Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Darling Rose GoldDarling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Patty Watts was arrested and charged with poisoning her daughter, Rose Gold.

An alleged case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, Patty was purported to have been abusing Rose Gold her entire life.

As a late teenager, Rose Gold confesses some things to a neighborhood friend and the adults around her end up putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Ultimately, Rose Gold testified against her Mother in court and she was sentenced to five years. As you can imagine, this has led to an estranged relationship.

Darling Rose Gold follow two perspectives, both Patty and Rose Gold.

We follow Patty after she is released from serving her time and Rose Gold after her Mother is prosecuted up through the present day.

As Patty is released, she is picked up outside the prison gates by Rose Gold. It seems during the interim of her time away they have begun the process of healing their relationship.

Rose Gold is now a mother herself, of little Adam, and has purchased her own home. Since Patty has nowhere to go, it is decided that she will move in with them until she can get back on her feet.

This book is full of messed up twists and keeps its intensity throughout as the timelines come closer and closer to merging.

I love this type of format. I always end up racing through so fast to get to that climatic scene at the end.

About mid-way through I knew hoped I knew where this was going. It went there and I was hella happy about it.

A revenge story is one of my favorite tropes of all time. This one satisfied me in that regard and was full of masterful manipulation.

I have often mentioned that I love a good long-game; this story had that in spades. Well played, Wrobel.

There were definitely parts that made me uncomfortable, particularly the focus on Rose Gold’s ruined teeth, but I understand where the author was coming from in framing it that way.

Rose Gold and Patty definitely shared one of the most f*ed up relationships I have ever read. It’s also one I remember for a long time.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to more from Stephanie Wrobel.

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Review: No Exit by Taylor Adams

No ExitNo Exit by Taylor Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Darby Thorne has just received terrible news from her sister. Their mother is dying of cancer and she doesn’t have much time left.

Rushing home to Utah to be by her side, Darby encounters a blizzard in Colorado that makes all roads impassable.

Luckily, she comes across a remote rest stop that seems like a safe space to wait out the storm.

It has to be better than being trapped alone in her car for the night in freezing conditions.

Seeing other vehicles in the lot, Darby realizes she isn’t the only traveler stuck in this horrible situation. Upon entering, she finds three people inside who seem amiable enough.

Then a fourth person pops up who creeps her the f* out.

After his arrival, Darby is on edge and seemingly for good reason. As she is out in the parking lot, she notices a little girl locked in a dog cage in the back of a work van.

One of the people stuck here is a kidnapper and god knows what else!

Now Darby has to figure out how to free the girl, keep her safe and survive the night. All the while, not knowing who the predator is. So, no pressure.

This book was hella fun. Adams did a wonderful job of consistently building momentum throughout the story.

As I was reading, I found my level of anxiety getting higher, higher and higher. In a good way. The fun, edge-of-your-seat, kind of way; not the crawl under a blanket and not leave my house for a week kind of way.

When this book was released, there was quite a bit of hype surrounding it. Happy to report, that hype is legit.

Channeling strong horror movie vibes, this story will stick with me for a while. I loved the different characters and the horrific circumstances just seemed to get more and more dire as the hours at the rest stop ticked by.

Great pacing by Adams. I am really excited to see what he comes up with next. I hope he consistently stays in this thriller/horror zone. I definitely think he’s found his sweet spot!

As an aside, perfect winter read if you live in a climate where you get a lot of snow.

Blizzard coming this weekend? No problem. Just pick up No Exit and STAY AT HOME!!!

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Review: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

No Bad DeedNo Bad Deed by Heather Chavez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My head is spinning. Wow, that was a wild ride!!!

Driving home from work one night, Cassie Larkin sees what she assumes to be a domestic conflict happening on the side of the road.

She stops her car and calls 911. Although the operator tells her to remain in her vehicle, Cassie cannot sit idly by while this woman gets assaulted or worse.

As she breaks up the altercation, the man tells her that if she lets him kill this woman, he will let her live. Basically, this woman’s life for hers, but Cassie isn’t having that.

