Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 1/29-2/4/2023

 




This Week's Book Mail



Henry Holt Co, Publishers - ARC






Once Upon A Book Club - Adult Book Box






Book Of The Month Club










Once Upon A Book Club - YA Box









Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Blessing by Jude Deveraux (Book Review)

 




The Blessing by Jude Deveraux
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 1,1998
Format: Hardcover - 320 pages
               Paperback - 327 pages
               Audiobook - 8 Hours 2 Minutes
               Kindle - 712 KB
               Nook - 712 KB
ISBN (HC): 978-0671891084
ISBN (PB):  978-1849832540
ASIN (Audiobook): B007NKXA0W
ASIN (Kindle): B000FBJGC2
BNID: 978-0743417389
Genre: Romance / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction 



Buy The Book:



Disclaimer: I purchased a PB copy of the book from Bubbles & Books monthly book club subscription.



Book Description:

The New York Times bestselling author of the Summerhouse series crafts an inspirational love story that has “plenty of romance, fun, and adventure” ( San Antonio Express-News ) following a workaholic businessman whose life and heart are changed forever by a young widow and her son.

Wealthy corporate genius Jason Wilding reluctantly takes a break from his high-powered and stressful world to visit his hometown of Abernathy, Kentucky. As a favor to his brother David, he agrees to spend a week as a live-in babysitter for David’s new girlfriend. Courting the free-spirted Amy has been difficult with her adorable but demanding baby in tow, and Jason’s help is just what David needs.

Expecting to be bored and annoyed, Jason is shocked to discover that Amy’s joy for life, her love for her son, and her sparkling humor are irresistible and the reserved and enigmatic CEO finds himself warming to her charm. Their mutual attraction is glowing bright, but what to do about David?

This “bestseller by one of the all-time greats” (Midwest Book Review), celebrates the unexpected journey of the heart toward love, and the eternal bond between mother and child.


Book Excerpt:




My Book Review:

In The Blessing, author Jude Deveraux weaves a heartwarming tale of unexpected love. 

Jason Wilding is a wealthy NYC corporate CEO, who goes home to Abernathy, Kentucky, when his brother, Dr. David Wilding asks for a favor, to spend the week and be a live-in babysitter for David's girlfriend, Amy Thompkins' six month old baby son Max, so that he could spend time alone with her and woo her. 

Jake has a no-nonsense exterior but is a soft teddy bear inside, and he unexpectedly finds himself wanting to take care of Amy, a widow, and enjoys interacting with little Max. With a mutual attraction that grows between Jake and Amy, what will they do about David? 

The Blessing is a wonderful story that engages the reader to follow along as Jason and Amy find unexpected love with the help of little baby Max. As their story unfolds, it will bring plenty of drama, trials and tribulations, life challenges, family issues for them to overcome, and a dash of humor thrown into the mix. The story will keep the reader wondering if this ruse turned attraction can become an everlasting love story, but it all culminates in a heartwarming ending that will leave them with a smile on their face. 

The Blessing is a compelling story about love, friendship, family, and second chances in life. 




RATING: 4 STARS 





About The Author




Jude Deveraux is the author of forty-three New York Times bestsellers, including For All Time, Moonlight in the Morning,and A Knight in Shining Armor. She was honored with a Romantic Times Pioneer Award in 2013 for her distinguished career. To date, there are more than sixty million copies of her books in print worldwide.










Monday, January 30, 2023

Dark Of Night by Colleen Coble (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Dark Of Night by Colleen Coble!







Book Review





Dark Of Night by Colleen Coble
Book 2: An Annie Pederson Novel Series
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: Jan 10, 2023
Format: Hardcover - 352 pages
               Paperback - 352 pages
               Audiobook: 8 Hours 8 Minutes
               Kindle - 2988 KB
               Nook - 4 MB 
ISBN (HC): 978-0785253778
ISBN (PB): 978-0785253747
ASIN (Audiobook): B0B61MK9BK
ASIN (Kindle): B0B1WKV7M4
BNID: 978-0785253754
Genre: Romantic Suspense



Buy The Book:


Buy The Series: An Annie Pederson Novel Series
Book 1: Edge Of Dusk
Book 2: Dark Of Night 
Book 3: Break Of Day (Pub Date: July 4, 2023)



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book via Net Galley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual boom tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Tours.



