The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves | Review

About the Book

‘The most riveting, rewarding, refreshing novel I’ve read in years’ – Barbara Delinsky, bestselling author

What if you had a second chance at first love?

Annika Rose likes being alone. She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone. Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.

The Girl He Used to Know is an uplifting novel full of surprising revelations that keep you turning the page. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Gail Honeyman, Jill Santopolo and Sliding Doors.

‘Tracey Garvis Graves has crafted an incredible story with a unique premise and characters… this book is beautiful.’ – Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us

‘I adore Tracey Garvis Graves’ work.’ – Sarah Pekkanen, best-selling co-author of The Wife Between Us

My Thoughts

Tracey Garvis Graves has totally astounded me with this evocative and emotional story. I haven’t read any of the other books by this author and so I had no real expectations other than the reviews I had seen and the plot synopsis. I was not prepared for the emotional suffering this book inflicted on my heart!

“The Girl He Used To Know” was one of the best love stories I have read for some time that had me enthralled from the start.

One of the things that made this book special was Annika Rose. As the main character, she was so easy to relate and warm to. I could completely identify with her social awkwardness and her many other issues – from being unsure of what those around her were thinking, to the constant need to scrutinise other people and copy their behaviour in an effort to fit in and be accepted as normal.

For his part, I loved Jonathan’s level of patience and understanding. He put others’ expectations aside even though he didn’t know how he could help Annika.

Tracey Garvis Graves created a set of characters with such complexity and depth, helping to make this love story quite special. There are so many books in this genre that, inevitably, comparisons will be drawn, however, this was a totally and fabulously unique story for me.

The book is told from the point of view of both Annika and Jonathan, going back and forth between their time in college and the present. As Annika and Jonathan alternately tell their respective stories, the reader gets to know more about the two of them and the events that caused their separation. The reader then comes to understand Annika’s problems, how she has been able to overcome them and how they have both developed as individuals.

Even though there were instances when this was a difficult read for me, I loved where Tracey Garvis Graves took her story, right through to its conclusion.

I know I have found another author to add to my ever-growing list of favourites. I thoroughly recommend this book as it is definitely worth a read.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel, at my own request, from Orion Publishing via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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The Little Book Café by Georgia Hill | Review

About The Book

Amy’s Story

Escape to the seaside for a new three-part series for fans of The Canal Boat Cafe and Willow Cottage

Amy, the manager of The Little Book Café, is a hopeless romantic who had her heart broken, but quietly refuses to give up on love.

With her friends Tash and Emma, not to mention their shared love of books and delicious cake from the café next door, Amy might just find the courage to fall for a real life romance this time…

Amy’s Story is the final instalment of The Little Book Café series so wrap up warm this Autumn and treasure this wonderful book.

My Thoughts

Author, Georgia Hill, has written another wonderful, sweet romance about life in Berecombe. Although I have not read the first two books in this series, I have read another of her fantastic books: ‘Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Café’ so I was expecting great things from this one. The first book was ‘The Little Book Café: Tash’s Story’, followed by ‘The Little Book Café: Emma’s Story’.

This was an easy, light read so I did not feel disadvantaged in any way not having read books one and two first, though it would have been preferable to me if I had read them in their intended sequence. 

Any book, either set in a bookshop or a café, will be of special interest to me, as was this one, with the added touch of a lovely book cover!

“The Little Book Café” is a feel-good story of romance, friendship and community spirit, but also angst and upset, set in Berecombe, a quaint seaside town in Devon, England. Most of the drama takes place in the bookshop/cafe where Amy, the protagonist, is the manager.

Georgia Hill has drawn some very likeable characters in this novella. Amy is very endearing, trustworthy and dependable, although a little lacking in self-esteem and I adored the touches of humour that added some interest to the story.

Georgia Hill’s writing style is really engaging and it was a good read particularly for the interplay of the different characters – the close friends, the bossy mother, the famous author and the stream of local towns-folk. With plenty of ups and downs along the way, I loved it!

