Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Narrow & Dead of Winter


Sharon’s back with another edition of Thriller Thursday.  Spooky season is upon us and this week I have a couple of great books to kick the season off with. I have a not too scary ghost story in Kate Alice Marshall’s, The Narrow and a slasher/horror story in Darcy Coates’, Dead of Winter.  Both of these books were great and I loved them.


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Narrow & Dead of WinterThe Narrow Goodreads

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Publication Date: August 1, 2023

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

The Narrow is a YA ghost story, and it is also a story of friendships and finding lost loves. This is my second read by Kate Alice Marshall, and I loved this just as much as What Lies in the Woods. 

Behind the Atwood School, a prestigious boarding school, is a river called the Narrow. The Narrow is only a few feet wide, but the water is deep and vicious. It is said that no one that has fallen into the Narrow has ever survived, what the Narrow takes it never gives back. But Eden White knows this is not true. Six years ago, Eden and her best friend Veronica saw Delphine Fournier fall into the Narrow and survive. Although now Delphine has to live on the school grounds in Abigail House. If she leaves the school grounds she becomes gravely ill. She also cannot come in contact with unpurified water, as a single drop could kill her. This year in exchange for her tuition, Eden has agreed to live at Abigail house with Delphine and keep her company as well as ensuring she stays safe. As Eden and Delphine get to know each other and begin to unravel each other’s secrets, Eden realizes something is haunting Delphine and now that something is coming for Eden as well. Eden hears rain on the windows, but the sky is clear, she has seen a ghostly silhouette in her doorway and wet footprints by her bed.  The school has been rumored to be haunted by the Drowning Girl. What does the Drowning Girl want with Delphine and Eden?

There was so much to love about this book. I loved the spooky ghost story and the tale of the Drowning Girl. I cannot say too much about her, but whenever she showed up all I could picture was the girl that crawled out of the TV in The Ring.

I really liked the friendship that Eden and Delphine formed. Eden was determined to figure out what was going on and help Delphine break whatever was haunting her. Eden was willing to risk her life for Delphine. Eden enlisted the help of her friends, Veronica, Zoya, and Ruth to help her uncover the mystery of The Drowning Girl. And what a mystery that was. As we were given bits of information on her, I thought I knew what was going on, but then a twist came and knock that out of the water (no pun intended lol).

I really loved Eden and the more we learned of her backstory, the more sympathy I had for her. She hides a lot about her home life from her friends and at times she would push them away because she did not want them to find out. But I liked it when she needed them they were there for her and had her back.

I think Kate Alice Marshall did a great job in weaving the ghost story, friendships, and lost loves aspect of this story together. If you are looking for a book to start off the spooky season that is not too scary, then I highly recommend The Narrow4 stars


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Narrow & Dead of WinterDead of Winter Goodreads

Author: Darcy Coates

Publication Date: July 11, 2023

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

I have never read anything by Darcy Coates before, but when Dead of Winter popped up as a suggestion from Goodreads, it sounded just like the kind of book I would like, and it definitely was. Dead of Winter follows a group of strangers stranded in the Rocky Mountains during a snowstorm. Oh! And one of them is a killer, picking the others off one by one.

Christa Bailey and her boyfriend Kiernan are on a bus with nine other people on their way to Blackstone Alpine Lodge in the Rocky Mountains. When the bus has to stop because of a large tree branch in the road, Christa and Kiernan decide to take in the mountain scenery while the others try to clear the road.  When a snowstorm comes in, Christa and Kiernan get separated from the group, as well as each other. Christa is able to find her way to an abandoned cabin, where the others from the bus have taken shelter from the storm. They promise Christa they will go looking for Kiernan in the morning, but come morning Brian, their tour guide, is also missing. When they go out to look for Brian, they find just his head and it is impaled on a tree branch. Terrified, the group does all they can to stay safe and wait out the storm, but one by one they are killed, and their heads are impaled on the tree with Brian’s.

Wow! I loved everything about this book.  The Story is told from the POV of Christa. I loved being in Christa’s head as she tries to figure out who can be trusted when it became obvious that one of the group was the killer.

We don’t get a lot of backstories on the rest of the group, but I think Coates did a great job of creating them and giving us just enough information, so that along with Christa we tried to figure out who was the killer.

I loved the snowy mountain and small cabin setting as well, that just added to the spookiness of the book. Darcy Coates did an amazing job of creating this setting, so that I could feel the coldness and could picture how claustrophobic that cabin must have been. You would think being in a small cabin they should be safe and they would be if they stayed together. But oh no, at one time or another someone would go off on their own and then sure enough their head was added to the tree.

I thought for sure I had things figured out and knew who the killer was, but when their body turned up, I was like “Damn! I was so sure!” I was totally clueless when the killer was revealed. So good job Darcy Coates on keeping me in the dark.

Dead of Winter was full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.  This book would make one hell of a great slasher movie. Be forewarned though, this book is not for the weak of heart. So, I of course loved it. LOL! I definitely want to check out more from Darcy Coates.   4 ½ stars



Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  Mine was pretty relaxing, and I got a lot of reading done, which is always nice.  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on two YA books that I’ve read recently.  I haven’t been reading much YA in recent years, but I’m always up for a new Rachel Griffin novel and I definitely could not resist Mazey Eddings’ YA debut since I’ve loved all of her adult romance novels.


YA Reviews: TILLY IN TECHNICOLOR & BRING ME YOUR MIDNIGHTTilly in Technicolor Goodreads

Author: Mazey Eddings

Publication Date: August 15, 2023

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


This is such a gem of a book, my favorite from Eddings yet!

After struggling throughout high school because of her ADHD, Tilly Twomley is ready for a fresh start. She’s not sure exactly what she wants to do, so in the meantime, her parents are paying to send her to Europe to work as a summer intern for her sister.

