NetGalley Professional Reader

NetGalley Professional Reader

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

2.5 out of 5 stars - "My recklessness was a demonstration of restraint. I spun in circles to prove I could walk a straight line after."

"You can get away with anything if you wear great clothes, throw great parties, and give money to kids with cleft palates."

Jane Jenkins was 17 when she was arrested, tried and convicted of shooting her mother -- wealthy socialite and philanthropist, Marion Elsinger -- and is released from prison 10 years later on a technicality due to irregularities in the collection of evidence. As soon as she is let out, she goes undercover to solve a mystery: who actually did kill her mother because Jane can't remember. She changes her appearance and her name and sets off with the only clue she knows, the name of a small mining town in South Dakota -- Adeline. Once there, she enlists the help of the close knit community, who are all sort of related, to figure things out.

The story flips around backward and forward in time, has little blurbs that are styled as tweets, Wikipedia entries, or media asides, and has a narrator in Jane who is completely unbelievable and over-the-top with her supposed whip smart bad ass foul-mouthed personality. The mystery is lame and there was no suspense, no threat of any real danger, and no thrills. The big climax is entirely predictable and the ending defies any suspension of disbelief that a reader had been striving to maintain throughout the story.

I am at a loss to explain all the rave reviews. I'd say the contrived plot and all the pop culture commentary would appeal to teenage girls, however the language and intensely unlikable main character with her actions and choices make it one I wouldn't recommend to that audience. I had a lot of difficulty with how completely unrealistic and implausible the whole scenario was. And it was never explained how in the world Jane didn't know whether or not she had actually killed her mother so we're to believe she is so clever (and she reminds us often) that she can track down the real murderer.

So, in short, I didn't care for it. Perhaps it was because I have been reading such incredibly great thrillers lately, or maybe I'm snarky, but this IT girl bored me to tears and I didn't care a bit, almost didn't even finish it. No recommendations here.

Thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Viking for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Watching You (#7) by Michael Robotham

4.0 out of 5 stars - "All my life I have lied...These falsehoods gave me a story more palatable than the truth."

Is someone really stalking Marnie? For years she's felt a shadow just beyond her reach. For some reason, people who make her unhappy, who hurt her, or who don't do right by her seem to get injured or killed. Now her husband's vanished -- been gone about a year now with no word. He had some gambling debts that she's now forced to settle but has no way to collect his life insurance or to access his accounts without a death certificate. Meanwhile, she's been seeing Joe as a patient twice a week to manage her stress. 

Things start to happen when a man who hurt her is found dead in the river and she becomes a suspect. It seems that Marnie has some big secrets and someone is lying. Why do people she used to know say that she "ruined their lives" and both hate and fear her? What of the "Big Red Book?"

Well, I've done it - finished all 7 of the books in the Joseph O'Loughlin series and now I'm feeling deprived already. If you love books about crime and the psychological aspects of what motivates those who commit them, then you'll want to read these novels. The cases are interesting and the writing really draws in the reader. I've grown attached to both Joe (the psychologist) and to his sidekick, Vincent Ruiz, an ex detective with London's Metropolitan Police. 

There are some characters I've grown to detest (yes, you Julianne, and I didn't like Marnie either). I've noticed that the author's women are all just amazingly beautiful and typically a little warped. The teenagers are ALL snotty, rebellious and quite annoying. No one seems to be able to have a decent relationship and it got old how obsessed Joe is with his estranged wife. Get over it already! Despite these aggravations, I read the series for the stories and for the "observations" that Joe makes about people and life. 

I'll definitely be looking for an eighth book. But, I hope Joe makes some changes in his personal life meanwhile and no, he doesn't need a love interest or a romance.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Say You're Sorry (#6) by Michael Robotham

4.0 out of 5 stars -- "There is a void in the world...somebody not coming home."

Two missing girls -- they had disappeared 3 years previously after not returning home from the Bingham Summer Festival at the end of August. After an intial frenzy of searching and media blitz, the months passed and the story sort of faded from the headlines. Except for the families of the two girls, most everyone else in town had moved on with their lives. The rumor and speculation continued over the years, but absent any witnesses or evidence, there were no new leads to pursue.