Although the conclusion of the story was no great surprise, it was still a very fulfilling ending to a wonderful book that regularly had me laughing-out-loud and was, all-in-all, a very worthwhile and well-balanced read. This book was a perfect accompaniment to a large slice of chocolate cake and a cup of tea!

Thanks to NetGalley, HarperImpulse and the author, Georgia Hill, for my free ARC of The Little Book Café in exchange for an honest review.

#NetGalley #TheLittleBookCafé

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

Amazon links to the first two books in the series

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Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency (Book 2) by Daisy Pettles | Review

About The Book

It’s Spring in Pawpaw County, Indiana. Everybody has a bad case of hanky-panky pants. Senior sleuths Ruby Jane Waskom and Veenie Goens are on the run, chasing down cheating heart jezebels and shaking child support out of deadbeat baby daddies.

Everybody in the small town of Knobby Waters, Indiana, knows Avonelle Apple, cantankerous bank president. After Avonelle’s husband, esteemed dentist, William Apple, passes away, she receives a child support letter from his self-proclaimed mistress. Suspicious, she hires Ruby Jane and Veenie, of the Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, to determine if her late husband was a philandering baby daddy.

The case seems simple until one of Avonelle’s sons, Bromley, heir to his father’s dental empire, and well-known king of the Pawpaw County Hanky-Panky Husbands Club, pops up dead in a scarecrow costume.

No sooner do the crime-cracking duo get sucked into solving Bromley’s death than Fussy Jones, Chief Commander of the White River Boat and Gun Club, is found with a gig in his chest, literally dead in the water. Chief suspect: Sassy Smith, husband-hunting cougar who’s back in town searching for husband #4 after her last mate won a lifetime timeshare at the state prison for a real estate con.

When a mysterious new Romeo rolls into town and begins seducing the ladies out at Leisure Hills Retirement Village Veenie’s father, Pappy Sneed, calls for help to retain his reputation as an oldster stud puppy.

Ruby Jane bemoans that no one in Pawpaw County can keep their pants on or their skirts down as her own grown daughter, Joyce, begs for help chasing down her philandering husband.

The mounting romantic mysteries come to a surprise head as the senior sleuths outrun shotgun showers to close in on the answers (and the cheating heart Romeos) at the Moon Glow Motor Lodge, the Original Home of Hillbilly Hanky Panky.

Veenie and Ruby Jane have to buy an extra case of Ben Gay and a butt load of BBs just to keep up with all the romantic excitement.

My Thoughts

Wild & Zany Cozy Mystery

This is the second book in the ‘Shady Hoosier Detective Agency’ series. The first book is the ‘Ghost Busting Mysteries’, although I haven’t yet read it. This second book, named “Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency” was such a quirky, mad and crazy read and I did not feel disadvantaged in any way not having read book one first. 

There was so much fun and hilarity packed into this cozy mystery that I was never bored and I wanted to continue reading. The characters’ antics were highly amusing, especially those of Veenie. Apart from the mystery, the book had underlying themes of companionship and love that greatly complemented the story for me.

Although the conclusion of the story was no great surprise, it was still a very fulfilling ending to a wonderful book that regularly had me laughing-out-loud.  

If you like cozy mysteries with a large helping of craziness and humour then you can’t go wrong with “Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency”. The third book is due to be released shortly so I will be looking out for that one. 

Thanks to NetGalley, Hot Pants Press, LLC and the author, Daisy Pettles, for my free ARC of Baby Daddy Mystery: Shady Hoosier Detective Agency (book 2) in exchange for an honest review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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The Secret Life of Mac by Melinda Metz | Review

Book Synopsis

Inspired by the true story of a kleptomaniac cat who stole his way into America’s heart . . .