Unlike Tilly, Oliver Clark knows exactly what he wants. His autism has kept his world small, but he’s okay with that because of his passion for color theory and design. He is looking to build up his resume and lands a summer internship, which he is excited about, until he experiences the most horrendous international flight ever, courtesy of his cute but chaotic seat mate.

He can’t wait to get away from her, but to his dismay, she is also an intern at the same company and he’s stuck spending the summer with her. That seatmate/intern is of course, Tilly, and she’s equally mortified after having embarrassed herself repeatedly in front of Oliver on the plane.

I can’t express how much I enjoyed watching the relationship between Oliver and Tilly! They’re both just adorable together and their banter is top notch, but what I especially loved was how they “saw” each other. As they get to know each other, they recognize each other’s neurodiversity and really make an effort to be supportive of each other. I loved that connection between them!

Eddings also does a wonderful job of exploring how being neurdiverse can impact family relationships as well. Tilly’s mom is overprotective to the point of being hurtful, and it has strained their relationship. I thought Tilly’s journey of self-discovery was beautiful, not just because of what she learns about herself, but also because of how she proves herself both to her mom and sister.

With Tilly in Technicolor, Eddings does an incredible job of making neurodiverse individuals feel seen and understood.  4.5 STARS



Author: Rachel Griffin

Publication Date: August 1, 2023

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


I don’t read much YA fiction these days, but I couldn’t resist a new YA witchy read from Rachel Griffin since I loved her first two books so much. Filled with the lush, atmospheric writing I’ve come to expect from Griffin, Bring Me Your Midnight did not disappoint either.

Set on a small island inhabited by witches, this story immediately drew me in as soon as we learn that Mortana Fairchild, a young witch and the protagonist of the story, is preparing to marry Landon, who is the governor’s son and who is also not a witch. It is an arranged marriage that is designed for forge an alliance between the island witches and the mortals who live on the mainland. Mortana is willing to go along with the marriage out of a sense of duty to her coven but she doesn’t have any real feelings for Landon.

Over the years Tana’s coven has alleviated the fears of those on the mainland by performing a ritual that releases most of their magic into the ocean during the full moon. When Mortana accidentally misses the ritual, she is afraid to tell her mother and so is at risk of dying, unless she can find someone to help her. That someone ends up being Wolfe, a handsome witch from a coven who practices forbidden magic. Mortana is not only physically attracted to Wolfe, but she’s also very attracted to his forbidden magic and how powerful and alive it makes her feel. Wolfe not only opens her eyes to this new magic, but he also reveals to her that most of her life she has been living a lie.

I loved the chemistry between Mortana and Wolfe and I was completely rapt by this storyline. I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out how Mortana would react to her attraction to Wolfe and to this new knowledge that secrets and lies have colored her entire world.  Bring Me Your Midnight is perfect for fans of witchy reads, forbidden love, small town/island settings, and atmospheric writing.  4 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Mother & A Twisted Love Story


Happy Thriller Thursday! Sharon here and I hope everyone is having a good week and an enjoyable summer. Spooky season is right around the corner.  🙂   This week I am happy to share my thoughts on T.M. Logan’s, The Mother and Samantha Downing’s, A Twisted Love Story. I enjoyed both of these books very much.


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Mother & A Twisted Love StoryThe Mother Goodreads

Author: T.M. Logan

Publication Date: March 2, 2023

Publisher: Zaffre

I am always excited when I see that T.M. Logan has a new book out, I have loved everything of his I have read. When I read the synopsis for his new book, The Mother, I couldn’t wait to read it. The Mother follows Heather Vernon, who was convicted of killing her husband, Liam, ten years ago. Heather was sentenced to eighteen years in prison and has been paroled after nine years. Heather is determined to find out who really killed her husband and regain custody of her two sons, Theo who is now fourteen and Finn who is now thirteen.  But what Heather soon learns is that the person responsible for her husband’s murder will do anything to silence her.

Omg! I loved Heather so much. From the first chapter when she is hiding in the back of a church during her “funeral”, I was hooked and was team Heather all the way. I loved Heather’s determination in finding out the truth. I also feared for her safety often. The person responsible went to great lengths to frame Heather for Liam’s murder and it just made me so angry for her as we found out bits and pieces of evidence that was planted.  I really don’t want to say too much about Heather’s investigation and what info she finds, as I think this book is best to go in blind. But I will say that I flipped often on what I thought was going on. I also had a lot of sympathy for Heather as she was uncovering information, as she had to try and keep her emotions in check, which was hard to do because Heather truly loved Liam and some of the information she uncovered did not put Liam in the best light.

Heather has help in her search for the truth. She has hooked up with Owen Tanner, a reporter who does not believe that Heather is guilty of killing Liam. I was on the fence trusting Owen. Heather also formed a fast friendship with Jodie, who has also been recently released from prison and is living at the same boarding house as Heather. I loved their friendship; they had each other’s backs and formed such a strong friendship in a short time.  Rounding out Heather’s group is Liam’s sister Amy. I really enjoyed following along as they all worked to find out who was responsible for Liam’s murder. There were quite a few tense moments when each of them got into life-or-death trouble.

I wish I could say more about The Mother because I loved it so much. T.M. Logan did a great job in creating a story that flowed so smoothly and gradually increased the suspense and tension, that by the end of the book I was on the edge of my seat and could not read fast enough to find out how everything would end. And I hope I am not spoiling anything when I say, I so did not see that ending coming.    4 ½ stars


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Mother & A Twisted Love StoryA Twisted Love Story Goodreads

Author: Samantha Downing

Publication Date: July 18, 2023

Publisher: Berkley

Samantha Downing’s latest book, A Twisted Love Story, follows Wes Harman and Ivy Banks who have, you guessed it, a very twisted love story. Wes and Ivy have been dating on and off for ten years and when things are good, it’s great. But when their relationship hits a snag it can be an all-out war, with screaming matches and arrest warrants. This last break-up of theirs has lasted a few months. When someone starts stalking Ivy she reports it to the police and tells them she believes it is Wes. It is after the police talk to Wes that they end up back together. Told you they have a twisted love story. LOL!  But the detective, Karen Colglazier, that initially spoke with Wes does not like him and she is determined to put him in jail. She starts her own private investigation into Wes and what she uncovers could land both Wes and Ivy in jail. You see, seven years ago during one of their fights, someone ended up dead.