Book Description:

The law is about justice—not grace. But perhaps ranger Annie Pederson can find a way to have both.

As if the last few months haven’t been hard enough—complete with threats on her life and the return of her first love, Jon—Annie has to figure out whether or not to believe a woman who claims to be her sister, Sarah, who was abducted twenty-four years ago at age five. Annie’s eight-year-old daughter, Kylie, has plenty of questions about what’s going on in her mother’s life—but there are some stones Annie doesn’t want uncovered.

As Annie grapples with how to heal the gulf between her and her would-be sister and make room in her daughter’s life for Jon, she’s professionally distracted by the case of yet another missing hiker in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A woman named Michelle Fraser has now been abducted, and though the woman’s estranged husband is at the top of their suspect list, Annie and her colleagues will need to dig deeper and determine whether these recent mysteries are truly as unrelated as they seem.

In this second novel of bestselling author Colleen Coble’s latest romantic-suspense series, Annie and Jon must fight for the future—and the family—that could once more be theirs.



Book Excerpt:


Chapter 1

Should she even be out here alone? Michigan’s U.P. was a whole lotta wilderness. Michelle Fraser’s shoulder blades gave a tingle and made her glance back to see if anyone was following her. No one there. But in spite of seeing no movement in the trees and bushes, she couldn’t discount her gut instinct. She’d been spooked ever since she left the safety of the women’s shelter.

Maybe it was just knowing she was out here with no backup that had her on edge.

The heavy scent of rain hung in the twilight air as she set the last of her wildlife cameras in the crook of a large sugar maple tree. A northern flying squirrel chattered a warning from its nest. The glaucomys sabrinus’s agitation made Michelle pull away in time to avoid being nipped.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, and a spooky mist blew through the forest. The sooner she was out of here, the better. Her last set of cameras hadn’t turned up the elusive mountain lions she’d been searching for, but a hunter in neighboring Ontonagon County had snapped a picture of a large male reclining on a rock. If she could acquire more data, it would aid her research for the magazine article proving mountain lions inhabited the area. And she had to have pictures.

She’d been obsessed with big cats for as long as she could remember. Even the various names held a fascinating mystique: catamount, puma, cougar, mountain lion, panther.

A mosquito landed on her arm, and she swatted it. Her hands came away with a drop of blood on her fingers. Yuck. She wiped the residue on her khaki shorts and turned to go back to her ATV. A sound erupted to her right, and it sounded like either a puma or a woman’s scream. The hair on her neck prickled, and she moved that way.

The scream pealed again, and she removed the lens cap on the camera slung around her neck. Her palms dampened, and her breath came fast. Walking toward danger might not be the smartest thing, but Michelle couldn’t help herself. She yearned to see a puma in the wild in all its power and beauty. Her knees shook as she pulled out a bullhorn from her backpack to frighten away the cat if it sensed her as prey.

Queen pumas would be protecting their litters in June, so she needed to be careful. Her lungs labored as she rushed in that direction. Her black belt in jujitsu wouldn’t do much against the speed and power of a puma. She seized a large branch to make herself seem bigger as she advanced through the forest. Evergreen needles clawed at her arms as she forced her way through a thick stand of white pine.

She paused on the other side and caught the glimmer of water. Lake Superior’s waves lapped at the rocky shore, and she spotted a yellow kayak riding the swells in the shallow surf. A discarded backpack bobbed beside it.

Her sense of unease grew as she observed the scene. Glancing around, she approached the water and snagged the backpack from the lake, then pulled the kayak onto the rocks. Her gut told her someone was in trouble.

Should she call out? If it was wildlife threatening the woman she thought she’d heard, Michelle could scare it off with a flare. But if the attacker was human, she didn’t want to give away her presence and put the woman in greater danger. She scanned the area for bear or cougar scat but found nothing.

The sound of oars slapping the water came from her left, and she ducked back into the shadow of the pines until she could tell the intent of the boaters. Two figures partially shrouded in mist paddled a large canoe around a rocky finger of the shore. The glimpse of broad shoulders through the fog indicated they were probably men. She strained to listen through the sound of the wind and water but couldn’t hear much.

She couldn’t put her finger on why she didn’t want them to see her. Maybe because they were men, and Brandon might have sent them after her.