Eventually, the man flees, but unfortunately he does so in Cassie’s van. Now the psycho has her handbag, complete with identification, family photos, address, and her house keys.

Without putting too fine a point on it, this is basically my worse nightmare come to the page. Reading this opening scene, I was so prepared to throw this book in the freezer.

It’s like Heather Chavez knew exactly what to write to freak me the heck out!

And I cherish that.

When Cassie’s husband disappears the next night, on Halloween, while out trick-or-treating with their 6-year old daughter, her instincts tell her something is terribly wrong.

After she reports it, it seems the cops just believe this is a case of a man leaving his family. Cassie knows better, however, and begins her own investigation.

While it did surprise me that the cops didn’t take his disappearance more seriously, especially considering they knew the crazy, violent guy who stole her vehicle had her keys and information, I did love Cassie getting involved and looking into his disappearance herself.

Amateur sleuthing is one of my favorite tropes in a thriller and I think Chavez did a great job with it here.

This story took so many crazy turns, there was no way to predict what was going to happen next. As secrets begin to come out from Cassie’s own dark past, you know the final reveal will probably blow you away.

The final scenes did not disappoint!

I was so impressed with this. I was creeped out almost the entire time and it was so much fun. I cannot wait to read more from Chavez!

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate it!

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Review: The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler

The Look-AlikeThe Look-Alike by Erica Spindler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Ten years ago, Sienna Scott, stumbled across a murdered girl in the snow. Sienna was leaving the library and she recognized the girl as one of her classmates.

Understandably traumatized by this event, Sienna has a hard time forgetting the incident.

In fact, she has thought about it so much, she thinks she was the actual target that night, not the poor dead girl.

This coupled with some family issues, leads to Sienna getting shipped off to live with her Grandmother in London, where she becomes a professional chef.

Now upon returning to Tranquility Bluffs, a decade later, Sienna immediately begins to fixate again on the murder. They never caught the real killer after all. He could still be out there and still be after her.

Sienna’s mentally unstable mother is a huge part of this narrative. Her delusional disorder makes it close to impossible for her to be around Sienna, as Sienna’s safety is one of her biggest triggers.

I have to be honest and say, this whole dynamic made me super uncomfortable. Something about it just did not work for me.

I would actually say, overall, the author’s writing didn’t work for me. There were entire aspects to the plot that drove me crazy. Number one being the relationship with the neighbor.

There were a lot of red herrings and plot twists. At times, I felt myself sort of getting into it. Then something wonky would come up and it would kick me right out of the story again.

I would put this in a middling to average category for Adult Thrillers. Although with this being said, there is a reader for every book and just because this didn’t work for me personally, doesn’t mean you won’t love it!

If the premise sounds interesting to you, give it a try. Don’t let me sway you!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

Even though this one wasn’t necessarily for me, I still appreciate the opportunity so much!

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Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Whisper ManThe Whisper Man by Alex North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

This is exactly how I like my police procedural/investigative thrillers. Well done, Alex North!

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy thinks a fresh start is just what he and Jake, his young son, need.

They move into a house in the small town of Featherbank. A town with a sordid past.

20-years ago a serial killer abducted and killed 5 residents. He was captured, tried for his crimes and imprisoned.

The killer’s name was Frank Carter, but he was known to the world as The Whisper Man, as he lured children out of their homes by whispering at their windows.

The Whisper Man has become a bit of a legend in the small town and even decades later seems fresh in the minds of many.

When a boy in Jake’s class gets abducted, the similarities to the Whisper Man crimes, cause many to wonder if he had an accomplice all those years ago, or if there is a clever copy cat in town.

This story follows the perspectives of Tom and Jake, two detectives working the case, and even into the mind of the killer.

I loved the atmosphere of this one. It felt gritty and heavy. Any scene with Jake in it, your classic creepy kid, left me entirely unsettled.

The action was high-intensity and I felt the investigatory portions were well done.

I will admit, I was a little nervous going into this one because I had heard mixed reviews. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely read more books by this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Celadon Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. My apologies for taking so long. It was definitely worth the wait!

