Among the Darkness Stirs – Nicola Italia

This book contains:

  • Death of father
  • Murder and its investigation

Audrey is the daughter of a vicar, university educated and in need of work. Throughout life’s challenges and changes, she stays true to herself as she picks up her, and her families lives and works to give them the life they deserve.

With the help (and eventual romance) of Henry, Audrey is able to weather all the storms the workhouse throws at her while Henry continue to support her, offer friendship and help her in her investigation. Although Henry only wishes to help Audrey in the beginning, this changes to more intense feelings that he has to pursue, while trying to keep her safe from her own investigations.

Audrey’s father dies leaving her family destitute with no where to turn to. Thanks to the help of Henry, she’s able to secure a role in a workhouse teaching the children in the hopes of bettering their lives. While working there she makes friends with some of the staff, “inmates” and Henry’s mother.

The first half of the book is about Audrey finding her place in the workhouse, getting to know Henry, his mother, Norwich and getting comfortable teaching the children. Then, about halfway through the book, one of her friends suddenly dies and she discovers a diary that concerns her. The remaining half gives Audrey and Henry time to investigate the odd diary and figure out exactly what is happening.

On the whole, the book was quite interesting. Various aspects of society and the changes we likely take for granted now were pointed out numerous times. Simple things like everyone deserving a basic education, women getting a university or college education, women holding jobs and even the idea that people who fall on hard times are lazy.

I did find the first half of the book a little bit slow. Looking back on it I can see how most of it was needed, the pace of it just felt a little slow. Especially when compared to the second half. The first half spanned a few months, whereas the second half spanned maybe a week or two.

It’s not that I think the second half was rushed! I actually think it was really well done.

There was enough detail, enough intrigue and enough drama that it worked really well. It was just a bit of a shock to have the pace suddenly change. When I got to about 60% of the way through I found myself wanting to keep coming back to the book, ditch work and just find out what was happening!

And I was left shocked at the end!

When it was described I thought it was one, normal(ish) thing, but then when it was truly revealed I couldn’t believe it! Did that stuff actually exist in those times?! WOW!

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The Finders – Jeffrey B. Burton

Welcome back everyone, I’d read a few positive reviews about this and decided to request a copy on NetGalley. I’m glad I did!

Going into this book I thought there’d be more about the dogs, their training and actively working as cadaver dogs. Since I’m doing a lot of work with my own dog, I was interested in seeing what techniques would be talked about when training cadaver dogs.

What I wasn’t expecting was to have so much of the story be about tracking the killer by regular police work with the dogs just tagging along and causing havoc. In hindsight that makes sense. The amount of disparity in the dog training industry would mean getting reliable information about techniques that no one could argue with wouldn’t be possible. Even myself reading the few snippets was like “O I know some people who wouldn’t be happy about that technique.”

Moving on to the story and how amazing it was!

Right from the get-go I loved it! It was fast moving, interesting, had enough psychology and action to keep me interested, excited and mentally engaged.

We got to see the story from a few people’s perspective, including the main killers. The great thing about hearing the killers perspective is that we learnt about their motivations, their previous killings, how they operate and yet don’t learn anything personal about them until the cops and Reid put it all together.

The final 20% of the book is Reid and Gimm putting together who it is, us getting confirmation from the killer and then the confrontation. Every chapter changed perspective giving us the perfect blow by blow of the whole interaction. Absolutely amazing!

Given this is the first book in the series I can’t wait to see how the following books develop!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Sunday I’ll be reviewing Venators: Legends Rise by Devri Walls.

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Who Wants to Marry a Duke – Sabrina Jeffries

Welcome back everyone, I’ve got a bunch of reviews over the coming weeks that I’m really excited to bring to you. It’s been a bit touch and go being able to get them all read in time but I think I’m getting there!

Returning to the Dukes Dynasty we’re on another murder mystery with just as much action as the previous books. If anything, I feel like it got amped up a little!

Olivia’s confidence in her skills amazed me given this book is a regency romance and women didn’t have many career choices. And yet she’s not comfortable moving around society like most of the women in regency romances.