“I know she ran this way. Trying to get to her kayak, eh.” The man’s heavy Yooper accent carried well over the water.

“Can’t see her through this mist,” the other man said. “I don’t know why I let you talk me into this. Your love life isn’t my business.”

“You owe me. Let’s try on down the shore. There’s a deer trail toward the road she might have tried to take.”

Their voices faded as their canoe moved past. She didn’t get a good look at their faces. Was a woman out there trying to escape an abusive ex? Michelle had seen plenty of that kind of trauma this past year and had experienced abuse personally.

Once they were out of sight, she stepped back into the clearing. “Hello,” she called softly. “Is anyone here? I can help you.”

She walked across the green mossy clearing, searching for a sign of an injured woman. The bushes to her left shivered and rustled, and she stepped closer. “Hello? Do you need help?”

The leaves parted as the mist swirled along the ground, and the pale oval of a woman’s face emerged. Long blonde hair hung in strings along her cheeks, and her eyelids fluttered as though she might faint. Michelle rushed forward and helped the young woman to her feet. She was in her early twenties with a slight build. Mud smeared her khaki shorts and red top, and she was barefoot.

She seemed familiar, and Michelle reached down to touch her forehead. She nearly recoiled at the heat radiating from the young woman. “Wait, aren’t you Grace Mitchell?”

They’d met when Grace first arrived at the shelter, but Michelle hadn’t immediately recognized her with the mud and dirt on her face and hair. The woman’s fever alarmed Michelle. “You’re burning up. We need to get you to a doctor.”

“I-I’ll be fine. Do you have some way out of here?”

“My ATV is this way.” Michelle put her right arm around the woman’s waist and helped her stumble toward the trail. “What are you doing out here?”

Grace paused and wiped the beads of perspiration from her forehead. “I spotted my ex driving past the shelter, and I knew he’d found me. That day we met, you mentioned a remote area you liked with a great camping spot, and I decided to try to find it. You know, hide out until I figured out where to go to get away from Roy. But I stopped by to get camping gear from my parents, and he must have followed me here. He’s out there somewhere. He and a buddy.” Her blue eyes flashed with fear. “I can’t let him find me.”

They reached the ATV, and Michelle got Grace situated, but it was a tight squeeze on the vehicle meant for one person. Michelle got water out of her backpack and helped Grace drink some. She grabbed her phone, too, and took a quick photo of the traumatized girl before she dropped it back into the pack.

Michelle started the machine and pulled out onto the trail back to the cabin where she’d been hiding out. She should have gotten out of here earlier since the weather had caused darkness to fall sooner than expected. It would be slow going on the rough trail with only the headlamps pushing the darkness back a short distance.

After only a few minutes, Michelle realized she’d gotten off the trail. She stopped the machine and looked around. Which way should she go? She consulted her compass and decided to push due west. They’d only gone a few feet when the ground gave out under the machine, and they went flying into the air. When Michelle hit the ground, something in her right leg snapped, and the excruciating pain was instantaneous.

She bit back a scream but couldn’t stop the moan as she pulled her knee to her chest. The swelling was already starting four inches above her ankle, but at least it didn’t appear to be a compound fracture. “I-I’ve broken my leg. Are you all right, Grace?”

When Grace didn’t answer, Michelle felt along the ground until she touched her thigh. “Grace?” She felt up the young woman’s body to her face.

Grace wasn’t breathing. “Oh no,” Michelle whispered. She checked her out in the dark as best as she could. No pulse.

Michelle dragged herself to the machine but it was on its side, and she couldn’t right it with her broken leg. No one would be searching for her out here, so she had to find shelter. But how?

The pain made it hard to think. She froze at the sound of movement in the vegetation. Something big was crashing toward her. A deer? A mountain lion or bear?

A man’s shoulders moved into sight, and his expression sent shivers up her spine. When he reached down to lift her up, the pain intensified in her leg, and her vision went black.

///

Law enforcement ranger Annie Pederson sat at a table by herself in the small interrogation room at the Rock Harbor jail and waited for Taylor Moore to be brought in for questioning. Maybe it was Annie’s imagination, but it seemed as if the beige paint on the walls reeked with the guilt and despair of countless years of interrogations. Even the clean scent of the disinfectant used in the area didn’t dissipate the unpleasantness. She didn’t like this space and wished she could have talked to Taylor at the coffee shop or somewhere more pleasant.

