Review: Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 18th 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s after discovering her Maiden Lane series. Not every book was a hit, but there were enough that it felt bittersweet when the series came to an end. When she announced she’d be releasing a new series though, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Not the Duke’s Darling is the first in the Greycourt series, setting the stage for a new cast of characters. While I enjoyed the characters, I had a hard time connecting with the story and couldn’t fully love it as much as I hoped to.

The foundation of Freya and Christopher’s story starts fifteen years earlier, after a tragic event that tears apart friends and families. Christopher and his best friend, Freya’s brother Ran, become estranged for the next decade and a half, leaving him on one side and the de Morays on the other. Fast forward to the present, and Christopher is back from India to run his dukedom and Freya is a Wise Woman disguised as a chaperone. As a member of the secret order of Wise Women, Freya is not your typical woman. She’s fierce, with an intelligent mind and exceptional fighting skills. When they meet again for the first time in years, Christopher doesn’t recognize her, but Freya vows revenge on the man who wronged her brother.

Christopher and Freya have an explosive relationship. Their chemistry is off the charts, and not just because she wants revenge on him. Even though Christopher doesn’t recognize Freya at first, that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Her wit and sharp tongue leave him desperate to be around her. There was a bit of a reversal in roles with these two, with the hero being all in with the heroine, and the heroine being more on the reluctant side, which I enjoyed. Freya’s prickliness gave her character depth, and I couldn’t help but be entertained as Christopher tore down her walls.

“Don’t change. Don’t ever change. I like your prickliness, your scowls, the way you argue with me so fiercely. I want a lioness, not a lamb.”

What didn’t work so well with me were the various subplots that the author tried to tie all together. It felt messy, trying to juggle the Wise Women order, Freya’s mission to save a duchess, Christopher’s late wife, his time in India, someone targeting Freya, the tragedy that happened years ago between three best friends, and even the POV of the next book’s heroine, whose story is being set up in this book. When there is so much going on, it’s hard to make everything as fully fleshed out as possible, which is mainly what made me hold back from enjoying the story.

Not the Duke’s Darling has its issues, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to continue with the series. I’m intrigued enough with the hero and heroine of the next book to want to pick it up, and hopefully it balances plotlines better.


lacey


Reading Order: Greycourt series

 

#1 ~ Not the Duke’s Darling: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ When a Rogue Meets His Match: PaperbackGoodreads (July 30, 2019)


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Release Day Review: Taming Him by Kennedy Fox

Taming Him by Kennedy Fox
Series: Bishop Brothers #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the authors in exchange for an honest review

Alex Bishop is your typical cowboy.
Charming, sexy, and wears a panty-melting smirk.

Working on the ranch helped build his solid eight-pack and smoking body. He’s every girl’s wet fantasy and he knows it too. Alex doesn’t follow the rules of your typical playboy bachelor. After wining and dining his dates and giving them the best night of their lives, he always sends flowers and calls the next day—even if it’s to say, let’s just be friends. His mama taught him manners after all and his southern blood knows how to be a gentleman. Still, that isn’t enough to tame the wildest of the Bishop brothers.

River Lancaster has finally met the man of her dreams. Too bad after six months of romantic bliss, she finds out he’s married. With a broken heart and blind rage, she books herself a ticket to Key West, Florida. Tired of cheaters and liars, she’s set on escaping to forget he ever existed. Who needs a man when there’s an all-you-can-drink margarita bar, anyway? That’s what she tells herself until she bumps into the right guy who can make all those bad memories disappear.

Even if it’s only temporarily.

Two weeks on the beach is what they both need. No strings attached, no expectations, no broken hearts. Too bad the universe has other plans—one that’ll change the entire course of their lives in just nine short months.

*A contemporary romance with a little Southern drama. Each book features a different Bishop brother and can be read as a complete standalone. HEA guaranteed!*
Not suitable for readers under 18 due to adult language and sexual content.

I’m a sucker for a good cowboy romance! I don’t read these as often as I want to, but when Kennedy Fox offers me a chance… I’m not going to say no. I ended up enjoying this first Bishop Brothers book – it’s light-hearted, uncomplicated (if a bit all over the place), and fun. There are cowboys and a no-strings-attached vacation fling… what could go wrong?

