The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton

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It’s an offer she can’t refuse…and might not survive.

Charlotte has an unsavory past, but she’s on the straight and narrow these days. She was so young then—she married the wrong man, falling for Sam’s sweet-talking charm and charisma, and got caught up in his con artist games.

If only she’d left him before things went too far.

Now Sam is missing. But before he disappeared, he left urgent, cryptic messages about someone threatening him—someone who has been threatening Charlotte, too.
So Charlotte takes a job as a personal assistant for an engagement party aboard a private luxury cruise ship, the Cleobella, to get far away from anyone who means her harm.

But as the Cleobella sails through its glittering destinations, increasingly sinister events haunt the guests, and the turquoise waves and sun-drenched beaches give way to something darker. Someone knows what Charlotte did. Is it the blushing bride? The seemingly placid mother-in-law? Or the mysterious heiress?

Someone knows, and someone wants revenge—before the ship reaches its final port.

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Available Today – January 18, 2022!

A slow burn mystery that doesn’t quite satisfy. I love reading about cruises and exotic locations, so I really enjoyed hearing about the life behind the scenes of a cruise ship employee. I wish the author had taken a different approach of Charlotte’s and Sam’s “love story”. I didn’t see the appeal of Sam and why Charlotte would go after him. He’s obviously a con man and has a dozen red flags.

Then there was the problem of Charlotte. I didn’t like the character at all. In the past, she was a fool for falling for Sam and giving him chance after chance when he clearly was only looking out for number one – himself. But then, present day Charlotte was even more a mess. If you are being threatened and on a secluded ship with someone who wants to kill you, get off at the next stop, go to an airport and leave. You don’t stay and insert yourself in different situations to try to figure out who is after you.

2 calculators out of a potential 5. I have previously loved Karen Hamilton’s novels, but sadly this one was a miss for me. Slow burn with a predictable villain.

Thank you to Netgallery and Harlequin Trade Publishing, Graydon House for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The Sorority Murder by Allison Brennan

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A popular sorority girl. An unsolved murder. A campus podcast with chilling repercussions.

Lucas Vega is obsessed with the death of Candace Swain, who left a sorority party one night and never came back. Her body was found after two weeks, but the case has grown cold. Three years later while interning at the medical examiner’s, Lucas discovers new information, but the police are not interested.

Lucas knows he has several credible pieces of the puzzle. He just isn’t sure how they fit together. So he creates a podcast to revisit Candace’s last hours. Then he encourages listeners to crowdsource what they remember and invites guest lecturer Regan Merritt, a former US marshal, to come on and share her expertise.

New tips come in that convince Lucas and Regan they are onto something. Then shockingly one of the podcast callers turns up dead. Another hints at Candace’s secret life, a much darker picture than Lucas imagined—and one that implicates other sorority sisters. Regan uses her own resources to bolster their theory and learns that Lucas is hiding his own secret. The pressure is on to solve the murder, but first Lucas must come clean about his real motives in pursuing this podcast—before the killer silences him forever.

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Available Today – December 28, 2021!

I’m always a fan of when a mystery novel uses a podcast. I find it interesting how the author is able to use a podcast to further advance the developments of an unsolved case (in this novel, a murder). The Sorority Murder was no exception.

I wasn’t a big fan of Lucas and his reasons for doing the podcast. It seemed like he was always hiding something and not telling the full truth. I really liked how the author added the character, Regan, a former US marshal. Regan really added to the novel both in her experience and her maturity. It really took the novel up a level and the premise didn’t seem so far fetched.

It did take a while for the novel to get going, but once it did it was really exciting and I was curious on how Candice’s disappearance would tie in with her murder. I did find the ending (and the killer) predictable, so I was hoping for more of a twist ending.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. Really liked the use of the podcast and how Lucas was able to get guests to call in and give anonymous information about the murder.

Thank you to Netgallery and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski

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GOOD MOTHERS…
Never show their feelings.
Never spill their secrets.
Never admit to murder.

The annual Halloween block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul-de-sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plans the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five has been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

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Available Today – October 12, 2021!

The Mother Next Door is the perfect read to get you into the fall and Halloween spirit. I actually started reading it in the summertime and then put it down until the fall, which I’m glad I did. I loved reading it with the spookiness of Halloween approaching.

I was really looking forward to the gossip and secrets of the Ivy Five mothers. Why do they go all out for Halloween? Why is there now only four of them? Does the newcomer stand a chance?

Sadly I was disappointed. Maybe it’s because I read too many suburban mysteries, but I was hoping for more of a connection with the moms and feel apart of their group. I didn’t get a sense that the group were really friends, so it was surprising that they would keep each other’s secrets. Also I would of liked more of the others views, not just Queen Bee Kendra and newcomer Theresa.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. Would still recommend because of the creepy Halloween atmosphere and the ending did really surprise me.

Thank you to Netgallery and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon

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Forget the truth.

Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything–his identity, his life, his loved ones–has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

Shared fates intertwine in a twisty, explosive novel of suspense, where unearthing the past might just mean being buried beneath it.

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Available Today – May 25, 2021!

What a shocking ending! I love it when mysteries have an ending that is unexpected and untraditional. I thought I knew where things were going, but I was completely wrong!

The novel focuses on 3 characters – Lily (girlfriend of Jack), Maya (stepbrother of Asher) and a mystery man. Obviously the big question is who the mystery man? Is he Jack, Asher, someone else or are Jack and Asher the same person? Thankfully the author doesn’t spend too much on this mystery and before the half point the reader knows who the mystery man is.

The book did hook me the entire time, but there were some slow parts and I did guess some of the reveals. Again the ending was quite a shock and I’m glad that the author took a unconventional route.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. I’m glad I decided to take a chance on Hannah Mary McKinnon, whom I have never read before. I’m glad I did and I’m happy to support an author that lives just in the next city over.

Thank you to Netgallery and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

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People don’t just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

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Available Today – May 18, 2021!

I’m a big fan of multiple characters and multiple storylines. I love it when an author can pull off multiple storylines that at first, don’t seem to have anything in common and then somehow ties beautifully together at the end.

Local Woman Missing did pretty well with all of the different viewpoints, multiple women missing and shifting timelines. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the plots being 11 years apart. It seemed like too much of a time gap, but at the end it worked out and I enjoyed getting brother Leo’s view who was just a baby when his mother and sister disappeared.

4 calculators out of a potential 5. I’m pleasantly surprised with Mary Kubica’s newest novel. I swore off her a few years ago after When the Lights Go Out, but I’m really glad I choose to read Local Woman Missing!

Thank you to Netgallery and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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