REVIEW: BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE, BY REA FREY

 

Single mother Lee has the daily routine down to a science: shower in six minutes. Cut food into perfect squares. Never leave her on-the-spectrum son Mason in someone else’s care. She’ll do anything-anything—to keep his carefully constructed world from falling apart. Do anything to keep him safe.

But when her best friend Grace convinces her she needs a small break from motherhood to re-charge her batteries, Lee gives in to a weekend trip. Surely a long weekend away from home won’t hurt?

Noah, Mason’s handsome, bright, charismatic tutor—the first man in ages Lee’s even noticed—is more than happy to stay with him.

Forty-eight hours later, someone is dead.

But not all is as it seems. Noah may be more than who he claims to be. Grace has a secret—one that will destroy Lee. Lee has secrets of her own that she will do anything to keep hidden. And what will happen to Mason, as the dominoes begin to fall and the past comes to light?

Perhaps it’s no mystery someone is gone after all…

 

My Thoughts: What began as a story about friendship and the world of single parenting would morph into a suspense thriller with so many layers of deceit that it would take rapidly turning those pages to find out more. As we delve further into Because You’re Mine we learn snippets of those long-held secrets, but we won’t realize the extent of them until the very end.

What is the story behinds Mason’s paternity? What happened to each woman’s family members that would change the course of their lives? How did Noah fit into each of their lives, past and present?

Each revelation begins to offer a peek of those lives in the past, as well as the present, but it would only be in the final pages that we truly understand the depths of the duplicity. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

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REVIEW: THE PERFECT WIFE, BY J P DELANEY

 

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives—and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

THE PERFECT WIFE

 

My Thoughts: At first glance, The Perfect Wife could be one man’s attempt to recreate his dead wife, unable to move on after the loss of her. Since he is adept at technological advances, what Tim does to create his dream wife seems almost sweet.

But it doesn’t take long for the artificial version to fill the reader in on the true motives, and even then, we have persistent questions about what is really going on.

The story unfolds in alternating narratives: Real Abbie vs. Artificial Version. We soon come to empathize with each part of her, turning pages rapidly to learn what she will ultimately decide to do when her very existence is threatened.

At the very end, I was stunned by what happened. Could there be some kind of happiness in whatever chosen existence prevails? Would the Real Abbie please stand up? 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: A GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER, BY BEV THOMAS

 

Ruth Hartland is a psychotherapist with years of experience. But professional skill is no guard against private grief. The mother of grown twins, she is haunted by the fact that her beautiful, difficult, fragile son Tom, a boy who never “fit in,” disappeared a year and a half earlier. She cannot give up hope of finding him, but feels she is living a kind of half-life, waiting for him to return.

Enter a new patient, Dan–unstable and traumatized–who looks exactly like her missing son. She is determined to help him, but soon, her own complicated feelings, about how she has failed her own boy, cloud her professional judgment. And before long, the unthinkable becomes a shattering reality….

My Thoughts: In the opening lines of A Good Enough Mother, psychotherapist Ruth Hartland is drawn to her new patient, Dan, who bears a striking resemblance to her missing son Tom. As the therapy proceeds, Ruth finds herself losing her sense of control over their sessions. Boundaries are crossed and the inevitable blurring of lines lead to horrific consequences.

The narrative takes Ruth back and forth in time, revealing the good and bad moments in her family life, and just when we see a glimmer of hope in Ruth’s personal life, a stunning breach upends both her personal and professional life.

From the outside looking in, one could anticipate the startling events, and afterwards, Ruth realizes that she should have seen how events would unfold…if she had been paying attention to the signs. I felt a connection to Ruth as she lived in a state of denial, constantly searching for her lost son. I liked how there was a glimmer of hope in the conclusion. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND, BY HEATHER GUDENKAUF

 

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

My Thoughts: Narrated via text messages, journal entries, and therapist notes, Before She Was Found probes beneath the surface into the disturbed psyches of three middle school girls in a rural Iowa town.

We learn about the secret and mysterious world of girls whose rivalries and fantasies unfold against a backdrop of an ordinary setting that turns out to be anything but ordinary.

A dark website binds them together, just as an urban legend tears them apart. Who can discover what has really happened? Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was almost underwhelmed by what had actually happened…and a little disappointed. However, the book held me in its grip until the end, making the journey worthwhile. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: LITTLE DARLINGS, BY MELANIE GOLDING

 

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

 

My Thoughts: From the opening pages of Little Darlings, I was drawn into this creepy and sinister tale, a story with characters that made me want to root for them. Lauren, as an exhausted new mother to twins, felt like someone with whom I could empathize. I also liked DS Jo Harper, who is diligent and goes beyond the call of duty.

Patrick, as the new father, was unlikable, in my opinion, although some might view him as a man standing by his “sick” wife.

The story was hard to believe, but when we saw the events from Lauren’s perspective, we could almost buy into her fears. Who doesn’t imagine things when exhausted and disconnected from a real support system? I liked suspending my disbelief until the very end. 4.5 stars.***

REVIEW: LITTLE BEACH BUNGALOW, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

 

The cottage is nestled along winding Sea View Road, set back from the sandy street. Surrounded by swaying dune grass, it’s a shabby little beach bungalow with an open back porch overlooking a sparkling Long Island Sound. A sign propped in the front window says: For Rent.

Well, the cottage was For Rent … until one particular lobsterman booked a summer stay there. As Shane Bradford settles into the New England beach town of Stony Point, he unloads more than boxes and duffels. With his arrival, he unpacks secrets, and entwined histories, among his circle of beach friends. Old loves surface. New ones emerge, too.

