Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine



source: free copy via AmazonPrime reads
title: Stillhouse Lake
author: Rachel Caine
pages: 292 Kindle version
published: 2017
first line: Gina never asked about the garage.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

blurb:
Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

My thoughts:
Stillhouse Lake is an Amazon Prime free read book that I downloaded last year and finally now made the time to read it. This is book 1 in a 5 book series so far.
At the heart of the story is Gina Royal. She is a housewife and mother who has been unknowingly married to serial killer Mel for nearly a decade. The garage was his “workshop” and the police discover a corpse hanging from the ceiling. When Mel is arrested, Gina is also initially arrested because they suspect her of aiding and abetting. She’s found innocent and goes into hiding with her two children daughter Lanny and son Connor.

Due to their being connected to a serial killer, Gina and the kids receive death threats and are harassed by internet trolls and stalkers. Gina is now Gwen Proctor and never stays in one place for long. She’s got disposable phones, takes shooting lessons and owns guns. Gina and the kids currently reside in an area called Stillhouse Lake. Just as they are finally getting comfortable and considering maybe staying there long term, a corpse turns up in the lake and Gina/Gwen looks very suspicious. She wonders if her ex-husband is pulling some strings from prison.

“Mel infected me like a virus, and I have an unhealthy surety deep down that I’ll never get completely well again.” p. 20, Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Well, you need to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy Stillhouse Lake. I get Gina leaving and starting over with the kids but I wondered about there there being that many online stalkers being that kind of a threat to their lives. These stalkers would have to of had FBI connections the way Gina was acting in order to avoid them from finding her. Their motive is that they think Gina was helping her husband with the murders so they want her dead.
Also, Gina’s serial killer husband’s workshop was the garage and neither Gina nor the children ever went into the garage? Gina was just okay with her husband having a secret workshop in the garage with a padlock on it that she was not allowed to step foot in?



I liked that Gina is a strong woman and mother. She’s different now after finding out her husband is a serial killer. She reflects on how manipulative and controlling Mel was and on all the signs she missed. Gina is extremely over the top with paranoia and at one point she even goes through the motions in her mind of possibly having to shoot a cop who came to question her at home. The paranoia made her a somewhat irritating character. The children are likeable characters and the struggles they were going through with having trauma over their father as well as trying to acclimate to always being on the run etc. were believable. Much of Gina’s thoughts are about wondering if their lives can ever be normal.

As the story flows, there’s a few other characters introduced such as Javi from the gun range and the neighbor Sam and sometimes you don’t know who Gina can actually trust. Gina’s husband is still manipulating her from death row and I wondered how it would all wrap up. Also, why was Gina’s ex-husband so evil to her and the kids once he was caught? He really wanted her to suffer and didn’t care about the children anymore. He was a cardboard cutout of an evil villain.

Overall, Stillhouse Lake was a thrilling, well written story even if it was a little over the top. The ending wrapped it all up while leaving it wide open for the next installment and there’s a twist I did not see coming. This is the first book in the series but I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the others anytime soon.

“The hard part, I realize isn’t letting him know the truth; it’s this ripping fear inside now that he’ll turn his back on me, that this is the last moment we’ll be friends, or even friendly. I never thought that would hurt, but it does. The fragile little roots I’d been putting down, ripping away. Maybe it’s for the best, I try to tell myself, but all I feel is grief.” p.150, Stillhouse Lake

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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my copy of Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine via AmazonPrime free reads. Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

Paw of the Jungle by Diane Kelly

paw

source: free ARC courtesy of Netgalley / St. Martin’s Press
title: Paw of the Jungle (A Paw Enforcement Novel)
author: Diane Kelly
pages: 365
genre: cozy mystery
published: November 2019
first line: Please say yes.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Police officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner in crime, Brigit, are on all fours as they try to solve their latest Lone Star mystery.

AT THE ZOO
The weather is beautiful, work is slow, and her canine colleague could use a walk. What better day for Megan to take Brigit to the Fort Worth Zoo, where they can let loose and witness the law and order of nature unfold? But what begins as a fun field trip turns serious when a pair of rare hyacinth macaws named Fabiana and Fernando goes missing. Is the new custodian, a gentle soul who happens to be an ex-convict, to blame? Or is something far more sinister afoot?

AND ON THE HUNT
The birds are worth thousands of dollars, and the list of people on the premises who might have stolen them is long. Soon other animals start disappearing. . .and Megan and Brigit have their hands and paws full of suspects. But when a rare black rhino is taken from the zoo, presumably for its black-market-friendly horn, time is of the essence. Can Megan and Brigit find out who’s behind the mystery—before they too become prey?

my thoughts:
Paw of the Jungle is book 8 in author Diane Kelly’s Paw Enforcement series. I had no idea this book was that deep into this series, it reads perfectly well as a stand alone.

