The Alchemy of Night is a must read historical romance with a murder thrown in

36570121I have enjoyed several Nicola Italia books and her writing keeps getting better with each book.  This time around in The Alchemy of Night, we are introduced to Emmeline (Emme) Bell and the Marham brothers – Everett and Nigel.  Everett is next in line to become Lord Marham and run the family estate.  Nigel is in love with Emme and asks her to marry him.  Emme isn’t sure she wants to marry Nigel and asks for time to think about her answer.

In the meantime, Emme starts to bump into Everett at different events and around town setting off sparks between them, which they both try to ignore.  But when they unexpectedly spend several days together at their mutual friend’s house before the winter ball, the attraction can’t be ignored.

As Everett and Emme are falling in love, another woman sets her sights on Everett.  Not because Maude Thomas loves him, but because Everett comes with a title and money.  Who wouldn’t want to be a countess?  But how far will someone go to get said title? And is it worth dying for?

Nicola is a wonderful historical romance author who knows how to draw the reader into the lives of her characters.  I found myself losing track of time as I went back in time to London when women wore big flowing dresses and rode around in carriages.  A time when women were the “property” of the man they were with whether it was a father or a husband.  A time when a woman had money but couldn’t “own” the money because they were too simple minded.

It was also a time when couples had to sneak around and if they got caught together, whether they were doing anything or not, a marriage had to happen to stop any rumors that could ruin the woman’s and the man’s reputation.

I recommend picking up The Alchemy of Night if you are looking for something to read on vacation while relaxing in the sun.  It’s even perfect for those times you want to curl up by the fire with a blanket and a warm drink.  It’s a perfect time to read anytime and anywhere.  Be prepared to be entertained.  Then be prepared to add Nicola’s other books to your TBR list.

Book Description:
Emmeline Bell, the only daughter of a well-known London solicitor, is intelligent, beautiful, and well loved by her family and friends.

Nigel Carey, the second son of Lord Marham, is quiet and reserved yet secretly pines to call Emme his own. When Nigel proposes, Emme accepts it without love knowing the match will give her a comfortable life. She is unaware that Nigel’s dark and mysterious older brother, Everett, heir to the earldom, also holds a deep desire for her.

Arriving a week early to a mutual friend’s annual winter house party, Emme and Everett strike up an unexpected friendship, one that quickly leads to romance. As Everett invokes feelings in her she never thought possible, he urges her to break off her engagement to his brother. However, another young woman who has been scheming to force a marriage with the handsome, wealthy, and titled Everett is found dead in the middle of the winter ball. Suddenly everyone has a motive for murder–even Emme.

As the inspector assigned to the case tries to unravel the plot, the list of suspects narrows, and Everett is arrested. Convinced of his innocence, Emme embarks on admission to clear his name. She uncovers overlooked clues and someone suddenly becomes determined to stop her. Emme and Everett must race to unmask the killer before the killer silences Emme forever.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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The Girl Who Lived is a heart pumping thriller

36412584I enjoy a good thriller.  One that makes my heart pound and my pulse race.  The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson is a good thriller.  A really good thriller.  On her 13th birthday, Faith Winters watches as her older sister Kim is brutally murdered on the porch of their family cabin.  While inside the cabin, are Faith’s father, her best friend and her best friend’s mom, all dead.

After Kim tells Faith to run, Faith hides in the woods with the murderer hunting her down.  Fast forward 10 years with Faith back in her hometown trying to start over.  She has been in and out of mental hospitals, has become an alcoholic and often thinks about killing herself.

On her first night home, after leaving an AA meeting, Faith heads to a bar and downs several shots.  While heading home she is sure the ‘Ratman’ drives by her.  The same man who was sitting in a car by the cabin the night of the murders.  The man she hid from under a log for four hours, the man that no one believes exists.  This starts a crazy hunt by Faith to find the killers and realizing she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Is Faith having hallucinations?  Is the alcohol making her paranoid?  Is she just plain crazy?  No one will believe Faith.

