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  • Rain of Ash: A Zyne Witch Urban Fantasy

  • Skydancer, Book 1
  • By: Gwen Mitchell
  • Narrated by: Daniela Acitelli
  • Length: 11 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26

Briana turned her back on her Zyne witch heritage to chase her dream career abroad. But when a tragic accident calls her back to her small town island roots, a spell cast in her grandmother's dying moments opens her to Oracle powers she's spent her whole life avoiding. Now, an enemy of old has surfaced, hungry for vengeance...and Bri's soul. Unprepared and untrained, she must harness the magic buried deep within her to defeat the demon of her past and save the man she loves.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • new historical urban romantic fantasy

  • By Jennifer L on 06-09-18

Dark Power Against a Witch Coming Into Her Own

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-26-18

I was perusing my shelves for a good witchy read for the Spooky Readathon I'm participating in and spotted this one languishing in my Audible library. This was one I won during the #JIAM event and I remembered being rather excited to try a new to me author, narrator, and urban fantasy world. Perfect!

Rain of Ash is the first in the Skydancer series that is a swirl of fun, but also dark urban fantasy elements surrounding an ageless battle for possession of an artifact and an Oracle.

The story opens with Bri, a famous concert pianist going through a horrendous vision, a panic attack, and the knowledge that her brittle world is crumbling around her. She was trying to escape who she really was even though her escape was a dream of hers, too. All that ends when her grandmother's death brings her back to face facts. She has a magical heritage and her family has a tragic magical history. Bri's magic has been bound, but is breaking through, she's woefully ignorant while her enemy is leaps ahead of her, and she can only count on her two friends both of whom she deserted suddenly and never came back. Bri has to come into her own to fight a demon and the cost is deep as lives are changed and lost in the process.

I thought the author did a great job introducing a vulnerable heroine and a new urban fantasy world in a way that kept the action flowing. Bri was in denial for a bit, but then got with the program when facing her problems was thrust upon her. The camaraderie with Astrid and Dean as a team was great. The demon was a vile villain and there are others characters who are intriguing players in all this including a past life lover. Yes, there is a reincarnation aspect to this one.

That leads me to Bri and her men. She's got at least three at this point who were into her. Normally this is not my brand of drama, but when it ended, I wasn't exactly shaking my fist over nefarious love triangles (quadrangles?). What I mean is her personal interest seemed to be only toward one guy and she wasn't exactly toying with the others which is what I hate.

The ending was action-packed and exciting as I like and left things in a good place before the next book.

Daniela Acitelli was a new to me narrator and I am happy to report that she did a fabulous job with all those voices and situations. Bri in all her emotions and thoughts was fabulously voiced, but the others even male voices were great. She grasps the tone of the story and the pacing so that nothing interfered with the storytelling.

So, all in all, this was a good first outing with a new series, author, and narrator. I got my fill of witches and dark deeds and I was left interested in seeing where all this goes. I can definitely recommend this one to other urban fantasy fans.

  • What I've Done

  • Morgan Dane, Book 4
  • By: Melinda Leigh
  • Narrated by: Cris Dukehart
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 818
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 710
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 707

Haley Powell wakes up covered in blood, with no memory of the night before. When she sees a man lying in the backyard, stabbed to death, she has only one terrified thought: What have I done? Agreeing to take the case as a favor to her PI friend Lincoln Sharp, Morgan must scale a mountain of damning circumstantial and forensic evidence to prove her client innocent. Haley couldn’t appear more guilty: her bloodstained fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and she has no alibi. But Morgan can’t shake the feeling that this shocked young woman has been framed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What I’ve Done

  • By H. Martin on 10-16-18

Outstanding! Complex and Dangerous Case

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-24-18

Morgan has never defended someone who had this much evidence proving her guilt, but as a personal favor to Sharp, she and Lance will do their best to find a truth that doesn't send Haley to prison. Each of the books in this series continues to captivate me with the oft times brutal and gritty cases, the twisting plots, the engaging characters and their swirl of complex backstories, and the extra layer of fabulousness the narrator brings to the whole. I think we can safely say I'm addicted and would have listened straight through if life responsibilities didn't get in the way.

What I've Done is book four in the Morgan Dane series. While each book might be taken out of order in a pinch, this is a series where relationships and history are strong. So strong that I always advise newbies to start with the Scarlet Falls trilogy before picking up this spin-off series.