Joe O'Loughlin, still keeping the Parkinson's Disease at bay with medication, is due to give a talk at a mental health symposium up in Oxford and he's taking is olderst daughter, Charlie, along. The weather is dreadful and as they approach the station, Joe sees police along an embankment by a frozen lake. After his talk, he's met in the foyer by two detectives from the local constabulary -- it seems that Detecitve Chief Inspector Drury wants to talk with Joe about a double homicide at a local farm. They have a suspect in custody and DCI Drury is asking for advice about the interrogation to come. Joe agrees, somewhat unwillingly, to get involved. After a visit to the farmhouse, Joe realizes that this is not a home invasion and that there is a lot more to the story. Eventually his good friend, ex copper Vincent Ruiz, is called in to assist in a very complicated investigation.

The story is told in alternating points of view between Joe and one of the missing teenage girls. Great plot with multiple red herrings and excellent pacing. The way Robotham writes definitely grabs my attention and Joe's "observations" about humanity are spot on and quite interesting. I really like the series and this book, in my opinion, is back on track with the usual psychological and police procedural style (after going a bit off track in The Wreckage). The characters are interesting and it's best to have read the previous books to get the full measure of Joe and Vincent. I still despise Julianne and wish she'd disappear from the pages. Charlie is annoying. What I love is that most all have their foibles and imperfections but I care about them anyway (except for Julianne).

I'm ready to start #7 and dread knowing that even though I'll be all caught up, I'll probably be sorry it was all done so soon.

The Wreckage (#5) by Michael Robotham

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Follow the money...

This 5th in the series has several plot lines but the main story has to do with journalist Luca Terracini's interest in the billions of dollars that have vanished from Iraqi banks. Luca is a foreign correspondent working in Baghdad as US soldiers are pulling out. The area is still a war zone and reconstruction is barely more than a promise. Constant fear of bombs and stray bullets remind Luca that death lurks everywhere and "grudges are a national sport in Iraq." When he discovers that 18 banks have been robbed in the last year, Luca becomes suspicious and begins the investigation that eventually brings him into contact with retired London inspector Vincent Ruiz.

With multidimensional characters and nonstop action, the narrative shifts between places and point of view as the complex scheme is revealed at just the right pace. Another of this author's books that kept me glued to the pages and has me addicted to the series. This, however, is my least favorite of the ones I've read so far. It was not as focused on psychology and less a thriller than his others --the subject just was not as compelling to me. On to #6. 

Bleed for Me (#4) by Michael Robotham

4.0 out of 5 stars -- "The problem with secrets and lies is that you can never tell which is which until you dig them up and sniff. Some things are buried for safe-keeping; some are buried to hide the stench; and some are buried because they're toxic and take a long time to disappear."

This 4th book in the Joe O'Loughlin series is another exhilirating thriiller where multiple story lines converge into a complex and absorbing search for truth involving a young girl who happens to be the best friend of Joe's oldest daughter. In addition, there is intrigue and danger connected with a local trial of a trio of men accused of firebombing asylum seekers in a racially connected homicide. The setting is mostly London and the viewpoint definitely British.

Once again, Joe and ex cop Vincent Ruiz, are doing a little of their own investigation on the side. Gifted with some incredible psychological insight, Joe watches, observes, listens, and figures out that things are not as they first appear to police. Joe, fighting his Parkison's Disease as it so limits what he is physically able to do, continues to provide social commentary and cautionary advice in soliloqy that is part self-reflection and part lecture.

In the meanwhile, Joe takes care of his two daughters as best he can since he's now living separately from his estranged wife, Jillianne. If ever a character I couldn't stand -- it's her, and I'm SO HAPPY they're apart and hope they never get back together. I barely like Joe, but she gets on my nerves!

I thorouoghly enjoyed this one and am on to #5 -- yes, they're that good. 

Shatter (#3) by Michael Robotham

4.0 out of 5 stars - Are you a mother? Would you take your child's place if he or she had been abducted by a man who offered you that choice? What would any parent do to keep their child safe?

A woman jumps from a bridge wearing only her red Jimmy Choos. At first everyone thinks it was a suicide. Then another is found, dead from exposure, handcuffed to a tree. The next is lured to a bandstand in Victoria Park. What do these women have in common -- aside from being friends and childhood schoolmates?

There's a man who knows everything about them because he watches and listens. He has many unique abilities and a special skill -- the ability to break a mind -- and he has a twisted reason for what he's doing. This man is not a garden-variety psychopath and his cunning is pitted against psychologist Joe O'Loughlin in this 4th suspense thriller in the series.