Although Thorn is made out to be a bit of an arrogant rake, we know from the first two books that he’s more than he seems. As Olivia and Thorn work together we see more aspects of both their personalities coming out that, usually, complement each other quite well.

Roughly the first half of the book focuses on the romance, then as things escalate it twists into more of a murder mystery that happens to have some romance spattered in. Normally I’d find this change frustrating, but since we’re now three books into the series it’s good to see the wider story develop.

I can’t wait to find out more with Sheridan when the next book comes out next year. I really need to know who did it!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Lost Time and Dead Time by D.L. Orton.

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The Circle-A Killings – Sean Heary

Welcome back everyone, the last few reviews I’ve done on Monday’s have been fantasy or sci-fi. Now it’s time to go back to Sean Heary and his suspense books!

Some sequels pick up exactly where the previous book left of. Generally speaking, the one’s I’ve read tend to have a bit of a gap. Sean’s created a little bit of a gap, but not much in the grand scheme of things. Yet emotionally, we’re way past where we left The Concordat.

The thing that intrigued me the most about this story was the motivation behind them. In The Concordat, it felt very religious. Looking back, I realise it’s more political than religious so I’m not sure how I missed that. Or maybe I forgot?

Either way, this suspense is stemmed from someone’s wealth. The richer you are, the more likely you are to die. O! And that’s the other thing! This is about a serial killer not a single object!

I think at the end of every chapter I had a suspect in mind. At several points I was partially correct in my theory for the who, why and how. Yet I never nailed it. Sean’s writing sucks you in, gives you all the clues you need (in hindsight I can see this) and yet doesn’t give you quite enough to figure it out.

The information you have to make your theories is exactly what Lorenzo and Cathy have. In several spots I had a brainwave SECONDS before I read one of the characters having the same brainwave. It keeps you involved without ever being obvious which is amazing!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll continue The Boys of Jackson Harbour series with Wrapped in love by Lexi Ryan.

Author Bio

Sean Heary is a former business executive who lived for many years a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. No wonder he writes political thrillers. He also spent several years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he met his wife. Born and raised in Australia, Sean now makes Germany his home.

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Of Night and Dark Obscurity – Nicola Italia

Welcome back everyone, we went from a regency romance to an erotica and today it’s a Victorian romance with a murder mystery!

It was quite some time ago when Nicola contacted me asking if I’d like to review this book. At the time it was still a work in progress, and she wasn’t sure when it was going to be released. Other than a really brief idea on what the novel was going to be about I didn’t know anything about it when I agreed to read it.

I mean. I’ve read and reviewed two of her other books, The Sheik’s Son and Sea of Revenge and loved both of them. Surely I’d like this book that I hadn’t been told much about. Right?

It took me ages to get to reading this book but I got there! I don’t know what book I was thinking of when I started reading it, but the cover made me think it was something other than it was. But that’s totally on me coz it was ages between getting it and reading the blurb and reading it!

Unlike most romances that I read this one primarily followed Valentine, our male protagonist. While alternating to Caroline for a short stint once a chapter (roughly) to add context and her voice to the story. Given that this book focused around a murder investigation this makes a lot of sense.

Having Caroline drive the story from the victim’s perspective while Valentine drove it from the investigation perspective felt well done. While Caroline’s character was consistently concerned for others, charitable and interested in Valentine, I had a couple of moments of confusion with Valentine’s behaviour. He was always so considerate of Caroline and her safety, yet s couple of times felt aggressively possessive and jealous. It didn’t feel like it fit with his personality.

A few times sporadically throughout the book Nicola included snippets of what was happening with the criminals responsible. I loved this. Not only were no names or details included in these, as Valentine came across a new bit of evidence we were kept in the dark until the last possible moment. I loved this because it allowed me to try and guess who the culprit was right until the very end.

Even when they are caught, we aren’t told who they are. Until literally the last chapter. It made for a bit of a nail biter that I enjoyed every second of.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Wednesday I’ll be reviewing New Beginnings at Glendale Hall by Victoria Hall.