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Wish Upon a Cowboy (Cowboys of Creedence #4) by Jennie Marts

wish
source: free ARC via NetGalley/Sourcebooks
title: Wish Upon a Cowboy (Cowboys of Creedence Book 4)
author: Jennie Marts (twitter)
pages: 384
published: November 26th 2019
genre: contemporary romance
first line: The crisp mountain air bit her cheeks as Harper Evans stepped off the Greyhound bus and gazed around the town where her son had been living for the past two months.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Hot on the ice and tall in the saddle…

Rancher and hockey coach Logan Rivers’ attempts to hire a housekeeper are hindered by women more interested in marriage than meal-planning. So when snarky Harper Evans arrives with zero romantic interest in him, he couldn’t be happier. But as he gets to know her, he finds himself hungering for more than her cooking.

Down-on-her-luck single mom Harper Evans came to Colorado with one goal: to find her son and bring him home. Temporary work for a local rancher seems perfect, but to keep the job she has to deny her feelings for the hot cowboy who’s heating up her kitchen.

Logan’s secret learning disability has caused a financial mistake that could cost him everything. With the holidays approaching and a storm closing in, he and Harper have to save his ranch and fight for her son. But can Harper trust the cowboy who is offering her both a home–and his heart?

Cowboys of Creedence series:
Caught Up in a Cowboy (Book 1)
You Had Me at Cowboy (Book 2)
It Started With a Cowboy (Book 3)
Wish Upon a Cowboy (Book 4)

my thoughts:
Wish Upon a Cowboy is book 4 in author Jennie Marts Cowboys of Creedence series. I  read and enjoyed the first book in the series,  Caught Up in a Cowboy, a few months ago so I happily dove into this installment.

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The Tower of Songs (A Duck Darley Novel) by Casey Barrett

tower

source: free review copy courtesy of BookTrip / Meryl Moss Media
title: The Tower of Songs (A Duck Darley Novel)
author: Casey Barrett
published: 2019
genre: crime thriller
pages: 326
first line: Danny Soto opened the door to find Mr. Sun flanked by a pair of female bodyguards.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Embracing an improbable stretch of sobriety, unlicensed P.I. Duck Darley has proven himself stronger than the temptations that loom in the shadows of New York City. But the familiar pull of self-destruction lingers like garbage in July when Layla Soto, a sharp-tongued Park Avenue teenager with a family as screwed up as his own, presents a twisted missing-persons case he can’t refuse . . .

Layla saw video evidence of her billionaire father being abducted from their home—at the top of the tallest residential tower on earth. She suspects her grandmother, a Chinese social climber on husband number three, orchestrated the act to silence her only son. Duck agrees to investigate the hedge funder’s disappearance, if only for the rush of a new thrill—and an excuse to reconcile with Cass Kimball, his leather-clad sometime partner who nearly got him killed . . .

As the unlikely duo become immersed in a high-stakes ransom linked to the international drug trade and the delicate relations between the two most powerful nations on earth, survival means trusting no one. Because when confronting absolute power, certain forces will stop at nothing to bury the truth.

my thoughts:
The Tower of Songs is book 3 in author Casey Barrett’s Duck Darley series but this thrilling book reads fine as a stand alone.

As the story starts off we witness billionaire Danny Soto being abducted. Fast forward to his teenage daughter Layla and her mom hiring private detective Duck Darley to find her missing father. They have video of Danny Soto being abducted from their penthouse in Manhattan. Layla tells Duck she suspects her grandmother Nai Nai is involved. Nai Nai is the mysterious matriarch of the family and she is well connected.

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Caught Up in a Cowboy by Jennie Marts

caught up in

source: free review copy courtesy of NetGalleySourceBooks
title: Caught Up in a Cowboy (Cowboys of Creedence)
author: Jennie Marts / Twitter
genre: contemporary romance
pages: 334
published: May 2018
first line: Bits of gravel flew behind the tires of the convertible, and Rockford James swore as he turned onto the dirt road leading to the Triple J Ranch.
rated: 4 out of 5
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blurb:
This cowboy plays to win

Rockford James was raised as a tried and true cowboy in a town crazy about ice hockey. Rock is as hot on the ice as he is on a horse, and the NHL snapped him up. Now, injuries have permanently benched him. Body and pride wounded, he returns to his hometown ranch to find that a lot has changed. The one thing that hasn’t? His feelings for high school sweetheart and girl-next-door Quinn Rivers.

Quinn had no choice but to get over Rock after he left. Teenaged and heartbroken, she had a rebound one night stand that ended in single motherhood. Now that Rock’s back—and clamoring for a second chance—Quinn will do anything to avoid getting caught up in this oh-so-tempting cowboy…

my thoughts:
Caught Up in a Cowboy is the first in the Cowboys of Creedence series by Jennie Marts. This book has been sitting in my Nook since last year and I finally made the time to read it last week. I am glad I did.

First of all, can I just mention the cover. THAT is how you put a cowboy on a cover. Simple yet effective.

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