Up In The Pines by Katie Jennings – a Review

Up In The Pines by Katie Jennings – a Review

 

Up in the PinesAmazon / B&N

Description:
Deep in the mountains of Montana, Deputy Lark Galloway discovers a body. Despite being nothing more than bones, she connects the remains to a resident who disappeared twenty years earlier. As she unravels the dead man’s history to solve his murder, someone tries desperately to throw her off the scent. Meanwhile, famed Hollywood screenwriter Sawyer Matheson returns to town to escape his cheating fiancé, only to find himself at the heart of Lark’s investigation. Sparks fly as things heat up between Lark and Sawyer, but nothing can prepare her for the earth-shattering truth behind the body in the pines.

 

 

Review:

Up in the Pines by Katie Jennings is a standalone romance suspense thriller.  Up in the Pines takes place in a small town in Montana, where we meet Deputy Lark Galloway, our heroine.  A decaying body is discovered by a tourist, and when Lark surveys the scene, she knows it was murder.  The lab will confirm that the body has been buried approximately 20 years.   Lark will find herself, and the detective team researching missing persons back in that time period.

Sawyer Matheson, our hero, returns home to his deceased father’s house after having left years before.  Sawyer is now a successful and famous screenwriter, who comes home to get away from the media hounding him over his split with a famous actress, whom he found in bed with another man.  Sawyer will meet Lark, who lives in a cabin nearby, and thinks she looks familiar.   Lark, of course, knows who the famous Sawyer is, and remembers having a crush on him in high school.

What follows is a complex murder investigation that will become difficult to solve, especially with the element of time having passed.  Lark will work with the lead detective and learn the identity of the victim, which will bring out a few possible suspects.   When Lark’s partner is attacked and left for dead, she knows the danger is escalating, as the murderer is still alive and trying to stop the investigation.

Sawyer, whose mother ran away years before, will begin to help Lark in the investigation, in the hope he will learn why she left.  In a short time, their romance will begin to heat up, and they made a sweet couple.  Lark felt that there was no future, as he would go back to California; but Sawyer begins to see value in staying in his old home town.   But first they must survive, and a murderer must be caught.

This is a difficult review, because saying too much more would be spoilers.  Up in the Pines was an excellent “whodunit” with many twists and surprises.  Just when you thought you knew who it was, the next breath things turned another way.   Katie Jennings did a wonderful job keeping us glued to our seats, unable to put the book down.  The last third of the book was non-stop action, intense and very exciting.  If you love mysteries, thrillers, and a great couple, then you should read Up in the Pines.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy supplied for review

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An Unnatural Vice/ An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities 1 & 2) by KJ Charles-Reviews

An Unnatural Vice / An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities 1 & 2) by KJ Charles-Reviews

An Unnatural Vice

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

AN UNNATURAL VICE ( Sins of the Cities #2) by KJ Charles

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date June 6, 2017

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

••••••••••

REVIEW: AN UNNATURAL VICE is the second installment in KJ Charles’s adult, Victorian, historical Sins of the Cities M/M romance, murder-mystery series. This is journalist and former lawyer Nathaniel Roy, and Seer of London Justin Lazarus’s story line. AN UNNATURAL VICE can be read as a stand alone but for cohesion and backstory I recommend reading the series in order as there is an ongoing premise and plot throughout the series. Some of the events of An Unnatural Vice cross over and run parallel to the events of book one-An Unseen Attraction

NOTE: AN UNNATURAL VICE and the SINS OF THE CITIES series contain scenes of M/M sexual situations and may not be suitable for all readers.

Told from dual third person points of view (Justin and Nathaniel) AN UNNATURAL VICE follows the enemies to lovers relationship between the Seer of London (Medium) Justin Lazarus, and journalist Nathaniel Roy. Nathaniel’s latest assignment is to uncover the truth behind self-proclaimed Seer Justin Lazarus-a proclamation Nathaniel is determined to prove fraudulent and deceitful. But Justin has information that could prove helpful to Nathaniel’s friend Clem Talleyfer (An Unseen Attraction #1) as the group of friends endeavors to find the missing heir to the Taillefer fortune and title holder to the Earl of Moreton. What ensues are Justin and Nathaniel’s attempts to stay one step ahead of the people hired to destroy any evidence of an heir, and Justin and Nathaniel’s growing love between two people whose lives follow different paths towards the future.