“Alex Bishop is your typical cowboy.” That would be accurate. He’s the youngest of the Bishop brothers and has lived, worked, and breathed his family’s farm for as long as he’s been alive. He’s also a playboy extraordinaire. So when he and his friend get the chance to go on an all-expenses paid vacation, he snaps up the chance. What he doesn’t expect is to meet a gorgeous pediatric nurse that, although they start off as no-strings-attached lovers, would steal his heart.

I’ll admit, when Alex was first introduced, I was not a fan. I’m not a fan of the manwhore hero but KF plays a little of the instalove factor when Alex and River meet, so I had no worries about Alex fooling around with random women. Alex grew on me even more when he showed River what he, his family, and his ranch were like. You could really feel that cowboy life and love coming through.

The main reason I can’t give this a higher rating is because of the surprise that’s not really a surprise that happens in the middle of the book. I felt it was a little contrived and honestly, handled a little too easily. I wanted a little more depth and emotion when it came to this part of the book, but the story kept feeling as fun and light-hearted as ever. That’s not to say that’s not a good thing, especially if that’s the kind of read you’re looking for. But for my tastes, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Overall, Taming Him is a promising start to KF’s new cowboy series. I enjoyed it for the most part, and am looking forward to the rest of the Bishop brothers’ books. I’m so excited to see these boys get knocked on their asses by love!


lacey


Reading Order: Bishop Brothers series

#1 ~ Taming Him: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Needing Him: EbookGoodreads (April 17, 2018)
#3 ~ Chasing Him: Goodreads (2018)
#4 ~ Keeping Him: Goodreads (2018)

Also by Kennedy Fox:

Reading Order: Checkmate Duet series

 
 
 

#1 ~ This is War (Travis & Viola #1): EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ This is Love (Travis & Viola #1): EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney #2): My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ This is Effortless (Drew & Courtney #2): My Review • Ebook • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ This is Dangerous (Logan & Kayla #1): My Review • Ebook • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ This is Beautiful (Logan & Kayla #2): EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Release Week Blitz + ARC Review, Top 5 Quotes & Giveaway: Arrogant Bastard by Zara Cox

Arrogant Bastard by Zara Cox releases tomorrow! To celebrate, we have Zara Cox’s top 5 favorite quotes from this new release – also be sure to check out my review and a fantastic giveaway below!

Top 5 Quotes in ARROGANT BASTARD

  1. It’s a universally held belief that you can’t help who you fall in love with. There are a fuck-load of books expounding on that theory. I call bullshit.
  2. I could’ve stopped myself from soiling her goodness. From falling ass over feet in love. But I carried on walking. And with each step I took, I knew we were doomed. Because with each step, I glimpsed her potential, absorbed her genius and her beauty and her flaws.
  3. “But this bastard, your bastard, is going out of his mind with the need to taste you again. If fucking you is off the table, I’ll take the next best thing.”
  4. “I belong to her. It’s easier for both of us if we put it that way.”
  5. He discards the glass and steps onto the wide bed. With his gaze still pinned on me, he slowly slides down the headboard into the pile of pillows. “I’m not going to survive this, am I?” he mutters under his breath.

Arrogant Bastard by Zara Cox
Series: Dark Desires #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 12th 2017
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I’m known as the Black Widow because the desires I hide inside are pure poison.
I was a different person once. Faith, a young wife, hoping to become a mother. My life was pleasant. Stable. It was hell. Until Killian Knight opened my eyes to a world of espionage and intrigue. He saw something in me, something I was too afraid to acknowledge. I didn’t want to be excited by the danger. Didn’t want to crave the wicked passion only he could provide. But I did want, so now I run. And I pay.

I never meant to corrupt her, but I’m not sorry.
After all, I’m already damned.

After four years of searching and longing, I’ve finally found her. Faith, the one person in the world I breathe for. She lives beneath my skin as surely as I wear proof of our transgressions inked on my body. And like the forbidden fruit that doomed us from the beginning, our end is inevitable. We lived with no regret. We loved without inhibition. We betrayed those closest to us. We killed for that love. Now…we will burn in hell together.

