The Couple Next Door: A Novel by Shari Lapena – #Audiobook Review – #psychologicalthrillers

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

(Amazon) Editors Pick 

Book Blurb:

An instant New York Times best seller

“I read this novel at one sitting, absolutely riveted by the storyline. The suspense was beautifully rendered and unrelenting!” (Sue Grafton, New York Times best-selling author of X)

It all started at a dinner party…

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors – a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives….

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all – a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story. Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. 

Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years. What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family – a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

My Review:

Of course I’d heard of this author for some time but didn’t have an opportunity for a book. This time I saw an audiobook copy for this one, released in 2016. Mercy!

The Couple Next Door by Shari LapenaBeing an older book and armed with the blurb, this gripping tale doesn’t need a lot of introduction. A young couple with a new baby backed by rich parents (hers), they have the home, a business, and the appearance of “having it all.”

Maybe.

Behind closed doors, however, is a young husband worried about his business, a new mom who is having difficulty coping with a fussy infant, and parents with attitude. It is the tangled story of couples keeping secrets from each other, the new mom feeling unattractive, her husband neglected and attracted to Cynthia next door. It is during Cynthia’s dinner party that Anne and Marco’s baby is abducted. Marco had assured her that in the absence of the babysitter, a last-minute cancellation, they could use the baby monitor and check in on her every half hour. After all, they were only next door.

Anne is a fragile personality suffering postpartum depression. Marco wanted a few more drinks, time to flirt with Cynthia, and it was late when they returned home to find Cora missing from her crib.

Here is a case for unreliable narrator. The storyline spins a lot of effort justifying leaving the baby, Anne is crazy over the top with guilt, the parents are incensed. Then there is the police who are having a problem swallowing any of it.

Something doesn’t add up.

Not easy to cozy up with any of the characters. Marco is beside himself for another reason, as are her parents. There is a lot of deceiving, misconception, and tension that intensifies into the plot. It might be faster paced were it not for the same theme of guilt and justification repeated so many times, each time, however, adding an additional little wrinkle.

Not just one or two twists but then the bomb, the final well placed bulls eye in the conclusion that totally knocks the reader off their rocker. What? NO! I hated that one and couldn’t believe that was how it ended.

Well, phooey. I didn’t expect that. Definitely a slow burning thriller with a killer (get it?) ending.

Did you read this one? Disappointed in the ending as I was? Shocked? So was I.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Fiction, Crime Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ASIN: B01IIABQYC
Listening Length: 8 hrs 40 mins
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Couple Next Door [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

 

Shari Lapena - authorThe Author: Shari Lapena

 

Kirsten Potter - narratorThe Narrator:  Kirsten Potter, a graduate of the Boston University School for the Arts, has performed on stage, film, and television, including roles on MediumBones, and Judging Amy. An award-winning audiobook narrator.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Happy Thursday!

August Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Welcome September!

Rosepoint Reviews-August Recap

The hunt for a house for our daughter continued through July and after several offers and two failed home inspections exhausted the inventory in Missouri. The hunt for a home then progressed into Michigan. The available homes in the southern area of Michigan and slightly more temperate winters than the extremes of the Upper Penisula was very narrow and also quickly exhausted. Then, last week, the kids found a home in the southern area of Illinois.

Definitely NOT where I’d ever expected they would find the home that checked off most of their boxes. Still, it’s a cute little “dollhouse,” (real estate speak for LITTLE house) with some acreage, perfect for the two of them and their needs. The home just passed the home inspection with flying colors. Hopefully we’ll be in moving mode within weeks (even given the current crazy real estate climate which is apparently nationwide and now spreading into the rental market as well).

I’ve been trying to keep a somewhat regular posting review schedule, but social media and my graphics have suffered with little attention to either. Shamefully, I’ve resorted to shortcuts. 

We posted seventeen book reviews for August that included ARCs from NetGalley, author requests, and audiobooks from our local library.  