This book took me on a roller coaster of a ride, which kept me up at night trying to figure out who was behind the murders.  Do you think you know who is behind the murders? You might want to rethink your choice.  Pick this book up for a thrilling ride with a lot of f’d up people.

Book Description:
Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?

From the mind of Wall Street Journal bestselling author Christopher Greyson comes a story with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey of light and dark, good and evil, to the edge of madness. The Girl Who Lived should come with a warning label: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. Not since Girl on the Train and Gone Girl has a psychological thriller kept readers so addicted—and guessing right until the last page.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Come Sundown is an emotional roller coaster ride

31415529I always associate Nora Roberts with romance trilogies where sisters fall in love, brothers fall in love, best friends fall in love and sometimes all three in the same storyline.  So it always surprises me when I come across one of her books that has romance but also a large element of Criminal Minds.  Come Sundown is one of those books.

The book has two very strong storylines that eventually merge/catch up with each other.  The story starts out with Alice Bodine.  A young girl who left home, not on good terms with her family, the night of her sister’s wedding.  After struggling for a few years, Alice decides to return home but she never makes it there.  Her car breaks down, a guy gives her a ride, but instead of taking her the few miles to her family’s ranch, he kidnaps her.  Her family never knew Alice was headed home so they think she wants nothing to do with them with her disappearance.

The second storyline takes us more than 20 years into the future to Bodine Longbow, a young professional woman who runs the Bodine Ranch and Resort.  She has her hands on everything, which made me wonder how she had time for a personal life let alone getting any sleep.  Then Callen (Cal) Skinner comes back home.  A childhood friend of Bodine and her brothers who is amazing with horses.  He’s soon hired on at the ranch along with his horse and he soon starts a relationship with Bodine.  The same time of Cal’s return, women start turning up dead, which makes a local police officer and childhood enemy of Cal’s, point his finger right at Cal.  He is determined to put Cal in jail.

The Bodine Ranch and Resort is a tightknit team.  Everyone is treated like family whether they are family or just work there.  Roberts does a great job of pulling the reader into the lives of the characters and making you care for all of them.  So when one of them goes missing, everyone hurts.

This is a heart-pounding, terrifying and laugh out loud story that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions.  When women start going missing and showing up dead, my heart would race and I kept saying not her.  Like that would make a difference.

This is such a wonderful book.  I could not put it down.  I have already recommended Come Sundown to several friends and family and I recommend it while on vacation or wrapped up in a blanket on the couch on a quiet day.  This one is well worth your time.

Book Description:
The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

I Found You has many different meanings

35184176I Found You by Lisa Jewell is a suspenseful thriller featuring three separate stories that slowly merge together.  First we meet Alice Lake, a single mom of three children – Kai, Jasmine and Romaine and their three dogs (Hero, Sadie, and Grif) living in a small house by the shore in Ridinghouse Bay.  Alice sees a man sitting on the beach in the pouring rain not moving for hours.  He has lost his memory, not knowing who he was and why he was sitting there.  Against her best friend Derry’s advice, Alice gives the man a warm coat and brings him inside her house and her daughter Romaine names him Frank.

Then we meet Lily Monrose from Ukraine who has only been back from her honeymoon for 10 days and now lives in London with her husband Carl.  One night Carl doesn’t come home from work, which is out of character for him.  She realizes that she doesn’t completely know her husband.  When she brings in the police, they quickly discover no person with his name exists.

We then head back twenty years to 1993 when the Ross Family (Tony, Pam, Gray and Kirsty) decide to vacation for two weeks in Ridinghouse Bay.  When Gray (17) and Kirsty (15) are out for a walk, Gray notices a guy staring intently at Kirsty.  It makes Gray uncomfortable.  The next day the family is on the beach and the same guy is sitting next to them.  He soon befriends the family and invites them over for tea at the large estate across the way.  Mark Tate (19) is visiting his aunt Kitty who recently lost her husband.  Mark quickly becomes obsessed with Kirsty and he starts to come across as a crazy, evil person.

