Review: Perfectly Nice Neighbors by Kia Abdullah

Perfectly Nice NeighborsPerfectly Nice Neighbors by Kia Abdullah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perfectly Nice Neighbors is an A++ Legal Thriller featuring major Neighborhood Drama from Kia Abdullah.

This is my second novel from Abdullah and I have given both 5-stars. I think it’s fair to say, I’m a huge fan!

As far as Thrillers with a Legal bent go, I don’t read a lot of them, only a few a year, but the ones I read, I do tend to enjoy. I feel like Abdullah brings such substance to her stories though, they almost go above and beyond.

In this story we follow two families. Salma, Bil and their son Zain, who are the new family on the street, and Tom, Willa and their son Jamie, long-time neighborhood residents.

It is important to note, Salma’s family is Bangladeshi, while Tom’s family is white. Also, please note, each family has a dog and the dogs are also involved in the drama.

You have been warned now about these two aspects. In other words, you may read things in this book that will make you uncomfortable. You may read things in this book that will make you angry, or emotional, but I promise, you’ll walk away with a lot of thoughts and it will be memorable.

Basically, Salma and Tom get into it. They get into it deep. This is a neighbor feud for the freaking record books. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.

As events escalate, the tension really amps up. I was squirming in my seat. It feels very unsafe, like a ticking time bomb, but how far will the battle be taken?

Y’all, I am always down for the drama. But this is a different sort of neighborhood drama than I’m used to. This was on a different level than most.

I appreciated how quickly Abdullah got to the action. She didn’t waste a lot of time on build-up. We meet Salma and her family, basically as they’ve just moved into their new home. It seriously takes no time at all for the event that leads to the initial confrontation to take place.

After that, each subsequent run-in just digs both families into their position deeper and deeper.

The snowball keeps rolling until the point where I was feeling emotionally drained. I don’t mean this as a bad thing, because hey, at least I was feeling something.

In fact, one of the things I love most about Abdullah’s stories is that she sets her Readers up with space to do some critical thinking. The way she frames her stories, it explores both sides, instead of hammering home with one character’s perspective. It’s so engrossing.

I feel like her style is a great platform for Readers to have some real self-reflective, as well as shoe-on-the-other-foot, moments. It feels written with such intention and what’s not to appreciate, and respect, about that.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy tense neighborhood dramas that explore current societal issues. I know this won’t work for everyone, but for the Readers who do end up enjoying it, I think they’ll walk away feeling like they’ve had a memorable reading experience.

Thank you so much to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I can’t wait to see what Abdullah comes up with next!

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Review: In a Quiet Town by Amber Garza

In a Quiet TownIn a Quiet Town by Amber Garza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

In a Quiet Town is the latest release from one of my auto-buy authors, Amber Garza. I have read all of Garza’s published works and have enjoyed them all.

There’s just something so addicting and entertaining about her style of tense Domestic Dramas. There’s always a bit of mystery and intrigue, as well as interesting explorations of different familial relationships.

In this story we meet Tatum, a mother of two grown children and wife to a pastor in a small California town.

At the beginning of the story, we learn that Tatum has recently reconnected with her estranged daughter, Adrienne. Years ago, Tatum’s husband basically disowned Adrienne because she wasn’t living up to his lofty expectations.

Adrienne was happy to get out from under the thumb of her overbearing father and has been living her own life ever since, recently working as a bartender.

Tatum has missed having her daughter in her life and has started secretly visiting her at the bar. She was delighted when Adrienne seemed open to them reconnecting.

Tatum has become a regular at the bar, going in once a week on a night she knows Adrienne will be working. One night though, Adrienne isn’t there and none of her coworkers have seen or heard from her.

Tatum knows something is wrong. Adrienne is not the type of girl to just not show up at work. Plus, she knows it is the night her mother visits. She would have called in. Something must have happened to her.

As Tatum starts searching for Adrienne, she doesn’t find a lot of help. The police seem to think she has just run off for space, or whatnot, but Tatum knows that’s not true.

Eventually, she meets a man claiming to be Adrienne’s fiance. This comes as a complete shock to Tatum. Why didn’t Adrienne mention she was engaged?

Then again, they have just rekindled their relationship, perhaps her daughter felt it was too personal to share.