Funny Farm by Lauri Zaleski The long Call by Ann Cleeves Love in a Time of Hate by Matthew Langdon Cost The Ghost Camper's Tall Tales Striking Range by Margaret Mizushima The Good Guy by Dean Koontz Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted Murder on Honky-Tonk Row The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven elvestad Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connolly The Sea Bandits by Amanda Hughes The Harp and the Rose by Jean Grainger Frigate by John Wingate The Necklace by Matt Witten Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney Target Churchill by Warren Adler

Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves – audiobook
Love in a Time of Hate by Matthew Langdon Cost
The Ghost Campers Tall Tales by Elizabeth Pantley–Paranormal–blog tour
Striking Range by Margaret Mizushima
The Good Guy by Dean Koontz – audiobook
Landscape of a Marriage by Gail Ward Olmsted
Murder on Honky Tonk Row by Rita Morea
The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connelly
Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly – audiobook
Target Churchill by Warren Adler
The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven Elvestad
The Sea Bandits by Amanda Hughes
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – audiobook
The Harp and the Rose by Jean Grainger
Frigate by John Wingate
The Necklace by Matt Witten

Reading Challenges

I still haven’t been able to keep up with my challenges. At a 127 count on Goodreads, I am well ahead of the game on that one. And my Historical Challenge has been met, anything now is gravy. Don’t forget to check them out at #histficreadingchallenge. You can check out my challenges progress (however far behind it is) by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

In the meantime, WordPress did another number on their free bloggers and suddenly I was unable to update any of my widgets. I have several dynamic widgets, the most active being #comingsoon and totally locked out of it, frantically wrote the “happiness engineers” a number of times before one of them finally realized what I was asking.

I don’t WANT to do block widgets but seems they are bound and determined to force the block editor. Finally, managed to get in and update the top widgit a couple days ago. Have you experienced the same problem? Finally succumbed to using blocks for everything? Am I the last holdout?

Welcome to my new followers and thank you again to all my active followers, I so appreciate your continued participation and hope this new wave of Covid and all it’s variants are not impacting you and yours.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

 

The Necklace by Matt Witten – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Murder of a Child 

Book Blurb:

The clock ticks down in a heart-pounding crusade for justice

The Necklace by Matt WittenSusan Lentigo’s daughter was murdered twenty years ago—and now, at long last, this small-town waitress sets out on a road trip all the way from Upstate New York to North Dakota to witness the killer’s execution.

On her journey she discovers shocking new evidence that leads her to suspect the condemned man is innocent—and the real killer is still free. Even worse, her prime suspect has a young daughter who’s at terrible risk. With no money and no time to spare, Susan sets out to uncover the truth before an innocent man gets executed and another little girl is killed.

But the FBI refuses to reopen the case. They—and Susan’s own mother—believe she’s just having an emotional breakdown. Reaching deep, Susan finds an inner strength she never knew she had. With the help of two unlikely allies—a cynical, defiant teenage girl and the retired cop who made the original arrest—Susan battles the FBI to put the real killer behind bars. Will she win justice for the condemned man—and her daughter—at last?

My Review:

Susan Lentigo has spent twenty miserable years following the kidnap, rape, and murder of her seven year old daughter. The death of her daughter understandably changed her life and as much as she tried, and failed, to move on, she is finally to witness the execution on death row of the man convicted for the brutal murder.

The Necklace by Matt WittenAt the time, she carried a rage for the man convicted, and asked of the judge the death penalty. (Susan later harbors nagging doubts regarding the man she was sure responsible. Something just wasn’t right.) It was a heinous crime, a necklace homemade by Susan and her daughter still missing, thought to be a trophy.

Okay, back up.

She is still in the same house, the same waitressing job, and as broke as ever since her husband left her within the year of their daughter’s death. The little town kicked off a fundraiser to supply funds for the trip to North Dakota to witness the execution. She’ll take a bus and the fundraising covers the fare with some expense money left over.

Susan blew hot and cold for me—I could understand her anger, the emotionally charged forthcoming event, but some of her snap decisions left me wondering about her objective decision-making. The money given to her was stolen, leaving her broke and at the generosity of people, some of whom made for amazing support characters. I got tired of her alternate rude behavior, however, lashing out with foul language, or withdrawal. Her trip got sidetracked.

She begins to rack up some clues, flaming her doubts again about the condemned man, but the person of interest instead now is even more devastating. Susan determines she must prove her theory. Fortunately, she can ally with the former FBI agent involved in her daughter’s case and he’ll help with DNA analysis of her clue.

