The Unwilling by John Hart

The Unwilling

Set in the South at the height of the Vietnam War, The Unwilling combines crime, suspense and searing glimpses into the human mind and soul in New York Times bestselling author John Hart’s singular style.

This book had a little bit of everything in it. The Vietnam War, family secrets, misunderstandings,coming of age,gun running and even murder.

Gibson is the youngest of three brothers. His brothers Robert and Jason are twins. Robert and Jason both were drafted in the war and only one comes home. It’s not the one their mother wanted to come home and now Gibson is on lockdown. His mother controls his entire life. And isn’t about to let him get mixed up with Jason.

Jason wants a relationship with Gibson, but has no idea how to go about it. So they go behind their parents backs. Gibson is drawn to Jason and is determined to find out all he can about him. Spending an entire day with him and two young ladies seems like a good way however, one of whom is certifiable crazy. The day goes from bad to worse when the pass a prison bus and Tyra literally shows her bum. One person on the bus however, recognizes Jason and knows who will pay for that information.

Soon after Tyra is savagely murdered. And I do mean Savagely. There is nothing spared here. Jason is immediately a suspect and Gibson is under suspicion as well.

His brother does have a dark side and when he is caught with a lot of cash and weapons, he goes back to jail.

While he is there things become much clearer. There is a puppet master behind all of this and Jason will get out of jail when X says he can.

This was so twisty and insane I do hope there will be a follow up!

Well Done!

NetGalley/ February 2nd, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press

FIND ME in HAVANA by SERENA BURDICK

Find Me in Havana

A novel based on the dazzling story of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated Hispanic actresses and her daughter’s search for closure.

Estelita Rodriguez is just nine years old when she begins singing in Havana, Cuba clubs. It is 1936 and her life will never be the same.

During the Cuban Revolution in 1933, her father lost everything and left them to join Batista. The family is now living in poverty, but Estelita’s mother sees how talented her daughter is and moves her to America.

Here she will sing at the Copacabana, meeting famous men and getting offers to go to Hollywood. With her mother by her side and her daughter, Nina, they get caught up in the craziness that is the entertainment business.

But things aren’t as rosy as they would seem. She has the worst taste in men and has her heart broken many times.

Told to the author by Nina. When Nina’s mother dies, she has a lot of questions. The story is told in letters written from Mother to Daughter and Daughter to Mother.

What she finds will tell a story of the sacrifices, the humiliation, the ugly side of not only Hollywood, but the ugliness of Cuba and the rebels who kept them hostage and did unspeakable things to them.

There is no bond stronger than the one between mothers and daughters. This was a beautifully told account and I cried and laughed and was just in awe of the strength of these women.

This is a story that hurts. There is no attempt to make it into a fairy tale. And that raw emotion is what made my heart ache for these women. There was no attempt to ‘pretty’ this up. It was honest and I loved it.

Very Well Done

NetGalley/January 12th, 2021 by Park Row Books







TAKEN TOO SOON by EDITH MAXWELL

Taken Too Soon

Quaker Midwife Mystery #6

Rose Carroll and her brand new husband, David, haven’t even finished their wedding reception when word is received from her elderly aunts that their ward has died and she must come immediately.

The young girl’s murder has rattled her aunts and the entire New England town. And as Rose works with the detectives to find the killer, David must deal with his rakish brother and his manipulative mother.

Family secrets, long-held grudges, and misunderstandings abound and Rose is ready to find a killer and get back to her beloved.

This is one of my favorite series! Rose is such an interesting character and I can’t wait to see what Ms. Maxwell will have in store for Rose and David!

NetGalley/ September 8th, 2020 by Beyond the Page

 

 

 

The Forgotten Kingdom (The Lost Queen Trilogy #2) by Signe Pike

The Forgotten Kingdom (The Lost Queen Trilogy, #2)

Second, in the series it is now AD 573 and Languoreth is in lockdown while her husband and his brother go off to raid and murder her brother, lover and even her child.