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Review: The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

The Dead Girls ClubThe Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Heather Cole receives a necklace in the mail, with one half of a ‘Best Friends’ pendant on it, she can’t believe it. She knows this necklace because it was on the neck of her best friend the night she died. It went with her to her grave.

Or did it?

She panics. What could this mean? She is the only one who knows what happened to Becca that night nearly 30-years ago.

She has to figure out who mailed her this and stop them before they reveal the truth!

Alternating between ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ perspectives, the reader slowly learns Becca’s fate. Following the girls 12-year old perspectives, as they hang out discussing all things macabre was the most interesting part of the story for me.

Becca was obsessed with a story of a woman called The Red Lady, think Bloody Mary, and would not stop talking about her.

She regales their friend group with stories about The Red Lady, a woman killed for being a witch, seeking her revenge. Her storytelling is so vivid the girls begin to believe it.

Is she real?

The ‘Now’ perspective follows grown-up Heather, a child psychologist, as she tries to piece together who knows about her and Becca.

This part of the story was not as enjoyable for me. Personally, I found adult Heather annoying AF and I could not understand the decisions she was making.

Her thought process and decisions were more like she was still 12-years old than an actual functioning adult.

Because of my disconnect from the ‘Now’ portions, the overall story felt uneven. I would rush through ‘Now’ in order to get back to ‘Then’. Unfortunately, due to this, it took me a bit longer to get through this than it would the average Thriller.

The premise was very interesting but the execution fell a little short. Also, for me, I was disappointed with one of the big reveals and felt that some of the narrative didn’t fully back up that reveal. I know this sounds cryptic but I don’t want to risk giving anything away.

This being said, there are definitely a lot of interesting aspects to this story and I think the writing shows a lot of promise. I would pick up more work from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion and I know a lot of readers will really enjoy this one!

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Review: The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

The Missing YearsThe Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

A delightful tale of suspense with surprising twists!

After Ailsa Calder’s mother dies, she inherits the Manse in the Scottish Highlands in which she grew up. Well, half of it anyway.

Upon going to settle the estate, she is told that the other half is owned by her father, a man missing for the last 27-years.

The real kicker, although Ailsa wants nothing more than to sell the property, having no desire to leave her posh London-life behind, she can’t.

In order to do so, she will have to have him legally declared dead. A bureaucratic nightmare perfect for the bereaved.

While she handles that whole mess, she relocates to the Manse, along with her half-sister, Carrie, who she really has no relationship with.

It doesn’t take long after arriving at the remote location before it becomes clear to Ailsa that someone doesn’t want her there.

When intruders show up in the night and the house begins to rebel against her, Ailsa feels like she is coming unhinged. She tries to keep it together and bond with her sister but so much is going wrong, she is literally at wits end.

Tie in an interesting group of side characters and a looming sense of dread and you have yourself a taut little suspense novel!

There is a constant back and forth of, is it supernatural, is it not, that I absolutely loved. I went into this without the highest of expectations and I have to say, I was most pleasantly surprised.

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a wonderful job making me feel like I was included in the action.

The pacing was fantastic and it kept me wanting more the entire way through.

This was my first Lexie Elliott but definitely will not be my last!

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Blog Tour Review: The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

The Last AffairThe Last Affair by Margot Hunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

From the outside, suburbanite Mom, Gwen Landon, seems to have it all. With successful husband, Josh, two children and a Labrador, they are a living example of the picture perfect family. Until Gwen winds up dead, that is, bludgeoned to death in her own backyard with a driveway paving stone.

Nora Holliday also appears to be living in suburban bliss, although behind closed doors, things are a bit darker for Nora. Her husband, once an abusive alcoholic, now in recovery, is challenging to live with and the love and spark is definitely gone. Nora does what she can to try to keep it all together for their children but that type of life can be hard.

When Josh and Nora run into each other at an out of town hotel bar, they make a irrevocable and passionate decision that will alter all of their lives.

Full of the domestic drama we all love, glazed with a delightfully devious revenge plot, The Last Affair will keep you vigorously turning the pages until the very end. Once I started down this twisted road of secrets and lies, I could not put it down!