At first when Colglazier was looking into Wes she was just trying to get him arrested for stalking Ivy, but the more she dug she actually turned up bits of information that linked Ivy and Wes to the death of an eighteen-year-old. Once Colglazier got onto the scent she was now determined to have Wes arrested for murder. I didn’t really care for Colglazier at all. She had tunnel vision on Wes, and she did not follow the evidence to where it led. She twisted it and made it point to where she wanted it to go.

Once we were given some information on what happened seven years ago that resulted in the death of the eighteen-year-old, I was all over the place on who I thought was responsible, Wes or Ivy. I kept going back and forth on that.

Downing did a great job in creating this mystery, while also giving us an entertaining read into Wes and Ivy’s twisted relationship. Their banter back and forth and just how toxic they were with each other was fun to read. But even though these two had a volatile relationship they were actually good for each other. When things started to heat up in the investigation into the death of the eighteen-year-old, both Wes and Ivy had each others backs. By the end of the book things really were starting to hit the fan and Wes as well as Ivy could end up in jail. I couldn’t wait to find out if they were going to be able to get away with everything that was going on.

A Twisted Love Story was such an entertaining read, full of great characters. There were also a few smaller plots going on in the story and Downing did a fantastic job of weaving everything together. I also loved how the two main characters were the “villains” but were also just so likable.  4 stars



Happy Monday! I hope everyone is doing well.  We’re still settling into a new year of school here so I’m posting a little later in the day than I usually do.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two new historical fiction releases that I requested for review this summer.  Both are new-to-me authors that I’ve been wanting to try so I’m excited to have finally had the chance to read them both.


Reviews: THE AIR RAID BOOK CLUB & MRS. PORTER CALLINGThe Air Raid Book Club Goodreads

Author: Annie Lyons

Publication Date: July 11, 2023

Publisher: William Morrow

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


I’m always drawn to WWII historical fiction anyway, but I especially couldn’t resist Annie Lyons’ latest novel when I saw that it centered on a book shop and book club.  Filled with both heartbreak and hope, The Air Raid Book Club was a brilliant read that I devoured in just a couple of sittings.

Set in London in 1938, the story follows Gertie Bingham. For years, Gertie ran Bingham Books with her beloved husband, Harry.  When Harry unexpectedly passes away, Gertie starts to feel out of sorts in the shop, too many memories of Harry surround her.  Lost in her grief, Gertie thinks about selling the shop and retiring.  She puts those plans on hold, however, when she learns that Jewish children are being evacuated from Germany.  Gertie agrees to take in a 15-year-old Jewish girl named Hedy Fischer.

Although they get off to a slightly rocky start, Gertie and Hedy soon become friends and a great comfort to one another. Gertie opens up to Hedy about how much she misses Harry, while Hedy is able to share her fears about the fate of the rest of her family who were unable to be evacuated from Germany. Hedy helps Gertie in the book shop and when the air raids start to increase, they create a shelter in the shop and invite everyone nearby to come to their shelter when the air raid sirens blare. They start a new book club while in the shelter so that they can pass the time and distract themselves from the danger by discussing books.

I adored everything about this book. The relationship between Gertie and Hedy was just so moving and beautiful. I adore a good found family story and the bond between these two truly warmed my heart. In addition to those beautiful found family moments, there was also so much wonderful bookish content. I thoroughly enjoyed those air raid book club meetings and loved how lively and thoughtful their discussions always were as well as the idea that books could provide these weary Londoners with an escape, however so brief, from the terrors of war. The entire cast of characters was wonderful and the writing was beautiful.

I highly recommend The Air Raid Book Club to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, books about books, found families, and especially to anyone who enjoys stories that explore how to move forward after experiencing loss and grief.  5 STARS


Reviews: THE AIR RAID BOOK CLUB & MRS. PORTER CALLINGMrs. Porter Calling (The Emmy Lake Chronicles, #3) Goodreads

Author: AJ Pearce

Publication Date: August 8, 2023

Publisher:  Scribner

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Mrs. Porter Calling is the third installment in The Emmy Lake Chronicles series by A.J. Pearce.  Set in London during WWII, this series follows aspiring journalist, Emmy Lake, as she seeks to do her part for the war effort.

In Mrs. Porter Calling, Emmy is now in charge of writing “Yours Cheerfully” a popular advice column in Women’s Friend magazine.  With each column, Emmy seeks to help her readers cope with the increasing challenges they have all faced because of the war.  In fact, much of the magazine is dedicated to helping the average Londoner get by.  The readers love that everyone at the magazine is so devoted to their well being, and therefore Woman’s Friend is wildly successful even in such trying times. That is, until Mrs. Porter arrives on the scene.

I have to say that I struggled a little with this book.  First, I didn’t realize this was the third book in a series when I requested it, totally my fault for not paying attention, but that meant I didn’t have all the background on Emmy, her husband Charles, and the rest of her friends and coworkers. I was still easily able to follow along and get the gist of all their personalities and relationships and I enjoyed all of the series regulars, especially Emmy and her best friend Bunty, who are both just so plucky and fierce, but I felt like I would have connected even more with them if I had read the first two books.