After a somewhat sullen, somber start, the pace revs up and by the time they arrive at the prison to witness the execution, the fast-pace swings into high gear and demands full on attention, gripping, and riveted to the conclusion.

Well, and then, the conclusion—while satisfying on the surface—neglected to complete a few minor details. That, along with a couple plot holes, contradictions, pushed me off a higher star rating. Yes, I was kept glued during the latter third (quarter?), but pushed just a bit beyond disbelief a couple times as well. 3.5 stars

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley and these are my honest opinions. Currently on pre-order.

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ASIN: B08SR91BD4
Print Length: 259 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 7, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Matt Witten - authorThe Author: [Matt Witten] I’ve written in all kinds of genres: TV shows, stage plays, novels, and movies.

Novels: My thriller THE NECKLACE will come out in September, 2021, published by Oceanview Publishing. It’s optioned for film by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Cartel Pictures. Lee Child says: “This is as fast and tense as a great thriller should be, but it’s full of warmth and humanity too – one small-town woman’s quest for the most poignant kind of justice you could imagine. Buy it today and read it tonight!” For more info on the novel you can check my website, mattwittenwriter.com.

I’ve written four mystery novels starring amateur sleuth Jacob Burns. These books were all originally published by Signet; now they’re all available on Kindle. The first novel, BREAKFAST AT MADELINE’S, received the Malice Domestic Award. The Library Journal called BREAKFAST AT MADELINE’S “the perfect antidote for a rainy day.” Publishers Weekly, reviewing GRAND DELUSION, said “Witten delights with his charming characters, especially Burns himself.” The Romantic Times said, “Told with warmth and wit, STRANGE BEDFELLOWS is a wry story that packs a wallop of an ending.” Murder Express called THE KILLING BEE “a fast, witty, thoroughly engrossing novel that I was sorry to see end.”

TV: I’ve written for House, Law & Order, Pretty Little Liars, Medium, Homicide, CSI: Miami, Judging Amy, Supernatural, and other shows.

Plays: My published plays include The Deal, Washington Square Moves, and The Ties That Bind. They’ve been produced in theatres all over the world.

Movie: My movie DRONES, directed by Rick Rosenthal and starring Matt O’Leary and Eloise Mumford, premiered in 2014 at the London Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, and the AFI Fest. It’s available at Amazon.

So that’s my professional life in a nutshell! My wife Nancy Seid teaches at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, and our sons Zack and Jacob do machine learning, CRISPR, and all kinds of amazing stuff.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Frigate (The Cold War Naval Thriller Series Book 1) by John Wingate – #BookReview – Alternative History

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Don’t miss this gripping naval thriller! Perfect for fans of Clive Cussler, Douglas Reeman and Duncan Harding.

Is the Cold War about to turn hot?

Frigate by John WingateWhen Captain Pascoe Trevellion of the Royal Navy is drafted on to the frigate Icarus, he knows a tense time lies ahead. With the spectre of nuclear war looming ever closer, the Cold War is entering a crucial phase, and NATO must respond to the escalating threat.

Trevellion, whose calm and dignified exterior conceals a tragic personal secret, barely has time to greet his new crew before Icarus is plunged into a war simulation exercise.

But the danger becomes all too real when an unexpected encounter between Icarus and a Russian submarine leads to a Soviet counter-attack.

As the battle arena shifts to northern Norway, the Soviets become suspicious of NATO’s motives.

Amidst sub-zero conditions, the Cold War escalates, and the world teeters on the brink of annihilation.

Could nuclear warfare become a reality? And can Trevellion and his men do anything to stop it?

Or will this clash of superpowers result in the ultimate devastation?

FRIGATE is the first book in the Cold War Naval Thriller Series, gripping military action novels written in the 1980s as futuristic fiction. They can now be read as alternative history.

His Review:

Life aboard ship is never easy. Particularly if you are stationed in the North Sea or more northerly environs closer to the north pole. Icarus is an older but very capable frigate assigned to Pasco Trevellion. New commanders to any ship in the fleet are accepted with trepidation and skepticism by the ship’s company and crew. Trevellion taking charge of the Icarus is no exception.

Frigate by John WingateA shakedown cruise quickly points out the capable sailors and seamen and the ones that require special observation and discipline. The crew of Icarus in turn are scrutinizing their new commanding officer with disdain. They miss their old commander and are chaffing at the changes in operational methods aboard ship.