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Day of the Dead – Don Simkovich and Lon Casley Bixby

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed the last Friday review for a while with Zoe Ashwood’s Trust the Wolf. When I put out a message on Twitter late last yr for new books and that I was open to suggestions this was one of the one’s that came recommended, and it’s a genre I’ve been wanting to try for a while, but until now have been a bit too nervous to actually try.

Writing Style

This was a new genre for me, so I’m not sure how the writing compares to others in the crime genre. But some dates would’ve been nice because I’m honestly still not sure if this spanned a month or three?

I can tell that time is passing based on the fact that people are at different places, or with different people. But I couldn’t tell how much, and I think that may have helped me get more involved.

There were also some descriptions given about a family interaction or something that didn’t feel like it was adding anything to the story other than breaking up the crime aspect with some romance or domesticity. Is that normal in this type of genre?

I’m not too sure, but I’m not sure I enjoyed it. Maybe it’s just my work brain being in overdrive trying to get multiple projects finished at work and remembering to write succinctly and to only write what adds value. But I got lost a little bit when those moments came up.

Initial Thoughts

I will admit that after finishing the first 3 chapters I had to put this book down and read something else first. It had nothing to do with the book and everything to do with the fact that I’m a massive mood reader. If I’m not in the mood to read that genre or book, it ‘aint happening.

And unfortunately, I realised 3 chapters in I wasn’t in the mood for a crime novel so knew I had to put it down and come back to it when I was more in the mood if I was going to give it a fair shot.

I’m glad I did, because when I came back to it, I was in a much better frame of mind to just absorb it and go along for the ride.

Final Thoughts

In the end I found I enjoyed the book overall, but I don’t think crime novels are the genre I can keep coming back to. At least not this style.

I find that odd since I’ve liked other ones that are a bit more suspense related compared to this one. But I honestly felt like I was reading an episode of NCIS where they actually play by the rules and it takes them a while to catch the criminal. And there’s nothing wrong with NCIS! I actually really like NCIS!

But I think I enjoy that style more visually on the TV rather than in a book. But if you like this style, don’t forget to check out the other 3 books in this series.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing No Place Like Home by Maxine Morrey.

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The Concordat – Sean Heary

Hi all, welcome back to a review that is not a Blog Tour. It’s been a while! On the other hand I still haven’t grabbed a book from my TBR pile, but for good reasons. I’m feeling totally privileged and amazed to find that I have author’s contacting me to read and review their books. Knowing how many books are released every year, and how less and less people seem to be interested in reading I can’t imagine how hard it is to break into the market and become successful as an author. So where possible I’d love to support authors trying to break in by doing my little bit while also trying to expand my reach (which in turn helps those authors).

(Sorry I have to deviate for a moment, I loved seeing this picture when Sean sent it through because it has my favourite vodka in it!)

This week’s one was one that Sean and I weren’t sure I’d enjoy because I’m still new to the thriller/ suspense style of writing. But I’ve always loved those moments in the books I’ve read previously and Adriana Gavazzoni really introduced me to the genre and I loved her series as well.

I have a love of history and my newfound enjoyment of thriller/ suspense books led me to believe that unless Sean’s writing style sucked I’d probably enjoy this book. So it was just a matter of how much would I enjoy it?

Getting stuck into it I read the first few chapters and was immediately engrossed. My dad is Catholic but non-practising and so I’ve never really had much of an understanding of religion and how it played into politics so I was starting to get a different understanding of how the Vatican worked. Once I got to about 5 or 6 chapters in (there’s 72 chapters in all and they aren’t very long) where every chapter followed someone new I was starting to think this was going to be even more complex than Game of Thrones and I’d need to get a notebook to keep track of all the characters!

Luckily it calms down a little as more and more of said characters are killed off making the overall plot of the book thicker and deeper. And what better way to hook someone like me than to kill of character’s when they have JUST started to feel  important? Well of course, I just HAD to keep reading! I started to resent having to go to work coz I just wanted to know what happened next! Luckily with the chapters being so short I was able to finish up at the end of a chapter most of the time, which gave me some sort of closure during the day while I was at work.