Morgan no sooner gets shut of her current loser client by way of a personal attack on her person than Sharp needs a big favor. His old cop partner's daughter stands accused of murder and the evidence is damning. Haley herself doesn't even know the truth because she can't remember what happened that night after the bar. The dead guy's brother is hurling more than insults, reporters and protesters surround the house, Haley is in a fragile mental state, and someone doesn't want Morgan and Lance to stay on the case as life attempts mount. If Haley didn't do it then who did? They ask themselves.

What I've Done is intense from the beginning and doesn't let up as everyone races to find the truth and hopes it leads somewhere other than the young woman. I loved getting this look closer into Sharp's past and seeing his ever present honor and sense of duty truly shine. Now, it was hilarious to see him bristle at the new player who has entered the picture and I sincerely hope she is here to stay. Oh man, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I actually liked the lady reporter even when she was niggling at Sharp during each encounter.

Once again, Morgan and Lance teaming up was pure gold. Their working and private relationship feels authentic and they have arrived at that place where both are at peace with the past. The question is now how to go from dating and separate households to something deeper and more committed. They focus on how they feel about their partner being in danger, but still respecting their ability enough not to attempt to suppress them. Morgan isn't stupid even if very driven so she gives and uses common sense while Lance knows he wants to be overprotective and take point all the time, but knows he needs to trust Morgan's training and skill when its best she lead or act as his backup. Cue my swoons to see Lance with Morgan's three little girls putting them to bed or getting them ready for school and on the bus.

I think what I love is the story as a whole with all the parts together in sync. The characters, particularly the investigation team including all those who help even Lance's mom, Morgan's sister and her boyfriend, the police and sheriff's, the ADA, and Morgan's grandfather or everyone supporting as a family. I love seeing everyone getting in on the act by the time the book is done.

Cris Dukehart was as splendid with all the character voices, emotions, pacing and tone as usual.

To summarize, this one kept me riveted through and through and I am now in desperate need of the new book when it releases. I can heartily recommend the book/series to those who enjoy thriller romance and romantic suspense.

  • Bones Don't Lie

  • Morgan Dane, Book 3
  • By: Melinda Leigh
  • Narrated by: Cris Dukehart
  • Length: 9 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,557
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,338
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,323

Private investigator Lance Kruger was just a boy when his father vanished twenty-three years ago. Since then he's lived under the weight of that disappearance - until his father's car is finally dredged up from the bottom of Grey Lake. It should be a time for closure, except for the skeleton found in the trunk. A missing person case gone cold has become one of murder, and Lance and attorney Morgan Dane must face the deadly past that's risen to the surface.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bad sheriff!

  • By Wayne on 03-14-18

Riveting Suspense and Sizzling Romance Partnership

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-18-18

This book was inevitable in my mind from the moment Lance's past was introduced even back in the earlier Scarlet Falls series building through the Morgan Dane series. Lance is an ex-cop turned private investigator. Eventually, his dad's disappearance over twenty years prior leaving no resolution for him and his mother was going to take center stage. I was thrilled to finally get Bones Don't Lie knowing it was going to be deeply emotional, riveting, and taunt with gritty, dark suspense while carrying forth Lance and Morgan's romance.

As I said in the intro, Bones Don't Lie, the third Morgan Dane series book, is closely tied to the books that came before it and the series that came before it. I was tickled to see the crossover characters from the Scarlet Falls series and a large cast of familiars playing strong roles.

An old rusted car gets fished out of a nearby lake and it belongs to the missing Vick Kruger, Lance's dad. It gets complicated when a skeleton found in the trunk is not his dad, but a woman. Lance knows the only way he can lay the past demons to rest is to find the truth. Unfortunately, the witnesses who might shed light on the situation are being eliminated one by one. Someone doesn't want Lance, Morgan, and Sharp to find out the truth and is coming after them next.

I anticipated this one to go deep and get painful for Lance and his mom as past secrets are brought into the light. I was even a tad wary that it would start wallowing in the emotions and stall out on the action. But, no worries. This one kept up the usual steady pace that frequently got my heart racing at a suspenseful moment. The balance of elements was also kept even so that the rich layering I've come to enjoy about these books was still there.