Regardless, Tatum is just happy that someone else is as distraught about Adrienne’s disappearance as she is. At the end of the day though, can she really trust this guy?

They begin working together trying to figure out where Adrienne is. As the intensity builds, it becomes clear that she didn’t leave of her own volition and could still be in terrible danger. Can Tatum find her before it’s too late?!

As always, I was immediately drawn in by Garza’s characters. From the start, I wanted to know more about Tatum and enjoyed learning about her life and family.

Garza excels at creating believable mother-child relationships. Sometimes I will be reading along and a quick line, or thought pattern, will give me chills or bring me close to tears. I always love the relationships she builds within her stories, because they aren’t always easy.

This one actually made me uncomfortable at times because it felt so real. There is a strong religious aspect due to Tatum’s husband being a pastor, which played a large role in Adrienne’s estrangement.

While I don’t have a lot of that in my background, and can’t really comment on how it would impact a family dynamic, the circumstances put forth in this novel seemed very believable to me.

I liked how Tatum, even though she was a mother of grown children, felt like she was still learning about herself, growing and coming into her own.

Part of her growth was due to the love of her children and her unwillingness to give up on Adrienne. I found that character growth really powerful. It was nice to see that just because she was a well-established adult, her life didn’t have to remain static. She could make changes.

It did get pretty intense. By about the halfway point, I was yelling at the book while reading. Particularly any scene involving a man. I wanted to smack them all.

Please note, that’s not my general demeanor, but these guys deserved it.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a tense domestic drama blended with a nice mystery. Bonus points, if you enjoy reading about mother-child relationships. Also, if you have enjoyed any of Amber Garza’s work in the past, you should definitely pick this one up.

Thank you so much to the publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I will continue to pick up anything from this author and am already anticipating the next release!!

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Review: The Last One by Will Dean

The Last OneThe Last One by Will Dean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Last One, the latest release from Will Dean, is the epitome of a book you want to go into blind. Trust me on this, the less you know about the story, the better.

I first heard of this book via my friend, Holly’s, review. Within her first two paragraphs, I learned this was set on a cruise ship and frankly, that was all I needed. I was sold.

Cruise Ship + Thriller = Something I’m Gonna Read.

I requested this one from the publisher and was so excited when they approved me for a copy. I started it pretty quickly after that, because it seemed like a perfect Summer Thriller.

Spoiler alert: I was right.

I was immediately intrigued and by the 8%-mark, my jaw was on the floor. What the heck had I gotten myself into?

Dean wastes no time getting the ball rolling. It went in a direction that I never in a million years would have expected. It was giving me eerie, Twilight Zone vibes and I was over the moon about it.

I read this so quickly. I couldn’t put it down once the suspense sets in. I had to know what was at the heart of this story and even after I found out, it didn’t answer everything. In fact, it got even more perplexing.

I just had a complete blast reading it. Fun, fast-paced, original and entertaining as heck. I also liked how, without giving too much away, it shined a light a bit on modern life; the way we function day-to-day as humans.

Finally, that ending. Oh my word! That was great. I love a story that can leave me with a little sinister smile on my face at the end and this one absolutely did.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an out of the box Thriller, especially if you think a Cruise Ship setting sounds enticing.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This one was ever more fun than I expected.

I’m looking forward to picking up more from this author!

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Review: Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen

Gone TonightGone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Gone Tonight is the latest solo-release from beloved Thriller author, Sarah Pekkanen. I have had this one on my radar for a long, long time and she did not disappoint.

I listened to the audiobook and was so impressed with how it was able to hook me from the very start. I was intrigued, I was invested, I wasn’t able to put it down!!

In this story we’re following a mother and daughter, Ruth and Catherine, respectively. Catherine feels like she knows her mother almost as well as she knows herself. It’s always been just the two of them against the world.

Ruth loves her daughter Catherine with her whole heart and would do anything for her. Ruth was young when she got pregnant, and she gave up a lot for Catherine, but it was worth it. After all, a mother’s life is full of sacrifice.

As Catherine has aged, she has grown strong, smart and independent, just like her mother taught her. She’s now ready to spread her wings, move to a new city and get her first career-focused job.

It seems like everything is going her way, until it’s not. Secretly, Ruth isn’t ready for Catherine to be moving on. She’s willing to do what she has to in order to keep her daughter close to her. She knows it’s deceptive, but she also knows it’s for Catherine’s own good.