Buy Links:
Amazon • B&N • BAM • Google Play • iBooks • Kobo

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After being surprised in the best way possible by the last book in the Dark Desires series, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Black Sheep had set up the Black Widow’s story so well, I was dying for Arrogant Bastard to release, especially since I knew it would be a second chance romance. I am a huge sucker for that trope, and luckily Zara Cox delivered on the angst and intensity I was expecting to come with Black Widow/Faith and Killian’s second chance romance. There were still some parts that I wasn’t too keen on, but overall, this was a fantastically dark and delicious second chance romance I’d recommend!

I feel like I’ve desired her and lost her through several lifetimes. She wishes she’d never met me in even one of them, I know. But that matters very little now.
It happened. We happened. And this time… I don’t plan to loser her again.

Four years ago, Faith and Killian met, and against all odds fell for each other. Killian introduced her to the world of espionage and, caught up in the rush of love, lust, and adrenaline, they never looked back. That is, until one assignment breaks them, and Faith disappears completely from Killian’s life. Years later, after his unwavering search for the love of his life (it certainly helped that he had the money and brains to find her), Killian has found Faith, who now goes by Black Widow. And now that he’s found her, he’s never letting her go again.

She was everything I’d been waiting for without even knowing it.

I loved Black Widow in Black Sheep, and she’s just as badass as I knew she was in Arrogant Bastard. After learning her history with espionage with Killian, I grew to admire her all the more. Despite leaving Killian, Faith never forgot about the man who, once upon a time, was her everything. But now that’s he’s found her, her newly constructed life in New York slowly crumbles, and she’s not sure she’s tough enough to keep Killian out of her life – again.

“When are you going to get it through your head that I exist just for you?”

I loved the second chance romance. I adored the determined hero who never stopped searching for and loving the one woman he knew was meant for him. Seriously, you will swoon over how much Killian loved and cherishes Faith (even if he is arrogant and a bastard at times). I do wish we got to see more of their history though, just to get a sense of how they fell in love from the beginning.

But the main reason I didn’t love this book as much as Black Sheep was that I felt the suspenseful part of the story nearly overtook the romance. I love a good romantic suspense, but I just wasn’t expecting the book to focus so heavily on the action. Although if you love action and suspense, and are in the mood for it, then Arrogant Bastard is definitely for you. The addicting second chance romance will just be the icing on top!

I did enjoy Arrogant Bastard overall and hope that Zara Cox writes more dark romance. Her heroes are alpha, powerful, and irresistible, while her heroines are tough and independent. She writes some sizzling chemistry – the sexual tension is all-consuming and erotic. I’m very much looking forward to what the author has in store for us next!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Reading Order: Dark Desires series

   

#1 ~ Beautiful Liar: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Black Sheep: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2.5 ~ Wicked S.O.B.: Ebook • Goodreads
#3 ~ Arrogant Bastard: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Sept. 12, 2017)

about the author button

Zara Cox has been writing for almost twenty-five years but it wasn’t until nine years ago that she decided to share her love of writing sexy, gritty stories with anyone outside her close family (the over 18s anyway!).

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Pinterest • Goodreads

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Fifteen (15) FREE eBook downloads of ARROGANT BASTARD

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Blog Tour + Review & Excerpt: Play On by Samantha Young

Play On by Samantha Young
Series: Play On #1
Publication Date: September 12th 2017
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The New York Times Bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series and Hero returns to Scotland in this passionate and evocative romance about love, loss, and surviving both.

Nora O’Brien chased a dream from Indiana to Scotland, so sure it was the right thing to do. Three years later she was left in her adopted country with nothing to her name but guilt and regret.

Until Aidan Lennox entered her life.

Older, worldlier, a music producer and composer, the sexy Scot should never have made sense for Nora. But somehow in each other they found the light they were looking for, the laughter and the passion—the strength to play on despite their past losses.

But when life dealt Aidan another unlucky hand, instead of reaching for her he disappeared. The agonizing loss of him inspired something within Nora. It fired her spirit— the anger and hurt pushing her forward to take control and reach for her dreams.

Finally pursuing a career on stage while she put herself through college, everything is how Nora wants it. She’s avoiding heartbreak and concentrating on her goals.

Sounds easy but it’s not. Because Aidan is back. And for some reason he hates Nora.

He’s determined to be at war with her.