Jumping back and forth between multiple perspectives helped this one to never lose its pace. There were so many secrets, so little honest communication, it was frustrating and amazing all at the same time.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, cleverly plotted domestic drama to help get you through this holiday season, you should definitely consider picking this one up!

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to read this early. Thank you so much to the publisher, Harlequin — MIRA, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had a lot of fun with this story and am definitely looking forward to Margot Hunt’s next novel. I think her writing has grown a lot for this book compared to For Better and Worse so I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

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Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Family UpstairsThe Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Libby Jones turns 25 years old, she finally gets to open a letter she has been waiting for her whole life, for it contains the identification of her birth parents. Found at just 10-months old, at the scene of an apparent suicide pact, Libby was adopted out, never knowing her true identity.

Upon opening the letter she learns some startling news. Not just who her parents were but that she is inheriting their long-abandoned mansion in the swanky-Chelsea neighborhood in London; a house worth millions of pounds.

To Libby, working a mundane job designing kitchens, this is a blessed windfall. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances in which she was found at that very property, her windfall is also steeped in trepidation and fear.

Unknown to Libby, she really may have reason to be fearful, for others out there have been waiting for her 25th birthday as well, and they are planning a reunion. Lurking around the property, they await the baby’s return.

During the course of the book, we follow three different perspectives and both present and past timelines. I was definitely more intrigued by some sections of this book as opposed to others. This gave it a pacing issue for me personally and I felt the formatting was a bit wonky.

To be completely frank, I didn’t really find it interesting until about the 70% point and then I couldn’t put it down. Again, pacing issue. Unfortunately, that’s too much of a slow burn, even for me, the lover of slow burns, to give it a higher star rating.

There were entire portions at the beginning that I would have preferred to skip right over. Let’s say, anything set in France, I was bored to tears.

However, as mentioned above, the ending really did pick up and I think over all the story premise had a lot of promise, and for these reasons I bumped my rating up from around a 2.5 to a 3. This is a good book. I know a lot of readers will absolutely love it and I support that. It just wasn’t necessarily the perfect book for me.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets

The Last Woman in the ForestThe Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How well do you really know the ones you love?

When Marian receives an opportunity to work as a dog handler for a biological study researching endangered species in the remote Northwest, she jumps at the opportunity. It is perfect for her. The freedom and beauty of the outdoors, working with dogs and ultimately being able to help the species they are studying.

Before she knows it, she is there, trying to fit in and adjust to her new lifestyle. Her mentor and trainer, Tate, is an attractive man with a strong personality, and as often happens they end up falling in love.

Assignments end up taking them in different directions however, and once separated, something terrible happens to Tate. He dies in a freak accident. Marian is devastated and wants to find out all she can about the circumstances leading up to his death.

Unfortunately, as she is looking into his past, she begins to discover startling inconsistencies about who he told her he was. She begins to harbor great suspicion that Tate may have been involved in the disappearances and murders of multiple women taking place in the area of their studies.

In fact, her feelings are so strong, she ends up contacting the now retired criminal profiler, Nick, who worked the unsolved cases. Between the two of them, the reality of Tate’s life and deeds are slowly pieced together for the reader.

Told in alternating perspectives between Marian, Nick and the killer’s victims, this slow-burn thriller captures perfectly the horror of one man’s deeds set against the beauty and ferocity of nature. I really enjoyed the setting of this and this nature of Marian’s work was also very interesting.

While the narrative was a bit slow, I think the story itself was very well pieced together. It was horrifying for poor Marian to realize how close she slept to death. I felt for her and ended up really enjoying her character as a person; Nick as well.

The scenes told from the victim’s perspectives are very dark and graphic but felt truthful and disturbingly real. The more I sit and think about this story, the stronger my appreciation for it grows.

Initially, I was thinking this would be a 3-star for me but after reading the Author’s Note and really thinking about what she had to say, and the courage it took to write it, I bumped it up to 4-stars. I did really enjoy this and would definitely read more from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity!

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