REVIEW: WE WERE MOTHERS, BY KATIE SISE

 

A scandalous revelation is about to devastate a picturesque town where the houses are immaculate and the neighborhoods are tightly knit. Devoted mother Cora O’Connell has found the journal of her friend Laurel’s daughter—a beautiful college student who lives next door—revealing an illicit encounter. Hours later, Laurel makes a shattering discovery of her own: her daughter has vanished without a trace. Over the course of one weekend, the crises of two close families are about to trigger a chain reaction that will expose a far more disturbing web of secrets. Now everything is at stake as they’re forced to confront the lies they have told in order to survive.

My Thoughts: We Were Mothers offers a peek behind closed doors as friends and neighbors in a small town show up for various social events, even as their lives are untangling a web of secrets and lies.

Alternating narrators take us to the past, while also bringing out the contemporary dramas in their lives.

At times, I found the characters confusing, as we zeroed in on their troubles. There was little to differentiate them from one another, except for their names. I had to take notes to keep their stories separate.

By the end, their individual stories seemed to mesh together, making them even less unique and more like cardboard characters. Perhaps the truth behind each story did not distinguish them much, but overall, their lives were all in crisis of one kind or another, which kept me reading. Not memorable or interesting enough, however. 3 stars.

***
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REVIEW: CROSS HER HEART, BY SARAH PINBOROUGH

 

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

My Thoughts: From the first pages of Cross Her Heart, we can sense something that regularly niggles at Lisa, our MC. Some dark secret from the past that she has tucked away carefully, which makes her seem overly obsessive about some things. Her teenage daughter Ava resents how carefully her mother guards her, as if danger lurks.

When her dark past is revealed after photos are shown in the news, we are still not completely sure about those secrets. Throughout the story, I felt there was a lot more to the past; secrets even Lisa kept to herself back then. Some events she doesn’t even remember clearly. As we rapidly turn the pages, going back and forth in time, we learn more about what really happened all those years ago…and what someone is doing to torture Lisa in the present.

Now she must find the secret tormentor, someone she believes is out there, despite the evidence that suggests otherwise. What will Lisa do to finally put the past to rest? How will her BFF Marilyn help her?

I loved how the characters fought for the truth…and for peace with the past. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: CANCEL THE WEDDING, BY CAROLYN DINGMAN

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One year after the death of their mother, Janie Hughes, her grown daughters, Georgia and Olivia, are planning to carry out her final wishes: scattering her ashes in two designated spots in the small town of Huntley, Georgia, where she spent her childhood.

Neither of them understand this request, nor do they know why their mother never told them anything about her childhood. So Olivia, feeling the need for escape because of some issues with her fiancé Leo, decides to drive down there and scout things out. Learn a little about their mother. Georgia’s fourteen-year-old daughter Logan goes with her.

From the moment they arrive, they discover numerous unsettling facts, including the major one of Huntley no longer existing, as it was inundated by a flood and is now buried under water.

One of the first people they meet is Elliott Tate, who runs the newspaper and is eager for a story. He volunteers his assistance as Olivia and Logan sort through archives, records, and plat maps, trying to discover Janie’s mysterious past.

What totally unexpected events will they uncover? How will the secrets of the past change the course of Olivia’s life? And how will her growing attraction to Elliott, at a time when she is desperately searching for a way to end her relationship with Leo, turn everything upside down for her? And what stunning last surprise discovery will cement the bonds between them all, as they finally bring the past to a satisfactory conclusion?

Cancel the Wedding: A Novel was a story that did not engage me right away, but once it did, I could not stop turning those pages, as each page brought new and delightful treasures. I enjoyed the characters like Olivia, Elliott, and Logan, but felt that Georgia was too judgmental and critical. Leo was overly controlling and I disliked him immediately. At the end, Georgia and Leo redeemed themselves a bit. A story with a lot of mystery, some romance, and a gloriously satisfying ending, I offer this book 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: MIDNIGHT BETRAYAL, BY MELINDA LEIGH

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Dr. Louisa Hancock has just started over in Philadelphia, as the assistant curator at the museum. She has left behind a troubling past and experiences that cost her the job as head curator in Maine. She has moved into a lovely condo in Rittenhouse Square and is settling into her routines.

And she is trying to look on the bright side of things. Unfortunately, some recent events in her new job have made it difficult, beginning with the attitude of Director Cusack who is a bit contemptuous in his remarks to her. But even more disturbing: Rikki, an intern at the museum, has gone missing. And shortly thereafter, her body is discovered and the murder weapon appears to be a replica of a Celtic knife that is part of Louisa’s exhibit.

As the police interrogate each of the employees, Louisa herself wonders if she might be a suspect. But when a second girl goes missing, another intern named Zoe, and the last place she was seen was Sullivan’s bar, owned by Conor Sullivan, someone Louisa had met while in Maine, suspicions are turned upon him. Circumstantial evidence points to him, but it is clear to Conor and to Louisa that someone else is responsible. Is someone setting him up?

There are a host of potential suspects, including someone Louisa once knew as a teenager…someone with whom she had a difficult past. And then there is a professor who may have made sex tapes with the victims….

Rapidly turning the pages of Midnight Betrayal led me down some interesting pathways, and I loved watching Conor and Louisa connect with each other, a bit of joy in an otherwise miserable time in their lives. But when Louisa goes missing, and when we finally discover who is behind it all, I was totally stunned. I love when that happens, and that extra layer of mystery made this a definite five star read for me. Recommended for all fans of the author, and for those who enjoy romantic suspense.