The shakedown cruise is to prepare ship and crew for deployment. The Icarus will join a NATO fleet in the northern waters to contain the Soviet fleet from breaking out and controlling the northern seaways from Finland and Iceland. The Russians broadcast that they are responding to a request from the countries to keep their waterways and harbors open. The Russians enjoy larger and more sophisticated vessels and are like a bully in a new neighborhood.

The dialogue in this novel is extremely well written and uses copious naval terminology. I found myself rushing to Wikipedia to decode some of the more obscure naval terminology. Newer young sailors always test their new Captain’s patience and abilities. Distrust of a new commander goes without saying.

On station, the Icarus and other ships in the containing NATO force work to contain the breakout of the Russian submarine fleet. The submarines are quicker and better equipped than most of the containment flotilla. The action becomes fast and furious as the naval blockade fails. CE Williams

Any reader who understands the Navy’s function on the world stage of checks and balances will enjoy this read. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Disaster Fiction, Alternate History Science Fiction, Alternative History
Publisher: Sapere Books
ASIN: B09C8YJ7KZ
Print Length: 193 pages
Publication Date: August 9, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Frigate [Amazon]

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The Author: John Alan Wingate DSC was a successful novelist with some twenty-five books to his credit. Many of these had a naval theme. Frequently involving the submarine service, they gained much authenticity from Wingate’s personal wartime experiences. [Goodreads]

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Harp and the Rose: The Queenstown Series Book 3 by –#BookReview – #historicalfiction

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars
#1 Best Seller Historical British Fiction

Book Blurb:

Queenstown, County Cork. 1920

The Harp and the Rose by Jean GraingerFor twenty-year-old Harp Devereaux, life should be idyllic. At university, she feels for the first time in her life that she belongs, her mother Rose is running the Cliff House as a successful business, and her childhood sweetheart JohnJoe is by her side, but the storm clouds of war grow ever darker.For eight hundred years Ireland has made numerous bids for her freedom but now, at last, liberation from British rule is tantalisingly close, if the men and women of the revolution can just hold on.
Harp, her family, and her friends find themselves in the thick of the fight, but the Crown Forces are not the only enemy. A sinister force from the past is lurking and will stop at nothing to exact his revenge.

My Review:

The third in the Queenstown series and it is a hard-hitting, high impact narrative that relates Ireland’s long struggle for freedom from the British in an entertaining novel that tells the continuing story of Harp Devereaux.

The Harp and the Rose by Jean GraingerHarp and her mother Rose have turned the Cliff House mansion where her mother worked into a thriving B&B. Now at twenty, she has a special beau in JJ, along with characters from the previous entries to the series. She is currently home from university and working undercover with the Devlin sisters in aid of the freedom movement.

Harp has recently met Marianne, a young bride given to British General Beckett most recently from Shimla, India to help stamp out the IRA organization currently causing havoc across Ireland. Marianne was given to the much older Beckett by her family and she feels lost and alone and quickly forms a friendship with Harp.

Amazing how the author develops characters sure to mirror those of the time, fleshing them out, making them real, sympathetic. The stories are heart-felt, she is passionate about her Irish history and the love of her home in Cork shines through the prose. The novel is compelling, strongly engaging and hard to put down as the pace never waivers.

The climax developed into a most satisfying conclusion and certainly as this reader hoped, but there is an epilogue that sets up an unsettling scenario with Henry’s brother, Ralph, that is obviously to be a story for another time. ARGH! Ralph is a miserable person, a despot! This can’t be good!

I have read many books written by this prolific author, some as standalones, as well as other series: Robinswood, The Tour, and the Conor O’Shea series. The Star and the ShamrockReturn to RobinswoodTrials and Tribulations, and The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary. The latter was particularly poignant. Her characters are always engaging and relatable, the stories entertaining, and most unique in their plots and pacing.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley and these are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: British & Irish Literary Fiction, Historical British Fiction, Historical Irish Fiction
ASIN: B096M8FXLV
Print Length: 217 pages
Publication Date: Just released August 23, 2021
Source: Author
Title Link: The Harp and the Rose [Amazon]

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author:  JEAN GRAINGER

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS.

WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!