That said, I appreciated that this was more Lance's book than anything else even though Morgan and a few others got narration time, too. This was make it or break it time for Lance. He can either give in and get lost in his past and the anger and pain he keeps locked away or let the wound open to be cleaned up and for the first time, let someone else get close to him and help in the form of Morgan. Morgan remains an amazing heroine. She could have let Lance's attempts to push her away cause her to lash out in pain or storm away and leave him alone when he most needed her, but she swallowed the hurt, ignored her own troubles, and stood strong beside him.

Lance and Morgan are amazing together and I melted each time he spent time with her girls. This book had to happen before they could have a true chance at a relationship. Morgan has let go of her own past to give love a second chance and now it was Lance's turn. I loved the sensual scenes and even the ones that brought in their family, but it is always seeing them in action solving a disturbing crime that gets me most pleased. This one was a doozy and I had that moment in the second half of the story where I had a glimpse at the identity of the killer and also the solution to the cold case, but I was sure I had to be wrong. I wasn't. The twist in this one took my breath away and I had to actually stop the book and think about it before continuing. Well done, Melinda Leigh!

Cris Dukehart's narration work continues to see these stories so clearly and adds to the book in a way that I think I might actually get disappointed if I had to merely read the print. She has established herself as these character's voices and tone of the stories for me.

All in all, the Morgan Dane series remains strong. I think this was my favorite one yet because I anticipated this one and was left amazed. Definitely this series and the earlier series are high recommends to romantic suspense fans.

  • Her Last Goodbye

  • Morgan Dane, Book 2
  • By: Melinda Leigh
  • Narrated by: Cris Dukehart
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,802
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,542
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,536

Young mother Chelsea Clark leaves the house for a girls' night out...and vanishes. Her family knows she would never voluntarily leave her two small children. Her desperate husband - also the prime suspect - hires Morgan to find his wife and prove his innocence. As a single mother, Morgan sympathizes with Chelsea's family and is determined to find her. She teams up with private investigator Lance Kruger. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier their investigation gets.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very good second book in Morgan Dane series

  • By shelley on 09-28-17

Morgan and Lance have another Dark Case to Solve

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-18

Pressing onward through the Morgan Dane series after pausing to go back for the earlier Scarlet Falls trilogy to have the stories the Morgan Dane series was based on, I was ready for competent lawyer and widowed mom, Morgan, to solve another heinous crime to help defend her new client. Naturally, I appreciated having the ready and able former cop, Lance Kruger at her side as they fight evil.

Her Last Goodbye is book two in the Morgan Dane series and could be read out of order, but does work best doing them in order so relationships, characters, and earlier situations that are present and talked about make sense.

Morgan and Lance are hired by the husband of a missing woman. Tim is distraught that he's being investigated by the sheriff's office when his wife is still missing. Morgan is still struggling with her role as defense attorney and worrying that she is not defending someone innocent, but she does want Chelsea found for the sake of the kids and even Tim since her gut tells her that he's innocent. Meanwhile, Chelsea is doing what she can to get away from a fiend and back to her husband and kids while other missing women are turning up in and around Scarlet Falls.

I was struck in my first Morgan Dane story about how tough and smart she is while not losing her poise. She lost her cop dad in a shooting when she was a kid, then she and her siblings are raised by her granddad whose health is failing now, then her military husband died doing his duty, and she is just now getting back on her feet again only to find herself not prosecuting criminals anymore. Her family heritage is law enforcement three generations and all of her and her siblings, but now she finds herself uncertain if defense attorney is going against all that. She really does care that she not defend a criminal. At the same time, she's coming out from under her load of grief to find that she has a second chance at love if she is brave enough to put her heart on the line again. It is complicated in that her three girls are her priority and Lance has his own past that keeps him from rushing into a relationship. Lance's dad disappeared and never came back causing his mom to spiral into mental illness so that she can't leave her house and she struggles with hoarding and letting others near her. Lance is also learning to be at peace with having to leave the local police force after his leg never fully recovered from a shooting injury.