But this meeting might be the end of her lifelong search, so she would have faced even tigers in this place.

The door opened and Taylor entered. Several weeks ago Annie had hired her to help out around the Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort and with Annie’s eight-year-old daughter, but the woman had been picked up for questioning about the necklace found belonging to a murdered girl. Her claim to be Annie’s sister, Sarah—kidnapped from Tremolo Island twenty-four years ago—had turned Annie’s every thought on its head. According to Taylor’s ID, she was twenty-nine, three years younger than Annie, so that detail matched Sarah.

Annie’s heart squeezed at Taylor’s ducked head and stringy locks. The bright-red hair dye was fading, and glints of her natural blonde color showed through. Her jeans and tee looked like she’d slept in them for days, and the scent of stale perspiration wafted from her.

Taylor glanced up, and Annie bit back a gasp at the defiance gleaming in those vivid blue eyes that matched Annie’s eye color instead of the muddy brown Annie was used to. Jon Dunstan had claimed Taylor was wearing contacts to change her eye color, and it seemed he was right.

Annie had prided herself on her ability to read people in her line of work. She’d always thought she could detect a liar with no problem. Taylor had completely snowed her. After Taylor’s impeccable references, Annie had trusted the woman with her child.

Sheriff Mason Kaleva ambled in behind Taylor. He gestured to the chair across the table from Annie. “Have a seat, Ms. Moore.”

In his forties, his husky form brought solace to Annie. He’d always been there for her and his town, and his kind brown eyes swept over her in a questioning gaze. She gave him a little nod to let him know she was okay.

Taylor’s eyes narrowed. “It’s Ms. Vitanen. Sarah Vitanen.”

A wave of dizziness washed over Annie, and she bit her lip and eyed Taylor closely. “You claim to be my sister, but do you have any proof?”

The chair screeched on the tile floor as Taylor pulled it out before she plopped onto it. “I should have expected you wouldn’t welcome me with open arms. After all, you did nothing to stop my abduction.”

Heat swept up Annie’s neck and lodged in her cheeks. “What could an eight-year-old do to stop an adult? If you’re really Sarah, what was the name of your favorite stuffed animal?”

“Cocoa,” Taylor said without hesitation. “It was a brown kitten. I couldn’t have a real one because Mom was allergic.”

Annie’s eyes widened. She caught her breath as she studied the other woman across the table. “Let me see your left knee.”

Rebellion flashed in Taylor’s blue eyes, and she leaned down to yank up her baggy jeans, then stood with her tanned knee exposed. A faded two-inch scar just below her kneecap matched the one in Annie’s memory. Sarah had gotten snagged on a large metal hook under the dock at the marina. It had taken fifteen stitches to close the wound, and Annie had helped her sister hobble around for several weeks.

But was that proof? Kids had scars from all sorts of things. She wanted to believe her sister was still alive, but was Taylor really Sarah?

Her breath eased from her lips, and Annie couldn’t speak for a long moment. “You really believe you’re Sarah? Did you research all that and make sure the details matched?”

Taylor just stared back at her with that same defiance. In Annie’s dreams, finding Sarah meant a tight embrace and happy tears, but Taylor’s stance with her arms folded across her chest and her jutting chin warned Annie off any displays of affection. Not that she was feeling any warmth toward the other woman in this moment.

When the other woman plopped back in her chair and didn’t answer, Annie licked her lips. “Why didn’t you tell me when you first showed up looking for work? Why the fake name? I’ve been searching for my sister for years.”

“Have you? Have you really?”

Annie glanced at Mason. “Ask him if you don’t believe me.”

Mason shifted his bulky form and nodded. “I’ve been helping Annie search. We’ve sent DNA samples numerous times over the past ten years. Her parents searched for Sarah, and even hired investigators, until their deaths.”

Annie hadn’t known that. Her parents’ business, the Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort, operated on a shoestring, so they must have taken much needed money to try to find Sarah.

Annie shifted her gaze back to the woman across the table. Taylor twisted a strand of hair around her finger in a coil. Sarah used to do that too. If this was a scam, it was an elaborate one. With all her heart Annie wanted to believe it, but she couldn’t quite accept it. It was so sudden, and the circumstances were bizarre.