My biggest struggle though was actually Mrs. Porter.  Mrs. Porter is a narcissistic socialite who inherits the magazine.  She doesn’t like anything sad or that relates to the war and so she comes in like a wrecking ball, dismantling everything good about the magazine and turning it into a ridiculous vanity project, without care or concern for what the readers want. Now I love a good villain – it’s fun to have a character that you love to hate.  The problem with Mrs. Porter is that I didn’t love to hate her. I just hated her and wanted to skip over the scenes she appeared in.  She was just too predictable and one dimensional.  I wanted her to do something that would surprise me and she unfortunately never did.

That said, what saved the book for me was Emmy and her fellow staff members.  They are appalled by Mrs. Porter and make it their mission to save their beloved magazine.  I loved watching this crew hatch schemes to try to undermine Mrs. Porter. Those scenes were a lot of fun to read and I found myself cheering them on all the way.  I also really enjoyed watching Emmy’s domestic life.  Since her husband is away at war and several of her friends are struggling, they all decide to move in together to save on expenses and share their rations.  When tragedy strikes, they all come together as a family and it was just beautiful to witness.

Even though I had some issues, I still enjoyed Mrs. Porter Calling and would definitely recommend it to historical fiction fans.  I would say to read the first two books in the series before you do though for the best overall reading experience.  3.5 STARS



Happy Monday! I hope everyone is doing well.  I’m struggling to believe we’re already eight months into the year. My son actually goes back to school this week even though it seems like he just got out. He’ll be starting his junior year and hopefully driving soon, so it’s a busy and exciting time around here.  I’m still reading lots though and have started pivoting a bit to some thrillers as we march toward spooky season.  Don’t worry, I’ll still have plenty of romance reviews to share.  I’m just getting back into the headspace where I can read these darker reads too and I’m excited to finally be at that point. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on thrillers from two of my favorite authors. I love that they both featured podcasters in their latest novels.


Thriller Reviews: NONE OF THIS IS TRUE & DARK CORNERSNone of This Is True Goodreads

Author: Lisa Jewell

Publication Date: August 8, 2023

Publisher: Atria Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


I’m a huge fan of Lisa Jewell’s addictive psychological thrillers so I was beyond excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of her latest novel, None of This is True.  And wow, what a ride this book was. I think it may be her most twisty thriller yet!

The story follows Alix Summers, a popular podcaster who has shot to fame with her compelling interviews with women who have overcome tremendous odds to create new lives for themselves.  One night while she is out celebrating her 45th birthday, she runs into a woman named Josie Fair, who happens to be there celebrating her 45th birthday as well.  Birthday twins!  The two women spend a couple of minutes chatting and go back to their respective celebrations.  Alix thinks nothing else of it, but Josie becomes fixated on Alix and orchestrates a “chance” meeting with her at her kids’ school. Josie has decided that she would be a great candidate to be interviewed on Alix’s podcast and seeks to persuade Alix to her way of thinking. Once she convinces Alix that her story would really be great to take her podcast to the next level, Josie then begins to systematically insert herself into every aspect of Alix’s life. Who is Josie and what in the world is she up to?

Josie starts off as just this kind of sad, quirky character but the more we follow her and listen to the stories she tells Alix, the more disturbing and creepy I found her to be. I think I became as fixated on Josie as she was on Alix.  She made me super uncomfortable but at the same time, I was completely fascinated by her and wanted to know what she was really up to.

I love Jewell’s brand of storytelling anyway, but I felt like she really kicked this one up a notch and tried some new things with this book that really worked well for me.  I was an especially big fan of her use of excerpts from Alix’s podcast as well as the Netflix documentary that covered the whole experience.  I thought those elements provided the perfect teasers to entice the reader to keep turning those pages.  Jewell also brilliantly uses the unreliable narrator in this story. It was nearly impossible to distinguish fact from fiction, and the story kept me guessing until the very end.  The novel is aptly named, that’s for sure!

If you’re in the mood for an addictive psychological thriller that is like nothing you’ve read before, definitely check out None of This is True.  It was my favorite read in July and I’m sure it will be on my end of year favorites list as well.  5 STARS


Thriller Reviews: NONE OF THIS IS TRUE & DARK CORNERSDark Corners (Rachel Krall, #2) Goodreads

Author: Megan Goldin

Publication Date: August 8, 2023

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Megan Goldin is an author I always know I can count on for an excellent read so I requested a review copy of her latest thriller, Dark Corners, without even reading the synopsis.  I was thrilled to start reading it and realized that it features Rachel Krall, the protagonist from The Night Swim, my favorite book from Goldin so far. Don’t worry if you haven’t read The Night Swim yet because Dark Corners works well as a standalone. That said, definitely go back and read it though because it’s fabulous!

Rachel Krall is a badass.  She is a true crime podcaster who has become a household name because even though she has no experience in law enforcement and is not a detective, she has been able to solve cases that law enforcement agencies have not. Her instinctive investigative skills and her no nonsense attitude have grudgingly earned her the respect of the various agencies, including the FBI who has called her in to assist on the case that is the focus of this book.

Following Rachel as she puts together the pieces of a case was the most riveting part of The Night Swim for me and this was also the case here.  It’s fascinating to see her mind at work and to follow her train of thought as she investigates.  This case, which focuses on a social media influencer who goes missing after paying a visit to a serial killer in prison, was especially interesting to follow as it takes Rachel into the world of influencers and even to an influencer convention, giving a sneak peek into that world and its narcissistic nature. Golden always weaves plenty of twists and turns in her novels to build suspense and when an unexpected twist actually puts a target on Rachel’s back, I couldn’t put the book down until I knew how that was going to play out.

I read the e-book and listened to the audio version of this book and highly recommend the audio since many excerpts from Rachel’s podcast are woven into the story.  While it was fine to read those excerpts on the page, the audiobook really enhanced my reading experience.