The relationship between Nathaniel and Justin is slow to build. Their acrimonious but tepid friendship requires cooperation when Justin is targeted by someone in control; Nathaniel is determined to protect the man with whom he is falling in love sweeping his lover to a secreted location fearing for their lives. The $ex scenes are intimate and provocative without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

AN UNNATURAL VICE follows the search for the missing heir, although most of the investigation is behind the scenes as the story line focuses on our leading couple. The requisite evil has many faces but the ultimate villain has yet to be revealed.

The world building continues to look at the friendships and relationships of a group of ‘gay’ men in Victorian, England although AN UNNATURAL VICE primarily focuses on Nathaniel and Justin’s struggle to stay alive. Once again, the tone of the story is not conducive to the era or the time-I was expecting a tighter interpretation of the language e.g. euphemisms, slang, sentence structure, and because of this, the story line reads more modern than historic (see my review of book one). The back and forth banter between Justin and Nathaniel is witty and entertaining. The premise is much more detailed and descriptive than the first installment as the author brings to life the dreary and wretched world of Victorian England; the characters are colorful and dynamic although I would have liked more information about Nathaniel’s earlier years; the romance is seductive and intense. AN UNNATURAL VICE is an entertaining story line; a fast paced and intriguing story of mystery, suspense, romance and love.

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy

________________

AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION
(Sins of the City #1)
by K.J.Charles
Genre: adult, Victorian, M/M, historical romance

An Unseen AttractionABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date February 21, 2017

Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship…

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding… it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

•••••••••••

REVIEW: AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION is the first installment in KJ Charles’s adult, SINS OF THE CITY Victorian, M/M, historical romance, murder-mystery series. This is lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer, and stuffer (taxidermist) Rowley Green’s story line.

NOTE: AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION contains scenes of M/M sexual situations and may not be suitable for all readers.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Clem and Rowley) AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION follows two paths and focuses on the forbidden relationship between two men: lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer, and taxidermist Rowley Green. The year is 1873, and Clem Talleyfer manages, on behalf of his brother, a lodging house for single men. Enter Rowley Green, the local taxidermist, and the man who has caught the eye of the lodging-house manager. When one of the tenants disappears and is found dead several days later, Clem and Rowley face the wrath of not only the local law enforcement but Clem’s brother as well. What ensues is the investigation into the who, what and why, and the building but forbidden love between two men caught in a game of secrets and lies.

AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION is a slow building story line; a murder /mystery plot where our leading couple find themselves targeted for reasons unknown. As the investigation grows, so too does the realization that the person(s) responsible is all too familiar to the lodging house manager.

The relationship between Clem and Rowley is one of immediate attraction but the fear of the unknown and public scrutiny have kept their relationship at a slow burn for several months. When Rowley invites Clem for an evening out, Clem soon realizes that his attraction to the local taxidermist is one of mutual want and need. The $ex scenes are intimate and seductive without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.

AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION is, first and foremost, a story of murder, mystery and suspense. Clem and Rowley’s backstories are heartbreaking; family history is something no one wants to share. The slow reveal of clues is well paced; the identity of the person ultimately responsible was (for me) easily deduced early on. The language and text is simple; the tone of the story is not conducive to the era or the time-I was expecting a tighter interpretation of the language e.g. euphemisms, slang, sentence structure, and because of this, the story line reads more modern than historic. The premise is entertaining; the characters are colorful and energetic; the romance is sweet and seductive.

Own a copy

Reviewed by Sandy

About The author

Follow: Twitter / Facebook / Website / Goodreads /

KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.

KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles or on Facebook, join her Facebook group

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HUSH GIRL : It’s Only a Dream by Gloria Zachgo – a Review

HUSH GIRL : It’s Only a Dream by Gloria Zachgo – a Review

 

Hush GirlAmazon

Description:
While Nicki Reed is desperate to find the answers to her past, someone is desperate for her to never remember.

Shortly after her father died, Nicki’s nightmares started. They were soon followed by panic attacks. Suspecting her haunting dreams were related to her childhood, Nicki sought professional help, but Nicki was unable to verbalize any memories she had as a child. Bad things happened when she told secrets.
When her therapist suggested she write her memories, Nicki started remembering things she had pushed far into the recesses of her mind. She started to doubt her own sanity, and when she began to see a strange woman stalking her, she couldn’t be sure if that woman was real or imagined. Yet, Nicki couldn’t tell anyone, until—her own family’s welfare was threatened.