So much layering, and then there is the current case of the missing woman. The pace and tension in this book was palpable with Chelsea trying to find a way out of her situation and Morgan and Lance racing the clock to find her. They aren't getting much cooperation from the sheriff who resents their presence in HIS investigation. The case is tough and they really have to grind it out to even produce one clue let alone the trail to Chelsea. And, its not like their own safety is certain when Morgan gets in the crosshairs of an abusing ex she has to serve papers to and a brutal sex offender who comes up as a suspect in their current case. Lance is there to assist, but he totally respects Morgan so he works hard to keep his fears for her safety in check so they can do their jobs. I was riveted.

Cris Dukehart's narration work is still a strong and welcome reason why I love this series. She had a large cast and she gave them all individuality and had the right touch with tone of the story.

And, I no sooner finish than I want to grab up the next book in the series of this addicting and gritty romantic suspense series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Bearded Lady

  • By: Mara Altman
  • Narrated by: Mara Altman
  • Length: 1 hr and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 23

Mara Altman, author of the best-selling Kindle Single Sparkle, returns to top comic form to address the problem every woman faces but no woman wants to acknowledge: facial and body hair. Her brave, witty memoir gives readers a rare, honest glimpse into the hidden world of lasers and razors. It begins in childhood, when Altman discovers that hair sometimes grows in unexpected places - and that it's best to remove it immediately, or risk ridicule from 8th-grade girls. It continues into early adulthood, when romantically inclined men make offhand remarks about her fine coating of fur.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Emergency. Tweezers.

  • By Erin - Audible on 01-27-14

Humorous Anecdotes and Explanation About Hair

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-18

I enjoyed a review over on Stephanie @ Fangs Wands and Fairydust blog about a newer release from this author. Her humorous approach to both positive body image and explanation about body functions, particularly the unsightly ones, sparked my interest. I discovered she had written this similar, short sampling of the same topic already. I chose to experience it on audio with the author doing her own narration.

This sampling is about body hair on women though body hair in general gets a bit of the focus. She starts off with a poignant, humorous narrative about her young teen self discovering that having body hair anywhere that is not approved by the society norm can mark you among your peers. She goes on to share how she spent a great amount of time after that eradicating, mostly with the help of pros before one day on the brink of marriage, she stops to wonder why she- and women in general- are forced to remove all that hair to be considered acceptable and even beautiful. She consulted those who studied it scientifically, anthropologically, and even consulted women who lead and follow current beauty trends. The results were mixed and unsatisfactory with nothing definitive she could latch onto. It all came down to self, really. Self and finding another accepting person in the man she was with- and, he was more than accepting of her just the way she was.

Without brow beating a person, I liked the mix of personal anecdote, actual research, and the willingness to tackle a not so pretty subject about female humans- body hair. She's willing to ask the questions that most of us have thought about, but in no way want to bring up even among family, friends, and significant others. I liked her style and would read/listen to more of her works.

  • Minutes to Kill

  • By: Melinda Leigh
  • Narrated by: Cris Dukehart
  • Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,431
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,235
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,238

After corporate attorney Hannah Barrett tries - and fails - to stop a kidnapping in Vegas, she can't shake the haunting image of the terrified young girl she couldn't save. She tells herself that a visit to her hometown in Scarlet Falls could be a welcome distraction. But soon, Hannah realizes the kidnappers have all the info they need to track her every move. And when chilling e-mails about the victim appear in her inbox, it's frighteningly clear what happened in Vegas has followed her home.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent detective novel!

  • By Wayne on 01-06-16

Action Suspense and Sizzling Romance Riveting Read

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

Following in the heels of Hour of Need, this second Scarlet Falls story picks up with the second of the three Barretts, Hannah, who stumbles into the dark, stomach-twisting world of human trafficking when her work takes her to Vegas and she can't complete the rescue of a young teen begging for her help.

This could be read standalone, but it works best following Grant Barrett's story in Hour of Need when many of the characters are introduced and began their story.

Hannah Barrett, cool, driven lawyer seeking the prize of partner in her international firm is just leaving a party that was the celebration of a successful business deal when she encounters a teen girl begging for her help getting away from her pimp. The rescue was unsuccessful and Hannah goes home to recover. But unbeknownst to her, the girl's pimp is a sadistic fiend and his eyes are set on Hannah.
Brody McNamara knows better than to start something with a woman who hates Scarlet Falls and only talks of leaving, but Hannah Barrett got under his skin and he's tired of letting his cheating ex and his past call the shots.
But brutal murder and dark deeds have followed Hannah so Brody will stand by her as she hunts for a trail to find the girl she failed to rescue and deal with her own shadowed past.