I don’t want to say anything else for fear of spoilers, but with Dark Corners, Megan Goldin has delivered another addictive and suspenseful read and I can’t wait to read more from her. I also hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Rachel Krall!  4 STARS

Pub Day Review: THE ROOMMATE PACT by Allison Ashley

Pub Day Review:  THE ROOMMATE PACT by Allison AshleyThe Roommate Pact by Allison Ashley
Published by MIRA on August 1, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.


I love a good friends to lovers story and Allison Ashley’s new novel The Roommate Pact, filled with lovable characters, flirty banter, and a heartwarming romance, was an absolute delight!

The story follows Claire, an ER nurse, and Graham, a firefighter.  Claire and Graham are good friends, roommates, and they’re both also hesitant when it comes to love and relationships.  They have a great time together though and one night make a slightly drunken pact that if they’re both still single with no prospects by the time they’re 40, they’ll become friends with benefits.  When Graham is seriously injured in a rock climbing accident, Claire becomes his caretaker while he recovers, which puts their friendship and any other feelings they may have to the test.

I adored both of these characters and their relationship with one another.  Even their chemistry as friends was just so much fun to read and you could tell they would be great together if they would take a chance.  They are both held back by traumatic experiences from their past and I was fully invested in the two of them finding their way past that.

As much as I loved Claire though, Graham is the only who really stole my heart.  This story becomes such a journey for him when his injuries sideline him from his usual active lifestyle.  He’s going stir crazy and Claire suggests that he try journaling as a way to work through his feelings. At first he scoffs at the idea, but once he tries it, he realizes it’s actually very helpful and he ends up learning so much about himself and about his true feelings for Claire. I loved this journey for him and that layer of vulnerability it added to his character.

This was my first time reading one of Ashley’s books and I can’t wait to read more from her. I loved her writing style and these characters she has created. I also loved how she handled the more emotional topics and blended them seamlessly with the more traditional rom com elements.  Just an all around delightful read!

Thanks so much to Grace from BookSparks for reaching out to me about reviewing this book!


About Allison Ashley

Allison Ashley is a music-loving, coffee-drinking mom of two who loves love stories. She’s an oncology pharmacist and spends her days focused on helping patients through the hardest thing life can throw at them. Her escape has always been books—specifically reading books about happiness, love, and laughter—and it was inevitable that she’d eventually write her own. She promises to always write stories with deep romance, intense connection, and humor…but most of all, that coveted happy ever after.



Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on some fun romance novels I read this past week.  One is a brand new release from Sara Desai, while the other two are books I purchased when they came but hadn’t gotten around to yet.  I’m still actively working on the goal to read more books from my own shelves so I was excited to actually read two of them back to back.  Anyway on to the reviews!



Author: Sara Desai

Publication Date: July 18, 2023

Publisher: Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Sara Desai is one of my favorite rom com authors.  I always know I’m going to be in for a good time and lots of laughs when I pick up one of her novels and her latest release To Have and To Heist is no exception.  I love a good heist story and this one is just full of shenanigans and such a fun time.  Imagine a mashup between the Ocean’s 11 movies and the Finlay Donovan series and that’s the vibe of this book.

When we first meet the protagonist, Simi Chopra, her life is a mess. She has just been fired, is drowning in student loan debt, and has been forced to move back in with her parents because her apartment flooded. Worse than all of that combined though, her best friend Chloe has just been accused of stealing a multimillion dollar diamond necklace.  I adored Simi. She’s smart and resourceful, and her messy life is all too relatable.

I also loved how much of a loyal friend she is. It’s her sense of loyalty that really drives the plot of this story, because as soon as Chloe calls Simi and tells her she’s trapped in a museum that someone else has broken into, Simi’s first instinct is to drop everything and try to rescue Chloe all by herself. When her attempts fail and she hears the police sirens, Simi refuses to give up and even tries to scale the outside of the museum with nothing but her bare hands.  Who wouldn’t want a friend like that? Simi then makes it her mission in life to exonerate Chloe and with the guidance of Jack, the mysterious man who grabbed Simi before the police could spot her, Simi orchestrates a jewelry heist of her own to steal the necklace back from the thieves, all while serving as the wedding planner for the biggest wedding in town. What could possibly go wrong?

My absolute favorite part of the novel is the motley crew that Simi assembles for this heist.  Aside from her bestie Chloe, Simi’s team consists of Rose, her octogenarian landlord; Jack the mystery man; Cristian, who works with her dad at his tailor shop but also has a side hustle as a male escort; Emma, the aggressive Uber driver who drove Simi to the museum to try to save Chloe; Anil, a tech nerd who still lives with her meddlesome matchmaker parents; and lastly, gun-toting, broody Gage, who Jack has brought in as the muscle.  It was hilarious to watch this crew in action as they fumbled and bumbled their way through every aspect of the heist, and I just adored them all!

There’s a bit of a slow burn romance as well, and while I definitely enjoyed that aspect, it took a backseat in comparison to all of the action and comedy of the heist plot.  I was fine with that though since the book was just such a fun time!  If you’ve enjoyed books like the Finlay Donovan series, you’ll definitely want to check out To Have and To Heist4 STARS



Author: Sarah Adams

Publication Date: August 17, 2021

Publisher:  Originally self-published, later re-released by Dell


I’ve really enjoyed Sarah Adam’s most recent romances, When in Rome and Practice Makes Perfect, so I decided it was time to go back and read one of her earlier novels, The Cheat Sheet, which apparently was a huge hit on BookTok. As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked and wanted to kick myself for not picking it up sooner.

The Cheat Sheet features two of my favorite tropes, friends to lovers and fake dating, as well as two of the most adorable protagonists.  Bree Camden has been in love with her best friend Nathan for as long as she can remember.  Bree is sure that Nathan doesn’t feel the same way though so she keeps her feelings a secret so as not to make things awkward between them.  Nathan also happens to be a huge NFL star so the paparazzi is always in his business. When a bitter ex girlfriend tries to embarrass Nathan by criticizing his skills in the bedroom, Bree defends his honor, albeit unwittingly to a tabloid reporter.  When her video goes viral and the internet decides Bree and Nathan are perfect together (even though they aren’t actually together), Nathan’s publicist cooks up a fake dating scheme to capitalize on all of the media attention. Although reluctant, both Bree and Nathan agree to go along with it, mainly because they both know how much the money would help Bree who is struggling to keep her dance studio open.