Mason cleared his throat. “We’ll need a little more proof. We can get the DNA back in a week or so.”

“I have nothing to hide,” the other woman said.

Annie had spent twenty-four years agonizing over her failure to save Sarah. The guilt had nearly swallowed her alive, though everyone told her she couldn’t have done anything. Until a few days ago, she hadn’t been able to recall much about that awful night. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to remember how she froze in fear when the kidnapper grabbed Sarah.

Annie fingered the scar on her neck where the attacker had wounded her with a knife. She’d been left for dead in the cold waters of Lake Superior, and while logically she knew she was no match for the gruff woman who’d snatched her sister, Annie had struggled to believe it.

“Were any of the things you told me about your life true? Those things you said about your m-mother?”

“I had a rotten life, if that’s what you’re asking. All those things I said about my mother were true. And it was all your fault.”

There was nothing Annie could say to counter that when her own conscience condemned her too. She was only too glad when her boss, Kade Matthews, texted her with a new case. Mason could continue the questioning about the necklace.

***

Excerpt from Dark of Night by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2022 by Colleen Coble. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.




My Book Review:

In Dark Of Night, the second book in the Annie Pederson Novel Series, author Colleen Coble transports the reader back to Rock Harbor, a village on Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, for the latest Park Ranger Annie Pederson investigative adventure.

Annie Pederson is a National Law Enforcement Park Ranger, and also runs her family owned Tremolo Marina and Cabin Resort in Rock Harbor, Michigan. Annie has been dealing with the guilt from the kidnapping of her younger sister Sarah twenty-four years ago, but it gets even more difficult when a woman named Taylor Moore comes to work at the marina and claims that she is really Annie's long lost sister Sarah. And if that isn't enough on Annie's plate, she's also dealing with the possibility that her ex-fiance, Dr. Jon Dustan, an orthopedic doctor, may be her eight year old daughter Kylie's birth father instead of Nate, her deceased husband. Then there is the case of a missing woman, Michelle Fraser, who looks to have been abducted while conducting wilderness studies in the forest, and the danger is around every corner. Can Annie deal with all the personal issues while investigating the missing woman's case, especially when it puts her in dangers way?

Author Colleen Coble weaves a fast-paced and suspenseful tale written in the third person narrative that follows Annie's investigative journey when she teams up with Jon in search of the abducted woman, while also dealing with the personal issues of Annie's missing sister and Kylie's paternity. Annie and Jon's investigation into the abducted woman gets complicated, and it will take a lot of digging and dangerous situations to put the pieces of the puzzle together to get to the truth. The reader will be easily drawn into this multi-layered and complicated romantic suspense tale. 

Dark Of Night has enough drama, tension, action, flashbacks and clues from the past, romance, and unexpected twists and turns that kept me thoroughly engaged and guessing what would happen next, it will definitely take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.

I can't wait to read Annie's next investigative adventure in Break Of Day, the third book in the Annie Pederson Novel Series


RATING: 5 STARS  





About The Author




Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender TidesSunset CoveHope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Barnes & Noble Author Page
BookBub
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest
Goodreads




Contest Giveaway

Win A PB Copy Of Dark Of Night






This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Harper Collins and Colleen Coble. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited. The giveaway is for: Dark of Night by Colleen Coble (print), 3 Winners US Only




Virtual Book Tour Event




Tour Participants:

01/09 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

01/10 Review @ sunny island breezes

01/10 Showcase @ Mythical Books

01/11 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books

01/12 Review @ Melissa’s Bookshelf

01/13 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

01/13 Review @ Elaine Sapp

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01/19 Review @ Reading Is My SuperpPower

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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 1/22-28/2023

 






This Week's Book Mail



The Ripped Bodice Box






Fresh Fiction Box









Harlequin Special Edition Collection










Monday, January 23, 2023

What Meets The Eye by Alex Kenna (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for What Meets The Eye by author Alex Kenna!







Book Review



What Meets The Eye by Alex Kenna
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: December 6, 2022
Format: Hardcover - 277 pages
               Audiobook - 11 Hours
               Kindle - 1927 KB
               Nook - 1 MB
ISBN (HC): 978-1639101849
ASIN (Audiobook): B0BBPHT776
ASIN (Kindle): B09TZP1DCF
BNID: 978-1639101856
Genre: Mystery



Buy The Book:



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Tours.