Little Beach Bungalow follows Shane’s simmering summer days back on the Connecticut shore, and much is in store.

My Thoughts: Little Beach Bungalow brings together the Stony Point friends and adds another layer to the past.

Shane Bradford’s story takes the reader back fifteen years to a breach between him and his brother Kyle. We never do get the details of what happened between the brothers, but all of the regular friends in Stony Point are lined up on Kyle’s side, which annoyed me a little. But since they are Kyle’s friends, I could understand it. However, I am not a fan of Kyle and his temper tantrums. I was more intrigued to learn what had happened from Shane’s perspective.

In the end, we are left not really knowing what will happen next, which means the ongoing series will pull me in once again. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE FIRST MISTAKE, BY SANDIE JONES

 

THE WIFE: For Alice, life has never been better. With her second husband, she has a successful business, two children, and a beautiful house.

HER HUSBAND: Alice knows that life could have been different if her first husband had lived, but Nathan’s arrival into her life gave her back the happiness she craved.

HER BEST FRIEND: Through the ups and downs of life, from celebratory nights out to comforting each other through loss, Alice knows that with her best friend Beth by her side, they can survive anything together. So when Nathan starts acting strangely, Alice turns to Beth for help. But soon, Alice begins to wonder whether her trust has been misplaced . . .

The first mistake could be her last.

 

My Thoughts: The First Mistake takes the reader inside the domestic lives of several characters, beginning with Alice’s world in which she lost her beloved first husband. Now her second husband shows promise…but suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, she begins to see the cracks in the façade.

In confiding in her best friend Beth, Alice thinks she has found the support she needs, but has she really? Certain details do not add up, and she may have misplaced her trust.

Alternating from the perspectives of Alice and Beth, we find ourselves in a quandary. Can we trust any of these characters? Who has the most to gain from a long con game, and who might be hiding deep, dark secrets?

In the end, I couldn’t stop reading and trying to decide who I should root for. A captivating tale with unexpected twists and turns, I had to give this book 4.5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE MOTHER-IN-LAW, BY SALLY HEPWORTH

 

A twisty, compelling new novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in death…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had en-visioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she no longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

Fractured relationships and deep family secrets grow more compelling with every page in this twisty, captivating new novel from Sally Hepworth.

 

My Thoughts: The Mother-in-Law grabs us from the beginning with a stunning death.

Lucy and Ollie’s marriage has numerous complications, but Diana was an unexpected one. Our multiple narrators take us through the years, from the past and to the present lives of the characters.

My favorite insight into Diana came during her girlhood with the defining moments that created her persona. We start out disliking her behavior, but as time passes, we come to understand her.

The obsessions of Nettie, Ollie’s sister, add an interesting layer to the tale.

Just when I thought that I had figured out who killed Diana, I realized how much intrigue each character brought to the mystery. This glued-to-the-pages story that held me hostage throughout earned 5 stars.

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REVIEW: DREAMS OF FALLING, BY KAREN WHITE

 

On the banks of the North Santee River stands a moss-draped oak that was once entrusted with the dreams of three young girls. Into the tree’s trunk, they placed their greatest hopes, written on ribbons, for safekeeping—including the most important one: Friends forever, come what may.

But life can waylay the best of intentions….

Nine years ago, a humiliated Larkin Lanier fled Georgetown, South Carolina, knowing she could never go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she realizes she has no choice but to return to the place she both loves and dreads—and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.

Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered badly injured and unconscious in the burned-out wreckage of her ancestral plantation home. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly fifty years—whispers of love, sacrifice, and betrayal—that lead back to three girls on the brink of womanhood who found their friendship tested in the most heartbreaking ways.

My Thoughts: Dreams of Falling is a beautifully layered family drama featuring several generations. Themes of dreams, falling, and long-held secrets keep the reader turning pages, not knowing what will be revealed.

Alternating narrators and dual time lines carry the reader from 2010 back to the fifties. Larkin is a young woman trying to escape her past, but news of her mother Ivy’s disappearance takes her back to the loving arms of her nurturing caretakers, Ceecee and Bitty. The beautiful settings were described in such a way that I could actually feel the essence of it all, just as I’ve always done with Karen White’s books. 5 stars.***

A HUMP DAY LOST IN BOOKS…

Today I’m participating in WWW Wednesdays, at Taking on a World of Words Here’s how it works:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

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CURRENTLY READING:  Dreams of Falling, by Karen White, a book that has been patiently waiting to be read for almost a year. It is a contemporary women’s fiction novel, set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, about lifelong friends who share a devastating secret.

 

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BOOKS FINISHED SINCE LAST WEEK-(Titles/Covers Linked to My Reviews):

My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing

The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves

Someone Knows, by Lisa Scottoline

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:  Such a Perfect Wife, by Kate White:  Release Date: May 7.  Not long to wait!

Synopsis:  Blonde. Beautiful. A loving mother.

And missing since Monday.

On a sunny morning in late September, Shannon Blaine sets off for a jog along the rural roads near her home in Lake George, New York.  It’s her usual a.m. routine, her “me time” after dropping the kids off at school…except on this day she never returns.

Is her husband lying when he says he has no clue where she is? Could Shannon have split on her own, overwhelmed by the pressures of her life? Or is she the victim of a sexual predator who had been prowling the area and snatched her before she knew what was happening.

True crime writer Bailey Weggins, on assignment for the website Crime Beat, heads north from New York City to report on the mysterious disappearance. An anonymous tip soon leads Bailey to a grisly, bone-chilling discovery. Every town has its secrets, Bailey reminds herself, and nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. She keeps digging for answers until—when it’s almost too late—she unearths the terrifying truth.

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This was my week so far.  What did yours look like?

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