HE’S THE CAT THIEF OF LOVE

MacGyver the tabby is feeling very pleased with himself. His human, Jamie Snyder, has found the perfect packmate—and it’s all thanks to Mac. By stealing personal items from the home of Jamie’s handsome neighbor David, the matchmaking cat brought these two L.A. singles together. Now, while the newlyweds are off on their honeymoon, MacGyver is ready for a well-deserved cat nap. That is, until he meets his cat sitter Briony. Like most humans, she’s hopeless when it comes to romance. And Mac can’t resist a challenge . . .

SHE’S FOUND THE ESCAPE CLAWS

Briony feels terrible about leaving her fiancé at the altar. When her cousin Jamie offers her the chance to cat sit MacGyver, the runaway bride leaps at the chance to cuddle up with the only male creature she trusts herself around. But MacGyver has other plans. He lures Briony to a friendly neighborhood retirement community—run by a charming young hottie named Nate. Briony and Nate hit it off instantly. But Briony’s still not sure she’s ready for a relationship. And Nate’s got problems of his own—someone is sabotaging his community.

Crazy humans. Why can’t they follow their instincts and go after the love they deserve? MacGyver is on the case. And this time, he’s not pussyfooting around . . .

RAVES FOR TALK TO THE PAW

“Filled with romance and adorable kitty antics . . . a light and cozy read!”

—Modern Cat

“Surpassingly cute story of a matchmaking cat determined to pair off his human with a neighbor through the power of stinky laundry.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Whimsical . . . fans of cozy romances will root for these . . . appealing characters.”

—Publishers Weekly

My Thoughts

THE SECRET LIFE OF MAC by Melinda Metz appears to be a sequel to the ‘Talk to the Paw’ which was published last year. This quaint little romance story is something slightly unique as it is told from the point of view of a tabby cat called McGyver (Mac), alongside two other characters, Nate and Briony. Mac is on a mission to make the people in his life happy, either romantically, generally or where there are friends involved.

This was an easy, light read so I did not feel disadvantaged in any way not having read ‘Talk to the Paw’ first, though it would have been preferable to me if I had read them in sequence.

This book is a romantic comedy where Mac acted as the matchmaker. As well as being wildly humorous and funny, it is also a tale about personal development and self-discovery. There’s even a mystery linked to the retirement home which added to the interest of this sweet tale.

Most of this story was told from the viewpoint of Briony and Nate.  Nate had some personal issues that he needed to deal with, helped along by Briony who had woes of her own. All of the characters had something to offer and the mystery was concluded very well.

All in all, THE SECRET LIFE OF MAC by Melinda Metz was a charming, sweet and worthwhile read.  

Thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books and the author, Melinda Metz, for my free ARC of The Secret Life of Mac. My honest review is entirely voluntary.

#NetGalley #TheSecretLifeOfMac

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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The Lost Son by Prue Leith | Review

#TheLostSon @PrueLeith @QuercusBooks @MillsReid11

Book Synopsis

Gripping family drama from household name Prue Leith. Perfect for fans of Penny Vincenzi and Barbara Taylor Bradford.

The Angelotti family reels when the lost son, given up for adoption in the war, traces his birth family and returns to the fold, with devastating consequences.

As poverty-stricken newly-weds, Laura and Giovanni Angelotti were forced to put their first child – a boy – up for adoption. They have had other children since, and their first little Italian café has become a restaurant empire, but Laura is still haunted by thoughts of the baby she lost.

Tom is a successful businessman enjoying the fast-paced City lifestyle – until his best friend and business partner is killed in the 9/11 attacks and his world turns upside down. Searching for meaning in his life, he decides to track down his birth family: the Angelottis.

But Laura has been keeping an explosive secret about Tom’s parentage that means his reappearance in her life is bitter-sweet. She may have found her son, but will it be at the cost of everything it has taken her fifty years to build?