The narrative switches back and forth between the three storylines slowly weaving back and forth bringing them together at the end.  Throughout the book, you don’t know exactly who the strange man on the beach could be.  Is it Gray or is it Mark.  And who is Lily’s husband?  Is it Gray or is it Mark?  Is the stranger on the beach and Lily’s husband the same person or are they two different people?  Lisa Jewell kept me guessing and kept me second guessing my selections.  I found I could not put this book down.  I wanted to know what was happening and I wanted answers.  This is a great thriller just in time for summertime.

Now that I’ve been done with the book for a few days, I understand the title pertains to several characters of the book.  It also means something different for each of the characters.

Book Description:
A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Veronica Speedwell is a great role model

28186322It’s always refreshing to have a female character who is strong, independent, knows her mind and speaks her mind. Especially when you throw them into London 1887. A time when it is frowned upon for women to have their own thoughts, to actually be educated and smarter than some men.

In the Veronica Speedwell Mystery Series by Deanna Raybourn, Ms. Speedwell is a feisty independent woman who travels on her own, doesn’t give a crap what people think, is educated, has an active sex life and she doesn’t apologize for anything.  Sometimes she gets herself into trouble because of these traits and I wouldn’t want her any other way.

Even though these books could stand on their own, I recommend starting with A Curious Beginning to understand how Veronica and Stoker (Revelstoke Templeton-Vane) end up together and continue working together in book two.

Book one starts with Veronica returning to a ransacked bungalow with an intruder running away.  She takes chase and as the intruder is about to murder her, a stranger scares the intruder away and insists Veronica must come with him. He promises to protect her and will give information about the mother she never knew.

Since Veronica just buried her aunt, who she loved with and has nothing keeping her at the bungalow, she goes with him. He drops her off with Stoker and is soon murdered before he can tell Veronica about her mother and leaving her alone with grumpy Stoker who is also a stranger.  They are soon on the run trying to find out why someone is trying to kill her when she isn’t an important person. She is only a hunter of butterflies.  This story takes them across the country and joining a traveling circus where Stoker is a knife thrower and Veronica his assistant.

30008834A Perilous undertaking finds Ms. Speedwell and Stoker pulled into finding out if Miles Ramsforth really did murder Artemisia before he hangs in a week. The person who requests their help is not who she says she is and Veronica immediately recognizes her true identity. Of course, Sir Hugo Montgomerie, the head of Special Branch of Scotland Yard, does not like Veronica and Stoker trying to prove the wrong many is going to be executed. It will show that Scotland Yard is not doing their job correctly. The ambitious Inspector Mornaday is back again. Veronica drives both of them crazy.

This book is filled with the same humor, suspense and excitement as the first book.  I find Veronica and Stoker’s friendship refreshing.  There is some sexual tension between them but she won’t act on it because she refuses to have sex with a countryman. Stoker is a certified medical surgeon who has left his profession to hunt for animals abroad and stuffs them for his clients. He is a physically strong man covered with tattoos and scars from his travels.

In book two we get a deeper insight into both Veronica and Stoker’s families and learn why Stoker has distanced himself from his family. This series is entertaining and so well written I was pulled into the lives of the characters and lost myself in the story. I think I found a new historical mystery series.  This series should be added to every must read list.

Book Description:

A Curious Beginning (Book One)
In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

A Perilous Undertaking (Book Two)
Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries…

London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.

From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Life of a Vaudeville Star

30320011I think Nicola Italia has become my new favorite romance writer.  This time in The Vaudeville Star, we are introduced to Ruby Mae Sutton, a southern belle from Mississippi who is sent off to finishing school in Connecticut when she is 15.