In her efforts to keep Catherine with her, Ruth has inadvertently opened herself up to her daughter’s scrutiny for the first time.

Ruth has always been secretive about her past. Catherine knows nothing about Ruth’s life before her, or even her own extended family members. Ruth’s recent behavior causes Catherine to dig, discovering she may not know her mom so well after all.

Y’all, I loved this! As mentioned above, I was hooked into this one from the start. I thought the plot was well-crafted by Pekkanen, keeping the Reader invested and on the edge of their seats.

I loved the character work. The way the truth of Ruth’s past was revealed was completely enticing. We do get Ruth’s past perspective to help that unfold and I was just as interested in those past sections as I was with the present perspectives.

I also really enjoyed being in the minds of both of these women, as they grappled with their present circumstances and the reality that they may not know everything about the one closest to them.

The way it was written you feel like you’re a fly on the wall, possibly with a piece of buttered popcorn, just watching all the drama unfold. It’s juicy and captivating.

In short, I love a book that captures my attention enough that I can read it in a day. That’s exactly what this one did.

I had such a fun experience with this one and would definitely recommend it to other Thriller fans, or people who enjoy reading about complicated family dynamics. If you end up enjoying this one half as much as I did, you’re bound to have a good time.

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

In my opinion, Pekkanen nailed this one. She should be proud!!

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Review: Before She Finds Me by Heather Chavez

Before She Finds MeBefore She Finds Me by Heather Chavez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Before She Finds Me is the latest release from Heather Chavez. I went into this very excited, as I really enjoyed Chavez’s two earlier releases, No Bad Deed and Blood Will Tell.

In this novel we follow the perspectives of two different women, Julia and Ren. On the surface, these women are as different as different can be, but their lives are about to become entangled in some pretty serious ways.

On the day Julia is moving her daughter, Cora, into her new college dorm, a viscous, seemingly senseless attack rocks the campus and leaves Cora injured.

It’s only due to Julia’s quick reaction that Cora wasn’t more seriously hurt. Unable to stop thinking about the event, Julia starts to question whether it was as random as everyone else seems to think.

Ren, pregnant with her first child, is a trained assassin, as is her husband, Nolan. Ren doesn’t know Julia and she wasn’t on the campus that day, but she knows who was, Nolan, and he’s left a big ole’ mess in his wake.

Ren needs to clean-up after him. After watching footage of the incident numerous times, Ren is curious about the woman in the crowd with the unbelievable reaction time. Who is she and what, if any, is her connection to this job?

When both women begin to hunt for answers, it’s inevitable that their paths are going to cross and their going to find themselves on opposing sides. With both Ren and Julia willing to risk it all to protect their families, which mother is going to come out of this alive?

Y’all, I went into this one with the highest of hopes. I found both of Chavez’s earlier novels to be engrossing and fast-paced. I had a blast with them. While I have read many great reviews for this newest book, I just could not connect with it.

The opening scenes were intense as heck, but then it slowed way down. By 21%, I was feeling nothing. I could have taken it, or left it. I just kept reading other reviews and they were glowing. I decided to keep going.

By 50%, I was contemplating giving up, but again, the rave reviews kept me going. I started feeling myself going into a slump. It felt like I had been reading it forever.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the writing. I still really enjoy Chavez’s writing. It’s fluid, well-thought out and her characters feel real. However, the plot was plodding along slower than a snail crawling up hill.

Frankly, I don’t know if snails crawl slower going up hill, but you get the picture.

When I finished, it was cause for celebration.

At that time, if you asked me how long it had taken me to read this, I would have guessed 6-weeks, but it was actually just shy of a month. It wasn’t fun.

This made it tricky for me to rate. I love Chavez and her writing, but it’s clear this one didn’t hit for me. My personal experience was more of a 2-star, but I know there is a good story in here and if you can be drawn into it, or into the characters, I know you will have a good time with it.

So, with all this being said, and my tiny complaints aired, just ignore me. Go read all of the 4-star and 5-star reviews for this one. If you have any interest at all, give it a shot.

I will definitely be continuing to pick up all of Chavez’s books as they are released. Just because this one didn’t knock me out of the park, doesn’t mean the next one won’t.

Thank you to the publisher, Mulholland Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I look forward to seeing what Heather Chavez comes up with next!

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Review: The Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett

The Weekend EscapeThe Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

After reading the synopsis for The Weekend Escape, I knew I needed to read it. This set-up is my absolute go-to for atmospheric, thrilling reads.

A deserted island, a vicious storm, a murderer amongst friends…

The weekend was intended as a fun reunion for six friends, Val, Bobbie, Juliet, Amanda, Lyndsey and Sonia, but almost as soon as the women arrive on the deserted island, their destination for the weekend, things take a turn for the worst.

The women form a bit of an informal climbing group, they’ve been climbing things together since they were school girls. Their mountain this weekend, an old lighthouse.

A climbing incident leaves one of the women injured. Inclement weather and other extenuating circumstances make communication with the mainland impossible.

Power outages, misplaced poison, secrets, lies and a mysterious Bird Warden, add to the tension and spiraling happenings. What started as a weekend for fun and adventure has turned into a weekend of survival and a fight for their lives.

Who will make it through the weekend escape?

I had fun with this. The setting and atmosphere delivered as promised. I also enjoyed learning about the characters and all their drama, as well as their shared history.

While I’m not sure how memorable this story is overall, it made for a fun weekend read.

I will say this is very, very, very similar to She Started It, which I read not long ago. For the record, this one was published in 2021. I wish I’d have read it first. I actually enjoyed this one more than SSI.

I liked this setting more and I also didn’t find this to be predictable, as I did SSI. I couldn’t help but make comparisons throughout while reading, which I did find to be distracting. I wish I had read this one and this one only.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a deserted island story, or stories involving friends weekends gone wrong. This had some intense moments and it was fun watching it all unfold.

Thank you to the publisher, One More Chapter, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it!

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Review: The Night It Ended by Katie Garner

The Night It EndedThe Night It Ended by Katie Garner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


When a private investigator reaches out to Dr. Madeline Pine, a criminal psychologist specializing in female violence, to ask for her help with a case, she is hesitant to assist.

The case involves traveling to a remote private school, for girls with behavioral challenges, to investigate a recent death of one of the students.

Madeline doesn’t know if she is capable of handling this right now. That difficult case last year almost ruined her.

When she hears about the dead girl though, found barefoot and in her pajamas at the bottom of an icy ravine, she can’t resist. The deceased, Charley’s, Mom is the one who hired the P.I. after the police ruled the death an accident.

Madeline has her own daughter, Izzy, about the same age. She can’t imagine being in Charley’s Mom’s position. She would do anything to find out what happened to her own daughter, thus she feels like she has to help.

Madeline travels to the school with the P.I., Matt, and begins interviewing the other girls on campus over the winter holiday. They’re few, but have a lot to say.

This story jumps between the current timeline, with Madeline at the school trying to figure out what happened to Charley, and audio transcripts of interviews from a case the prior year. You don’t know who the interview participants are, but it’s clear a crime has occurred and the interviewee is involved in some way.

I enjoyed this. I thought this was a solid suspense novel. I enjoyed the setting of the private school and the fact that it was winter break made it extra eerie, as there were very few people left on campus.

The remote location was great and there was even inclement weather to add to that effect.

I liked how cold and dark it felt. Additionally, I liked how mysterious our main character, Madeline, was. She was there to help solve a mystery, but she had her own mysteries as the Reader, I was trying to figure out.

I didn’t find Charley’s story super compelling, but nevertheless, it was still well done. I was more interested in the students that were still left and just getting to know them, as well as finding out their intricacies and secrets.

One of the downfalls of this for me was the narrative style. We had quite a bit of blocky-feeling, stream of consciousness narrative from Madeline and I’m never crazy about that.

Particularly towards the end, Madeline has some things going on with her where she is starting to lose her grip on reality. In those moments, it just felt too jarring to me, the way it was written. I am not a fan of SOC-narrative style in general though, so take that with a grain of salt.

Additionally, in the moments when Madeline was getting confused, I was getting confused and not in a good, suspenseful way. I feel like those moments could have been dialed in a little more to provide more clarity to the Reader.

Overall though, I did enjoy this. I liked the atmosphere and learning about the characters. I think the ending was satisfying and there was definitely a twist that I did not see coming. That made me happy!

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

This was fun and I would definitely be interested in picking up more from Katie Garner!