Review:

Hush Girl, It’s Only a Dream is a new mystery thriller by author Gloria Zachgo. It’s a psychological thriller detailing the issue of overcoming abuse as a child and dealing with the mystery of murder(s).

This dark, but thrilling, tale relates the issues of Nichole Reed (Nicki), who is beginning to see a therapist about panic attacks, insomnia, and weeping bouts. She didn’t seem to be able to verbalize with anyone about the issues or causes of her problems.

Since she couldn’t talk about the issues, the therapist had her try to write her memories, dreams and thought in a notebook. An interesting aspect of the treatment.

Nicki and her husband Matt had two wonderful little girls Molly and Olivia. Matt is a loving and understanding husband and a wonderful father. Nicki knows how very fortunate she is to have Matt, and her girls. She has a living sister, Cindy, and a brother who had died as a teenager in a motorcycle accident, Brian. Their mother left when she was around five years old. They were raised by their father and later a live-in woman named Sharon.

The story centers around the chronicles of her memories and the abusive treatment by the monster Sharon. The stories are pretty intense and dark, so if you’re sensitive to this kind of story, be warned.

This is the story of a, not just troubled woman, but a real monster who ruled the lives of these children and terrorized them. It’s also the uplifting story of how Nicki overcomes this with the help of her husband and children.

There is some really scary stuff and covered-up murder(s) and attempted murder. The story is fictitious and imaginative, but scarily realistic. There are wonderful parts of family humor as only a child can produce, as well as the dark stuff, adding to the realism of raising a family.

While I caution any who are sensitive to the realistic abuse, I found it to be a page turner and the ending is splendidly upbeat. The author tells a compelling and interesting story that draws you into it completely. I fell in love with Nicki and her children and especially her husband…sigh worthy.

Reviewed by Georgianna

Copy supplied for an honest review.

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What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti – a Review

What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti – a Review

 

What's Become of HerAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
“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.

 

 

Review:

What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti is a Psychological thriller. I enjoyed the story line, but I also had mixed feelings about this book, which I will go more into later in this review.

Isabelle Austen has recently returned home to Parrish Island after the death of her mother.  She takes over the family seaplane travel business; and seems content being back and spending time with her friends including Jane, Joe, Eddie. One day, a tourist arrives on the island and almost immediately, both Isabelle and Henry, the tourist have a strong attraction.  Isabelle is a divorcee, and finds Henry, charming, handsome and extremely easy going.  They both are falling love with each other, and Isabelle moves in with Henry, but soon her world is about to change. 

In a short time, the local police warn her of his past, two deceased or missing wife/fiancée.  Isabelle knows Henry, and refuses to believe those lies.  Her friends strongly advise her not to become serious. Henry tells Isabelle about the first wife, who died in a fall and the missing fiancée.  He swears that he is innocent of any wrongdoing, and professes his love to her, which she accepts. Soon Isabelle starts receiving packages from an unknown source, forcing her to begin her own research into the women in Henry’s lives, the investigations.

Throughout the story, we also get the pov of another character named M. Weary, who was a friend to the missing fiancée, and who privately keeps an eye on Henry, on the internet and other means to watch for him to find another woman. Weary is obsessed with Henry and concern for his new lady, Isabelle. 

What follows is an exciting tense adventure where Isabelle, despite warnings from her friends, continues to believe in Henry.  The packages she receives makes her take further steps to find out the truth, which will put her life in danger. What will Isabelle do?   Who does she believe?

My mixed feelings:  I thought the beginning was nice, with a slow build romance. Then for a period I thought the story was slow & a bit redundant with switching focus on Isabelle and Weary.  Once we enter the halfway point or beyond, the story picks up drastically and it becomes an exciting thriller. I loved the intense last ¼ of the book, which had major surprises that I did not expect.  Overall, this was a very good psychological thriller.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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Remnants by Carolyn Arnold – a Review

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold – a Review

 

RemnantsAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
All that remains are whispers of the past…

When multiple body parts are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia, local law enforcement calls in FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team to investigate. But with the remains pointing to three separate victims, this isn’t proving to be an open-and-shut case.

With no quick means of identifying the deceased, building a profile of this serial killer is more challenging than usual. How are these targets being selected? Why are their limbs being severed and their bodies mutilated? And what is it about them that is triggering this person to murder?

