Monday, April 30, 2018

The Family Gathering

by Robyn Carr

An exceptional storyteller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr beautifully captures the emotionally charged, complex dynamics that come with being part of any family. Readers will laugh and shed a few tears as they discover what it means to be loved, supported and accepted by the people who mean the most.

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.(Overview and book cover from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

After being absent for many years, Dakota Jones decides it is time to spend time with his siblings. He's not really sure where this will lead of if he will even want to stay around. He just knows that something is missing in his life. And so he comes to Sullivan's Crossing to be with his older brother and younger sister.

While this is the third book in the Sullivan's Crossing series, it is my first. I enjoyed spending time with Dakota and his family. Dakota is an interesting character who comes home with lots of emotional baggage. His family is not without their own personal struggles. But together, they support each other and work together.

This was a lovely story about redemption, perseverance and love. I liked all the characters, minus a few of the troublemakers. I thought this was a realistic portrayal of the difficulties that people encounter and what they do to overcome them.

I received this book from Harlequin via Netgalley

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nobody cuts deeper than family...
Dr. Noah Alderman, a widower and single father, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie Ippolitti, and for the first time in a long time, he and his young son are happy. Despite her longing for the daughter she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, Maggie is happy too, and she’s even more overjoyed when she unexpectedly gets another chance to be a mother to the child she thought she'd lost forever, her only daughter Anna.
Maggie and Noah know that having Anna around will change their lives, but they would never have guessed that everything would go wrong, and so quickly. Anna turns out to be a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules, though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble brewing in a once-perfect marriage and home.
Events take a heartbreaking turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused and tried for the heinous crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her daughter, but the realization that Anna's murder may have been at the hands of a husband she loves. In the wake of this tragedy, new information drives Maggie to search for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.
Riveting and disquieting, After Anna is a groundbreaking domestic thriller, as well as a novel of emotional justice and legal intrigue. And New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline will keep readers on their toes until the final shocking page

My Thoughts

Maggie is married to Noah Alderman family and stepmon to his son Caleb. During her first marriage and subsequent divorce, she lost custody of her baby daughter Anna due to postpartum psychosis. Seventeen years later, she gets an unexpected phone call from Anna who wants to connect with her Mom. Eventually Anna moves in with the Alderman family. Within months, Anna is found dead and Noah is charged with her murder.

This story is told in alternating chapters. After Anna chapters are told during Noah's murder trial and give us his perspective on what happened after Anna moved in. Before Anna chapters are told from Maggie's perspective, starting with her first meeting with Anna and following how the family fell apart after her arrival.

Whew - what a story! It was interesting to see how Noah and Maggie looked at the same situations but saw them differently. Of course Maggie is so excited to have her daughter back she can't see the forest for the trees. And while Noah wants everything to go well with his new step-daughter, it doesn't take long for him to start to realize something is amiss.

This was a well crafted page turner. I liked the surprise at the end and the way the author played it out.

I received this from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Not That I Could Tell
by Jessica Strawser

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.
(overview and book cover from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Several neighbor women connect one night to sit outside and drink some wine. The next day, one of them disappears with her two children. This happens right up front and the rest of the novel is based on understanding how each of the women left behinds tries to interpret the disappearance through her own beliefs and past experiences.

After reading the overview, I thought I had a pretty good idea on how this story was going to go down. Initially, when it wasn't going my way. I was a bit put off. But in the long run, I liked the author's version much better. We get to spend time with each of the women individually and collectively as they process their own thoughts and interact with each other. I thought the story came to a very interesting conclusion. All in all, I found this to be an enjoyable read.

From St. Martin's press via Netgally.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police--she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home--Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did? (Picture and overview from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

Have you ever wondered what your worse nightmare would be like?

It's a pretty safe bet that Cassie has found hers when she wakes up one morning next to a dead man.  He was a passenger on a plane where she was a flight attendant.  There was an immediate attraction between the two and quite a bit of flirting occurred.  They hooked up after landing and LOTS of drinking took place.  For Cassie, it was blackout level drinking.  And while she was no newbie to this level of drinking and has a few one night stands under her belt, coming to in the morning to discover someone with their throat slit laying next to her is a new one.  Unfortunately, Cassie can only remember snippets of the evening.  And so begins our journey with Cassie as she tries to piece together what happened not only to save what little dignity she has left, but possibly her job and eventually her life.

When I first saw the title I remember thinking - The Flight Attendant - huh.  What kind of story could this possibly turn into?

Well, let me tell you.  This was a real page turner.  Not in a rock 'em, sock 'em roller coaster type of page turner.  But an evenly paced and suspenseful type of page turner.  The story slowly unfolds as Cassie starts discovering clues and putting things together.    For all her faults, I found Cassie to be a likeable character.  I really wanted her to redeem herself.  There are numerous interesting players in this tale, along with a few pretty good twists at the end.

This was an exciting read from one of my favorite authors.  Bravo!

I received this copy from Doubleday via Netgalley.