I’m probably the last person on the planet to have read this book, so I’m sure I don’t have anything left to say about it that hasn’t already been said.  Bottom line, I just loved both Bree and Nathan. They were so sweet together, even if I did occasionally want to knock their heads together for not realizing how they really felt about one another sooner.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show they put on for the media give rise to the real feelings that had been hidden right in front of them for so long. If like me, you started your Sarah Adams journey with When in Rome and Practice Makes Perfect, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of The Cheat Sheet.  You won’t regret it! 4 STARS



Author: Ashley Winstead

Publication Date: May 9, 2023

Publisher:  Graydon House


I’m a big fan of Ashley Winstead’s thrillers, but somehow had yet to read one of her romance novels.  When I saw that both Lynn Painter and Abby Jimenez, two of my favorite romance authors had praised The Boyfriend Candidate, I knew I had to read it.   I’m so glad I did too because it was an absolute delight!

I’m a sucker for a book that features bookish characters and the main character Alexis is a school librarian.  When we meet Alexis, she is reeling from an embarrassing breakup where her ex has just dumped her for being too meek in the bedroom.  She takes this as a sign that she needs to change and decides that her first step in that direction will be her very first one-night stand. She heads to a hotel bar and meets Logan, a handsome outspoken stranger who says whatever he’s thinking, without regard for who he might offend.  Alexis is shy and retreating, the total opposite of Logan, but there is definitely some serious chemistry between them.  Their imminent hookup is disrupted by an unexpected fire at the hotel, and Logan is caught on camera carrying Alexis out of the building.  As soon as Logan sees the cameras, he abruptly abandons Alexis and flees the scene.  Alexis is shocked until she gets home and sees herself on the news. Logan is apparently none other than up and coming politician, Logan Arthur, who is running to be the governor of Texas.  When the rival campaign tries to seize on this opportunity to make Logan look like a womanizer, Logan’s campaign decides that Alexis and Logan should pretend to be a couple until after the election to save his image.  The campaign promises Alexis anything she wants in exchange for her help on the campaign and to everyone’s surprise, even her own, Alexis declares that she wants her own political platform to push for more funding for education and specifically for her beloved libraries.

Fake dating is one of my favorite tropes so I was of course fully invested in their journey to discover that they have feelings for one another. I also just really loved both characters.  Even though Logan is a politician, he’s the real deal in the sense that, just as in the bar when he and Alexis first meet, he says what he means and he means what he says.  He is passionate about the issues that are important to him and he doesn’t just make promises that he has no intention of keeping.  I admired that about him and I also loved that he was so obviously in love with Alexis from the beginning even though he was afraid to admit it.  It added a layer of vulnerability to this otherwise bold and brash man that I really liked.  As much as I loved Logan though, it was Alexis and her journey that made this such a special read for me.  The way she grows as she starts to push her education platform is fantastic. I loved seeing her passionate side and it was truly wonderful to watch her shine on stage.  I’m also not normally a fan of having any kind of politics in my romance reads, but I didn’t mind it here since the focus mostly stayed on the issue of education and library funding rather than something more divisive.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Candidate and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys bookish main characters and romances that features the opposites attract and fake dating tropes.  4.5 STARS

Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Revenge List & A Fatal Affair


Welcome to another addition of Thriller Thursday with Sharon.  This week I am happy to share my reviews on Hannah Mary McKinnon’s, The Revenge List and A.J. Torre’s, A Fatal Affair. I hope you enjoy them.  🙂


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Revenge List & A Fatal AffairThe Revenge List Goodreads

Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon

Publication Date: May 23, 2023

Publisher: Mira Books

I was excited to read Hannah Mary McKinnon’s newest book, The Revenge List and I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Frankie Morgan has anger issues which have gotten her into trouble in the past. Her latest issue involved a client at her father’s construction business where she works. It was this latest incident that had her father force her into an anger management program or lose her job. The mentor of the program, Geraldine, had the class make a forgiveness list, a list of people who have wronged them, why they are on the list and a forgiveness number (1-10: 10 being easiest to forgive and 1 being hardest). Frankie’s list consisted of the person who killed her mother, her father, her neighbor, school bullies, Geraldine, and also herself. Frankie loses her list and then the people on the list start to have mysterious accidents, with one leading to death. Frankie is now in a race against time to figure out who took her list and is using it to extract revenge on the people on the list before they get to her name.

I loved Frankie. She is such a flawed and complicated character. Her anger started when she was fifteen, when her mother was killed in a hit and run accident. From that moment she made a lot of mistakes, one in particular that would follow her for the rest of her life and fuel her anger even more.  I had a lot of sympathy for her. Frankie has been through a lot in her life, and I can see why she views the world through angry eyes. Frankie was also a tough character, and I loved going along with her as she tries to figure out who is taking revenge with the people on her list. I was all over the place on who I thought it was, I suspected everyone. Once a secret of Frankie’s was revealed, I did figure out who was responsible, though I did bounce around a bit before I finally settled on them. LOL!

I also loved the relationship Frankie had with her brother and father. She and her brother had such a close relationship, and I loved the fact that Frankie could rely on him when she needed help. Frankie’s relationship with her father was very complicated.  I could see their love for each other, but it was hidden under so many layers of anger and frustration.  The whole time I was reading I hoped that they would be able to get past their issues.