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Review: The Hotel by Louise Mumford

The HotelThe Hotel by Louise Mumford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

10-years ago, Bex and her best friend, Leo, were set to explore the remote and abandoned hotel, Ravencliffe, as a way to celebrate the end of school. Bex’s new boyfriend, Richard and his best friend, Oscar, end up weaseling their way into the trip as well.

Four went there, but only three returned. Leo was lost that day, from a high cliffside, never to be seen again.

Richard, an aspiring filmmaker, recorded their entire doomed exploration of the old property. The footage of that day has become a Horror Cult Classic; think The Blair Witch Project had it been real.

A decade later, the trio of survivors have drifted apart, living very different lives and each coping with the events of that fateful night in their own way.

As the ten-year anniversary approaches a documentary project is proposed wherein Richard, Oscar and Bex will meet up and return to the property, to face the demons of their past once and for all.

Our main character, Bex, has lived in isolation in London for many years. She’s cut herself off from everyone, haunted by the past. Leo was her best friend. She has so many unresolved feelings stemming from that night.

Even though she’s against it initially, Bex ultimately decides that returning to Ravencliffe may provide her with the opportunity to get answers about what happened to Leo. So, begrudgingly she agrees to take part in the project.

Bex, Richard and Oscar are reunited just prior to filming and return to the property from whence all their nightmares stem; along with a whole host of crew members for the documentary, of course.

The property seems just a malevolent as ever and incidents aplenty occur as they begin to film. Will Ravencliffe end up taking more lives?

While I did see one of the reveals coming a mile away, there was quite a bit about this book that I found compelling.

I loved how Mumford told this story mostly using just Bex as the narrative voice, but providing both present and past perspectives. I really enjoyed the present perspective, but was equally as interested in the past, which followed the characters from the time they planned the fateful trip, up through Leo’s disappearance.

It was a slow build initially, but I didn’t mind it. I loved Bex as a main character, even though I understand she probably won’t be every Readers cup of tea.

Personally, I love a main character who is flawed in some way, maybe haunted by their past and deals with it by isolation, self-sabotage, or self-medicating. I also always enjoy when these same characters decide they finally need answers and go back to their hometowns, or some other remote location, to investigate the past.

In this way, The Hotel was made for me.

I would say this continued the slow build until about the halfway mark and then events began to escalate more quickly. Regardless of the slow burn, I was never bored and disengaged from the narrative.

The atmosphere was incredible. I loved the remote, stark setting of the hotel, as well as its dark history. It had a solid is it supernatural, is it not supernatural-feel, which I enjoy. Give me all the dark, spooky things.

Overall, I thought this was a super-entertaining read. The plot elements kept me engaged and I loved the overriding tone and feel of the story. Even though it was slightly predictable in places, it was still a great time nevertheless. Well done by Mumford!

Thank you so much to the publisher, HQ, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to picking up more from this author!

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Review: She Started It by Sian Gilbert

She Started ItShe Started It by Sian Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

If one of your closest friends asked you to be her bridesmaid and then extended an invitation to an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas for the Hen Party, you would accept, right?

What if someone you were only slightly close friends with, but had grown apart over the years, did the same? You might accept, but think it was odd they were asking you, right?

Now what if someone who you weren’t close with and may not have always been kind to asked? Would you still say yes?

Personally, I would say, hell yes in the first instance, a kind, I’ll pass, for the second instance, and hide under a rock from the third, because that seems entirely off to me.

For Annabel, Esther, Tanya and Chloe, best friends since childhood, instance three becomes their reality when they are invited by Poppy Greer to attend her extravagant Hen Party in paradise.

The women are taken aback. They weren’t that close with Poppy. None of them have seen her in years, but it is a free trip to the Bahamas. They may not have been best friends with her before, but if she wants to take them on lavish vacations, they could always change that, right?

I mean, honestly, what’s the worst than could happen?

Traveling to the private island, the group are in good spirits. They’re meeting their hostess there and the trip is off to a jubilant start. They’re anxious to discover what Poppy is like after all these years. They couldn’t even find a picture of her on her socials.

Upon reaching the island they find a new and approved Poppy. She’s not the mousy-artist they remember, but a confident, beautiful woman. This could get interesting.

There’s no doubt that She Started It is a propulsive read. I’m always here for the drama and what better setting than a remote island in the Caribbean.

