Let's have a quickie . . . MINUTE REVIEWS {4}

The majority of the books included in these Minute Reviews have been decent to not my cup of tea. This round, however, I'm featuring books that I really took a liking to. All three are vastly different. The first is an intense psychological thriller that's quite thought-provoking. The second is an emotionally gripping second chance romance. The third is an emotional, inspiring, and hopeful story involving a young single dad. 
I hope you check all three of these out!

A woman who almost had it all . . .

On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?

A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .

Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.

Until he became her ruin.

On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

He Will Be My Ruin exudes dark, mysterious, and psychological intensity. From its striking prologue to its jaw-dropping end, this suspenseful thriller will keep you fervently flipping pages. Despite getting the POV’s from both Maggie (the best friend) and Celine (the murdered victim), the reader is still clueless about what exactly went down. Both of these complex characters give the reader the information to aid in the effort of solving Celine’s murder. The facts were laid out, and the reader has to figure out what’s truth and what’s lies. Then take the truths and used them to piece things together and find out what happened, who did it, and more importantly, why. Every single small detail is important.

The suspense level slowly rose the further the story went. With a constant, steady pacing, the mystery grew and the anticipation built up. The more learned, the more suspicions increased, and the deeper the mystery got. I’m usually on top of who’s who and what’s what, but I was stumped in this case. I kept going back and forth on several characters never sure who the culprit was. I couldn’t trust anyone, and I suspected everyone.

The unique style and smooth writing kept all the components of this novel held together. Like most psychological reads, this book prompted thoughts and interpretations of the events that ensued throughout. The tension was palpable and several sections of the book elicited adrenaline rushes. There were also moments of humor and sexiness that brought the overall tone down a notch when necessary. 

This is categorized as romance in many locations, but I don’t think that’s anywhere close to be being an accurate description of this novel. Not even romantic suspense will cut it. I think this is pure physiological suspense with hints of a sort of romance interwoven, but it’s not a big enough factor to call it a romance. So if that categorization is stopping you from picking it up, don’t let it. Psychological thriller fans should definitely check this out.

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge. 

She is the bestselling author of 14 books, including Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water, and her latest Adult Suspense novel, He Will Be My Ruin. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. 

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.

Bryson Walker stumbled heart first into the steady rhythm of her life, never questioning whether other possibilities existed. She had been Will’s girl since their junior year in high school, followed him to college, and married him soon after graduation.

In every respect, they were a loving and successful couple, until a series of missteps shattered all of Bryson’s truths. Maybe their life was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. A performance that was never based in reality.

Hart was barely an acquaintance. He and Bryson shared one brief moment during senior prom, full of friction and heat that ignited a spark. But that night Bryson walked away and Hart let her go.

Years later, twisted fate brings Bryson and Hart together again, causing her to wonder if this is her second chance at once in a lifetime.

The Dance is a novel that’ll ease its way into your soul with its story of lies, betrayal, regret, compassion, love both unexpected & presumed, and of course, second chances.
The development of of these characters were great. They were very well written in their personalities, displaying their crippling weaknesses and vivid emotions. Despite not liking Will, I wanted him to be better for Bryson.
Bryson was such a relatable character. I think many readers will be able to relate to her on several levels. She’s entered into this old school way of life under the guise of love. Eventually, she finds herself in the position where she’s forced to reevaluate her life. Having the story be from her POV just made the entire book that much more raw and strikingly palpable.

Hart was beautiful. I wish I could think of a better description for him, but to sum him up, that’s the word I’d use. I love the pacing of their friendship/romantic relationship. The sex scenes were so sensual and passionate, they absolutely blew my mind. He’s the guy that had an instant connection with Bryson during their homecoming dance. If only they had more time to spend together then. If only she stayed and continued dancing with him in front of the aquarium. Fortunately, they ended up getting a second chance, but their intense connection still had me wishing they hadn’t wasted all those years without each other.

I could just be greedy, but I felt like the story lacked a bit of Hart. No pun intended. I wish he was weaved into the story earlier on. I wanted him to be a bigger contrast to Will, and have Bryson struggle with that while figuring out what was happening to her marriage. I also wish we got to see some of the good parts of Bryson and Will’s relationship. Not once did I root for him, or expect him to be anything good. I wanted to see what Bryson was seeing for all those years she was with him. I think those things would’ve allowed for a smoother flow and transition of the story instead of it feeling like part one and two.

Overall though, this was a beautiful and memorable story that tugged at my heartstrings throughout. The author’s writing was very well done and had me invested in the characters and their lives.

Alison lives in Charleston, SC. Her debut novel, Present Perfect, is an Amazon and International bestseller. The novel won Best Book at the 2014 Indie Romance Convention Awards. Both follow-up novels in the Perfect Series landed on many Best Of Lists for 2014-2015. Stop!, Alison's first YA novel was named one of the top YA novels of 2015.

There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you're good. 
Three if you’re really good. 
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere 
beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you. 
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the 
greatest feeling in the world. 
Then at seventeen, I had my son. 
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad. 
That’s what my life became. 
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being 
Or at least I convinced myself I did. 
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me. 
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air? 
Coming down from the high. 
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick. 
Then kick, push, and coast away. 
Other times you fall. 
You fall hard. 
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug...
And you become her poison.

I hate myself for not reading this sooner! Or really any Jay McLean book for that matter. 
I loved the whole vibe of this book as soon as I started reading it. The writing was beautiful and I felt the character’s passions come through every scene.

There were certain aspects of the characters that were really relatable, despite the circumstances. Josh and Becca were both damaged characters, but so very lovable.
Becca was an anomaly and a complete mystery. I kept wondering what her story was, and when I got to that part, my heart broke for her. Though quiet and shy, she consumed.

A dad at 17 and completely on his own after his family turned their backs on him, I expected him to completely fall apart. But Josh was strong, and he quickly stepped up and sacrificed his first love for his new love. His son, Tommy, was an adorable little nugget. I could honestly just read a book full of his dialogue. He’s young but so smart and witty. He definitely took over the spotlight a few times. 

This book surpassed my expectations of it simply being about a young father and skateboarding. It was emotional, both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It proved that family didn’t need to come from the same bloodline. It showed that it is possible to overcome the most difficult of obstacles life places before you. It reassured that it was okay to keep following your dreams and never give up on your passion. Despite serious topics, humor and light still managed to shine through. So many elements were woven in and it made for a truly special book. 

Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New Adult Romance, and most of all, procrastinator. When she’s not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her two little boys, playing house and binge watching Netflix.

She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her hurt and make her feel.

Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in a forever half-done home where music is loud and laughter is louder.

Email: jay@jaymcleanauthor.com