the time in between, by kristen ashley

The Time in Between is classic KA. It’s reminiscent of books like Motorcycle Man and Sweet Dreams where the reader forms a life-like bond with the characters. Ashley’s ability to form a strong emotional connection with the fictional worlds that she builds is like no other author. I could not put this book down. As the 3rd and final installment in the Magdalene series, it did not disappoint.

Spanning the course of roughly 2 decades, The Time in Between chronicles the story of Coert and Cady. Young, misunderstood, and unappreciated by her family, Cady falls in with a tough crowd. And while they are by no means on the up and up, they embrace Cady and look out for her.

When Coert enters the picture, then known as Tony, he starts to run with the same crew. And while they too embrace him, it’s for a very different reason. Whereas Cady is looking for a replacement family, Coert/Tony is looking to rise up within the criminal enterprise that’s being built. What they find in each other is love and acceptance.

But the consequences of both Coert/Tony and Cady’s actions ultimately tear them apart–for 18 years. Told in alternating present day and year’s past voices, Ashley explores what happens when young love turns deadly and if it can truly stand the test of time after years of being apart.

Whether this is your 1st or 31st KA book, it will only leave you wanting more. Though this series is complete–and this book can be read as a stand alone–there’s plenty of KA goodness out there. Heart-wrenching throughout, I have nothing but good things to say about The Time in Between.

sting, by sandra brown

Sandra Brown was the first to autograph my edible bookmark poster my first year at RT Booklovers. I was a fan long before I met her and was in awe at how gracious and kind she was. I mean, it’s Sandra Brown–best selling author, forever. A master at romance and suspense combined, she weaves a tale with twists that keep you intrigued page after page.

In the case of Sting, I just knew there was something off about the protagonist. Shaw Kinnard, a hit man, hired to kill the sister of a genius money launderer and scammer, he seemed principled. What contract killer who accepts a job to off a woman feels remorse when he realizes that his flexicuffs are leaving scars on her wrists?

Jordan (Jordie) had spent her life ‘protecting’ her little brother from the choices he’d made. Out of a sense of misplaced guilt for a childhood accident, the consequences she suffered for her misguided love were grave, to say the least. When the mobster her brother has gotten into bed with decides that taking her out is the best way to gain revenge on her rat brother, she once again can’t completely turn her back on him–even if it may cost her, her life.

One of the things that I always grapple with in any book is character connection. I need to like someone in a book–anyone. And in this one, I struggled early on. There was little to like about the hitman, the kidnapped, and certainly not the weasel brother. The FBI agents on the case had promise, but it wasn’t enough out of the gate and so it took me longer to finish this book than usual.

However, Brown’s storytelling kept me intrigued enough to want to know what happened to everyone. And the slow underlying sizzle she built between Jordie and Shaw had me wondering if Stockholm Syndrome was surely to blame for the stolen kisses and pulsing heart rates.

I liked where the story landed and the unexpected paths it took to get there. The characters grew on me and the plot was solid. Unfortunately, it was a little slow in character development. It seemed you were plunged into a world with a bunch of people you had cursory knowledge of and no build up to make you care about them. They fell flat and it wasn’t until halfway through the book that you actually cared anything for any of them.

That short-coming aside, Sting was a well-written “somewhat romantic” suspense novel that keeps you wondering until the last page. You definitely don’t see the ending coming–at least I didn’t. It was worth pushing through the first half to get where it was going.

end of summer reads

I know, technically Labor Day has come and gone and kids are back in school. But, if you know me personally or follow me on social media then you already know that the edible bookmark (i.e. that’s me) is on vacation. It’s my family’s annual trip to Hawaii that always happens after everyone else is back to their routines and business as usual, though we’re here a little early this year. Never the less, I’m finally settling in and starting to relax. Would you believe the first 2 days I actually had to do work?!?! But enough of that nonsense–on to fun!

Because the plane ride is so long (roughly 10.5+ hours) I usually read  book on the flight over, one on the return, and several throughout the 2-week stay. However, I chose to sleep and watch movies on the way over–Fate of the Furious and John Wick, Chapter 2–what can I say, I like action movies. But I digress…

I’m currently 8 books behind in the Goodreads reading challenge–EIGHT BOOKS BEHIND. It’s freaking me out. So my reading schedule this vacation is quite aggressive. Will it all come together? I don’t know. But in an effort to catch up and make it happen this post will be short. Well, that and…I’m on vacation!

