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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Serenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne

Setting: Haven Point
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: June 27, 2017

Katrina Bailey's back in town for her sister's wedding. Once the wedding is over, she's leaving for South America once more. She's determined to adopt the young orphaned girl down who's become Kat's pride and joy. Money is the one thing that's making the adoption harder than Kat imagined.

After his mother dies, Bowie Callahan becomes his younger brother's guardian. He didn't know he even had a brother, and this wealthy computer mogul has absolutely experience being a "dad," let alone being a "dad" to an autistic young child. When his brother bonds with Kat during a shopping trip, Bowie offers her thousands of dollars if she'll help care for him while she's in town. It's an offer she can't refuse.

It isn't long before Bowie and Kat fall for each other. The romance is doomed, however. Kat's not in Haven Point with any intention to stay.

I'm such a sucker for single dad story lines. Bowie's awesome, but his little brother stole the show. I feel for that charming little kid. There's clearly the romance taking up the story, but it's woven with Bowie and Kat's first forays into what it's really like to be responsible for a child with autism.

There were some characters I wasn't fond of, but they were minor characters and not prominent to the story. I could brush my irritation with them off easily enough. What was clear is that I found a fictional town that felt like home and characters that felt like friends. What a win!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: June 27, 2017

I love Mary Kubica's novels. They always hook me into the story and hold me entranced until the final word. Every Last Lie was no different, until the ending anyway. I'm still trying to really decide how I feel about the ending.

As her newborn son is not in the mood for an outing, Clara Solberg stays behind with him while her four-year-old daughter, Maisie, and her husband, Nick, go off to Maisie's dance class. The last words Clara says to him are "get Chinese." He's killed in a crash on the way home.

Clara is not convinced the police are right, however, when they blame Nick's speed for causing the crash. Maisie is having horrible nightmares about a bad man and is suddenly terrified of black sedans. Could Nick have been forced off the road?

With the police not investigating as Clara wants, she decides to start asking questions on her own. Who is this "bad man" and how did Nick really die?

Like all Mary Kubica novels, Every Last Lie takes many twists. I thought I had it figured out, but it's not what you'd expect. I was fooled. Kudos to the author for keeping me guessing. I also wish that there had been more closure. I'm not sure I was done spending time with Clara and her family.

The fast pace and well-developed characters keep you intrigued. The story is told from both Nick and Clara's viewpoints, and it bounces between the past and present. Usually that annoys me, but in this case, it really works. It gives an in-depth look into both characters and the events leading up to the crash. While it's not my favorite Kubica novel, it's still an excellent summer read.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

Genre: Horror/Gothic
Publisher: Lake Union
Release Date: June 6, 2017

Part gothic and very much a horror story, The End of Temperance Dare is rich in atmosphere and setting. I had a few things figured out early into the story. Some of it was a complete surprise. This is a slightly creepy story that won't make you want to keep the lights on, but it does a stellar job at making you want to keep reading.

Eleanor "Norrie" Harper is at a turning point. Her career as a reporter ends, and she's ready for a change. She applies for the job of director at a local artist's retreat and never expects she'll get the job. Somehow, she does and heads to the former sanatorium to get situated before the next batch of artists arrive.

On Norrie's very first day, the matriarch of Cliffside Manor commits suicide. She leaves Norrie a mysterious note saying it's up to Norrie to solve the mystery. This brings out her investigative reporter side. With the help of some of the staff and participants in the retreat, can Norrie figure out the secrets of Cliffside Manor?

I loved the lakeside and wooded setting. I felt drawn to the foggy shoreline, the roaring fire meant to warm up the guests in the old, drafty manor, and the dinners where I could almost taste the wine they all shared. The writing drew me in.

The setting in The End of Temperance Dare keeps it from being a true gothic. Almost everything takes place in the modern day. There are snippets of past situations, but they don't last too long. That's why I'd say this is more horror than gothic, but there's also romance and mystery wound into the mix. It's a great read and another excellent addition to Lake Union's already impressive library.