Darkwater Secrets (Darkwater Inn #1) by Robin Caroll

Genre: Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Publication Date: July 2018

In New Orleans’ French Quarter stands the Darkwater Inn — a confluence to a bustling street life, eclectic guests, and now murder. Managing the inn comes with plenty of challenges, but Adelaide Fountaine loves the job. However, the hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife could not only ruin the inn’s reputation but also cost Adelaide her job.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, lands the case. As he delves into the victim’s past, Beau not only discovers a sordid history but also a surprising connection with Adelaide — one she’s kept secret for years. Hurt by the betrayal, things only complicate further when the investigation pushes Adelaide, the woman he has loved for years, into the arms of another man.

Part mystery, part romance, part drama, Darkwater Secrets is one story I’m not quite sure how to place. I picked Robin Caroll’s latest novel expecting a high-stakes romantic suspense read. However, the murderer is revealed and apprehended around the 70% mark. What follows is Adelaide dealing with long-held secrets and feeling torn between two men.

To be honest, the jury is still out on how I feel about this book. Though not completely let down, I didn’t feel totally satisfied either. The outcome will probably depend on how the series continues from here on out. In a way, it felt like the entire novel was just one long set up for what is to come. A risky move, but one I’m willing to give a shot.

At the moment, both Beau and Dimitri seem like nice men who genuinely care for Adelaide. She, on the other hand, tests the waters with both. A big no-no in my book. First, that’s a major red flag that she doesn’t truly love either one. Second, one should find out how s/he feels and then explore the possibility of a relationship. Not the other way around. One shouldn’t toy with people’s emotions. Despite being strongly, and wisely, advised by people in her life, Adelaide continually chose to disregard them, making poor decisions.

Set in New Orleans around Mardi Gras, the occult plays a role in the story, which again, I am waiting to see how the author handles it. While the one Christian character does say he has nothing to worry about because he has God on his side (which is true to an extent), he also takes the spiritual world too lightly — a dangerous stance for a believer.

Still, as a whole, Darkwater Secrets provided a quick read, and I will give the next installment in the series a shot.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2018…So Far

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday has us looking back at the first six months of 2018 and remembering our favorite reads so far.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: I almost didn’t read this book. Honestly, I shudder when I think of how close I came to not experiencing this tale. When it comes to personal reading preferences, this book had several strikes against it — a historical fiction novel written entirely in the form of letters. I am so glad I ventured out of my preferred genres and style because I not only discovered what is so far my favorite read of 2018, but a top read period. It also allowed me to meet Dawsey Adams AKA Eli’s dream man in so many ways.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate: Talk about heart-wrenching! Wingate runs her readers’ emotions through the ringer while still managing to insert beauty amidst the suffering. Though a work of fiction, the novel also taught me about real-life, historical events. I love it when a story does that!

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs: The only non-fiction in this list, this devotional is probably my favorite to date. I loved the bite-sized, motivating entries that encouraged me to rewire my brain and start being more intentional about stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things despite fear.

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon: One word — Karim! Goodness does that man know the words to a woman’s heart. WARNING: Reading this story will make a person want to trade in their air-conditioned home and car for a tent and camel.

Love in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan: A story that can so thoroughly transport me to another place and culture that I’m jarred to discover I never left my chair is a win in my book.

Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey: I’ve only been waiting since 2016 to find out why Luke vanished and who killed Griffin’s sister. The agony has ended, I finally know, and now my nails can grow back again. (Psst, isn’t Luke a handsome fellow?)

What have been your favorite reads of 2018 so far?

If I’m Found (If I Run #2) by Terri Blackstock

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: March 2017

Casey Cox remains on the run accused of a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts still hot on her trail claims to know the truth and wants to help her. But trusting the wrong person could cost Casey her life.

While investigating the real murderers, she comes across something that leads her to a suicidal man and the child he is falsely accused of abusing. Unable to turn her back on the injustice, Casey puts everything on the line to help the man and protect the girl from her true abusers.