I don’t want to say much about what happens in the book because of spoilers. But I thought The Revenge List had a unique plot, full of complicated characters, with twists that kept me guessing for the most part. I also loved how Hannah Mary McKinnon left the ending with an opening so that there could possibly be a sequel.  4 stars


Thriller Thursday Reviews: The Revenge List & A Fatal AffairA Fatal Affair Goodreads

Author: A.J. Torre

Publication Date: June 20, 2023

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

A.J. Torre’s newest novel A Fatal Affair is a twisty, cat and mouse, whodunit, suspenseful mystery read that made my head spin, but in a good way. LOL

Hugh and Trent Iverson are identical twin actors who rose to stardom when they were children. Now that they are adults, their paths have taken different routes. Hugh is an Oscar winner, while Trent is the Hollywood bad boy with an addiction to drugs and alcohol.  Nora Kemp is an actress who is in love with both Hugh and Trent. She is engaged to Hugh but has been known to jump in the sack with Trent from time to time. Gotta love Hollywood. LOL!   When Trent and an unidentified woman are found dead in the guest house on Hugh Iverson’s Beverly Hills property, it initially appears to be a murder-suicide. But as L.A. detectives Farah Anderson and Kevin Mathis start their investigation, it becomes clear there is more than meets the eye with this crime.

Right off the bat I loved both the detectives Farah and Kevin. They are investigating the lives of Hollywood royalty, but instead of being star struck, they are all business and determined to bring whoever did this to justice. As evidence starts to emerge, it looks like this case could be linked to a serial killer.  I loved following the evidence with Farah and Kevin, and just like them I did not know what or who to believe. We are talking Hollywood actors here, they are good at what they do, so it was hard to know who was telling the truth.

There is also another mystery added to the story and that is the case of a missing mother and her six-year-old son, Miles, who is fighting cancer. They are in Hollywood because of Make-A-Wish foundation. Both Miles and his mother go missing the day after they arrive in L.A.. I loved Miles! He was such a cutie pie. I think Torre did a great job of bringing his character to life. I seriously wanted to pick Miles up and just give him hugs.

I also love how the chapters are broken up. Each chapter is titled almost like a movie script: The Detectives, The Leading Lady, The Leading Man, The Mom, The Son.  I just thought that was a great added touch.

I loved all the mystery that A.J. Torre spun in A Fatal Affair. This book is full of twists and turns and unreliable characters, that kept me guessing.      3 ½ stars



Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Apologies if you tried to visit my blog this past week and it was down.  I’ve been dealing with some technical issues off and on this week and it’s always challenging to troubleshoot when you’re not super tech savvy. I finally reached out to my host provider yesterday and hope that the problem is now resolved.  Anyway, back to the books.  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two very different romances, one sweet and one dark.  The main thing these two books have in common is that they are both being reissued by new publishers.


Reviews:  MIXED SIGNALS & BRUTAL PRINCEMixed Signals (Lovelight) Goodreads

Author: B.K. Borison

Publication Date: August 1, 2023

Publisher: Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Mixed Signals is the third installment in B.K. Borison’s Lovelight Farms series and it might just be my favorite yet.

Layla Dupree is the best baker in town, but while she may win when it comes to baked goods, she is having no luck whatsoever when it comes to her love life.  When we meet her, her latest date is such a disaster that the jerk actually ghosts her at the restaurant and sticks her with the bill. Layla is an absolute sweetheart and all she really wants is a nice guy who treats her right and makes her heart flutter.  What she doesn’t realize is that guy not only exists, but he has been coming to her bakery every day and ordering a single croissant just so that he has an excuse to interact with her as often as possible.

Caleb Alvarez has been in love with Layla forever but has never made his feelings known.  He is also an absolute golden retriever of a book boyfriend.  He’s currently working as a substitute teacher because he actually got fired from the police department for being too nice, haha. I really adored this guy and thought he was perfect for Layla from the moment we meet him.  When this story opens, Caleb runs into Layla after her disastrous date.  They chat, and after he shares with her that his love life is also a mess, the two of them come up with a plan to fake date for a month. Caleb’s goal is to renew Layla’s faith in men, and in exchange, Layla will rate Caleb’s dating game and give him pointers as needed.

Caleb and Layla’s time together is incredible. The entire time they’re going through with this platonic fake dating plan, it’s pretty clear they have amazing chemistry and that it gets harder and harder to fight that attraction.  We already know Caleb doesn’t want to, but what about Layla?  Isn’t Caleb exactly the kind of guy she has been dreaming of?

The perfect blend of sweet and spicy, Mixed Signals is a delightful small town, friends to lovers romance that will have you both swooning and smiling as you watch this sweetest of couples find their way to one another.  I loved coming back to Inglewild and Lovelight Farms again, and Layla and Caleb’s story just captured my whole heart. I really hope we get more books in this heartwarming series.  4 STARS


Reviews:  MIXED SIGNALS & BRUTAL PRINCEBrutal Prince (Brutal Birthright, #1) Goodreads

Author: Sophie Lark

Publication Date: July 25, 2023

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Bloom Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Brutal Prince is the first book in Sophie Lark’s Brutal Birthright series.  This was my first time reading a mafia romance so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I was not at all disappointed.

The story follows Aida Gallo and Callum Griffin.  They are sworn enemies from rival mafia families, but when a mishap involving Aida sneaking into the Griffin home leads to an accidental fire and destruction of priceless property, the two families decide that the best way Aida can make amends for her mistakes is to enter into a fake marriage with Callum and thus build an alliance between the two families.  Everyone seems thrilled with the idea, that is except for Aida and Callum, who would much rather kill each other.

It took me a while to warm up to Callum.  He’s stiff, arrogant, and ruthless, and he’s downright abusive to Aida in their early scenes.  I liked Aida right away though. She’s fierce, scrappy, and much smarter than her own family gives her credit for being.  She also doesn’t put up with any of Callum’s abuse, dishing it back at him as fast as he can dole it out.  Even though it’s a bit darker than what I’m used to reading when I read romance, it was a wild ride and I did love to watch the sparks fly between then and I loved it even more once their relationship started to change.