I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 200 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dogs, called Scrappy and Scoobi..

My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

[Truncated]…

My current series, The Queenstown Series, centres on twelve year old Harp Devereaux and her mother Rose and the first book opens on the day Titanic sails from Queenstown, Co Cork on her last fateful journey. It is a bestselling series and people really seem to connect to the precocious Harp and her hard-working mother as they battle to survive in a society where conforming and playing by the rules was paramount. It is so far a three book series, The West’s Awake, and The Harp and the Rose being the next two books but I’m currently writing book four.

Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Book Blurb:

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: 

  1. I’m in a coma.
  2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
  3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. 

Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from 20 years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

My Review:

Confusion reigned supreme. Well, perhaps not until about 75% into the book. Then the narrative earned the unreliable narrator stripes and I got lost. I only thought I was following along and had formed opinions. So much for that!

Sometimes I lie by Alice FeeneyThis is a tale of the twins from hell. I think. Were they actually twins or not? The writer’s prose fills the pages, building empathy on the one hand, derision on the other. That nasty sister! I think.

Becoming more twisted all the time, I became to question everything I’d heard. Wait a minute! Didn’t it say…a while ago…or maybe not. Wasn’t I paying attention?

What happened to the best friend, Taylor? Was that a best friend? An imaginary friend?

A sister?

I’m thinking OCD isn’t the only problem this woman has, this sister. Amber? Clare?

ARGH! At this point, I’m totally lost. Was there an Edward? What happened to him? And Madeline—that horrible boss. Or was that another lie? Was Amber really an on-air personality? Is Amber a survivor?

No character to like in this novel of chaos and mayhem. The reader may only have a modicum of empathy for Paul.

A book that prays on a fear most harbor—that of being trapped in a body, aware, but unable to manifest even the slightest notice of responsiveness. No blinking, finger twitching, or communication of any kind. Isn’t that why people were buried with a bell? A dead ringer? But if you were immobile…

So much mayhem. Why was none ever traced back?

And the conclusion. As inconclusive as the last quarter of the novel. Nothing to settle all the questions. Gees, I’m so confused, but I don’t think I’m that thrilled. Did you read this one? Agree with my assessment?

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Thrillers, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B0771TZXW5Listening Length: 10 hrs 7 mins
Narrator: Stephanie Racine
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Sometimes I Lie [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Alice Feeney - authorThe Author: Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller, has been translated into over twenty languages, and is being made into a TV series by Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. His & Hers is also being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown. It will be published around the world in 2021.

Stephanie Racine - narratorThe Narrator: Stephanie Racine is an actress, known for Shakespeare’s Globe: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014), Holby City (1999) and The Royals (2015).

 

 

 

 

 

©2021 V Williams V Williams

The Sea Bandits (Bold Women of the 17th Century Series Book 2) by Amanda Hughes–#BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating:  Five Stars 5 stars

“Boo hags are creatures that feed off the breath of human beings.” 

Book Blurb:

The Sea Bandits by Amanda HughesFor readers who like history with a bit of a love story.

The West Indies 1680-it is a world of violence, greed, and anarchy. Swept into this whirlwind of treachery are two disparate characters: Mercedes Zamora, a former Spanish aristocrat, and Abraxas Kaphiri, a ruthless Egyptian pirate. She is clever and seductive. He is dangerous and powerful. Together they hatch a plan to terrorize the high seas seeking vengeance and plunder. Their enemies call them The Sea Bandits, and they reign supreme as the most hated and feared corsairs in the West Indies and the Barbary Coast. But everything changes when they clash with a malicious nobleman who knows too much. His relentless pursuit threatens to destroy not only their operation but everything they love.
Join Amanda Hughes as she sweeps you back to the days when buccaneers and adventurers ruled the waves, and larger-than-life legends were born.

My Review:

There is a reason Amanda Hughes is one of my favorite authors, she consistently delivers a delicious tale laced with adventure, well-researched tidbits, and a touch of romance.

This novel begins in the year 1677 in Cusco, Peru and develops protagonist Mercedes Zamora as the spoiled offspring of landed aristocrats. She is expected to marry well and a wedding is arranged between she and Felipe Ortiz y Gasset. Felipe, however, is a spoiled monied son with few boundaries and quickly loses his ardour when she becomes pregnant.