We get everyone’s perspective in this, including a past perspective via Poppy’s diary entries. There were times I felt it was hard to distinguish between the various women’s perspectives; they’re all quite similar, but I did start to get used to it as the story progressed.

Additionally, I could have done with a bit more intrigue. It all seemed fairly obvious quite quickly what was going on and I wish that initial suspense could have been drawn out longer.

With this being said, those are small nit-picky things and may not bother other Readers in the slightest. At the end of the day, this is an entertaining read and strong debut.

My recommendation: Grab your popcorn, grab a cocktail, sit back, relax and enjoy the shit-show!

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Review: The Spare Room by Andrea Bartz

The Spare RoomThe Spare Room by Andrea Bartz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Kelly loves Mike. Kelly thought Mike loved her. Kelly has sacrificed a lot for their relationship, recently moving from Chicago to Philadelphia for his job, leaving her job, friends and family behind.

As the Covid-19 pandemic puts the world in lock-down, Kelly and Mike’s relationship takes a turn for the worse. Mike suddenly requests that they pump the breaks on their upcoming nuptials.

Kelly is devastated and confused. She doesn’t know where she stands with Mike now. It’s uncomfortable and stressful being trapped in their tiny apartment together.

The only bright spot of this period of time is the friendship Kelly has rekindled with a girl she used to know in high school, Sabrina, who is now a successful Romance author.

Kelly confides to Sabrina about her current relationship issues and Sabrina comes up with a plan; a perfect escape for Kelly to clear her mind and reassess everything.

Sabrina offers Kelly the chance to go live with her and her husband, Nathan, at their palatial mansion in Virginia. They have a spare room, might as well put it to good use.

Kelly graciously accepts. She’s heartbroken to be leaving Mike behind, as it is still unclear about where they stand, but nevertheless, he doesn’t try to stop her. In a way, she feels she doesn’t have a choice.

Not knowing how long she will ultimately stay with the couple, Kelly packs just the necessities, including her cat, Virgo, and heads to VA.

Initially, things are awkward, but a few glasses of wine help and Kelly finds herself truly relaxing and settling in.

Both Nathan and Sabrina are gracious hosts, who seem truly happy that she is there. So happy in fact, that after a night of bonding over a great meal, drinks and some time by the pool, they end up opening up their relationship to her and a steamy threesome ensues.

Kelly can hardly believe her luck. She has never felt this way. She’s happy and falling hard. Mike, who?

There are some red flags though. The most disturbing is the fact that the couple’s previous partner disappeared under mysterious circumstances. When Kelly presses for information, she’s not satisfied with the answers she is getting from Sabrina and Nathan. What are they hiding?

As the tension mounts, Kelly starts to think she’s in over her head. Could she be the next one to disappear?

Y’all, this was such a tricky one to rate. It took me days and I’m still not sure I got it right. I waffled between a 2-star and 4-star rating.

Honestly, there were quite a few things about this story that drove me nuts. On the flip-side though, there was also great intrigue, tension and food for thought.

I did enjoy how quickly Bartz got us to the meat of the story. Within the first 10% of the story, Kelly is already getting herself to VA and settled in.

I like that the author didn’t waste a bunch of time with filler in the beginning. We’re all here to see what happens when Kelly moves into the spare room, after all.

I also enjoyed the sexual chemistry between the trio. That was a fun dynamic to watch play out.

It did take a long time to get anywhere though after the initial set-up. I was just hoping for someone to get murdered or something by the halfway point.

I was getting miffed at Kelly because she was making so many dumb choices and I started to dislike both Sabrina and Nathan. It was weird though because even through those negative emotions, I was addicted to this story.

I couldn’t stop reading. It had the suspense and messy drama I needed to keep me furiously turning the pages.

The second half was all over the place for me. There were some fun reveals and the tension definitely continued to grow, but it felt chaotic at times and not in a good way.

It got wilder and wilder as the story progresses, almost to the point where, I won’t say I was rolling my eyes, but I was close. Either way, I couldn’t stop thinking about it after.

If I were to describe The Spare Room with one word it would be, twisted.

Overall, I walk away from this happy with my reading experience. It was far from perfect, but there’s no doubt that I was entertained and compelled to keep reading.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was a memorable one!

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