The Missing (A Bane Island Novel #3) by Lisa Childs

Genre: Mystery, Romance
Kensington Books
Publication Date:
October 2022

Once known as Bainesworth Manor, the psychiatric hospital on Bane Island shut down amidst a cloud of suspicion as women vanished and rumors of questionable practices swirled. Decades later, it has reopened as Halcyon Hall, an exclusive resort on the Maine coast. But murder has arrived on its doorstep once again.

Investigative reporter Edie Stone wants answers — both to what happened forty years ago and in the present day — and she’s determined to start with Dr. Elijah Cooke the new proprietor and the grandson of the former owner. She soon discovers that the hall’s secrets are almost as impenetrable as its walls. But when someone tries to kill her, Edie realizes she’s closer to the truth than she realizes.

Atmospheric, suspenseful, and gripping, Lisa Childs’ The Missing hooked me from the first page. For that matter, I devoured all three Bane Island Novels within a month and have suffered from withdrawal ever since. I desperately want to go back to that world and its characters.

The isolated spa and island delivered the perfect backdrop for a gothic mystery. The author masterfully created a setting as beautiful as it was dangerous, evoking in me a sense of being just as cut off from the world as the island and its inhabitants were from mainland in the dead of winter.

Each installment in the series has its own protagonists and mystery to solve, but it does contain on overarching thread. I would recommend reading all of them, and in sequence, to fully grasp the characters and story.

I especially loved the characters, the gothic setting, and the writing. My one concern is that I have seen it described as a trilogy, which would make this book the final chapter. If that is the case, too many threads and questions remain unresolved. As is, The Missing reads like a great installment within a series but not as a satisfying conclusion. I really hope this is not the end.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Free Friday: Hailey’s Haven by Laura Scott

Hailey’s Haven by Laura Scott

After escaping her abusive foster parents thirteen years ago, Hailey Donovan thought her nightmare was over. Gatlinburg Tennessee had been a safe place to live, until she’s nearly hit by gunfire while hiking the Smoky Mountains. Her instincts are to avoid law enforcement, especially handsome park ranger Rock Wilson, but when more gunfire echoes around them, they’re forced to work together to escape. More attempts against Hailey convinces her to leave the city to start over someplace new.

Rock talks her into staying and fighting against the unknown assailant. Rock senses Hailey has been traumatized in the past, and is determined to uncover the mystery surrounding her. As Hailey and Rock seek the truth behind the escalating attacks, Rock realizes he’s also in danger of losing his heart. Can Rock provide Hailey the save haven she desperately needs? Or will evil triumph over love?

**Disclaimer: Unfortunately, time doesn’t allow me to read every book I share on Free Friday, so I can’t guarantee they’ll all be good. But I’ll do my best to find authors and/or books I know, know of, or sound good. If I have reviewed it, I’ll make sure to include the link as well.

The Lost Melody by Joanna Davidson Politano

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 
October 2022

Upon her father’s death, Concert Pianist Vivienne Mourdant learns that he left in her care a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. Vivienne never knew of the woman’s existence, yet her portrait looks eerily similar to someone she remembers from her childhood dreams. However, the asylum claims they never had such a patient.

Determined to uncover the truth, Vivienne accepts a job there under a false name. But it isn’t long before the line between sanity and madness blurs as mysterious messages arrive, and she hears music no one else seems to.

A perfect crescendo of setting, voice, and tone trapped between two desynchronized lulls, The Lost Melody is a piece that reflects hours of practice but not quite performance ready.

Let me start with what I liked. I loved, loved, LOVED Joanna Davidson Politano’s voice. Along with Amanda Dykes, they have the most beautiful, lyrical writing I have encountered so far. They supposedly abide by the same grammatical rules and 26-letter alphabet the rest of us mere humans utilize, and yet, I’d swear they have a language all their own. They harmonize words in such an achingly beautiful way it brings tears to my eyes — and not necessarily at sad moments. When those scenes do come, I’m a bawling, heaping mess on the floor.

Now, what I didn’t enjoy. While I devoured the middle of the book, I walked away several times at the beginning and end. I simply couldn’t connect with the story or characters. The romance itself lacked too many notes, making the piece feel unfinished. Due to the dynamics of their relationship and the constant presence of others, the protagonists spent little time together and had to remain mostly at a surface level. I could see them being intrigued by each other, but they needed more time and depth to develop a meaningful connection.