The wedding dowry arrangement between families chill considerably when badly managed finances fail resulting in the loss of their home. Felipe (and his family) determines he will move the family to San Juan Bautista and Mercedes finds herself in a new land, new home, no husband, and no way to provide for herself and her twin boys.

The Sea Bandits by Amanda HughesMercedes hasn’t been totally out of the business loop, however. She is smart and has gained sufficient insight to proceed into a shipping business. She has a small, efficient, and loyal team. Then she meets Abraxas Kaphiri, widely known as a Egyptian pirate. Abraxas, much like Jack Sparrow, isn’t all bad, however. In fact, hmm, he actually has some admirable qualities (and he’s easy on the eyes).

I loved the dance between Mercedes and Abraxas that eventually leads to banding together against a common enemy.

The storyline never falters or slows in this well-paced and plotted novel. It’s swash-buckling adventure coupled with Barbary Coast tales of treasures, cargo, rum, and the daily struggle of life in the late 1690’s.

This is Book 2 of the 17th Century series. I also read Book 1, The Firefly Witch. No problem where you come in to each series, whether 17th, 18th, 19th, or 20th Centuries, each is a standalone and can be read in any order. I’ve read at least two books in each century, including the most recent, Vagabond Wind, The House of Five Fortunes, Beneath a Blazing Sky, and The Image Seeker.  If you like strong, trail-blazing womens stories, you’ll greatly enjoy these gripping novels, all different and unique. These are all highly recommended. The Sea Bandits just released and is available now. (Loved it.)

His Review:

The cross-breeding between the Inca and Spanish resulted in beautiful copper skinned offspring. Mercedes Zamora y Huaman de Ortiz was just such a woman. Marriages were often arranged in the 1600’s and the participants often had very little choice in the matter. Class hierarchies were common and inter-marriages between the social stratus were uncommon.

At fourteen, Mercedes is married to Felipe, an eighteen-year-old. The early months were amorous until pregnancy occurred. Then Felipe left for greener pastures and Mercedes was to raise their twin boys.  Her position as an aristocrat in Cusco, Peru left few opportunities for the young mother. Once pregnant her husband had no interest in staying around or visiting her bed. (It was against Catholic doctrine to have sex while pregnant.)

Senora Mercedes Ortiz had to avoid relations with Felipe after the birth of their children. He was also a very poor businessman and had lost a large portion of their lands. As a result, he was moving the family to San Juan Bautista. Mercedes was leaving her home and everything she knew and suddenly Felipe Ortiz was nowhere to be found.

Mercedes is tasked with managing the household and plantation and it becomes a full-time job. She begins running a shipping warehouse and import-export business but additional lands are taken away by a conniving relative.

Mercedes starts Zamora Enterprises and begins a new stage in her life. She sends her sons to Spain for a more formal education and meets Abraxas Kaphiri. This reputed pirate leads her life in a whole new direction.

Amanda Hughes has created a delightful tale of intrigue and danger in a love story between a pirate and a “she-merchant”. You will find it hard to put down. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and these are our honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Caribbean and Latin American Fiction, Sea Stories, US Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lillis and Jaymes
ASIN: B09BKHCNLF
Print Length: 253 pages
Publication Date: Just Released! August 19, 2021
Source: Author contact 
Title Link: The Sea Bandits

Amanda Hughes - authorThe Author: Bestselling and award-winning author, Amanda Hughes is a “Walter Mitty”, spending more time in heroic daydreams than the real world. At last, she found an outlet writing adventures about bold women through the centuries. Well known for her genre-busting books, she is the winner of the Gems National Medal for Writing, featured in USA Today and is nominated for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and when she isn’t off tilting windmills, she lives and writes in Minnesota. Don’t miss these page-turning novels for readers who like historical fiction with a just bit of a love story. All of her books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

The Bold Women of the 17th Century: The Firefly Witch Book 1

The Bold Women Series of the 18th Century: Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry Book 1 The Pride of the King Book 2 The Sword of the Banshee Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 19th Century: The Grand Masquerade Book 1 Vagabond Wind Book 2 The House of Five Fortunes Book 3

The Bold Women Series of the 20th Century: The Looking Glass Goddess Book 1

Interested in her new books or a free novelette? Go to http://www.amandahughesauthor.com

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