Cheri Reviews The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

I enjoyed Behind Closed Doors quite a bit so when I saw the author had a new novel coming out, I immediately put in my request with NetGalley. Then, as always seems to happen, other things got in the way and I ended up listening to the audio book after publication. Yes, I know how ARCs are supposed to work… But on the bright side, I can say that the narrator did a great job. So there’s that.

I expected The Breakdown to be pretty much the same sort of book as Paris’s first but I was mistaken. Instead, it reminded me a lot of The Girl on the Train, which I also liked. I know. I hated every new thriller being compared to TGotT but this one really did have me thinking of it while reading. A murder and a woman trying to figure out what the hell is going on but can’t remember everything and doesn’t know who to trust. Not exactly the same but some of the same feel.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

The story is told from Cass’s POV and Paris did a great job of really getting me into her head. There’s lots of information about what makes this character tick without big info dumps. Although there is a good chunk toward the end where some nastiness is laid out that definitely felt like dumping and I was disappointed with the way it was all put out there. I get why but it put an end to the action of the story for a while as I got caught up with what had been happening behind the scenes.

I nearly forgot to mention that I was very frustrated toward the middle of the book by the number of times Cass would fret and worry about whether she should tell various people what she knows or suspects but, ultimately doesn’t. There were a few times when I yelled at the narrator to either do it or just shut up about it. It was too much.

As far as what was going on plot-wise, I had most of that figured out early on. There were, of course, some red herrings that made me second-guess myself but, for the most part, I was in there. The very end, however, I didn’t get right and was happily surprised. I won’t give anything away but I was pleased with the way the book ended and had a big smile on my face.

So that’s two for two. Both Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown go on my “yep, I recommend it” list and I eagerly await whatever comes next from the author.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this one.

You can download a sample or purchase a copy of The Breakdown by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews Capturing Forever by Erin Dutton

I’ve been following Erin Dutton since she first started publishing. I truly loved Fully Involved and A Place to Rest but have been disappointed to varying degrees by the rest. I’ve read all of her books with the exception of For the Love of Cake. When I saw that Capturing Forever dealt with a long-term couple who had separated but are now interacting with each other again, I decided to give it a shot. I’m one half of a long-term couple and like to see folks work out their issues to come back together. I also like that the plot is something different from the norm; a rebuilding and repairing rather than the excitement and unknown of the first time.

Here’s the blurb:

Jacqueline Knight is driven and ambitious, always focused on getting to the top. But when her father’s failing health demands her attention, she must consider putting her career on hold. Though she struggles with her new responsibilities, she won’t admit she can’t do it alone. And the last person she wants to accept help from is her ex, Casey.

Since their breakup eight years before, Casey Meadow s has concentrated on co-parenting their son and making a new life for herself. While she’s happy to offer her help, spending time with Jacqueline threatens to open the box in which she’s locked away their past relationship.

Will the lessons learned in eight years apart be enough to mend the mistakes of the past?

I was drawn in pretty quickly and came to care about the main characters, Casey and Jacqueline. The blurb, I think, is misleading though because Jacqueline very quickly accepts Casey’s help and comes to rely on her. They become a team in taking care of the man that Casey considers her own surrogate father since she lost her parents many years earlier. Throw into the mix their twenty year old son, Sean, a mutual good friend, Casey’s jealous girlfriend, and Jacqueline’s casual sex partner and there’s plenty of drama and potential obstacles to our leads reconnecting as friends, let alone anything deeper.

I was happy and feeling like the author had recaptured the story telling that made me such a fan early on. That is, however, until I got to about 80% in. At that point, Jacqueline’s feelings of self-pity and her inability to talk about the biggest thing that she felt stood in their way got to be too much for me. I don’t want to go into it too much for fear of spoilers but it was the same thing we see so much of in romance novels: intentional lack of communication for use as a plot device when it doesn’t feel authentic.

Along with the communication issues, the conclusion was rushed. All of the important stuff about the relationship and how they were going about making the problems of the past not follow them into a new relationship were glossed over in a couple of paragraphs as narrative instead of letting us see the changes. More attention was given to how seeing each other in different outfits made them aroused than how they were actually making it work. I cared about the characters and their relationship and wanted to experience them fixing the things that tore them apart, not to have it all neatly wrapped up for me. I remember feeling this way about several of the author’s books over the past few years.

So, while I went into the book with low expectations based on the past few books, I was very pleasantly surprised with the first 70% or so and then completely let down by the last 30%. The plot was predicable – I called nearly everything that was going to happen within the first few chapters – and I would have been ok with that if the conclusion hadn’t been so rushed and the communication issues would have felt legitimate.

If you enjoyed the author’s previous work, you’ll very likely be happy with this one. I’m sure I’ll read more from Dutton in the future, and probably pick up For the Love of Cake at some point, too. I can’t seem to help myself.