But what of the child she let her brother take with him to teach her the ways of a Wisdom Keeper. Angharad is just a child when she loses everything but her own life. Lost and unsure what to do, she follows the whispers in her head.

Not knowing whether her brother Lailoken is dead or alive and if her daughter is also dead, Languoreth waits and plans.

There was so much going on in this book. I had not read the first one but picked up what had gone on quickly. I was in love with this little girl with the huge heart and deadly powers.

The research and the history of this place and these people were very impressive and I enjoyed this book a lot!

NetGalley/ September 15th 2020 by Atria Books

The BORGIA CONFESSIONS by ALYSSA PALOMBO

The Borgia Confessions

‘Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition–and love.” – Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco

 

This is my favorite type of historical fiction. The players are real and the facts are real. Palombo has taken the players and the facts and woven them together with what could have happened and created a book I couldn’t put down.
Rome, in 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has been named Pope Alexander. Never mind how he got the job when he had multiple illegitimate children and a mistress living next door. The Borgia family was known for being greedy, ambitious to a fault, and eliminating the competition as this mockery of a pope is intent on one thing. Making sure his children, as well as himself, are all-powerful and wealthy is the goal.
There have been many attempts to explain the Borgias. And while Lucretia is in reality not such an awful person, she has been painted with an ugly brush as a lover of both her brother and her father. Although I nor the author saw any evidence of that.
There was not one redeeming character in this story. They were all equally easy to hate.
Even so, the writing was superb and the story, while not pretty, was fair and informative.
I loved it and would have no problem recommending it.
NetGalley/February 11th, 2020 by St. Martin’s Griffin

City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763–1856 (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900 Ser.) by Marcus P. Nevius

City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763–1856 (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700–1900 Ser.) by [Nevius, Marcus P.]

A well-researched look at Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina.

I am not sure that people really understand the different slave classes. This work gives us as much information as can be found about this city of refuge for runaway slaves. People today would call it living off the grid. HIding in a swamp, creating their own forms of currency and working closely with slaves and white people.

The amount of information is really quite extraordinary, as these men/women tended to leave no tracks. I can’t imagine how long this work took, but I am better for having read it.

As a descendant of the man who wrote the runaway slave act, I was deeply moved by this book.

NetGalley/ University of Georgia Press; February 8th, 2020

The BOOK OF CANDLELIGHT by Ellery Adams

The Book of Candlelight (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #3)

A Secret, Bone, and Scone Society Novel #3

Nora Pennington is beginning to wonder if this rain is ever going to end. Owner of Miracle Books, Nora isn’t complaining about the business packing the towns inns and her bookstore but it would be nice to have a dry day here and there. 

Along with the new shoppers, she makes a new friend. Sheldon is like a fairy godmother who swoops in and makes everything interesting and as long as he is stranded at the inn, Nora intends to make full use of his talents!

And rain or not she needs some things for the shop so it’s off to the flea market. Nora finds local artisan, Danny, and falls in love with one of his bowls she believes her sweetie would love.

When the next day finds rain and floods and a body, Nora smells a mystery! When she believes she has found a clue in of all places The Inn of Mist and Roses. What does Danny have to do with the legend of the inn?

And now there is a second body and Nora knows it’s time to call on the Secret, Bone and Scone Society to help find out who did what and why!
Another hit for Ellery!

 

NetGalley/ January 28th, 2020 by Kensington

 

 

 

CARTIER’S HOPE by MJ ROSE

 

Cartier's Hope

It’s 1910 in New York and wealthy socialite, Vera Garland is determined to make it as a reporter. Not the society page, but real, honest and investigative reporting.

Going undercover as Vee Swan, she uncovers the abysmal conditions in the tenements on the Lower East Side. And almost loses her life in the process. Recovering from her injuries and dealing with her father’s sudden death so soon after her Uncle Percy, she is taking a break from both of her identities.

While working on the mystery of her father’s death as well as marching for equal rights and pay for women, she hears that the Hope Diamond is in New York at Cartier’s! The rumors surrounding the stone are legendary. But how much is just hype to entice a better price?