The narrative moves along rapidly as it shifts between points of view building suspense and anxiety for the reader as it races toward the inevitable confrontation between good and evil. I like the way this author writes and he's very careful with description and able to convey an incredible amount of detail about a wide range of subjects from the banal to the technical.

The characters are multidimensional and definitely will elicit various reactions from readers. I have shifted from detesting Joe to now despising Julianne since the first book of the series. I've forgiven him, embraced his struggle as he lives with worsening Parkinson's Disease symptoms, and shook my head sadly as he tries to cling to the few things he values in life -- his family and his vocation.

I am definitely going to order the rest of the books in this series and recommend them to anyone looking for a pulse pounding thrill of a read. I'd suggest reading them in order to fully appreciate the nuances of the changing relationships in the series, but it works equally well as a stand-alone.

Lost by Michael Robotham (#2)

4.0 out of 5 stars - "Everyone leaves a trail...It isn't just scraps of paper and photographs. It's the impression we make on other people and how we confront the world."

I love the way this author writes. His sentence construction, his descriptions that make me feel there in the moment, the way he builds suspense and moves along the narrative, and the interesting complicated plot of the story.

In this second of tthe Joseph O'Loughlin series, a new main character takes center stage. It's Joe's nemesis from the first book, Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz who had mistakenly tormented and arrested Joe.

The first person narrative opens with Ruiz being fished from the Thames, bleeding from a bullet wound in his thigh and nearly drowned. When he awakens 8 days later, he can't remember how he came to be in the river or even what case he was working on. Joe, the intrepid and highly skilled pschologist, is helping Ruiz get his memory back. Their efforts lead them to an old child abduction and murder case -- Mickey Carlyle was 7 years old when she seeminly vanished from a building on her way down to sunbathe with a playmate.

The fast pace, the unexpected twists, and the intricate developments kept me glued to the pages. I am eager to start the next book in the series to see what's next for these unqiue mutlidimensional characters. Excellent suspense thriller!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Suspect by Michael Robotham

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Cognitive dissonance...

I enjoyed this thriller despite my up front acknowledgement that I detested the character of the (anti)hero and star of this first in a series - renowned psychologist Joseph O'Laughlin who goes from "hero to zero" when he's accused of murder by Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz of the Metropolitan Police.

Joe lives with his loving wife and daughter in a heavily mortgaged house in London near the London Zoo. He is in a thriving private practice; busy and happy -- but his world starts crashing down when he is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Despite his credentials, degrees, and experience, Joe can't cope. He makes the first of many mistakes.

Joe continues to see his patients, some more disturbed than others, and volunteers to give a safety lecture at a meeting of prostitutes. Police crash the meeting and Joe speaks with the detective heading an investigation. Though initially thrilled to be asked to help with the identification of the dead woman in the morgue, Joe is soon thrust into a situation out of control when he realizes that he knows, and has a history with, the victim. He soon finds himself the main suspect and is desperate to clear his name and regain the life he totally messed up.

This is Joe: "Nobody likes admitting mistakes. And we all hate acknowledging the large gap between what we should do and what we actually do. So we alter either our actions or our beliefs. We make excuses, or redefine our conduct in a more flattering light." I don't excuse the decisions he made and the lies he told. I'm only somewhat sympathetic because I'm sure it was a blow for him to get that dreaded diagnosis. He needs therapy himself.

Despite that -- I am going to read another in this series hoping he has some HUGE personal growth. He hasn't earned forgiveness nor do I feel he's deserving of the gift. I'm not wild about anyone in this book, not his friends, wife, or family either. Hmmm. Can Joe redeem himself?

What I loved about this book -- the psychology. Very interesting to try to understand the motives and thinking of a disturbed mind though often all the reasons and excuses remind me of something I once learned -- "No, you're probably not responsible for anything that happened to you as a child. But, as an adult, you are 100% responsible for fixing it."

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland books for the e-book ARC to review. 

The Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

3.5 out of 5 stars -- Genetically manufactured war machines wreak havoc on Montauk,,,

I am not usually one who reads horror, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started this chiller thriller and raced to the end without being able to put it down. The gory, grisly tale of mayhem and monsters on this small island had lots of action and deliciously scary creatures who came out in the night.

