Publisher: Crown
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Source: ARC from Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

I was excited to see a suspense novel set in Kansas! Unfortunately, though, I don’t think THE ROANOKE GIRLS will endear anyone to my state. Oh boy.

Considering that the big dark secret is revealed in the beginning, I wouldn’t classify this book as suspense; it’s more of a major dysfunctional family drama. The subject matter is disturbing, but what really bugged me was that everyone was so matter-of-fact about it. That’s just how it was, and the characters weren’t particularly offended by it, at least not to the level you’d think they’d be. Weird.

The story held my interest, and I was very curious to learn why cousin Allegra disappeared, and to see if Lane would be able to escape Roanoke again. In the end, I guess I was hoping for a little something more. I’ve seen many positive reviews for this book, and some negative. I’m somewhere in the middle, just like Kansas. ;-)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

A DEADLY THAW by Sarah Ward

A Deadly Thaw (Inspector Francis Sadler #2)
A DEADLY THAW by Sarah Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second book in a series, centering around Inspector Francis Sadler and his detectives. A very intriguing mystery here, but be prepared to suspend disbelief to make it work.

The set up was good. The body of a murdered man is found in an abandoned morgue, except everyone thought he had died over a decade earlier. In fact, his wife had only recently been released from prison for committing the original murder. So, who was the first victim, and why would she lie about him being her husband? Then when she disappears, it’s up to her sister Kat to help police figure the whole thing out.

This was an okay police procedural, just kind of hard to believe once the big secret is revealed. The last third or so of the book seemed to drag, probably could have wrapped up quicker after learning the who and why. I enjoyed Kat’s character, but the others seem to blend together. It might have helped to have read the first book and already known the backstory of the cast.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley (Audiobook)

Named of the Dragon
NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What grabbed my attention about this book was the Welsh setting and the Arthurian legend tie-ins. The writing was beautiful, especially the lovely descriptions of Angle, Pembrokeshire, however I never felt truly engaged in the story itself.

The main character, Lyn, is a literary agent spending Christmas holiday at Castle Farm in Wales with one of the authors she represents. Lyn’s baby boy died five years prior, and the grief still weighs heavily on her. In Angle, she meets a strange young woman with a baby boy of her own. The woman (Elen) believes her son is in danger, and soon Lyn has dreams of a mysterious woman in blue who tries to convince her to protect her own child. While all this is going on, Lyn has a slow-building romance with a curmudgeonly Welsh playwright named Gareth.

While I adore Arthurian legends and Celtic myths, their connection to the present-day story wasn’t that convincing. Lyn and Gareth were solid characters, but I thought the supporting cast fell flat. I was surprised by the outcome of the mystery (what/who was threatening Elen’s baby). While not my favorite book of Kearsley’s, I did enjoy experiencing a Christmas in Wales.

Audiobook • 9hrs, 48 mins • Katherine Kellgren, Narrator

Some of this book I listened to on audio from the library. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that Katherine Kellgren was a good fit for this story. The main character (Lyn) is in her twenties, and supposedly still struggling and unsure about her life since the death of her baby. Kellgren’s voice sounded too mature and too bold for that age and situation. (This happened with another of Kearsley’s audiobooks, though with a different narrator.) Also, there wasn’t a big difference in the characters’ voices (except for Gareth), so often times it was difficult to tell who was talking.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.