I received a copy of Capturing Forever from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can download a sample or purchase Capturing Forever by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews Departure from the Script by Jae

I’m late to the party a lot. It can take me years to finally read a book on my TBR list but, if I hear enough good things about it from folks I trust, I’ll get to it.

The Hollywood Series by Jae has been on that list for a mighty long time. It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of Jae’s historical fiction. I’ve read Backwards to Oregon more times than I can count – the sequels nearly as many times. Second Nature and the Portland Police Bureau series is another favorite. So I was pretty hopeful that I’d find another set of books to immerse myself in for a good long while.

Departure from the script is a quick read that focuses on Amanda Clark, aspiring actress, and photographer Michelle Osinski. They meet under less than ideal circumstances but quickly become close. As it happens in most romances, emotional and physical attractions happen fast!

The story, itself, was interesting. Even though the book is novella length, very unlike Jae, I felt connected to the characters. We don’t get a load of background on either of the leads but what we do get gives us a great idea of their histories and personalities. We even get to spend some time with the families as we really get to understand what’s important to each of them. I very much liked Amanda and Michelle.

The writing was good and the dialogue felt natural. These women felt like real folks and it’s always a joy to read a romance that has believable situations and genuine characters. There were no misunderstandings or exaggerated angst – I had not a single instance of wanting to shake the hell out of someone. I don’t think I had any bullshit moments, either. I think the only thing that got a sigh from me was the number of times physically and/or emotionally close moments were disturbed. Even the characters mention it at least once. But, honestly, I liked them and the story so much, it was very bearable.

If you’re a fan of Jae’s romances and haven’t read this one yet, you’ll probably enjoy it very much.

You can download a sample or purchase Departure from the Script by clicking here.

Great sequel to Backwards to Oregon


Hidden Truths - Jae

I think I’ve rated this reading higher than at least one previous reading. I think any book that can keep me captivated and move me to the point of having visceral reactions after so many readings and discussions with friends deserves that extra half star (full star on Goodreads because they don’t allow half stars).

After finishing Backwards to Oregon, I always know I’m going to want to jump right into this one and always have the same feeling of “But I don’t want to focus on Amy and Rika. I want more Luke and Nora!” Once the book gets going though, I tend to want to stay with Amy. Even though the most moving and gut-wrenching scene involves Luke, Nora, and their girls, it’s Amy and Rika’s show.

No, the book isn’t perfect. There are characters and situations that I don’t care much about but they serve a purpose and it may be my impatience to get back to the folks I really want to read about that makes me a little cranky.

I’m certain I’ll be reading this one again.

Original post:

Expectations were too high, I think.


The Set Piece - Catherine Lane Salter

I think my biggest problem with this book is the fact that it felt so incredibly unbelievable right from the first chapter and I don’t think it got any better on that front.

There was no part of the story that would lead anyone to believe that the two women at the center of the story should have any feelings for each other besides resentment and dislike and then suddenly, they’re so close that secrets are shared that can’t be divulged to Amy’s best (and apparently only) friend in the world.

The mystery wasn’t much of a mystery and the way the business situation resolved itself made me scratch my head and think, “what the hell?” Based on just about every thought and conversation in the book dealing with her feelings about the job, the way it ended up seemed to go against everything she said she wanted. I just don’t get it.

The characters were very two-dimensional and by the time some information was shared about past hurts and struggles, it was too late to change my opinion of their flatness and I didn’t care.

Very near the end, I started thinking, “ok, this is going to at least wrap up nicely and I can feel good about the story after all.” But that’s not what happened. Overall, my feeling is that it needed much more depth. The reasons behind Amy being approached and for taking the job could have been more developed. The characters could have been so much more fleshed out to really make the reader care about them and want them to be happy and succeed. If the mystery part had been dropped completely and the story focusing on Amy and Diego’s relationship and Amy and Casey’s relationship, there would have been so much more opportunity to involve the reader. And I’m saying that as a huge fan of mysteries and someone who reads fewer and fewer romance novels.

This isn’t a book I’d recommend to friends. But, as you’ll be able to see from other reviews and ratings, there are loads of folks who disagree with me.

Original post:

New List for the New Year

Last year I was doing quite a few reviews for my own review site and for a lesbian magazine so I really loaded up on books. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up reviewing the vast majority of them.

This year, I’m making a point to read and review as many of the books I received as possible. Good or bad, I will submit feedback and post some reviews. I WILL HIT 80%. And it’ll be a great way to work toward my 80 book goal for 2016.

Feel free to join in on the fun. Nearly all of the books I requested and was approved for have been published by now. Here’s a link to the list:

Original post:

Cheri and Nikki Review Blowback by Bev Prescott

Bev requested an honest review from me and Nikki so here it is!

**UPDATE – Bedazzled has corrected the issues we noted and all books now available will reflect the changes.**

You can pick up a copy or download a sample of Blowback by clicking here.

Hope you enjoy the video review!