After the air-snatching middle that gripped me by the throat and wouldn’t let go, the ending felt anticlimactic and jarring. I can only describe reading this book as having had two vastly different experiences.

A haunting and atmospheric tale, The Lost Melody isn’t light reading, which is expected given the asylum setting. Pain, betrayal, and desperation are among the themes tackled in this novel. Of course, the message of light in the darkness weaved into its composition.

I greatly enjoyed reuniting with some characters from The Midnight Dance which I adored and was a top read for 2021. If you haven’t read it and plan to, I recommend reading it first. Otherwise, The Lost Melody will contain some spoilers.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Free Friday: Winter Collection

Winter Collection (A Timeless Romance Anthology Book 1)

Ireland 1864. Alice Wheatley walks each weekend into town, accompanied by Isaac Dancy. And while Alice finds herself falling in love with the gentleman, unfortunately he has his eyes set on the belle of the town, Miss Sophia Kilchrest. Alice must find a way to turn Isaac’s eyes toward her.

England 1812. Luisa Darlington discovers the man of her dreams, Percy Brooksby, isn’t in love with her as much as she thought he was. When Percy’s friend, the mysterious foreigner, Mr. Flynn, visits for the twelfth night holiday, he promptly sweeps Luisa off her feet, quite literally. Luisa is left catching her breath in more ways than one.

Logan, Utah 1880. When Caroline Simpson is forced to thwart the aggressive advances of Mr. Butch Larson, she discovers that her long-time friend, James, has genuine affection for her. But as stubborn as Caroline is, she minimizes the feelings he’s awakened in her, and it takes almost losing James to admit her true feelings for him.

England 1151. Lady Isabel has a dilemma. She promises herself that she’ll marry the man who sent a ring hidden in her pastry since the man she truly loves, Sir Lucian de Warrene, has proved to be impossible and exasperating. To forget him, Isabel sets her eyes on other eligible men, only to face another confrontation with Lucian—who isn’t about to back off and leave her to her newest plot.

A WINTER’S KNIGHT by Donna Hatch
Clarissa Fairchild’s coach just happens to break down in front of the most forbidding estate in the county, that of Wyckburg Castle, a place where young brides have been murdered for generations by their husbands. Clarissa is horrified yet curious all in the same breath. When she meets widower Christopher de Champs, Earl of Wyckburg, she must decide if she should flee or uncover the greatest secret in the county about her handsome rescuer.

A FORTUNATE EXILE by Heather B. Moore
Lila Townsend finds herself the victim of a broken heart—broken by the most notorious bachelor in 1901 New York City. If that isn’t bad enough, her father sends her to Aunt Eugenia’s remote farm where Lila must wait for her father’s anger to subside and the gossip columns to find new fodder. When Lila meets her aunt’s boarder, Peter Weathers, she discovers a man who isn’t afraid to stand up to her formidable family and take a chance on a woman with a sullied reputation.

**Disclaimer: Unfortunately, time doesn’t allow me to read every book I share on Free Friday, so I can’t guarantee they’ll all be good. But I’ll do my best to find authors and/or books I know, know of, or sound good. If I have reviewed it, I’ll make sure to include the link as well.

Free Friday: The Breakup Project by Carolyn Miller

The Breakup Project by Carolyn Miller

As the twin sister of hockey’s hottest forward, romance-loving Bree Karlsson is used to being ignored, leading to a New Year’s resolution to not date any athlete in her attempt to find Mr. Right. But what happens when the man who might prove to be her personal Mr. Darcy is her brother’s hockey-playing best friend?

Mike Vaughan might be happy playing in Boston, but he’d be even happier if Bree could one day see him as more than a good friend. He agrees to help Bree with a special project in the hope she’ll finally see him as something more. But when a misunderstanding ends in a Valentine’s Day disaster, Bree realizes that her breakup project may have broken her friendship with Mike in two. Can she ever redeem her mistake?

**Disclaimer: Unfortunately, time doesn’t allow me to read every book I share on Free Friday, so I can’t guarantee they’ll all be good. But I’ll do my best to find authors and/or books I know, know of, or sound good. If I have reviewed it, I’ll make sure to include the link as well.