The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

Dennis Danson was a man on Death Row for the murder of a local girl but he always confessed his innocence.  When a true-crimes style programme is aired thousands of people are suddenly interested in his story. Among them is a young, female schoolteacher from England.

Samantha found herself intrigued by Dennis’s story and so begins a long distance correspondence with him in jail.  As a new series is about to be filmed, Samantha finds herself pulled into his life, travelling to America to visit him and ultimately marrying him. But when evidence is brought to light and Dennis is released, is he all he seems to be.  Returning to his home town, Samantha finds that not everything is quite as it should be but how much can she trust Dennis?

REVIEW

I will admit that I was unsure of the plot line to this story, English girl falls in love with an American murderer on Death Row, I guess if you truly believe in someones innocence then you may fall in love with them but even before he is released Samantha seems to have her doubts. The first half of the story is very much about his appeal campaign and them getting together, along with extracts relating to his childhood and the the first film about about him.  As the story progresses it gains more of the psychologically thriller aspect…What is Dennis hiding? What is Lindsey up to?  What is really going on between Dennis and Lindsey? Is Dennis really as bad as people say? And the biggest question of all is – Why is Samantha still staying in that creepy house in the middle of nowhere with him?

Once I reached the half-way stage the story was much more engrossing and I even had to force myself to put it down to get some sleep.  I’m not sure what to say about the ending as I really don’t want to spoil it, all I will say is that I’m still not sure what Samantha is doing.  She is as much of an enigma as Dennis is, she knows that Dennis doesn’t love her the way she needs him to but she stays.  My main issue with the ending of the epilogue is that it still doesn’t fully tell what happens, it gives the reader ideas but the questions are always there in the background.  That is one thing that irritates me at the end of a book, when the author leaves the reader hanging or gives a hint of what ‘may’ happen, like they are not sure how they want it to end themselve. I like to have a clear cut ending and as far as I am aware this is not a series.

This is a well-written story and gets the mind working on who did what, why and how, where the story is going and who will come out unscathed, if alive at all.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in psychological thrillers. This is the first book by this author and I hope it’s release goes well for her.

This is an ARC review for Netgalley

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Pretty Lost Dolls – Pretty Little Dolls #2 by Ker Dukey, K. Webster

Benny misses his Dirty Doll.  Getting her back is his only priority.  With the help of Broken Doll, Benny seals her fate and she finds herself transported back to the cell of her nightmares…only they are no longer nightmares, this is real.

The torment is far worse this time than last. Now Jade knows what it means to be truly loved by a man, Dillon, she knows that what she will suffer at the hands of Benny is not love but a sick and twisted perversion.

Stronger, older and now a skilled detective, Jade must find a way to break free from the hell she is in and put an end to the monster that lurks in her dreams.

REVIEW

Dark, sinister and thrillingly good.  The concluding part of the ‘Pretty Little Dolls’ series is twisted in ways you can hardly imagine.  This book is far more graphically descriptive than the first and contains scenes of rape, torture and mutilation that some readers may find disturbing.

This story is written from a 3 person perspective – Jade, Benny and Dillon.

Jade finds herself back in the clutches of the psychotic Benny only this time he intends to punish her for running away.  Finding herself stronger and with more to live for this time round, Jade resists the urge to plunge in the state of denial that once worked well for her.  Now she embraces the pain, storing the rage to help her fight harder to rid herself of the monster once and for all.  Having the love of Dillon on her side gives her something to fight for and finding that she also has an unexpected new Doll in the attic makes her more determined than ever to get herself and the Dolls out.

Benny is one messed up character.  His obsession with Jade, his ‘Dirty Little Doll’, reaches new highs in this part of the story and he is out to punish anyone who dared to touch what is his. We find out a lot about Benny’s past and how he became the depraved monster that he is.  He retells stories of his youth.  His father’s perversions and his mother’s wicked punishments. Quite frankly it is surprising he can function at all in the normal society.  There is also a surprising twist that is revealed during the telling of Benny’s past.

Dillon is most definitely the hero of the hour.  He loves Jade for all her faults.  Everything she has been through has made her the woman she is today and nothing will prevent him from finding her and saving her from the monster in the dark.  Some monsters, however, can be closer than you think and a shocking surprise is in store for Dillon and Jade. I said in my review of the first book that I loved Dillon’s character and his relationship with Jade and this is reinforced in this book as the couple continue to seek out and destroy Benny.