There’s so many plots happening concurrently throughout this book I always felt like I was on the back foot trying to figure out what was going on. Which I loved! I enjoy the typical romance novels quite a bit, but I also love to be challenged and I get bored if I’m constantly reading the same style of book. So this was an amazing break from the romance novels as this didn’t feel like it was a romance novel at all. Yes there were elements here and there. But they felt really well placed and as if they added to the overall story rather than being the focal piece.

My one regret about this book is how it ended. Those last 3 chapters really burst my bubble a little bit. I have been informed that there will be a second book so I’m hoping that will redeem that ending for me. It just felt like the ending didn’t really fit with the rest of the books feel. But I will have to wait until I read the second book to know for sure!

But other than the ending I honestly didn’t have any complaints! This is one I definitely plan to give to my dad for Christmas (yes I will actually pay for a physical copy for my dad!) because this style of book is well and truly up his alley and I can see him smashing it out in a couple of days.

I hope you enjoyed this review and I will see you next week with “Survival of the Richest” by Skye Warren.

Author Bio

Sean Heary is a former business executive who lived for many years a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. No wonder he writes political thrillers. He also spent several years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he met his wife. Born and raised in Australia, Sean now makes Germany his home.

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The Brilliant Game – A. Gavazzoni

Welcome back all, I hope you’ve been looking forward to this review because I’ve been looking forward to sharing it with you!

This is the final instalment of Behind the Door and Lara’s Journal and I can honestly say I enjoyed reading this one and was cursing my Kindle when it was taking forever to download so I could get started.

So this one picked up a little bit after Lara’s Journal ended but not before Simone’s daughter was freed. Following on from the previous book I can tell you that you’re in for one hell of a ride!

Firstly Peter’s sister isn’t connected to any of the murders and gets released. At first I couldn’t believe this because how else did Peter escape? And how else could he have known when to kidnap Simone’s daughter? And then I thought, maybe Peter has another accomplice? Maybe a guy? Maybe that’s how the sperm samples aren’t related to Peter’s sister.

That certainly felt more plausible than Peter being adopted since it was never mentioned in any of the previous books. And surely if Peter was adopted that would’ve come out sooner. I mean, it’d just have to right? Which means Peter’s sister and the receptionist are now out of the running for being the killer. Which leaves us with the ex-boyfriend; although he seems to have dropped off the map so I think we can scratch him off as well. So really we’re left with Peter Hay, Carl and Edward.

And somehow I couldn’t see Carl being responsible. I mean he really doesn’t feel right for this. He goes to Simone honestly looking for help. He’s in crisis over what happened with Lara and needs to absolve his guilt over her death. To begin with that’s in the form of getting her to read his memoir and analysing the possibility that he purposely killed Lara. Then he is given a copy of Lara’s story, her whole life on paper for him to read and really understand why she was who she was. Except facing those details can be tough so I understand why he’d need someone else, a third party, to read it along with him.

During this book we’re introduced to two more possible candidates for all the murders. A necrophiliac that Simone had previously treated, and John, one of Lara’s lovers. Even though when the necrophiliac angle was introduced because Peter’s DNA didn’t match the semen found on the body it just didn’t feel right. This necrophiliac was one who sought out already dead bodies. Unless of course he was brought in as the accomplice who would get rid of the bodies? But I dunno… It just didn’t feel right to me.

John on the other hand went of the rails a bit once he read Lara’s Journal. So I could see him killing people. But again, he didn’t know Simone previously, so why was he attacking people and leaving them on her doorstep, and why attack her patients?

Now normally I would like to leave some mystery to the book so you can enjoy the full impact when you read it for yourself. But there’s a few things I need to tell you because OMG! Adriana really left it to the last minute making me feel like there’d need to be a fourth book just to give me the answers I wanted!