Officer Gray Dalton is first on the scene at Shadmoor State Park Beach and finds the first two victims -- so mutilated that he can't identify them. Before the ME can examine the bodies to determine the cause of death, they have melted away as if they were doused in acid with a stench so bad that is like nothing they've dealt with before. The body count rises as these unique beasts attack all over town and nothing alive is safe especially when darkness falls.

Dalton enlists the help of desk officer, disabled Meredith Hernandez, because she has a theory of where these monsters came from -- Plum Island, a resarch facility only a ferry ride away. Their discoveries are shocking. Once they return to Montauk, the feds have been called in -- FEMA, DARPA, the CDC are there -- as well as military. Can anything stop the killing machines?

I enjoyed the story and the fast pace. Warning, don't get too attached to any of the people in the novel! If blood and guts, smells, and other descriptive gore bothers you, this might be one to skip. This would be a really fun beach read if you like the combo of conspiracy, genetic maniuplation, bloodthirsty creatures and a wide variety of characters. Perfect for fans of early Dean Koontz novels and Peter Straub.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the e-book ARC to review. 

Jul 05, 2014

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

3.0 out of 5 stars - "Change your thoughts and you change the world."

The Beth Movies, featuring a young Kathleen (renamed Kick) Lannigan, are
"still the most downloaded child pornography on the internet." Abducted by Mel Riley when she was only 6, Kick was kept secluded and was sexually exploited until a dramatic FBI rescue brought the damaged little girl home. Now 10 years after her ordeal, Kick is 21 and has reinvented herself as a serious student of self defense. Expert with weapons of every kind and in peak physical condition, it's only her mind that still exhibits the toll though Kick has tried every type of therapy known. Estsranged from her biological family, Kick and James (another abduction survivor) have used her settlement money to form a sort of investigation team using his computer skills and her insider knowledge of the child porn industry. Their goal is to try to find other missing or abducted children before it's too late. When a couple of children appear in Amber Alerts, Kick feels the familiar dread seep in, so when a mysterious man who calls himself John Bishop and says he needs her help with a job connected to the cases of Adam Rice and Mia Tuner, Kick finds herself in a helicopter back into remembered hell.

Does Kick have memories and skills that can help recover these two children and will this chance to help save some other child give her the relief she needs to assuage the guilt she feels because of what she did the night she was found. When the opportunity to see the dying Mel Riley in a prison infirmary brings back feelings she thought she had buried, she is more focused than ever on helping to make up for what she'd done and to release Mel's hold on her.

A bit uneven in pacing and with the ever popular damaged heroine protagonist, the novel moves along in spurts of present day interspersed with flashbacks that show only a little of what Kick's life was like during the years with Mel. It's quite obvious that Kick still has a lot to work through and needs much more psychological help. The relationship between Kick and Bishop is stereotypical and predictable. I never grew to develop any affinity for any of the characters despite the writing telling me I should, and never felt the threat of real evil or suspense in the story. The novel ends as you'd expect when knowing that this is the first book in a new series.

I've read all of Chelsea Cain's previous books and enjoyed part of the Archie and Gretchen story until it no longer made sense to me, so I was hoping this departure and fresh start would be a thriller in which I could rediscover some of the shock and awe that made the author's first books so addicting. Despite all the famous name gushing blurbs, this just didn't grab me or enthrall me as I'd wished. To be more specific of the ways it failed might produce spoilers, so I'll leave it to other readers to either agree with me or to have their own very diverse opinions. I'm not sure I'd read the second one.

Amazon Vine and NetGalley provided ARC copies of this book for review. 

Jul 04, 2014

A Matter of Time by Beverly Swerling

Intricate and involved, this mystery novel centers on the topic of racial memory and involves several other themes and storylines as well. Far-reaching in breadth and scope, multiple narrators race against time to recover an ancient document that may hold new truths about the state of affairs and beliefs in the period immediately following the death of Jesus Christ. The Alexandria Testament may challenge long accepted views about Christians and Jews.

Twenty-four-year-old Sarah, raised Catholic, lives in present day,1983, but she has suffered her entire life because of auditory and visual stimuli. One recurring issue is that she hears a series of music notes over and over -- do, sol, la, fa (CGAF) - but the tune is not played on any conventional instrument. She also experiences fear and great distress from these strange periods when the "visions" come. This worsens after a car accident and results in her consultation with a parapsychologist to investigate the nature of these experiences.

