#BookReview: Dead Secret by Noelle Holten

Intriguing Mystery. Explosive Ending. This was my first book from Holten, and thus obviously I hadn’t read the prior three books in this series. And yet this book totally works. Yes, there are references to prior events, but they are explained enough to keep the current story going without overburdening the current story with prior details. If you’ve ever started in the middle of a military technothriller series ala Tom Clancy or Dale Brown – similar feel here.

Overall, the world is interesting in that you get a typical-yet-not detective and an entire cast of well developed characters all working together almost in an ensemble fashion that works so well in so many mediums. Holten shows herself adept at the technique of using the final sentences of a chapter to hook the reader into reading the next, and indeed uses the final chapter of the overall book to similar effect – the reader is left almost breathless in desperate need for the next book.

If you’re open to police procedurals at all, particularly those set in the UK, you’re going to enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you should really give this book a chance – the characters are that strong. Very much recommended.

This review of Dead Secret by Noelle Holten was originally written on March 10, 2021.

#BlogTour: Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh

For this blog tour, we’re looking at Book 2 of a series that can very much be read as standalone (and totally works that way) yet which together with its predecessor forms one of the more courageous romance series I’ve ever come across. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh.

Here’s what I had to say about the book on Goodreads:

And Now, Part 2. In the second part of this courageous series of romance books, Leigh goes from MF romance in Book 1 (Forgiven) to MM romance here, a genre she is apparently much more well known in. And given the vitriol for MF romance in so much of the MM world, I expect this book to be received better than the first book was – and at this moment, the early Goodreads reviews are at least trending slightly in that direction.

Here, we get the full-on romance of two characters first introduced in Forgiven – the brothers of both of that book’s leads. And it is again a fairly standard gay/ bi romance. Fairly high degree of angst, lots of issues for both men to work through, sex scenes later in the tale given the inexperience of one of them, etc. If you like MM romance generally, this one will be another solid one for you. If you’re just exploring the genre, this is a good one to try out – and maybe even read Forgiven first, if you’re more comfortable in the MF romance space.

While I don’t see where this series goes from here, if indeed it is to continue, I’m not opposed to coming back to this world. Leigh does a truly solid job of establishing it and allowing her characters to live mostly real lives within it, including the added tag of drama near the end of this one – which can happen to most anyone. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, we get a little over a page from – IIRC – Chapter 1 as an excerpt, followed by the book information provided by the publisher. 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Unforgotten by Garrett Leigh”

#BookReview: The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

Not An Actual Love Square, But A Solid Romance. I’m a math oriented dude. The imprecision of “love triangle” has always bothered me. For those, assuming both sexes are involved, you need two bi people and a straight person, at minimum. (There *are* possible variations, but a true love triangle would have Person A in love with Person B and Person C – *and* Person B and Person C in love with both Person A *and each other*.) “Love Triangles”, in the common parlance, are actually Love *Angles*, such that two points are connected at a common third point. Similarly, for this Love Square to work, it would really need 2 couples such that each couple is in love with each other *as well as* exactly one person in the other couple. Here, we get two side by side Love Angles such that *three* points are connected at a common *fourth* point.

Math technicalities and English imprecision aside, however, this was actually a solid romance tale of finding oneself and what one really wants that put an interesting spin on the colloquial “Love Triangle” by introducing a *third* man that the common woman falls in love with. And in some fairly direct ways, it actually parallels a lot of what Padma Lakshmi said about her own “love triangle” in her memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate. You’ve got the guy that our female lead – Penny – has an instant connection with. Then you’ve got the guy that actively pursues her and they wind up together almost via fluke. Then you’ve got the guy Penny is introduced to and has a fun time with, but who isn’t interested in long term or commitment generally. And along the way, Penny gets thrust into situations she doesn’t always have complete control of, all while still trying to discover herself after having survived cancer at a fairly early age – mid 20s. The characters are all solid and interesting, and each of the guys makes very strong points about love and what matters. In the end, if you like romance novels at all, you’re probably going to enjoy this one. And if you don’t, give this one a chance – at least it has a few more-interesting-than-normal wrinkles. 🙂 Very much recommended.

This review of The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams was originally written on December 18, 2020.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Take It Back by Kia Adbullah

This week we’re looking at a strong British courtroom thriller that seems to set up a new series. This week we’re looking at Take It Back by Kia Abdullah.

Writer’s block still plagues me, but here’s the Goodreads/ BookBub review:

Nuanced Courtroom Thriller. This is an interesting one. One with a main protagonist that… has several rough edges, at least a couple of which come back to bite her. One with a strong commentary about the role of Muslims in British (and by slight extension, Western) society, at many different levels. One with a strong discussion of what it means to be the “other”… in so many different ways. And one with secrets almost literally to the last word. Tremendous book, and very much recommended.

#BookReview: Their Last Breath by Sibel Hodge

Solid British Police Procedural. This was my second British police procedural in the same month, and this one was a much easier read than the other. The mystery is gripping and compelling – 6 women are found dead after a fire rages through an abandoned hospital on the same night that two other people are stabbed to death in a home. Touching on several issues in the public arena even in America, Hodge manages to deftly tie together several different ideas into a truly fantastic work. Very much recommended.

This review of Their Last Breath by Sibel Hodge was originally written on October 6, 2019.

#BookReview: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Solid British Police Procedural. This was an excellent book for fans of any combination of mystery, British fiction, or police procedurals. And generally, I’m a fan of all three. But for some reason this book was a bit slower of a read than most books of its size, and I’m struggling to figure out why. MAYBE because it used *several* more British terms that I’m less familiar with, despite reading more and more British fiction these days? (Full disclosure: I’m an American who has lived nearly all of my days in its southeastern corner.) Regardless, truly a solid book and very much recommended, despite my personal difficulties with reading it.

This review of The Long Call by Ann Cleeves was originally written on September 5, 2019.

#BookReview Then I Met You by Matt Dunn

Carpet Diem! This was an interesting look at what happens when two broken people get thrown together for a blind date that keeps getting extended for various reasons both of their own choosing and not. Fairly Hallmark Movie-ish, if one of the ones with a bit more drama to it. Funny without necessarily being gut-bustingly so, it works well for a tight yet plausible romantic dramedy. (The entirety of the actual story of the book takes place over just about 27 hrs or so.) A great palate cleanser after a dark book, this one is very much recommended.

This review of Then I Met You by Matt Dunn was originally written on August 5, 2019.