Ruby has been madly in love all her life with Ford Rutledge, who is engaged to her sister.  Ruby doesn’t want Ford to marry her sister.  She thinks her cold-hearted sister is very wrong for Ford.  So she decides to convince him, putting him in a compromising position, hence sending Ruby to finishing school.

While at the finishing school, Ruby discovers her singing voice and decides she wants to be a vaudeville singer.  Ruby builds fans including the King of New York who becomes obsessed with Ruby.  This is also where Ruby meets Ford again and finds her love for him still exists.

The characters are well developed and their personalities came through strong.  As I was reading, I felt invested in the characters’ lives and was cheering for them.  At almost 300 pages, I thought there was more to tell.  I wanted more of Ruby, Ford, Bessie and the other Vaudeville performers.  This book was well worth my time and it will be well worth your time.  Pick it up today.

Book Description:
On a Mississippi Plantation, Ruby Mae Sutton throws herself into the arms of the only man she has ever loved, Ford Rutledge.  At fifteen years old, she has given her heart away and is not ashamed to brazenly declare her love to the twenty-five-year-old man, who is also the fiancé of her sister.

But Ford has no intention of taking advantage of the blond beauty, even though her reckless behavior causes his engagement to be broken.  Ruby is sent off in disgrace to a boarding school in Connecticut, where she remains for the next three years.

Once in Connecticut, Ruby discovers her singing voice and decides to leave after graduation for the bright lights of New York and the vaudeville stage.  Ford also decides to make his home in New York and suddenly finds himself face-to-face with Ruby Sutton, the very grown and very beautiful rising star of the vaudeville stage.

As Ruby’s star ascends, she makes a huge conquest with the King of Manhattan: William Parker.  King Parker begins to take an interest in Ruby’s career, and more importantly Ruby herself, as Ford finally realizes he is in love with her.

King finances a tour to Europe as his interest in Ruby takes a turn toward the more obsessive.  Ruby finds herself torn between her true love for Ford and the obligation she owes King.  She must tread carefully between the two men, and the brutal murder of someone they all know causes everyone to wonder who had the motive.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

New twist on Sherlock Holmes

28588390Charlotte Holmes of A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas brings a fresh new twist to the Sherlock Holmes franchise.

As a child, Charlotte Holmes, youngest of four sisters, has always been a little different.  She rarely speaks unless she has something to say, she likes to be alone and she is great at coming up with accurate conclusions after observing a situation.  Her father finds Charlotte entertaining, which made her his pet.

Charlotte’s domineering mother is determined to make Charlotte a proper young lady and get her married off.  But Charlotte doesn’t want to get married.  She would rather be the headmistress of an all girl’s school.  Sir Henry Holmes withdraws his promise to fun her training, which forces Charlotte to take drastic measure by ruining her reputation with a married man, ensuring she would not be married off to an eligible bachelor.  Not only did she ruin her reputation, she is publicly disgraced and is the center of a huge scandal.

After the scandal hits, Charlotte runs away to avoid spending her days out in the country alone, where her mother hopes the scandal will die down if Charlotte is out of sight.  Charlotte soon encounters an older, flamboyant lady who she feels an almost instant connection.  Of course this is Mrs. John Watson, a former actress and the widow of an army officer who perished in Afghanistan years earlier.

Soon the bodies start lining up including the mother of Charlotte’s lover.  The reclusive detective Sherlock Holmes is on the case but how effective will he be since he has taken to his bed with a serious illness and Inspector Treadles of Scotland Yard must consult with Holmes through his “sister” Charlotte.  Then there is Lord Ingram Ashburton who is in love with Charlotte but can’t act on his love for her because he is married, even if there is no love in the marriage.  He is an honorable man and will not act on his love.

If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, or even just a murder mystery fan, then you will want to pick up A Study in Scarlet Women.  This will be a great series to enjoy for years to come.

I was able to read an advanced copy through the First to Read Program from Penguin Random House.

Book Description:
USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down…

 With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society.  But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name.  She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat