REVIEW: SLEEP LIKE A BABY, BY CHARLAINE HARRIS

 

In Sleep Like a Baby, the latest installment of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series, Robin and Aurora have finally begun their adventure in parenting. With newborn Sophie proving to be quite a handful, Roe’s mother pays for a partially trained nurse, Virginia Mitchell, to come help the new parents for a few weeks. Virginia proves to be especially helpful when Robin has to leave town for work and Roe is struck with a bad case of the flu.

One particularly stormy night, Roe wakes to hear her daughter crying and Virginia nowhere to be found. Roe’s brother Philip helps her search the house and they happen upon a body outside… but it isn’t Virginia’s. Now, not only does she have a newborn to care for and a vulnerable new marriage to nurture, Roe also has to contend with a new puzzle — who is this mystery woman dead in their backyard, and what happened to Virginia? This heart-pounding and exciting next installment of the Aurora Teagarden series will leave fans happy and hungry for more.


My Thoughts: I was eager to read Sleep Like a Baby, because I’ve grown fond of the Aurora Teagarden character from the Hallmark series.

This story picks up sometime after the last TV mystery, as Aurora is married to Robin (instead of Martin) and has a new baby, Sophie.

On the stormy night when Virginia disappears and when a dead body (of their stalker) is found in the yard, events spin out from there into a series of dangerous moments involving shootings, break-ins, and puzzling encounters with the dog next door. Just after Aurora learns more about Virginia and her relationship with a man who has recently been jailed, we start to see the connections that led to the murder. I liked how “Ro” put the clues together into a believable scenario.

The moments between Aurora and her baby were delightful. It was easy to see how her life had changed, once she clicked into that protective mode of mothering. These moments bring the “cozy” into the mystery, which earned 4 stars for me.

 ***

REVIEW: SOMEONE IS WATCHING, BY JOY FIELDING

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Bailey Carpenter believes that she is happy in her job as an investigator for a law firm in Miami. Surveillance is something she does well, and she especially loves testifying in court on the cases she has worked.

But one night, while watching an apartment for her target, she is attacked and raped. Her attacker was wearing a mask, and she has been unable to identify him.

Used to feeling in control, Bailey is ill equipped to deal with the aftermath, unable to leave her apartment, and most days, unable to leave her bed.

Meanwhile, after their father’s death four months before, a battle ensues between the half-siblings, as the older five, who were disinherited, file a lawsuit against Bailey and Heath.

So when her oldest half-sister, Claire, starts stopping by to lend moral support, Bailey has to wonder. Is Claire hoping to develop a sisterhood bond, or is there a hidden agenda?

Heath sinks lower and lower into a lifestyle of drugs, being no support to Bailey at all, as she deteriorates. She develops more signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, feeling as if someone is stalking her, calling in the night and hanging up, and everywhere she looks, she sees men who might be her rapist.

Is Bailey really seeing and hearing the things she believes she sees and hears, or is she hallucinating? Is she imagining the phone calls in the night, or is she dreaming? A surreal sense of unreality surrounds her days and nights, as she wanders sleeplessly through her world.

Bailey and Jade, Claire’s daughter, were the most interesting characters, while Heath was annoying and entitled. And the oldest half-brother, Gene, was pompous and bitter. As Someone Is Watching: A Novel unfolded, I was surprised by the inevitable reveals, even as I knew that something more nefarious than just the rape was going on. Definitely a 4 star read.

THE PRICE OF CELEBRITY: A FRIGHTENING JOURNEY

3339When trainer Cassidy Novak participates in a reality TV show called Sink or Swim, she hopes to win first prize, and with the winnings, start a chain of fitness studios.

But she doesn’t win first prize, and as the runner-up, her actual cash will be miniscule compared to the million dollar payday for the winner.

Nevertheless, she discovers that some fame follows her afterwards, and soon she has an agent and the promise of more celebrity opportunities. But the aftermath of the show and the instant celebrity turn into something dark and malevolent. Cassidy is being pursued by a stalker. At first the letters seem only mildly troubling, but as time passes, they grow more intense. Then there are two murders of former competitors on the show…and Cassidy must consider the possibility that she will be next.

Throughout the story, there were numerous characters, from weirdly annoying to less troubling, who might turn out to be the stalker. And just when Cassidy believes that one or the other could be the one, she is blindsided by her discovery of who is actually stalking her. But she doesn’t figure it out until more tragedy ensues and she is right in the man’s crosshairs.

I enjoyed the ride throughout the suspenseful pages, and I was also surprised by the reveal. Along the way, there were some romantic moments between Cassidy and a couple of the other characters. I liked that she was drawn as an independent, feisty, and fiercely determined young woman. I felt connected to her from the beginning, although there were some moments when she seemed to let her guard down too easily. I am not a fan of reality shows, but I did enjoy the stalker angle, and her sometimes casual (or plucky?) behavior did help intensify the suspense, so I’m giving this one 4.5 stars.

TO CATCH A KILLER: A QUEST — A REVIEW

17687740In the small town of Cooperstown, Pennsylvania, a stalker waits. Studying online activity and plotting his course of action.

Nearby, a single mother named Brooke Davenport finishes up the self-defense class she teaches in the community center, and just as she is leaving, she hears screams from a wooded area close to the center.  Her quick action saves the life of young Maddie, but unleashes a season of danger for Brooke and young women all around.

Brooke’s loss of her roommate to a brutal murder sixteen years before launched her quest to protect women. But her efforts to heal psychologically are at a standstill.

Luke Holloway, a computer expert, is also trying to heal from his own emotional wounds. A terrorist bombing overseas killed his young assistant and he feels responsible.

Wade, Brooke’s brother, asks Luke to watch over her and the kids when he leaves for Afghanistan. But protecting Brooke willl turn into something much more for both of them.

Will the connection between them further halt their recoveries? How will Brooke’s passion for protecting others lead her into more danger? Who is the stalker and how can the two of them find him before he kills someone?

She Can Scream is a thrilling page-turner that explores the characters that are at risk, while also offering a glimpse into the stalker’s mind. From what we learn as we follow his actions, we know that he has killed before and loves the process of hunting and killing. We also learn a bit about his psyche and troubled childhood.

But who is he? There are so many unpleasant characters that could be suspects, that it took awhile to figure it out. The red herrings kept me off-kilter, but the reveal was very satisfying.

Another five star read from Melinda Leigh.

A STALKER, A HOT LOVE INTEREST, & GREAT CHARACTERS — A REVIEW

 

 

Twenty-five years ago, a mysterious “watcher” kills a man named Harry and disposes of his body.

Now, in the present day and in the same township, a woman has returned to Pennsylvania to rebuild the family horse farm. With her own baggage, secrets, fears, and vulnerabilities, Rachel Parker is determined to start over and carve out a place for herself.

But almost immediately, vandalism and graffiti and frightening messages threaten her world, while nearby, her sister Sarah’s husband has turned abusive and she reaches out for Rachel’s help.

A Watcher keeps a close eye on Rachel even as his threats escalate.

Police Chief Mike O’Connell is determined to protect Rachel, Sarah, and everyone else in the community, but he soon realizes that the intense connection that is developing between him and Rachel could risk his position and his own vulnerable heart.

Who is so afraid of what Rachel might have seen twenty-five years before? What person close to her, who knows every one of her secret fears could be moving in for the kill? How will Mike protect her when a vicious town councilman does everything in his power to thwart him? What is the councilman hiding, and how far will he go to keep control?

As She Can Tell picks up the pace, moving quickly toward its exciting conclusion, we become invested in the characters, rooting for the capture of the stalker, while savoring the moments between each of them. I enjoyed the dialogue, which had moments of humor while showing us the three-dimensional personalities of Rachel and Mike. They felt like people I wanted to know and believe in.

I liked that I couldn’t quite figure out which of the possible characters was The Watcher. While I had it narrowed down, I was still stunned at the reveal.

Another five star read from the talented Melinda Leigh. Recommended for those who like romantic suspense and enjoy the in-depth characterizations that are her signature style. I can’t wait for the next one!