Fortunately, the reader gets to see Annie’s past through letters and discovers an understanding of how she got to be where she is.  I really appreciate all that the author has done to bring this issue to light and also educate readers on the different laws that govern issues such as this.

There is some strong foul language throughout the book that would be expected of the characters. Based on the content of the book, I recommend it for mature readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.