The questions compound as the body count continues to rise, and when a torso painted blue and missing its heart is found, the case takes an even darker turn. But this is only the beginning, and these new leads draw the FBI into a creepy psychological nightmare. One thing is clear, though: The killing isn’t going to stop until they figure it all out. And they are running out of time…

 

Review:

Remnants by Carolyn Arnold is the 6th book in her Brandon Fisher FBI series.  The FBI team of Jack, Brandon, Paige and Zach are sent to Savannah, Georgia on what will be a very difficult case of floating body parts found in the river by a plantation.  Jack is the leader of this team, and Brandon has now escalated to being full agent, having finished his probationary period.

As we have come to know about this series, the cases are usually violent, squeamish and at times difficult for the agents, especially Brandon.  I like the team, but I still do not like Brandon that much, as I look at Jack as the one who pulls them together.  I do like Paige and Zach.

When the story started, we saw someone drug  a man in the men’s room of a mall, and kidnap him.   The body parts discovered is from different people, some perhaps there for a long time.  During the investigation, Paige and Zach will question those who found the parts, while Jack and Brandon will question others.  Clues are difficult to come by, and the body parts continue to surface, which leads the team to believe that a serial killer is on the loose.  From various conditions of the body, such as blue paint, and heart extractions, it will lead them to suspect that the killer (s) is performing some kind of Mayan cult sacrifice.  Nadia, who is an analyst from Quantico, is able to use her special skills to generate a list of missing people within a radius from Savannah for them to work with.  Other clues are found that makes a local resident a suspect and the race is on to find the culprit, which begins to show that perhaps there is more than one person involved.  There are some twists and surprises and the suspense becomes very exciting and tense. 

This series is always intense, and exciting, as Arnold is an expert in police procedurals and writing amazing crime stories.  However, that being said, I found it difficult to read some parts where the killer was torturing the victim.  Remnants is an intense mystery, with an excellent FBI team, and if you enjoy murder, bad villains and exciting stories, you should be reading this series.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy supplied for review

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Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen – a Review

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen – a Review

 

Gone Without a TraceAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

 

 

Review:

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen is a psychological thriller.  I had mixed feelings about this book, which I will explain a bit later in this review.  The premise of the story was a good one, which catches your attention from the start.

Hannah Moore has just received good news on her job, with a promotion possibly upcoming.  She buys a bottle of wine to celebrate the wonderful news with her boyfriend, Matt.   When she arrives home after being away for a couple of days, she is shocked at what she sees.  Matt is gone, and everything in the house that they shared is missing, and replaced with all her old stuff before he moved in with her; even her computer emails &  phone messages, etc were erased.  It was just like Matt never existed; which was a great start to this story.  Needless to say, Hannah was upset, not knowing why Matt left.

We get to meet Hannah’s friends Kate and James, who are the ones she goes to for help.  Both of them try to understand why Matt would have left, asking Hannah questions about them having problems.  Hannah insists nothing was wrong. It is here the story escalates to Hannah spending all her free time trying to find Matt, which will affect her job, which begins to suffer.  Hannah becomes obsessed with researching on the computer, calling his old job or friends to no avail.  A short time later, she begins to get texts on her phone from a strange number “I am Home now”, which leads her to believe Matt is coming home.  He didn’t, but someone was coming to her house leaving hints.   As we get to the last 1/3 of the book, things change drastically, with multiple twists; which was exciting.

Now for my mixed feelings:  Once I was ¼ into the book, I did not like Hannah; not at all.  She was obnoxious, obsessive, hysterical, nasty at times and totally a disaster. At first I understood her boyfriend left her, but she was an adult (30’s) who after the initial shock, should have moved on. If he didn’t want her to find him, that should have been enough.  She didn’t even care or do anything on her job; she treated her friends bitterly.  It got to the point that I couldn’t stand her, and this went on for too long. When we got to the twist, which was sort of a surprise,  her behavior was that of a wacky crazy women. Then as things come to a climax (no spoilers), we get some more answers and twists; but the epilogue ending left me with a bitter taste.

This book was promising, the writing was good, a good thriller storyline, with some surprises and at times exciting.  But I could not sympathize with the lead character, to the point of disliking her so much, it affected my take on the book. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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I See You by Clare Mackintosh – a Review

I See You by Clare Mackintosh – a Review

 

I See YouAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description
You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make

Review:

I See You by Clare Mackintosh is another wonderful exciting psychological thriller.  I loved Mackintosh’s debut novel, I Let You Go, and could not wait to see what she had for us next.   I See You is a different type of read, but equally fascinating.  The story does fluctuate between the two female leads.  There are also the occasional thoughts of a third party, presumed to be the person behind everything.