The first book taught me to enjoy these gritty, dark thriller style romantic suspenses and like the characters and the setting that were introduced. I was eager to return for Hannah's story even though her issues with her dad, her mom's death, her constant need to remind everyone that she's 'out of here,' and she's not capable of relationships or tenderness got a little old. It was fun seeing Brody and her family work on all those hard, prickly edges and prove her wrong.

Hannah was one serious kick-butt woman who was a little impulsive, but still a capable fighter with her wits or physically. She needed to be because she was the target of an evil slime who really needed to be destroyed. The author wasn't afraid to put her in situations where she had to take action.
Brody was great. He's a police detective and a steady guy. He wasn't intimidated by Hannah and loved her just the way she was. He stood pat even against her when he had to and when he had to be there for his former alcoholic partner who never got over his wife's death or his daughter running away.

Brody and Hannah made a great team on the case, but they were full of crackling electricity as a couple. I thought this story had a much better pace and clipped along better than book one which had the job of introductions. I can't wait to move forward into Mac's book. He's so different from Grant and Hannah that it will be interesting to see how his story goes.

Cris Dukehart continues to dazzle me. I really love her storytelling. She has such a wide range of voices and does well with both genders, tone, and pacing. She's a great fit for this series.

All in all, this was thoroughly engaging and I think would be a big hit with romantic suspense fans who like the suspense a little darker and the romance with a bit of spice.

  • Christmas at The Grange

  • A Lady Hardcastle Mystery
  • By: T E Kinsey
  • Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden
  • Length: 2 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 644
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 590
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 589

It's Christmas 1909, and for once Lady Hardcastle - respectable gentlewoman, amateur spy - and her lady's maid, Florence Armstrong, are setting sleuthing aside. They are invited to the festivities up at The Grange, as guests of Sir Hector and Lady Farley-Stroud. But barely have corks been popped and parlour games played when a mysterious crime comes to light.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Short Tale!

  • By Alan K. on 01-10-18

Festive and Fun!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-03-18

What a delightful interlude in the series! It was fun getting this short holiday cozy mystery and a whole lot of early twentieth century English country Christmas all wrapped up and tied with a bow.

Lady Hardcastle and Flo are invited to their neighbors up at the Grange for Christmas festivities, but are soon called up by Lady Farley-Stroud to discreetly look into the disappearance of her nephew's wife's pearl necklace.

A rousing cocktail party, Christmas goose, mince pies and Christmas pudding, carols, parlor games, Christmas midnight service, Boxing day with the villagers, Christmas variety show, and finally a case brought to its conclusion. It was not a difficult mystery, but was fun, nonetheless. The festivities and atmosphere were equally engaging.

I was glad to enjoy this one in audio with the brilliant Elizabeth Knowelden the regular series narrator doing her usual wonderful job with the characters and story.

All in all, it was light and festive and a wonderful edition to the series.

  • Hour of Need

  • Scarlet Falls, Book 1
  • By: Melinda Leigh
  • Narrated by: Cris Dukehart
  • Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,777
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,545
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,544

While fighting in Afghanistan, Major Grant Barrett receives devastating news: his brother and sister-in-law have been murdered in Scarlet Falls, the sleepy suburb of Grant's youth. Emotionally scarred from war, the career soldier returns home on emergency leave to temporarily care for his orphaned nephew and niece. But when someone tries to kidnap the kids and their teenage babysitter, Grant knows it's not a random act... and neither were the murders.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • outstanding

  • By cajoje on 01-19-15

Collicky Baby, A Missing File, and Murder

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-29-18

Just a few days ago, I had the delightful experience of finishing my first Melinda Leigh novel, Say Your Sorry. It is the first in the Morgan Dane series. I loved it through and through, but I had the oddest sensation that I was catching a book in the middle of a series. It was faint, but there. I did a little digging (okay, I hit search on the author's name at Amazon). Lo and behold, the Morgan Dane series is a spin-off from the existing Scarlet Falls series. Naturally, I had to go back to the beginning and get these stories before pressing forward and I enjoyed another one just as much as the last.