Terri Blackstock’s If I’m Found reunites readers with Casey as she struggles to clear her name. I loved the first book, If I Run. Sadly, the second installment in the series didn’t offer anything new. It felt like a repeat, simply with new secondary characters.

In book one, Casey goes on the run, encounters someone in trouble, and risks her life to save her. In book two, we find Casey still on the run, again she encounters people in trouble, and once more she puts everything on the line to help them. Though I know it’s fiction, it felt a bit too implausible. What are the chances that these injustices keep landing in her lap?

The suspense and pace were good. The author brought the setting to life in a that way allowed me to experience the characters’ world for myself. I enjoyed watching Dylan and Casey start joining forces more. All of this made for an entertaining read. I just would have liked a little something more, especially considering the stellar first book.

Newcomers, keep in mind that while the minor threads/mysteries come to a conclusion with each installment, the main story arches throughout the three books in the series.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor Series #4) by Dani Pettrey

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Bethany House Publisher
Publication Date: July 2018

Luke Gallagher vanished without a trace seven years ago. Now he has reappeared, wreaking havoc on Kate Maxwell’s carefully reconstructed life. She never stopped loving or searching for him, but she also never imagined he chose to walk away at his own volition.

For years, Luke has been part of an elite team hunting a terrorist. The search has brought him back to his own backyard and the group of friends he abandoned, including the woman he loved. Though used to working alone, Luke must join forces with Kate and the guys to thwart a deadly biological attack. As Luke and Kate work to unravel the case, they fall into the terrorist’s sights, suddenly at risk of losing more than just their hearts.

The explosive conclusion to Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series has arrived. I have been chomping at the bit for Luke’s story ever since book one landed, and let me say, he does not disappoint. Dead Drift delivers everything readers have come to expect from a Pettrey novel, high-octane suspense, adrenaline-pumping action, and of course, a bit of romance to sweeten the deal.

I probably wouldn’t have dealt with Luke’s return as gracefully as Kate did, but he is a persuasive fellow, and I enjoyed watching the couple’s story develop.

Our beloved team pursues two mysteries — the terrorist plot and the killer of Griffin’s (book one’s hero) sister. I enjoyed both, but finally uncovering what happened to Jenna was definitely the highlight. The deceased young woman we never met in life, seemed to become more real and watching justice prevail was reason to rejoice.

Fans of Chesapeake Valor won’t want to miss Dead Drift. Those who are new to the series will probably want to start at the beginning since a lot of details carry over and enhance the understanding of the story.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

Her Secret Daughter by Ruth Logan Herne

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Love Inspired
Publication Date: February 2018

Josie Gallagher views Jacob Weatherly as persona-non-grata. Not only does he work for the hotel chain forcing her restaurant to close, the single father shows up with a little girl — her little girl — whom Josie put up for adoption six years earlier stipulating she must go to a married couple.

Josie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but making sure her daughter had a better chance in life wasn’t one of them. Only now, it appears it may have all been in vain. As Josie comes to know her sweet Addie and the man raising her, a bond grows, but all may not be as it appears in the Weatherly family and for her daughter’s sake, Josie can’t risk losing her heart.

Ruth Logan Herne’s Her Secret Daughter offers a quick, light read perfect for a summer afternoon. For the most part, fun characters engage the reader. While I understood Josie’s initial anger at discovering her daughter wasn’t being raised by a married couple as she’d believed, she held on to it for too long. Whatever the events that led to Jacob raising Addie, it soon became evident that he was a great father, providing Addie with a wonderful life — what Josie had wanted all along. Despite Josie’s objections to the contrary, her insistence on bringing in lawyers and opening a case felt more like anger and revenge than wanting to make sure it didn’t happen to anyone else. Seeing the trouble she caused Jacob and Addie, which could have potentially been worse, made her a little hard to like and sympathize with at times. Had Josie’s motives felt more genuine and less like revenge, it would have been different.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed Jacob, Addie, and discovering the events that brought them together. The man is truly a gem! The setting, too, was perfect. Of course, the romantic in me basked in watching Jacob, Josie, and Addie grow toward becoming a family. I recommend this story to someone looking for a quick escape from the daily grind.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!