Zoe Walker hates her commute to work, but she has a good job and needs the money.  One day, looking at the newspaper adverts, she sees a picture that looks like her, with a dating site. When Zoe shows it to her family (daughter, son and boyfriend), they tell her it’s just probably a look alike, as the picture was grainy. A few days later, she sees a picture for the same site, with a different woman; but a short time later she will find out that the woman in the ad was murdered.   Zoe begins to worry that she has become someone’s target, and she begins to look over her shoulder often.  No one believes her when she tries to tell the cops about the advert

Kelly Swift is a cop, who has been regulated to the BTP Dip squad.  Kelly was a good detective in the Sexual Offense Unit, until 4 years ago, when she attacked a rape suspect.  Kelly’s sister had been raped, and the offender was never found, and to this day, Kelly can’t stop thinking about it.   When she gets a call from Zoe Walker about her fears, Kelly starts to investigate.  She tries to talk to the Detective in charge about some of her findings, and that Zoe Walker might be right, those adverts might be behind the murder and another robbery.  When she gets no satisfaction from the Detective, she goes to her commanding officer to request a transfer, and is given 3 months to work on the Investigation Unit. 

Zoe’s fears are real, and it begins to affect her life and work.  Everyone thinks she is worrying for no reason, and when she is “rescued” by a man who seems to pop up often, she goes to Kelly for help.  This will lead to an exciting police procedural trying to find that man, and the site that doesn’t exist; except it really does for those who will pay exorbitant prices to find all information about the lady in the advert, including their daily route to and from work.  What makes this a bit creepy and chilling is that in real life, with cameras everywhere, internet which watches your moves, and those who can easily hack your computer and follow you.  It is a scary thought.

Kelly and her new boss, Nick begin to tie things together, including a rape, which will lead to more clues. There were a number of unforeseen twists and turns that had me holding my breath in fear, as we realized how close things were to Zoe.  What follows is a scary pulse pounding exciting race to find the culprit, before Zoe’s life is in danger.  The ending was so tense, as we watched Kelly and the detectives discover the truth; but will they be able to save Zoe and her daughter, Katie?  I See You had a wild action filled ending that was a gripping thriller chiller. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – a Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – a Review

 

The Roanoke GirlsAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

Description:
“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”
 
After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.
 
Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
 
As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Review:

Did you wake up screaming?…Was it a nightmare?”

 “Did you wake up screaming? Was it a nightmare?”
 I shook my head, confused and a little scared.  “No.”
“Then it was nothing like that.”

Nightmares are the least of concerns; losing sleep a luxury in comparison to the knowledge, and experience, of surviving in the house Roanoke built.  Amy Engel crafts a book equal parts compelling and disturbing.  The Roanoke Girls details a family dynamic, a cycle of abuse without limit or censure, until one resolves to face the demons and expose the plague.  This story is cringe-worthy, but so artfully written, you’ll feel its haunting beauty.   

“My head knows this place is no good for me, but my stupid, traitorous heart sings HOME.

Lane Roanoke is going back home to Kansas.  Only, you’re not supposed to go home again, right?  Or does Oz always welcome you back?  Trust me when I say Roanoke is light years away from fantasy.  When Lane’s cousin, Allegra, goes missing, Granddad summons Lane home.  Ten years ago, Lane ran away from Roanoke, vowing to stay away from her cryptic family.  But guilt, its “dirty fingers under [her] skin” have forced Lane to return.  Only Allegra could revive Lane enough to revisit this hell.  Allegra, the rebellious, reckless, spirited cousin whose mysterious disappearance reopens wounds and shines a light on silent, insidious corruption.

Don’t think me dramatic, but I don’t think I can say much more.  Amy Engel parses out pivotal memories that stem from a malignant root, but the identity isn’t the most startling.  To quote Ms. Engel, “it’s the WHY of it” that brings the story to full culmination. You will hear varying degrees of blame, tainted versions every one, but “life picks away at all of us, backs us into corners we never anticipated.  Turns us into people we never thought we’d become.”  A riveting story of innocence lost.

The Roanoke Girls were born into an underbelly of family taboo cloaked in dark seduction and heartbreaking complacency.  Amy Engel weaves in light and hope in the most desperate of times.  I told her The Roanoke Girls was memorable, but now I can honestly add recommendable.  

Reviewed by Carmen

Copy provided by Publisher

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