Hour of Need was a Kindle Unlimited borrow for me and included audio so I chose to experience the wonderful narration work of Cris Dukehart again after experiencing her reading the first time with Say Your Sorry.

Hour of Need began with a traumatic murder scene of a couple, Lee Barrett and his wife. The deaths bring Lee's brother, Grant home from Afghanistan struggling with grief over their death, adjustment to being out of a war zone, and taking care of his little niece and nephew. He seethes with the need to discovered who murdered his brother and sister in law even as he grows close to beautiful Elle Ross next door. He tells himself to resist the attraction since he's only there on leave, but when danger continues to threaten her daughter and the kids, they are brought together.
Elle made a huge mistake in highschool with a teen pregnancy and has sworn off bad decisions sense then. Too bad her stupid heart and libido think the tall, fit Army guy next door is a wonderful decision. But, then her life and the life of her family are threatened if she doesn't produce the file on the case Lee was working on. She must learn to trust Grant or face a mounting deadly danger alone.

So, this was chock full of all sorts of possibles. There is the murder of Lee and his wife, the killer stalking the house after Lee's file, the flashback story from a dead girl's point of view of what led to her being bullied and driven to suicide, odd things going on at the law office, and all in all, too much interest in Lee's last case which was a civil suit against the girls who bullied another girl severely enough that she took her life. As a result, this was a slow build and slow burn story with a good balance of the romance with the suspense.

This was the first book in a series that focuses on the three remaining Barrett siblings. This one is Grant's story, but his sister and brother were both introduced. And, hey, I recognize police detective Brody McNamara from the other series. I loved that this will focus on this family all getting their story in small town Scarlet Falls and that each sibling is so unique so I'm guaranteed a diverse story with each one.

As I noted in the other book, Hour of Need did a good job with the details like with plot. Grant struggled hard with combat stress and the need to decompress in a tough situation with a killer on the loose, figuring out what to do for the orphaned kids, grieving, a dad with dementia, and at a crossroads in his own life about duty to his dad's dream for him or his own desires. It was also neat how Elle was a wonderful blend of office assistant by day and home flipper by night. She lives with her feisty gran and teenage daughter. Her parents disowned her when she kept her baby and her boyfriend walked away. These things scarred her so she walked a straight, boring line all these years until Grant.

The suspense thread was deceptively simple. It seemed like a situation where the motive was clear and as the reader, I had access to the killer and got the murder scene first hand. Note, I said it was deceptive. This one cruised along the paths I anticipated until whoosh, where did that come from? The hints were there and I missed them. Well played, Ms. Leigh!

So, I had a grand time with this first of the Scarlet Falls series. I can't wait to get my hands on more. Romantic Suspense fans need to take a close look.

  • Say You're Sorry

  • Morgan Dane, Book 1
  • By: Melinda Leigh
  • Narrated by: Cris Dukehart
  • Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,832
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,301
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,292

After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she's finally found peace and a promising career opportunity - until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Trite, tired dialogue

  • By C. Owley on 06-17-17

Standing For the Truth and a Step Toward the Futur

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-25-18

After reading Anna @ Herding Cats Burning Soup's review, I knew I had to give this romantic suspense a go. A tenacious and smart widowed lady lawyer who will do what's right even though it costs her and a tough, burdened former cop turned private investigator take on the challenge of proving a young man innocent of an heinous crime that the whole town thinks he did. Engaging from the get go and quite riveting at times throughout.

Say You're Sorry is the first in a series and it wasn't long after the intro to the crime, the killer's twisted thoughts, and the cast of characters that I was drawn in and didn't want to step away from the story. I loved that Morgan is working through her grief over loosing her husband while serving his country. She has three adorable little girls, the guardianship for a foster girl, a crotchety grandfather, and is surrounded by a family who are true blue multi-generations in the law enforcement community. Morgan is on the cusp of taking a job as an assistant district attorney when her heart tells her that Nick, the young guy accused of raping and stabbing his girlfriend is railroaded into an arrest by a chief cop, mayor, and district attorney who are more concerned about election results than justice. Morgan fights the condemnation of the whole town, a dangerous enemy in the shadows, and her own troubles to find the truth.