And she has absolutely no idea why.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunes • Kobo

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I’ve been a big fan of Samantha Young’s ever since reading On Dublin Street, so when I heard she’d be writing a new book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Play On is a deeply emotional standalone that deals with love, life, and loss. It wasn’t quite the read I was expecting, but I enjoyed it overall. I love getting to travel the world through books, and Samantha Young sweeps us away to beautiful Scotland where our heroine Nora deals with her struggles.

Nora is eighteen and stuck in a rut – working at a fast food restaurant, unable to afford going to college, and no opportunities looking her way. That is, until she meets the sweet, Scottish Jim McAlister who steals her heart and brings her back with him to Scotland. But three years later, she’s alone and barely making ends meet. The only light in her life is her days volunteering at a hospital where she entertains children with her Peter Pan persona. One of her favorite kids has an uncle who is gorgeous, older, more sophisticated… and he wants Nora. How does she resist the man Aidan Lennox is?

“You’re everything to me, Nora. Every bloody thing. I never knew happiness like it until I met you.”

Play On is essentially broken up into three parts – Nora at eighteen and meeting Jim, three years later with Nora first meeting Aidan, and two years after that with Nora reuniting with Aidan. I loved the concept of this, but the execution of it wasn’t my cup of tea. My biggest concern was how the blurb set the story up to be mainly about Nora and her career on stage after losing Aidan. That turned out to be the third part at the very end of the novel and took up the shortest time in the story. I wish we could’ve seen more of their time apart and how Nora grew into her acting career, and I wish Aidan’s love of music and Nora’s acting had played bigger roles in this book.

Despite these grievances, I really did enjoy this book overall. Samantha Young didn’t disappoint with the chemistry and sexual tension between Nora and Aidan. The way they dealt with loss was moving and beautiful. I’m excited to see what else Samantha Young has in store for us with this series of standalones!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Now here’s an excerpt from Play On! ❤

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The Wednesday after my Sunday drinks with Roddy and Seonaid, I found myself in the untenable position of wanting to say no to Sylvie and not being able to. Somehow, she’d gotten her hands on a Twister game board and had talked the kids into playing.

I hadn’t thought it was a great idea, and Jan wasn’t too sure, either, but Sylvie won by announcing only she and I would play, and the kids would take turns spinning the wheel. It actually turned out to be a pretty good idea because we ended up in such awkward positions, in fits of giggles, that we had all the kids laughing and trying to cheat by placing us in even more ungainly positions!

I was in the middle of begging Poppy not to cheat with the Twister spinner when a deep, masculine voice sounded from behind me at the door.

“What is going on here?”

Unable to turn to see who it was, I heard Jan’s voice. “The children’s entertain—”

“Uncle Aidan!” Sylvie squealed in my ear, making me flinch. “I’m moving but you can’t move!” She unwound her leg from mine and was gone.

“How is that fair?” I asked. I wanted to move. I had my ass in the air and the mysterious Uncle Aidan was right behind it.

I bowed my head trying to see through my legs but all I saw were his and Jan’s feet and then Sylvie’s as she rushed him.

“Come play, Uncle Aidan,” Sylvie begged excitedly.

“I think I’ll just watch.” His voice rumbled, sounding amused. He had a great voice. A beautiful lilting, cultured Scottish accent. And my ass was in his face. In green Peter Pan leggings that did nothing to hide the shape of my body, I might add.

Great.

I looked super professional right now.

“Oh, please,” Sylvie begged. “Please.”

“No, sweetheart. You go back into the game. I’ll be here when you’re done.”

“But I want you to play with Nora—I mean, Peter Pan.”

I almost choked. It was time to get up before Peter Pan was made to play Twister with a strange man. The thought sounded so perverted, I had to swallow a giggle.

“Please, please!” the other kids suddenly started begging.

Sylvie began instructing him on the position she’d been in.

“Guys, leave Sylvie’s uncle—” The squeak of the plastic mat halted me midsentence.

And then I felt his heat, followed by the smell of expensive cologne. It was earthy but fresh. Like wood, and amber, mint leaves and apple.

Oh, dear God.

Slowly, I lifted my head and found myself staring into green eyes that were bright with amusement. Familiar green eyes with flecks of yellow gold.

“You must be Peter Pan,” he said, laughter trembling on his lips.

Lips I remembered well.

In fact, I remembered those broad shoulders too, that square, unshaven, strong jawline and expressive mouth. I remembered the sexy laugh lines around his eyes. It all belonged on a very tall, well-built guy who had once picked me up off the floor of a pub and then flirted with me the following day in a supermarket on what would turn out to be one of the worst days of my life.

Uncle Aidan was the stranger from the bar.

Small goddamn world.

Realizing I hadn’t spoken, I managed a croaky, “Hey.”

Our faces were too close together, and his long leg was currently entangled with my short one.

“Right hand green, Peter Pan!” Sylvie announced.

I wrenched my gaze from his to the mat. The nearest green spot would mean climbing her uncle like a monkey. Part of me wondered if she’d cheated. I shot her a suspicious look and watched her shake with giggles.

“Oh, crap,” I muttered under my breath.

I heard the rumble of laughter and my eyes flew back to his. There was a challenge in his, but not recognition. He didn’t remember me. Why would he? I was just a girl he briefly met once.

“I’m not doing it.”

His eyes grew round with mock innocence. “But that would be cheating.”

“Cheating?” Sylvie heard. “No cheating.”

“No cheating, Peter Pan!” Poppy cried out from her chair.

Soon all the kids were buzzing with laughter and conversation as I stared at the man who was already too close for comfort.

There was no way I was doing it. It wouldn’t be appropriate. I moved toward him as if I was going to do it and I let my left hand and foot slip. I flipped at the last minute, crashing down on the mat on my back.

“Oh no, I fell! I lose!” I threw my hands up in the air.

I heard his laughter before his face appeared upside down above mine. My breath caught as he smiled down at me. “Liar.”

“It’s called pretending.” I grinned up at him. “There’s a difference.”

Instead of smiling back at me, he suddenly frowned. “Have we met?”

about the author button

Samantha Young is the New York Times,  USA Today  and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us was published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook & hardback June 2017. Play On is an adult contemporary romance and the first in a brand new series set in Scotland.

Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for HeroOn Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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Review: What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti

What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Links: Ebook • PaperbackHardcover • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti comes an emotionally riveting story of a woman falling for a man who may be hiding a dangerous secret—perfect for readers of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah.

“Guilty people keep secrets.”

Isabelle Austen returns to her hometown on a small, isolated Pacific Northwest island to take over the family tourism business after the death of her mother, a disapproving parent and a hard woman to love. Feeling lost, Isabelle is also struggling with a recent divorce and wondering if she’ll ever come into her own. Then her life takes a surprising turn: The mysterious Henry North arrives on Parrish Island, steps off a seaplane, and changes Isabelle’s world forever. From the beginning, their relationship is heady and intense—then Isabelle learns of Henry’s disturbing past, involving the death of a fiancée and the disappearance of a wife. Suddenly Isabelle is caught between love and suspicion, paranoia and passion, as she searches for the truth she may not want to find—and is swept into a dangerous game she may not survive.

I used to read Deb Caletti’s YA contemporaries back in middle/high school, so when I heard she was releasing a suspense/thriller, I was intrigued enough to read it. It’s not my favorite genre, but I thought I’d give it a try to see how the author would play it out.

Isabelle Austen returns to her hometown on Parrish Island, only to take over the family tourism business because her mother recently passed away. Struggling to recover from her recent divorce, Isabelle is lost and vulnerable. It’s at this point that she meets a tourist, Henry, who begins to spend time with her and ask her out. She’s attracted to him and falls easily for him, but when a friend investigates Henry’s past and finds a dead fianceé and a dead wife, both who died of mysterious circumstances, Isabelle has to wonder if she should be afraid.

She finds out that Henry is not who she thinks he is… which causes her to make poor decisions while she’s wrapped in her paranoia and confusion. Thanks to her bad decisions, the suspense is both mysterious and frustrating, but it definitely kept me hooked and flipping the pages.

I was perplexed and intrigued by Isabelle’s character – I kept wondering why she stayed with Henry when everyone else tried to warn her off. Her decisions make her a flawed, frustrating, but addicting character. I found myself still rooting for her even when I didn’t agree with what she did.

This book is full of mystery and unanswered questions. I’m still not sure what to make of it, but it definitely succeeded in the mystery/suspense aspect. I’m excited to see if Deb Caletti will be writing more thrillers!


lacey


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