I will warn you once again though, there are some very graphically written scenes when Jade is being held captive that may offend or disturb some people.  If you like dark, thrillers with your romance and are not squeamish or easily offended then you should enjoy the Pretty Little Dolls series.

Pretty Stolen Dolls – Pretty Little Dolls #1 by Ker Dukey, K. Webster

Jade made a mistake. She trusted a man who turned out to be a monster. Daddy had warned her but she let down her guard and now her and her sister are paying the price.

Benny loves his dolls, both the porcelain and the real.  He dresses them and makes up their faces but not hers. She is his ‘Dirty Little Doll’. She deserves no clothes, no make-up. But when she escapes, Benny finds his life just isn’t right and must get her back.

For eight years Jade has been searching for any clues that will lead to her abductor and to her sister.  Her life is closing in on her and she can feel him getting closer.  He wants her back and there is nothing she can do to stop him.

REVIEW

This is an amazingly dark and graphically descriptive story based on a man’s obsession with living dolls. Benny is a very disturbed character whose life revolves around his ‘Pretty Little Dolls’.  Jade’s life will forever be changed thanks to her encounter with him and his fascination for her.  She was held captive, abused and tortured for four years, naked and shamed at every opportunity. Wanting revenge is her only way of holding onto life without falling into the pit of despair.

This story is written in such a way that you don’t know if she is dreaming it all, if it is all in her head, or if he really is out to reclaim her.  Expect the unexpected at every turn.

I loved Dillon’s character and the romantic in me hoped for the HEA throughout this story despite the dark thriller aspect.  He is good for Jade and understands her better than anyone, my only hope is that it continues in the second book.

This is a two book series and the first one is left on a cliffhanger.

The Skeletons of Scarborough House – The Chapelwick Mysteries #1 by Kitty French

Melody Bittersweet is no ordinary woman.  Of course, she does everything that normal women do, she eats anything high in sugar, she fantasises about hot superhero sex, she has a cool best friend and at least one crazy family member, but where Melody is different is that – she can see ghosts!

When she turns twenty-seven, Melody decides that it’s time for a change.  She no longer wants to be a go between, a messenger if you will, for spirits to convey their final thoughts to their loved ones. She wants to help the living to eradicate pesky immortals who cause problems, and so she begins – The Girls Ghostbusting Agency.

On her first case she finds herself in direct competition with the one man who broke her heart and also a fellow ghost-seer, Leo Dark. Along with a non-believing reporter who is out to discredit her entire family, but also happens to be as sexy as hell, Melody is in for a bumpy ride.

REVIEW

Fantastically funny!

The whole concept is brilliantly put together and Melody is such a great character. Teaming up with her best friend Marina, Artie and a pug called Lestat, to form the Girls Ghostbusting Agency (yes, I know, Artie is not a girl but all will be explained when you read the book) leads to the investigation of Scarborough House.

The current owner is trying to sell but has a small issue with his buyers being scared out of their wits every time they enter the premise.  Following a T.V. broadcast by her ex-boyfriend, Leo, who is covering the ghostly going-on at Scarborough House, Melody decides to “lend a hand”.  Going head-to-head with Leo could be the beginning and the end of her agency but when she uncovers the reason for the current infestation of Scarborough spirits she knows she must uncover the truth to allow them the release they need.

A great who-done-it with comical undertones.

Looking forward to reading the next in the series –  Mystery at Maplemead Castle

Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

When Jessica Gold meets the enchanting Dominic Lacey on Christmas Eve she does not realise the course of events she is about to set in motion.  Now, trapped in his apartment, no way out, no communication with the outside world, and with no-one knowing where she is, Jessica is about to have the worst Christmas of her life.

 

REVIEW

I love a good psychological thriller, mainly because I like seeing if I can work the plot out before the reveal, and this one had me guessing most of the way through.  It is set in two parts – The time of Jess’s kidnapping and the time after she is found.  The series of events that unravels in the second part has you seeing the first in a whole other light but there is more hidden behind the scenes than is originally thought.