Lance was injured in the line of duty and wants to get back on the force once his leg is done healing. His long time mentor, a retired cop hires him for his private investigation firm. He is torn between liking working for Sharp where the rules are different and bureaucracy isn't involved and going back to protect and serve. His sense of duty stems from a personal loss in his childhood that left his mother with severe mental health issues. He looks after her, but knows no woman will ever want to take on a guy with a mom like that. He and Morgan dated in high school and then drew apart, but now she has caught his eye again. Now, she's hired the firm to help her work Nick's case and Lance would rather be nowhere else than at Morgan's side while she has to go into danger to do her job with a young, scared man sitting in jail counting on her.

The blend of romance and suspense was well done. The established circle of characters were engaging. I loved both Morgan and Lance from the beginning and appreciated how they handled their attraction which is necessarily slow burn because of the case and their separate personal issues. The trail to the truth was exciting and interesting. I loved having Lance's cop training and Morgan's legal and cop background be a large part. The mystery was not simple though I did peg the murderer with a few doubts at times. There were some good side lines that added to it.

The narration work of Cris Dukehart was superb. I was all in and thrilled with the added depth she brought to the story. Her voices, pacing, tone, and emotions were spot on throughout. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for her other work and I'm not sure, but I think I'd be disappointed to get the rest of the series without her reading it.

All in all a abso-fab beginning and a new series for me to follow. Romantic Suspense lovers should definitely take a look-see.

  • The Summer of New Beginnings

  • A Magnolia Grove Novel
  • By: Bette Lee Crosby
  • Narrated by: Shannon McManus, Eric G. Dove
  • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20

Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy - even if that means putting her own dreams on hold. Tracy couldn't be more different from her sister. She's always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother. As Tracy experiences the difficulties of new motherhood, Meghan faces her own struggle: trying not to fall for the stray puppy she rescued.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • GREAT RELAXING READ

  • By Larry on 10-30-18

Sisters, Loss and Healing, and Love!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-24-18

A story of healing from grief, family, a lost dog, love, and a little bit of magic through one summer was a gently-paced, sparkling tale that warmed my heart and left me wanting to return back to Magnolia Grove as soon as I can.

The Summer of New Beginnings is only my second book by the author, but like the first one, I found it a lovely, sunny reading experience even if the author allowed sadness and loss to touch characters' lives. Like the first book, the laid back writing style was cozy and engaging. It pulls the reader in emotionally. Sad events like the lost of Meghan and Tracy's daddy right when they are finishing high school left a gaping hole.

The story begins when settled and oh-so responsible Meghan rescues a stray dog and grows attached so that she is afraid to even look for the original owners. This taking a chance and opening her heart leads her back to her love of journaling and animals like before her dad died and she got burdened to take care of her dad's business.
Meghan's older sister, Tracy returns home with a baby boy and a whole lot of new perspective after ignoring the concern from her mom and sister and leaving with her bad boy boyfriend who refused to make a commitment. She's a single mama now and she's ready to see her family for the treasure it is. I loved how the widowed mom and the sisters faced all their life's trials together and grew past their grief to be a family again.

The story of Tracy's fears about her little boy being not quite right and all of them pulling together to get him the medical attention he needed even while her ex-boyfriend continues to be an irritant full of threats was well done. I learned a great deal about diagnosis, testing, and treatment for hearing loss, but mostly the author brought out about how a parent goes through learning about their child's special needs, coming to grips with it, needing lots of support (like what Tracy got from Meghan, her mom, and an old friend who is hearing impaired), and then moving forward to take action.

And, of course Meghan starts to come out of the circle pattern she's been content in when her sister returns, but also when a certain handsome and kind animal vet takes an interest. It was a sweet and gentle romance.

Through the story, there is an element of magical realism in relation to Meghan and Tracy's dad that I thought was a cute touch. Did he come back to help his family heal and steer them to find their joy again? Possibly.

I enjoyed the book using the Kindle Unlimited option. This one offered both ebook and audio so I ended up switching back and forth, but mostly in audio edition. I've enjoyed the main narrator, Shannon McMannus in one other book and I felt she was definitely the right fit for this story style. She voiced the three women and a host of surrounding characters- mostly male- well. She caught the emotion and pace, but also that comfy small town southern feeling just right. I will definitely be watching for more of her narration work.

All in all, I found this gently-paced small town story of family and love was just the thing and recommend it to those who want a light women's fiction or sweet contemporary romance.