Review: Jar of Hearts (Jennifer Hillier)

Jar of Hearts
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?


Wow. Just wow.

I’m a reader who loves a good thriller, but I’m always hesitant to pick one up. Sometimes they have this slow, dreary quality that drives me a little nuts. Jar of Hearts was not one of those thrillers. It was explosive from the start. I loved how the mystery and suspense of the story was set up. The plot was fascinating and just the right amount of disturbing. Every character had lightness and darkness in them that made it hard to know who to trust. I felt like I was discovering connections and twists right alongside them.There was never a slow spot or stall in the story. I was always wondering what was next until the very end. I really can’t put into words how amazing this thriller was.

Jar of Hearts was so well written. I haven’t read a thriller in a long time that has impressed me this much. I have to thank Stephanie and a bunch of other bloggers who reviewed this book. If I hadn’t heard such great things about it, I would have missed out. This book is too good to miss out on! It is definitely worth the hype it got.

Review: Heart of the Devil (Meghan March)

Heart of the Devil
Series: Forge Trilogy, #3
Author: Meghan March
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Publisher: Red Dress Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes the stunning conclusion to the Forge Trilogy. In this final volume, ruthless billionaire Jericho Forge faces his toughest challenge. To emerge victorious, he’ll have to give up the one thing he’s never offered a woman—his heart.

It started as a game. She was nothing but my pawn.

But I was quick to see the error in my ways, and now she is everything I never knew I needed.

The value of a woman like India Baptiste is beyond measure.

But the problem with being a man like me? I’ve already screwed this up, and there’s no guarantee India will take me on for one last bet.

I’ll do whatever I have to do. Drop to my knees and offer her the only thing I have left. The one thing that’s only ever been hers—the heart of the devil.

Woohoo! What a conclusion to an explosive trilogy! Heart of the Devil exceeded every expectation I had for it. It kept me on my toes at all times. I didn’t know who to suspect or believe. I was shocked and awed by so many of the revelations that kept coming throughout the entire book. Ms. March couldn’t have written a better ending for Jericho and Indy’s epic romance. I loved every minute of it!

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All about Meghan March

Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

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Review: Bennett Mafia (Tijan)

Bennett Mafia
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: March 4, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

There were always whispers about my roommate at Hillcrest Academy.

The wealthiest of the wealthy sent their kids to our boarding school, and Brooke Bennett had been at the top, though I never quite knew why. She was fun and outgoing, but she kept quiet about her family. The only things she showed me were photographs of her brothers.

I became fascinated with her second-oldest brother. Kai Bennett.

He was the most of them all. Smoldering. Hypnotic. Alluring.
Kai had eyes that pulled me in and a face that haunted my dreams.

Then I met him.

He came to our school with their father, and that’s when I learned what kind of family Brooke came from. They were mafia, and Brooke’s oldest brother was dead. Her father said accident, but Brooke said murder.

Three months later, her father died, and Kai became the head of the Bennett Family. Brooke left Hillcrest for good, and that was the last time I saw her.

Fourteen years later, I’m staring at her face on the television. Brooke is missing.

Two days later, Kai Bennett kidnaps me.


I cannot get Bennett Mafia out of my head! Every time I read a book by Tijan, I’m stuck thinking about it for days. Her words and worlds are so addicting and emotionally impactful. It doesn’t matter if I like or dislike one of her books, I’m always left with something to work out in my mind. It happened again with this book. I can’t say that I fell head over heals in love with it, but I did really enjoy it. There were just a couple of things that I had a hard time digesting.

I was impressed with the tale Tijan told in Bennett Mafia. This book was more than just a dark romance. It had all the angst and emotional turmoil of one, but it also had some twists that reminded me of a thriller. Bennett Mafia took me on a ride. I loved that. So many things happened that I didn’t expect. It was great!

Kai and Riley were interesting characters. Riley was a tortured soul who tried to do good. She didn’t let many people in, and I found myself having a hard time getting close to her in the beginning. Once I got into her head and felt the frustration and indecision she was going through, it was easier to connect with her — which was important since she was our only narrator. Kai wasn’t really the book boyfriend type, but he was the perfect mafia king. He was demanding and intense. I would have loved to have had his point of view to know what he was thinking. Both Kai and Riley were methodical. Everything they did had a purpose. They were both very good at hiding emotions and doing what needed to be done. I think that’s why it took me a while to love both of them. I had to get past the walls they had erected just like the people in the book did.