Book Description:

From debut author Alex Kenna comes a pulse-pounding tapestry of secrets, retribution, and greed for fans of Jeffrey Archer.

Kate Myles was a promising Los Angeles police detective, until an accident and opioid addiction blew up her family and destroyed her career. Struggling to rebuild her life, Kate decides to try her hand at private detective work—but she gets much more than she bargained for when she takes on the case of a celebrated painter found dead in a downtown loft.

When Margot Starling’s body was found, the cause of death was assumed to be suicide. Despite her beauty, talent, and fame, she struggled with a host of demons. But as Kate digs deeper, she learns that Margot had a growing list of powerful enemies—among them a shady art dealer who had been selling forged works by Margot. Kate soon uncovers a dirty trail that leads straight into the heart of the city’s deadly underworld.

Margot died for her art—and if Kate doesn’t tread lightly, she could be the next to get brushed out.


Praise For What Meets The Eye:

“[An] impressive debut . . . Sara Paretsky fans will be pleased.”  - Publishers Weekly

“Alex Kenna is the real deal, a true talent. Her prose is stunningly eloquent and characterization masterful.”  - Crime Fiction Critic

“A righteous, painful debut. More, please.”  - Kirkus Reviews

“Dragging the world of high art down into the muck of Los Angeles’ criminal underbelly, Alex Kenna has created an engaging mystery buoyed by the heart of its heroine, Kate Myles. Trying to win against stacked decks in her professional and personal lives, Myles’ resilience and hustle makes her an easy hero to stand up and cheer for.”  - James Queally, author of the Russel Avery novels and Los Angeles Times crime reporter

“With the sure hand of an old master, Alex Kenna’s debut blurs the line between catharsis and crime in this gritty and nimble noir mystery. When a routine investigation into the apparent suicide of art superstar Margot Starling becomes anything but, down-on-her-luck PI Kate Myles must square herself up for the fight of her life or lose it all. Entertaining and provocative, What Meets the Eye reminds us that truth often comes with a price tag much higher—and deadlier—than anything Sotheby’s could ever hope to fetch at auction.”  - Katie Lattari, author of Dark Things I Adore

“Kenna gives us the LA crime story we want—a fronded, sun-beaten carousel of depravity and murder, all laced up with tight plotting, sharply hewn characters, and a gripping, original story.”  - Joseph Schneider, author of the Tully Jarsdel Mysteries

“A suspicious death dismissed as suicide leads PI Kate Myles deep into a web of blackmail and deceit, set against an intriguing backdrop of shady dealings in the art world. An all too human character, Kate is determined to piece together the wreckage of her life and career, and salvage her fractured relationship with her daughter. With clever twists & turns, and a host of convincing suspects along the way, the plot delivers a satisfying ending, but leaves us with tantalizing hints of more to come from Kate…”  - Julie Cameron, author of Nameless Acts of Cruelty



Book Excerpt:


Prologue

Six Months Ago – Margot

All week long, I’d felt a fire in my belly. The spirit passed through me like lightning, brushes flying from wet canvas to wet canvas. Cooking was a waste of time, so I ordered takeout and drank whiskey. Sleep was out of the question. I cranked up the music and worked to the beat. Sometimes I sang along, dripping globs of color onto the floor. The paint went on smooth, like buttery icing. After a while, my brushes stayed in their jar and my fingers danced across the canvas. No bristles between skin and cloth.

Soon the images came alive. I’d been studying the Spanish greats: Velasquez, Goya, Zurbaran, Ribera. For them, it was all about bottomless darks with hints of warm, mellow light. I took a break from bold colors, indulging in white and yellow ochre on burnt sienna. The effect was sinister but mesmerizing. One after another, my hands pulled ghostly figures out of a dark void.

I finally passed out around dawn on Thursday, just as the birds were starting to chatter. When I woke, it was midafternoon, and the magic was gone. My mouth tasted of bile and I felt like someone had scooped out my eyeballs and punched me in the sockets.

I wandered into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. One of Goya’s haggard witches stared back at me. My skin was the color of rice pudding. There were purple half-moons under my eyes and a cadmium streak in my hair. I picked at my nail beds, filled with Prussian blue. The thought of cleaning them was exhausting so I didn’t bother.