I was expecting violence since this is a mafia romance, and while there is some, it was milder than what I had braced myself for, which was good for me.  What I wasn’t expecting though was for the story to be so fun, like I actually found myself laughing out loud at some of the hilarious pranks these two pulled on each other in the beginning of this forced relationship.

I’m not entirely convinced that mafia romance is for me since I’m a rom com girl at heart, but I cannot deny that Brutal Prince entertained me from start to finish and that I’m most definitely interested in continuing the series.  4 STARS



Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  I took a few days off from work and used the time to get caught up on my sleep and to dive into some wonderful reads.  Today I’m back to share my thoughts on two of my favorite reads from this past week. As you can probably guess from the title and cover of the first one, it’s full of Shakespearean goodness, and the second one is a gem of a book that I still cannot believe is actually a debut.


Reviews: THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE & YOU, WITH A VIEWThe Dane of My Existence (A Bard's Rest Romance, #2) Goodreads

Author: Jessica Martin

Publication Date: July 4, 2023

Publisher: Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


Jessica Martin’s For the Love of the Bard was one of my favorite summer reads last year so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of her latest novel, The Dane of My Existence.  This latest novel takes us back to the charming, Shakespeare-obsessed town of Bard’s Rest, New Hampshire, and reunites us with the close-knit Barnes family.  I adored this town and this family, so it was great to be back with them, although the focus this time is on oldest sister, Portia, who we briefly met in the first book.

Portia left Bard’s Rest years ago to pursue a career as a big shot corporate attorney.  She has returned home because she’s currently taking a company-mandated sabbatical before she moves to Boston to manage one of her firm’s satellite offices.  Portia considers herself an “ice queen” as she is career-driven and has little interest in relationships and/or dating.  She’s also much less enthusiastic about Shakespeare than her family and most of the other residents of Bard’s Rest.  I’ll admit that it took a few chapters for me to really warm up to her, but once I did, I loved her, especially when she realizes that there’s a real estate developer threatening Bard’s Rest and goes to the mat to try to save the town.

I also very much enjoyed Benjamin Dane, the hot shot commercial developer Portia goes toe to toe with. She fully expects to take him down with little trouble, but he surprises her by being equally skilled when it comes to strategizing and outmaneuvering the competition. At first I really wanted to hate him since he poses a threat to this charming little town, but it becomes clear early on that there’s a lot more to Ben Dane than meets the eye. I loved watching Portia and Ben verbally spar, but I also liked it when he catches her off guard because he isn’t the arrogant alpha-male she was expecting. Watching their relationship evolve from a rivalry to one of trust and openness really made this an enjoyable read for me and I was eager to see if they would get past being on opposite sides of this real estate drama.

Aside from enjoying getting to know Portia better and seeing her fall into a relationship she didn’t see coming, I also just really loved being back in Bard’s Rest.  If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, imagine Stars Hollow but with quirky Shakespeare enthusiasts as residents, loads of fun Shakespearean references and puns sprinkled about, and a huge Shakespeare festival that takes place every year.  I loved the town so much and was disappointed to learn that it didn’t really exist in real life because I totally would have visited there!

If you’re in the mood for a fun rivals to lovers romance filled with witty banter, Shakespearean references, and all the small town and close knit family vibes, I highly recommend both For the Love of the Bard and The Dane of My Existence4 STARS


Reviews: THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE & YOU, WITH A VIEWYou, with a View Goodreads

Author: Jessica Joyce

Publication Date: July 11, 2023

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


You, With a View by Jessica Joyce follows Noelle, who has recently lost her beloved grandmother, and is still struggling with her grief.  When she moves back in with her parents after losing her job, Noelle comes across several decades-old photos of her grandmother and a man who was definitely not Noelle’s grandfather.  Tucked in with the photos is a love letter.  Noelle becomes obsessed with finding out who this mystery man is and uses the photos and the letter to create a TikTok video in hopes of someone recognizing him.  To her shock and amazement, her video goes viral and the grandson of the man in the photos reaches out to her.  Noelle is even more shocked when they meet up and the grandson turns out to be Theo, her old high school arch nemesis!

The story had my emotions all over the place because even though I was heartbroken for Noelle as she mourned the loss of her grandmother, I truly laughed out loud as soon as she and Theo reignited their old rivalry.  It’s so obvious they have feelings for one another no matter how hard they try to pretend otherwise, so it was a lot of fun watching them finally realize it for themselves.  I love a good enemies to lovers story and this one was fantastic!

As much as I loved watching Noelle and Theo and their evolving relationship though, it was Theo’s grandfather Paul who truly grabbed me by the heartstrings.  He can see how much Noelle is hurting and offers to show her even more photos of her grandmother and tell her the story of their relationship and how they were planning to elope.  When they find an old roadmap of a honeymoon trip Paul and Noelle’s grandmother had planned but never took, Noelle, Paul, and Theo all decide to go on the road trip together.

If you’ve followed my reviews for a while now, you know I love to read road trip stories and this is one of the best ones I’ve ever read.  It has plenty of road trip shenanigans that kept me laughing my way through the pages, but it’s also just such a wonderful bonding experience for Noelle, Theo, and Paul.  Paul continues to share the story of his relationship with Noelle’s grandmother, this time sharing letters that she had written him.  I thought it was beautiful watching that relationship unfold at the same time that we’re watching Noelle and Theo realize their own feelings for one another.  For those who like steam in their romance reads, there’s a bit of that as well.

You, With a View is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a long time.  I honestly selected it to read because I loved the cover, but I was truly blown away by the depth of the story inside.  It’s one of those wonderful books that will make you laugh, make you cry, and will just wrap you up in a warm hug. I think this one is going to stick with me for a long time.  5 STARS