Kai and Riley’s relationship wasn’t one made in heaven. It would be more accurate to say it was made in hell with the mafia thing and all. Their relationship made me uncomfortable at times. Not for the reasons I would have originally expected. I had a hard time buying into it. They had an immediate and intense physical attraction to each other. Their sexual tension and chemistry was strong. That’s where things kind of stopped for me, though. I didn’t feel the emotional connection between them for much of the book. I felt like the building blocks of that love or the moments they could have forged that bond weren’t really there or strong enough for me until the end. That made some of the choices they made not feel as true to me. I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t like Kai and Riley together. I did. I just wanted more from them, I guess. I wanted to feel for their relationship what I did for Samantha and Mason or Ryan and Mackenzie or Jesse and Alex.

Another thing that was uncomfortable for me was some of the brutality to the story — which I expected from a book about the mafia. I cringed through those parts as they propelled the plot forward. That kind of stuff isn’t my favorite to read, but I can handle it when I appreciate a story line. Those heinous acts were important to and perfect for Bennett Mafia.

Despite these things, I found myself addicted to the story. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. I loved how things unraveled and became known. I also really loved the side characters. The Bennett family was so interesting and surprisingly lovable. Bennett Mafia may not have been my favorite Tijan romance, but it was my favorite Tijan suspense story.

Review: Luck of the Devil (Meghan March)

Luck of the Devil
Series: Forge Trilogy, #2
Author: Meghan March
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Meghan March LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Meghan March continues the story of ruthless, calculating billionaire Jericho Forge in Luck of the Devil.

My poker face has always been my greatest asset, along with my grit and determination. I was beholden to no one. Asked permission for nothing.

Then Jericho Forge took my life by storm.

I traded my freedom for something infinitely more precious, but I didn’t realize Forge was holding an unbeatable hand.

Now, all I have to do is survive the high-stakes game my life has become—with my heart intact.

But not falling in love with Forge will take the luck of the devil.

Luck of the Devil is the second book of the Forge Trilogy and should be read following Deal with the Devil. The Forge Trilogy concludes in Heart of the Devil.


If you were to see my face right now, immediately after finishing Luck of the Devil, you would think I look like that guy screaming with his mouth and eyes wide open in that one famous painting. It isn’t a look of fear in my case, but one of utter shock. This isn’t anything new when reading a Meghan March book because she’s the queen of cliffhangers, but man! I had ideas and she still managed to blow my mind.

I thought I knew where Luck of the Devil was headed after the cliffhanger in Deal with the Devil. India and Jericho’s path seemed pretty cut and dry. Yeah, I was wrong about that. There was no way I could have guessed what was lurking on the horizon for them. Even when things did go the way I was expecting, something else didn’t. That’s all really vague and not very helpful, but I can’t give anything away.

What I can say is that you will love this installment of the Forge Trilogy. Indie and Jericho’s relationship is just as volatile, sexy, and sweet as you would expect. Their story is as exciting, adventurous, and dangerous as you are hoping. As soon as you are finished, you are going to be begging for the third book. I know I am.

Review: The Ghostwriter (Alessandra Torre)

The Ghostwriter
Author: Alessandra Torre
Publication Date: October 2, 2017
Publisher: DCA
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. And all of them believed me.

I wasn’t surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.

Now, I have one last story to write. It’ll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.

They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.


The Ghostwriter is one of those books I’m kicking myself for not reading sooner. It has been on my Kindle since it was released, but I kept putting it off. I shouldn’t have. Honestly, I was impressed with everything about this book. It was my kind of thriller.

I have read one other book by Alessandra Torre (Moonshot). I was impressed with her writing in that book, but the writing in The Ghostwriter blew me away. It was so freaking addictive! The tone was so perfect. There was this air of mystery and darkness. I couldn’t get enough of how it pulled me deeper and deeper into the story. As far as thrillers go, this one can be a little sleepy and uneventful at times. That didn’t bug me because the writing kept me interested in those moments as the story built. And what a story it was! I can honestly say I didn’t see any of the twists coming. There weren’t a ton of twists, just a couple, but they had a major impact. I was so impressed with them.