These are the books that will transport my mind now that my body is in paradise. Of course, I’ll keep you posted on how I do. Aloha!

My Hawaii TBR (to be read) Pile:

 

 

 

 

devil’s cut, by j. r. ward

Fans of the wildly successful Bourbon Kings have been waiting a year for the final installment in this captivating trilogy. The anticipation was quelled a little over two weeks ago when Devil’s Cut was released to well-deserved praise. Readers will easily be drawn back into the world of the rich, powerful, and incredibly dysfunctional. There were so many loose ends to tie up:

  • Edward was in jail for killing his father, William Baldwine
  • Sutton had been banished from Edward’s life and was stepping into the role of CEO of Bradford’s rival in the world of Kentucky bourbon
  • Chantal was pregnant with her recently murdered fathers-in-law baby
  • Lane had blackmailed his best friend into becoming CEO of Bradford Bourbon Company (BBC), while reconnecting with the love of his life Lizzie
  • Miss Aurora has succumbed to a coma as a result of her rapidly spreading cancer, complicated by her age and sickle-cell
  • Let’s not forget Gin’s marriage made in Hell to Richard Pford, in spite of her heart belonging to Samuel T., who we found out is Amelia’s father
  • And why has the black sheep of the family, Max, come home?

Rest assured, Ward delivered in bringing resolution to all outstanding cliffhangers–except for why that finger was buried in the yard? If anyone comes across the reason for that, please let me know. On the whole, this finale to the series was just as enthralling as the first 2 books and I for one am sad to see the series end. (Though rumor has it NBC has purchased the rights to make it a tv series. Fingers crossed on that one–pun intended.)

There are twists and turns a plenty in the book, with threads of humor, and Ward’s classic style of keeping you on the edge of every chapter by alternating story arcs throughout. In the end, the result is a cohesive tale that holds true to the essence of all of the characters we’ve come to love and hate, and some whose opinion may even swing from one side to the other.

I have to admit that I loved this series far more than I thought I would and found myself anxiously awaiting each book. A child of the 80’s, I was a huge fan of Dynasty, Knots Landing, and the original Dallas so this plot line was right up my alley. You see that money can’t buy peace of mind and certainly not morals. It also doesn’t shield anyone from hurt, feelings of inadequacy, mental or physical abuse. I guess the rich really are just like “us.”

It goes without saying to make sure to get your hands on this book as quickly as possible so your friends don’t start revealing spoilers. While a year can sometimes seem like forever when it comes to books, the wait was definitely worth it in this case.

 

the ghost bride, by yangsze choo

The Ghost Bride is  debut author Choo’s stand-alone novel about the plight of a young girl in 19th century China. Li Lan is the daughter of a once wealthy and revered family. However, after her mother’s death, her father sinks into a depressive state that he combats by self-medicating with opium. While their financial status continues to deteriorate, Li Lan’s father is approached by the upstanding and well-to-do Lim family, who ask for his consent to have Li Lan marry their recently deceased son–thus becoming the bride of a ghost.

This curious and entertaining tale takes the reader on a journey through the small village of Melaka, as well as the Chinese spirit world. Billed as a romance novel, this story is equal parts mystery and fantasy with some underlying teenage love and angst mixed in. Though Li Lan and her suitors (yes there’s more than 1) are young, for the time period they are of age to marry–and though in her late teens, her time to become betrothed is slowly slipping away.

Not one for the fantasy/magic genre I was intrigued by the premise of this book. I read (or rather listened to the audiobook) because it was a selection by my book club. The majority of the tale is spent chronicling Li Lan’s travels through the spirit world and her interactions with various ghosts–and there are quite a few. I am admittedly biased because I find the twists and turns of ghosts, demons, magical powers, and spirits hard to keep up with, thus making my enjoyment of a book more work than fun.

However, ghosts and goblins aside, the plot is an interesting one and marrying the dead is a practice that actually used to occur. Li Lan and her devoted servant, who also guides her through the behavior of a proper lady and superstitious beliefs, have more of a mother-daughter relationship which gives the book an endearing quality. And Li Lan’s suitors range from evil and stubborn, to mild-mannered, to mysterious and amusing.

I enjoyed the portions of the book that were spent in the real world as opposed to the after-life. Overall, this was definitely off the beaten path of what’s considered a romance novel. If you’re looking for something a little different and enjoyed books like Geisha Girl or Snowflower and the Secret Fan, then definitely check this out.