In flashbacks to historical periods and locations ranging from Alexandria circa mid 60s AD to concentration camps during WW II, to Rome and the Princes of the Holy Catholic Church, to Israel, to France, and parts of the United States, Sarah comes to realize that she is key to the life's work of several very concerned parties. One faction wants to obtain the secret and the other wants to suppress it.

This is a very complex and meticulously plotted novel that has many characters to keep straight and detail that once again demonstrates that Beverly Swerling does incredible research on her subject matter. Even as the reader is swept to the revelations within, the suspense and a sense of anxiety keeps one turning the pages to find out how it's all going to come together. This is an enjoyable read with mystery, romance, and intrigue at every juncture.

Read -  July 2, 2014

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

3.0 out of 5 stars -- Gritty stand-alone depiction of harassment, racism, homophobia and misogyny in the Atlanta Police Department circa 1974.   (read June 28, 2014)

New police recruit, the widowed and beautiful upper crust Kate Murphy, is stunned and nearly ready to quit on her first day of the job. After running the gauntlet of groping hands and leering eyes on her way to the women's locker room, she wonders why she ever signed up for this and figures this will be just one more job failure in her life. The station is all abuzz that morning, however, because of the most recent cop shooting in a serial case that's about to get personal as Kate becomes involved with the investigation alongside veteran officer Maggie Lawson. Officer Lawson also has a brother and an uncle on the force, but that doesn't provide her or the other female cops with any respect. The women are all subjected to abuse and derision while the men drink, graft, and beat down suspects in a climate that is rife with tension and where everyone is suspicious of "the others" who are not "like them." Nobody "different" gets a pass from these male cops and the women are usually left out of the big cases.

Maggie and Kate start looking into the case of the Shooter and discover secrets, lies, and coverups that ultimately lead them right into danger without support from their male colleagues. Is there a place for women in the Atlanta Police Department?

I have read all of Karin Slaughter's previous books and enjoyed the Will Trent series and most of the Grant County novels. She has fantastic writing skills that usually suck me right into the plot and make me care about the characters. I just wasn't that enamored of this novel -- the setting, time period, and tone of the narrative didn't keep me locked to the pages as usual. This is a stand alone and perhaps the start of something new for the author, but I doubt I'd read another featuring these characters or the Atlanta PD in this era. I'm certain that the legion of this author's fans will disagree, but ever since Slaughter "got me" with a plot kicker in one of her Grant County books (you all know which one I'm talking about), I've been less than faithful and her books are hit and miss with me.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell, and LibraryThing for the ARC to review.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

3.0 out of 5 stars -- June 27, 2014
This is the second in the Cormoran Strike series and I didn't like it as much as the first one (The Cuckoo's Calling).

Convoluted mystery surrounds an author's murder -- who committed the heinous and grisly crime? There are lots of suspects as there was no love lost between this man and his acquaintences and enemies. In fact, the author's newest book really embarassed and humiliated all who were involved in his life.
I like the characters of Cormoran and Robin well enough, but I'm not a fan of little tricks such as when the detective has an ah ha moment and shares it with his cohort, but the reader is left in the dark and then there is a "tell all" at the end. 

Probably will read a third, but not with the same degree of anticipation and expectation I had while waiting for this one.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

4.0 out of 5 stars - "Egypt will prosper, but those closest to you shall find only anguish and ruin."

This fascinating historical fiction account of the life and reign of Hatshepsut circa 1400s Egypt is rich in detail and demonstrates the author's meticulous research into a woman who would be Pharaoh. Although liberties are certainly taken with descriptions of family strife and the romance between Hatshepsut and the commoner Senenmut, the tale is rife with interesting glimpses into the social customs, religion and habits of those who lived in that period of time in the rich Nile River valley Kingdom.

I loved reading about the clothes, the food, the jewelry -- it was interesting that Hatshepsut shaved her head to wear the required wig and even had to put on a fake beard when appearing before her subjects in official capacity at times. That many had teeth worn to nubs because of the constant presence of sand even in the bread. I could almost feel the press of the relentless sun and heat in the daytime hours, and the relative coolness of the nighttime with a slight breeze wafting off the river that both gave and took life. I could see the crocodiles lazing about the banks of the Nile and appreciate the gloriousness of the shining gold and solid granite in the monuments, obelisks, palaces and temples. This type of description absolutely hooks me and I always want more of it! I would have LOVED to see a map illustrating this place during the years that Hatshepsut and family ruled the Horus Throne.