I know I haven’t said much about the actual plot and characters of The Ghostwriter, but it’s one of those books you have to read for yourself. You don’t want any little thing to be spoiled for you. If you’re a fan of Tarryn Fisher’s books or Colleen Hoover’s Verity, I’m 99.9% sure you would appreciate The Ghostwriter.

Review: Deal with the Devil (Meghan March)

Deal with the Devil
Series: Forge Trilogy, #1
Author: Meghan March
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Red Dress Press
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“You can put that man in a suit, but he’ll never be tame.”
One look at Jericho Forge and I knew the rumors were true. He was a predator, and he had set his sights on me.
I knew better than to bet more than I could afford to lose that night. I knew better than to bet myself. But desperation leads to bad decisions, and I thought there was no way I could lose.
I was wrong.
Now I have no choice but to make a deal with the devil.


The review for this book is going to be kind of lame. I’m truly sorry about that, BUT I CANNOT TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT THIS STORY OR I WILL RUIN IT FOR YOU! Can you tell how frustrated I am by that? Because all I want to do is TELL YOU ALL THE THINGS! It’s so unfair, but completely necessary.

What can I tell you then? I wasn’t expecting the setting or the nature of the story or the characters or anything. (I loved all of those things!!!) The only thing I was expecting was Jericho Forge to be some rich alpha male. He was totally that, but of course there is more to him than those two details (which I can’t tell you anything about…). His life is fascinating  and so is the woman who steals his heart. Their story is fabulous and I cannot wait to find out what’s next for them because Ms. March left us with what might just be her most shocking cliffhanger yet! (I’m still not over it.)

Meghan March upped her game with Deal with the Devil — just like she does with each book she releases. She made me fall in love with a fascinating and exciting world of new characters. I’m so frustrated that I have to wait a month to find of what’s next for Jericho Forge.

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ABOUT MEGHAN MARCH

Making the jump from corporate lawyer to romance author was a leap of faith that New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Meghan March will never regret. With over thirty titles published, she has sold millions of books in nearly a dozen languages to fellow romance-lovers around the world. A nomad at heart, she can currently be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, living her happily ever after with her real-life alpha hero.

You can find her online at: MeghanMarch.com, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Series Mini Review: Love Me with Lies (Tarryn Fisher)

This past weekend I knocked Love Me with Lies off my backlist. It’s been on there for years because I’m a fan of all of Tarryn Fisher’s other books. I’m so disappointed in myself for waiting so long to read it. It was crazy good — emphasis on the crazy. Here my thoughts after reading each book.

The Opportunist ★ ★ ★ ★

??????
That pretty much says it all.
I’m stuck using emojis for this review because I’m speechless after finishing this book. It was soooooo messed up, but in a good way. Only Tarryn can make me hate and love characters so much at the same time.

Dirty Red ★ ★ ★ ★

This one started out bad for me. I was so disgusted by Leah. I hate Leah, but I understand her now. She grew on me as her story went on. She’s not blameless, but Caleb isn’t either. I lost some respect for him in this one. The only person I started to respect more was Olivia.

Thief ★ ★ ★ ★

I think I liked this book? It’s hard to know because all of the characters were so messed up. I didn’t think I could end up liking them any less while also liking where the story went. I do think it was a fitting end to a crazy, addictive series.

Overall, this is a very messed up, crazy, addictive series. If you like books that will shock you and make you question everything a character does, read this series.

Review: Fearless by B.B. Reid

Fearless
Series: Broken Love, #5
Author: B.B. Reid
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: B.B. Reid
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Take one last ride with Keiran and Lake and the rest of the Broken Love gang in this fifth and final installment as they face stronger enemies and bigger obstacles while fighting to hold tight to the tattered existence of their love.

When faced with broken love…

Have you ever had the feeling you were a stranger?
Out of reach, I watched and mourned me.
Nothing moved. Breathed. Nothing lived.
I was in an alternate universe.
No longer an innocent.
I had blood on my hands, and I wasn’t even sorry for it.
I was only afraid for Keiran.
Of his reaction when the shock wore off.
It would be an explosion.
Of hurt, anger, and mistrust.
He’d know I lied.
And to him…
The betrayal born of my good intentions is worse than the act of murder.

…will you succumb to fear…

She was supposed to be my light.
The one who saved me from the monster.
But when I looked in her eyes that day, I didn’t see her.
I only saw my father’s killer.

Her love saved me from the monster.
Mine turned her into one.

…or will you be fearless?