But, instead she made it so that it all came out during Peter’s trial in the final chapter of the book so you’re only left with a couple of pages to process what’s happened. Although I’m not a big fan of Tolkien’s writing style where it takes 5+ pages to describe a leaf falling. I would have felt a little bit better with A LITTLE bit more time to have the reveal occur and see how everyone responds to it. I think one more chapter would have REALLY made this book amazing.

But Adriana really leaves you on tenterhooks that whole way through. Guessing, and guessing who could be behind the murders. How could Peter be innocent but not innocent? How did it take the FBI until the last minute, and even then it took Simone to figure out and expose what had happened?

I definitely feel like I need longer to just sit and process everything that came out in the last chapter of this book. So I think I should take a day before I start a new book.

I hope you enjoyed reading the final review on this trilogy and I honestly think you should give this trilogy a go if you enjoy books with suspense, sex and romance.

Thank you Adriana for giving me to opportunity to read your series. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all 3 books the whole way through!

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Lara’s Journal – A. Gavazzoni

Welcome back all, as promised I have the next instalment of Behind the Door for you! Now something that I often find when reading book series is that they get repetitive and a bit boring so sometimes I go into these with a grain of salt when the first book has really grabbed my attention.

But I didn’t need to with this one. I was really unsure how we could continue on from the previous book when the killer has fled the country and we’ve solved the murder. Other than literally just reading Lara’s side to her relationship with Carl (which I wanted to read anyway) I wasn’t sure what else could be done. Like really, what would you have done if you were the author? Because I am a big fan of, if you’ve gotten it right don’t ruin it by trying to make more money out of sequels when you had never planned on writing them.

Now the set up for this book is no where near as good as the set up for the third novel so I get the feeling that Adriana finished the first book intending to wrap it up there. Then really wanted to share more. Whereas the ending of this book is a total, blatant set up for a third book. Which I don’t mind because it show’s there’s a plan. And she’s ended it on a cliff hanger. And I am a TOTAL sucker for a good cliff hanger!

Anyway I feel like I’ve jumped ahead because I’m SOOOO eager to read the next book! Like normally I’d space it out a bit to give you guys, my readers, a bit of variety but I don’t think I can with this one.

ANYWAY! I must move on to give you reason’s why I liked this one so much! So we start off with a girl hooking up with a guy at a nightclub and having sex in the bathroom. Since I thought this was Lara, whatevs! Only, it turns out it’s Simone, and she’s slept with her friends cousin! How completely unlike Simone! But then again she had been kidnapped and drunk A LOT of wine and it’s not like she’s in a relationship. So she can totally live her life the way she want’s to!

Next thing we know one of her reliable crazy patients has attacked his mistress, wife and the club his mistress works in so Simone has to rush home. Just in time to find out that the cousin is a crazy stalker. Just what she needs when she’s still recovering from being kidnapped!

Within a couple of weeks of returning like 3 or 4 of her patients have turned up dead, the FBI don’t know whether to suspect her or Peter Hay (the guy that kidnapped her). And I was tossing up between the stalker boyfriend, the new receptionist, Peter, Peter’s sister, Carl and Edward as to who the guilty party could be! Now to give you a bit of an idea where’s why I suspect each of them:

  • Stalker boyfriend rocked up then everything turned to shit for Simone in a way that’s different to before which suggests someone new
  • The new receptionist doesn’t seem to smile, is happy to take the job of someone who was just killed. And no one died until after she started…
  • Peter Hay because you know, he did kidnap her and kill all those other people!
  • His sister, for revenge against Simone for Peter having to flee the country, and poison is typically known to be a female choice
  • Carl because both times he entered Simone’s life shit hits the fan
  • And finally Edward, with him I don’t really have a tangible reason why, it’s just a gut feeling

Since this book ends on a cliff hanger I never get to find out who the one responsible for this round of deaths is. But my main suspects are the new receptionist and Peter’s sister but with her I feel that Peter would have to be involved somehow. Ideally my gut is telling me the receptionist and Peter’s sister are either one and the same or somehow linked.

So now that I feel like I’ve turned into a bit of a conspiracy theorist I’ll let you go! And I look forward to sharing my next review on “Master the Marchioness” by Em Brown next week.

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