My stomach let out a growl and I stumbled over to the fridge. Nothing inside was fresh enough to tempt me. I turned to a soggy takeout container on the kitchen table. The waxed cardboard had partially melted, and a puddle of sauce oozed onto the table. A dead fruit fly was trapped inside the congealed orange liquid like a mosquito in amber. I pulled a half-eaten egg roll off last night’s dinner plate and popped it in my mouth. At least it was still crispy.

After lunch-breakfast-dinner, I had an edible and downed a pot of coffee. I tried to get back to work, but the electricity was gone. The images that were so alive last night now looked dull and mannered. A self-portrait smirked at me. I’d given myself a pouty red mouth like an Instagram twat and artificial jolly-rancher-green eyes. It was pathetic. The last desperate cry of a lonely train wreck nearing forty. I felt worthless. I should go jump off a bridge or wander onto the freeway.

I lay on the couch for what must have been hours, binge watching some show about British aristocrats and their servants. Thank God I wasn’t born in nineteenth century England. You can’t be a British lady if you’re a mouthy alcoholic who screws half the landed gentry. I would’ve done worse as a servant. I can barely fry an egg and half the time I’m too paralyzed by my own shit to get out of bed. I’d end up as a consumptive whore blowing sailors for my supper in a London tenement.

The curtains were drawn, and eventually light stopped leaking in from the window edges. I usually do better when the sun goes down. But nightfall didn’t bring me a second wind. It made me feel worse. I poured myself another drink and lit a cigarette.

My cell kept blowing up with a number I didn’t recognize. I’d had this phone for six months and never transferred my contacts over from the last one. Now my caller ID served as a kind of litmus test. If someone hadn’t reached out in half a year, they weren’t worth my time. I let it go to voicemail and turned back to the aristocrats. The only decent one was dead now. This show was making me tired.

There was a knock on the door. Probably the neighbor coming to tell me her baby couldn’t sleep because I make use of my electronics. I ignored it, took a swig of whiskey, and lit another cigarette.

Then whoever it was started pounding. “Margot, open up,” said a loud baritone. The voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. His tone had an edge of desperation. Could it be that cop from last week? A wave of dread flowed through me. My hands started shaking and a clump of ash fell on the couch. If I kept very still, maybe he’d think I wasn’t home and go away. No, the TV was too loud. He knew I was in here.

I tiptoed over to the keyhole and gasped. My drink flew from my hand and shattered, coating the floor in alcohol and shards of glass.

***

Excerpt from What Meets the Eye by Alex Kenna. Copyright 2022 by Alex Kenna. Reproduced with permission from Alex Kenna. All rights reserved.




My Book Review:

In her debut novel, What Meets The Eye, author Alex Kenna transports the reader to Los Angeles, California, for an intriguing mystery tale that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

The story centers around Kate Myles, a former LAPD Detective turned private investigator, who is trying to put her life back together, and she agrees to look into the death of renowned artist Margot Starling. The police have declared her death a suicide, but Margot's father believes that she was murdered. Kate is determined to find out the truth behind her Margot's death,especially when her investigation leads her to believe that not everything is what meets the eye.

Author Alex Kenna weaves a slow building and suspenseful mystery tale written in the alternating first person narratives of several characters that follows Kate's investigation into Margot's death, and her determination to find out if Margot committed suicide or had been murdered.

The reader is easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting. It is filled with enough secrets, motives, possible suspects, action, and intriguing twists and turns that definitely keeps the reader guessing until the surprising conclusion.

This was a really intriguing story to read! The author does a wonderful job of providing enough clues to engage the reader, and I found myself so caught up on trying to figure out how Margot really died. I loved how Kate used her former position as an LAPD detective to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to get to the truth, and how Margot's troubled life had taken her down some very dark and dangerous areas beyond the art world. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much Kate's personal life story also had me rooting for her as she tried to put her life back together.  

What Meets The Eye will definitely take mystery readers on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


RATING: 5 STARS 






About The Author



Alex Kenna is a lawyer, writer, and amateur painter based in Los Angeles. Before law school, Alex studied painting and art history. She also worked as a freelance culture writer and sold art in a gallery. Originally from Washington DC, Alex lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and giant schnauzer, Zelda. When she’s not writing Alex can be found exploring Southern California, toddler-wrangling, and playing string instruments badly.







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