What didn't enthrall me? The romance. The "plucky" Hatshepsut at times seemed to make completely stupid decisions and choices. The development, or lack thereof, of the secondary characters. The constant reference to the many, many gods and the various names and forms of them. I realize that the ancient Egyptians had a fixation on their gods and made sacrifices and attributed everything in their lives to the gods they worshiped, but it seemed sometimes redundant how much of the book was about pleasing the gods, signs from the gods, the afterlife, spirits, etc. I'm sure it's just my own personal reaction and that other readers might not find it as irritating.

I did enjoy the book and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in how a second daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose came to such an unprecedented level of power, to become Pharaoh herself, and to bring a great time of prosperity to both Upper and Lower Egypt. Once again, this book brought out the researcher in me as I try to separate fact from fiction.

Oh -- I LOVE the look of the cover art chosen for this book. I'm a sucker for realistic depictions of characters on the front of a book -- only wish that I would have seen the kohl and the henna as described in the novel instead of the way Hatshepsut is shown without any of that.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Distance by Helen Giltrow

4.0 out of 5 stars Intricate plotting will intrigue thriller fans...

Who is Charlotte Alton? To most in London, she's a wealthy socialite seen at all the right parties, the theater and other functions. Behind the closed doors of her high security apartment, however, she's Karla -- and in that persona is extremely involved in the keeping of secrets and exchange of information. She's not afraid of the hard stuff - and ignores the question of right and wrong - as long as the client is vetted and the money is paid. She's been able to keep her double life hidden from those who hire or work on a case for her, except for one man to whom she shows her face. Simon Johanssen, a past client, has come to her with a case she can't refuse -- he needs to get into a high security experimental prison to kill a woman on the inside. Despite her ability to ferret out information, Karla can't seem to find anything about Catherine Gallagher and the reason the hit was ordered. Despite her concerns, she sets up the scenario for Johanssen and meanwhile tries to cover him and make sure that this is not a set up because Johanssen made a critical error in the past that someone wants him to pay for.

The narrative is told in several points of view and proceeds through the ensuing days of the mission with revelations and chills coming with every turn of the page. The tension builds as things start to unravel and Karla must insert herself into the operation to save this client. Who can she trust or is everyone involved acting with other motives? What is really going on? At times the complicated separate points become confusing and the reader definitely can't predict the twists and turns the story line takes, but it all comes together in slow reveals of deftly woven threads to create a satisfying conclusion that answers most of the questions. I can see where a sequel would follow.

If you like a good thriller without a sappy romance, if you don't mind quite a bit of descriptive violence, and if you want a unique female protagonist, then this is a book you can really sink your thinking mind into. I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it. I also suggest you read it over the shortest period of time you can manage in order to keep all the characters and action straight!

Thank you to NetGalley and Doubledday books for the e-book ARC to review.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

 3 out of 5 stars - "Everyone has a scar."

Riley MacPherson returns to her childhood home to clear out the house and settle the estate of her recently deceased father. Her brother, Danny, injured in Iraq and living in a trailer on the fringe of the RV park the family owns, refuses to help her. He's embittered and angry because of the fallout from their sister's suicide when he and Riley were children and he never got over it. All Riley wants to do is have a relationship with her brother now that the two are orphaned and alone. But, she discovers that her father was keeping s very huge secret.

Fans of women's fiction centering on family drama will be the likely readers of this newest novel by author Diane Chamberlain. I've read every single one of her books and keep hoping for one that takes me back to the thrill and satisfaction I felt when reading THE SECRET LIFE OF CEE CEE WILKES. I keep waiting for an intense relationship story and some real intrigue and mystery, but this book is lacking both. The tale is contrived, melodramatic, predictable and filled with what I felt to be completely one-dimensional unlikeable characters. That's right -- there was absolutely no one in the book that I developed a connection with or ultimately cared what happened to them. The whole narrative seemed so ludicrous, far-fetched and filled with so much co-incidence that even my usual ability to suspend disbelief was sorely tested. The ending was so pat that it was not remotely satisfying.

I really would give this book 2.5 stars at best because I was so disappointed again, but I know that anyone who likes books by Jodi Picoult, Mary Kay Andrews, Kristen Hannah and other writers of this genre will disagree with that rating. Perhaps it is me, and I should stay away from women's fiction.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book ARC to review.