Needless to say, Dominic is not a nice guy. Yes, he has his kinky perversion which in itself is fine, each to their own, but as you find out more about him you realise that he really is just not nice.

Jess is not the sweet and innocent she makes out to be either, the mere fact that she goes with Dominic in the first place when she has a boyfriend at home leads to this conclusion. I wouldn’t say that she deserves what she gets but as learning curves go, it’s a huge, wide arc.

The introduction of the detective and following her thoughts and feelings is an interesting side story.

The only complaints I have about this book is the ending. I like a book to finish (unless it is a series).  What I don’t like is being left with questions and although there weren’t many I had to read between the lines to figure out the ending. For some it might ruin the feel of the story but for me I would have liked to have had a bigger epilogue, focusing on the Detective, as she does become a large part of the story, explaining what happened to some of the other prominent characters in the story, and also a bit more of Jess, not just the teaser we get.

An interesting, intriguing read with a Christmas twist.

A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White

Sarah Baker’s life changed the day he walked into her store. Being kidnapped, abused, held hostage for five months and then hunted like a wild animal, she knows the meaning of survival. Now twelve years later her past is back to haunt her.

Moving to Broken Bar Ranch and changing her name to Olivia West was the first step to her recovery, for the past three years it had worked.  But when someone starts leaving her glimpses of a time best left forgotten, the flashbacks start all over again. With the owner of the ranch gradually deteriorating she makes the call to his son who has not been home in thirteen years.

Cole McDonough hasn’t forgiven himself or his father for what transpired all those years ago but when he gets the call he returns home to find more than he bargained for…Olivia.

Do coincidences happen or is there someone really trying to hunt Olivia and finish the job he started twelve years ago?

 

REVIEW

This is a very well written, psychological thriller.   Sarah finds a reason to survive her initial capture and torture only to find that her past has once again caught up with her.  The story is written from multiple points of view, which gives the reader a full perspective of what is going on and what each character is thinking.  There are no hidden agendas, we (the reader) are given full knowledge throughout.  The characters are interesting and engaging and although there were times I was saying ‘just tell him’, I could also understand Olivia’s inability to discuss her past, the fear and loathing associated with her body and the reaction he might show to it. Her husband and family had showed enough disgust that it is no wonder she shied away from all men.

There are multiple story connections within this book as well which had me intrigued throughout and information from thought processes of the different characters that kept me guessing as to who was really after Olivia, if at all anyone was.

My only criticism is that the author left me with a few questions unanswered, mostly concerning the fallout from Broken Bar Ranch  in regards to Cole’s sister and the people connected to the buyout. I know it is a tiny part of the story but as it has been brought up in the book I like to know how things turn out.

Word of warning: There are some graphically written scenes within the book regarding the rape and torture of Sarah.

I did really enjoy this book and shall be reading some more by this author in the future.

Strangers by Paul Finch

Since being knocked back down to PC, Lucy Clayburn has been pounding the beat waiting for the opportunity to make amends for her past failure.  When a string of sexual killings start up on her patch, Lucy volunteers to go undercover.

Posing as a prostitute, Lucy must delve deep into the criminal underworld, but forces conspire against her and secrets, which had been better left unknown, could prove fatal for both her career and her life.

Can Lucy stop the killer before she strikes again or is Lucy herself now in the firing line?

 

REVIEW

Paul Finch never fails to bring suspense and nail-biting action to his books and this one is no exception.  Great to have a strong female lead.  Lucy’s character has had her share of cock-ups in the past and, as hard as she tries, they are always lurking. When this operation is opened up for her she goes at it full steam, not only to prove to her bosses that she can do it but also to prove to herself.  The action and suspense throughout kept me turning pages, and one of the things that I really like about Paul’s books is that the main lead never comes away unscathed, showing both the physical and emotional vulnerability of the character.  The twists in the story line are somewhat unexpected, although I did have a feeling about one plot twist in this one before it was revealed.

Another great read. Not sure whether it is going to be a series, but I would definitely read more stories based around this character.

So excited to find out that the next Mark Heckenburg book is due out in spring 2017. Absolutely love this character and it gives me a chance to re-read the series again.  Maybe there will be a Mark/Lucy joint story in the future?