Vera is intent on proving the bad luck theory or disproving it. It doesn’t hurt that it has brought her to an obnoxious magazine publisher who is also a blackmailer and could be responsible for her fathers’ death. 

For her plans to all come together she will need help. When she goes to Cartier’s to visit Pierre’s Russian jeweler for assistance, she finds out there is even more intrigue to come and she may not come out of this with the story she wants nor the man.

First, let’s talk about this cover! Absolutely stunning. The story was so real, with all of the ugliness of the women’s rights movements and the men who were violent and did their best to keep the women where they belonged. Allegedly. This is a historical fiction book that speaks to many of the same issues today. Still no equality across the board. But there will always be a Vera out there pulling us along and shouting until our voices are heard.

I loved all of the historical bits about Cartier and the Hope Diamond. It has a long and well-documented history.

Very Well Done!

NetGalley/ January 28th, 2020 by Atria Books

 

THE FOUNDING FORTUNES: How The Wealthy Paid For and Profited From America’s Revolution by Tom Shachtman

The Founding Fortunes: How the Wealthy Paid for and Profited from America's Revolution

In The Founding Fortunes, historian Tom Shachtman reveals the ways in which a dozen notable Revolutionaries deeply affected the finances and birth of the new country while making and losing their fortunes.

In times of war, the rich usually do get richer and the poor are still poor, yet free. Somewhat.  This well-researched telling of the well known and not so well known who put their money into biting the very hand that was feeding them. In order to have control over what they grew and who they sold to this young country and its leaders were far from perfect and often put their own interests above the country.

The British wanted total control and the John Hancocks and George Washingtons of the time wanted the opposite. To control their own taxes, representations, to settle their own disputes and have free trade. We also meet a lot of people who were less well-known but never the less played significant roles in this time period.

Several things struck me reading this book. One, these guys did not have, as a rule, long lives. So what they accomplished as very young men was astounding. They were determined to define their own destiny in this new world. They had left England for a reason and that was the freedom to determine their own fate.

Excellent research and a much-needed history lesson for the times!

NetGalley/ January 21st, 2020 by St. Martin’s Press

 

 

The GIRLS with NO NAMES by SERENA BURDICK

The Girls with No Names: A Novel

The Girls with No Names pulls readers into the gilded age of New York City in the 1910s when suffragettes marched in the street, unions fought for better work conditions—and girls were confined to the House of Mercy for daring to break the rules.

Life in the early 1900s was very confining for women and girls. Even the wealthy families who live in their mansions just down the road from the mysterious House of Mercy.

Luella and Effie belong to one of those families. Their father is charming but away a lot and their mother comes off as cold and a bit distant. Effie was born with a heart defect that will eventually kill her. Her older sister Luella has always looked after her. They are good girls with very little to do.

One day playing by the forest they hear beautiful music playing and their curiosity gets the better of them. What they find is a gypsy camp. Luella, a dancer is amazed and never wants to leave, but Effie needs her. All summer they hang out with the gypsy camp and it is here Luella runs after she and Effie find out a secret their father is keeping.

Feeling betrayed and angry Luella has no intention of obeying her father or ending up like one of the girls at school being sent to the Mercy House. She just needs a plan.

And just like that, she disappears. Effie is devastated and believes her father has finally had enough of his rebellious daughter and parked her in the Mercy House.

Effie is determined to find her sister and the way she gets into the house is brazen and fearless. But once behind that door, the house is anything but merciful. This is just another workhouse for girls who won’t knuckle under to society’s rules. How will she get out of this place where no one and nothing is what it seems. Not even their names.

Effie meets a girl named Mabel and we hear her story as well. With all the lies everyone is telling it will take a miracle for her to find her way home. If she doesn’t die in the process.

Historical Fiction with a lot of facts. These places existed everywhere. Magdalene Laundries, all more of the same. If a girl has an opinion she could easily never see the light of day again.  Everyone in this book was suffering in some way. Secrets and lies told to protect reputations and instead simply end up making things so much worse.

NetGalley/January 7th, 2020 by Park Row