I’ve had a love-hate relationship with every book in this series. The mystery / suspense plot that has continued throughout each book has been exceptional. The addictive quality of the writing has been as well. What has bothered me is the abusive relationships and the way they have been depicted. I have a real problem with anyone finding the male characters and / or the way they treat the women their lives worthy of swooning. Everyone in these books needs therapy. That’s made all of the books hard for me to review and rate. I have given them all three stars because that’s how I averaged what I loved with what I hated. You’ll notice this book gets three and a half stars. Here’s why.

I was very impressed with how the plot ended up wrapping up. B.B. Reid crafted a truly exceptional mystery that kept me hanging on. Things finally came full circle and all of the revelations were perfect.

Despite the fact that I don’t truly believe that Lake and Keiran should be together due to the nature of their past relationship, I appreciated the growth they showed individually and together. It did give me hope that maybe they could have a healthy relationship. There were a couple of tender moments that made me question my feelings about Keiran. I have to admit to swooning because they were so perfect for a romance novel. That disturbs me a little, to be honest.

I know this review doesn’t really tell you much, but I don’t want to give anything away. Fearless did a great job of wrapping all of the storylines up. I’m happy to be done with this series because it’s been hard on my heart and conscience. Although, I’m glad B.B. Reid has a book outside this series planned for the supporting characters Jesse, Diana, and Quinton. I’m really curious to see what’s next for those three. Hopefully it’s something a little happier.

Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

The Butterfly Garden
Series: The Collector, #1
Author: Dot Hutchinson
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…


The Butterfly Garden is the tale of a deranged serial killer called “The Gardener” keeping the young women he hold captives in his butterfly garden until it’s time for them to meet their fates. It is told in the alternating view points of a FBI agent and the victim of a serial killer. Maya had not been murdered (yet), but she faced a horrifying ordeal. As Maya delivers her story of being held captive and the events surrounding it to Agent Hanoverian, he has to trust that she will give him the details he needs to solve his case. He knows she is keeping something from him, something big, but he’s not sure what.

If I had to sum up The Butterfly Garden in four words they would be creepy, disturbing, horrifying, and unsettling. Those four words pretty much say it all. I could barely stomach the events poor Maya and the other victims had to endure. It hurt my head and my heart. It made me feel disgusted and uncomfortable. I hated reading it, but I couldn’t stop. There was something so addictive to the tale. I had to know Maya’s story.

The weird thing about this thriller was that the story was told straight to the reader. There were twists and turns, but they didn’t really pop out at you unsuspectingly. They were delivered in the order you would expect. The biggest surprise was one that left me unsatisfied. I didn’t see it coming, but I think that’s because it didn’t make sense to me. It was too much of a coincidence. I actually felt that it ruined things a bit for me. That being said, it was probably a twist some readers would love.

The Butterfly Garden was a dark, horrifying story. If you like dark thrillers, this could be the book for you. It was on the verge of being too dark for me — even with how addicting it was. I had to read it during the day and then read a romance later that night so I wouldn’t have messed up dreams.

Review: Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner

Dead Certain
Author: Adam Mitzner
Publication Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most grueling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?


Dead Certain is a hard book for me to review. There were several things I really liked about it, but there were some I didn’t. Rather than write out a lengthy review about it all, I’m going to break this review down to what I liked and what I didn’t care for.

What I liked:

  • The mystery behind Charlotte’s disappearance.
  • The chapters of Charlotte’s book. They were the heart of the story for me, and the most interesting clues to her disappearance.
  • The unexpected narrator in the second half.
  • How the mystery of Charlotte’s disappearance wrapped up.
  • Ella’s double life. I wanted more of it. It wasn’t as big a factor as I expected.

What I didn’t care for:

  • Ella. Her character wasn’t one I easily connected to. There was something about her personality that annoyed me.
  • The amount of legal detail overwhelmed me at times.
  • The first half of the book was a bit boring, to be honest. The second half was so good. I don’t know how the author could have made the beginning more like the second half, but it would have made the book more entertaining.
  • The plot was somewhat predictable. I knew who did it early on.

Overall thoughts:

Despite not enjoying the first half of this book, the second half totally redeemed Dead Certain in my eyes. Even though I didn’t enjoy that first half, I can now appreciate that part. It made the surprises that were coming in the second half even better.

Would I recommend Dead Certain? Yes. I did end up really liking how things played out, and I think others would, too.