Advance Praise

Leith has really hit her stride as a writer and uses her own considerable catering experience . . . skilfully interweaving emotional drama with food fashions – Daily Mail

An enjoyable, well-written love story – Good Housekeeping

Prue Leith knows about colour and flavour and this has lots of both . . . a delicious family saga – Daily Mail on The Food of Love

My Thoughts

This is book three in a series named ‘The Food of Love Trilogy’ and it was such a delightful and emotional read! The other books are ‘The House at Chorlton’ followed by ‘The Prodigal Daughter’. “The Lost Son” is the only book from the food dynasty series that I’ve read and I was happy to have read it as a stand alone.

Although I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a devoted and loyal Prue Leith fan, I’ve read one of her books before – ‘The Gardener.’

This multi-generational family saga has something for everyone. It has love, ambition and achievement in spades and is incredibly uplifting. It also has strong themes centred around family discord, sexuality, loss, addiction and tragedy. It is about recognising vulnerabilities and personal improvement.

Prue Leith’s character development was enviable. All of the characters were very well drawn however, if I were to pick a favourite it would have to be Tom. He has had to deal with so much heartache in his life that it would be virtually impossible not to have a huge amount of empathy for him. Anna, although not without some of her own horrors and personal issues, was very likeable, warm, forthright and was very much her own person. Prue Leith’s portrayal of Jane and the other baddies, notably, Mario and to some extent, Susan, was perfect. Obviously, they were pretty hateful, but they added even more excitement and spark to create an extra dimension to the story.

There were many things that were fantastic in this book. As well as the beautiful character detail, the plot was really absorbing. It was fascinating to read the detail behind the family’s successful business adventures, all of them being food related. Some of the references to food made my mouth water – from cheese soufflé to Thai fish-cakes, roasted veal and orange, almond and polenta cake.

I was also particularly impressed by the way Prue Leith introduced more modern themes, brilliantly building on the family saga trope. The diversification into the street food scene was absorbing to read about and the enthusiasm of Anna and Sebele was really infectious. Again, the food delights were enticing – the Chicago sliders, Napoli pizza, and Peking ducked stuffed pancakes. The pacing was terrific and there was never a moment when I felt as though I was losing interest as is the case with some rambling sagas.

For me, Prue Leith showed such talent in this inspiring and delightful tale. This is one of my favourite kinds of romance – one written with imagination and with real characters who, though flawed, gradually develop a real connection with each other.

I really loved the story and the journey on which I was taken throughout ‘The Lost Son’ and I was rooting for Tom and his long lost family from the offset. Though there was so much loss, grief and angst this was nevertheless, a modern, classic saga that was deeply rewarding and so full of truth that I didn’t want it to end.

This would be a super book choice for fans of Penny Vincenzi and Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Thank you, Prue Leith. This was a great read and so extremely worthwhile. 

[Thanks to NetGalley, Quercus Books and the author, Prue Leith, for my free ARC of The Lost Son in exchange for an honest review.]

#TheLostSon #NetGalley

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Keep Walking Rhona Beech by Kate Tough | Review

Book Synopsis

‘Incredibly insightful, funny and poignant’ Helen Sedgwick

I get up. I go to work. I spend the whole day waiting for the words on my screen to make sense. In the commuter broth of the carriage home, tears run in hot lines to my jaw and for a minute or so, I let them.

Nothing has turned out quite how Rhona Beech thought: she’s been swapping one so-so job for another on an annual basis . . . and now her nine-year relationship has ended abruptly. When her lukewarm efforts to adjust to the changes in her life are thrown entirely up in the air by some unwelcome news, Rhona has to think again.

Her sardonic, funny, poignant attempts to find an answer to the questions she’s facing are helped by a cast of friends, strangers and trained professionals. Funny and tender, Keep Walking, Rhona Beech is a beautifully written and brilliantly observant satire on relationships, friendship and life

Previously published as Head for the Edge, Keep Walking by Cargo Publishing.

My Thoughts

I am always slightly uneasy when I look at a book and I ask myself “What ‘type’ of a novel is this?” The answer here is “A gratifying, moving and very comical one,” in more or less equal measures.

Although I would say that “Keep Walking Rhona Beech” is extremely amusing and, at times, positively hilarious, this is qualified by a feeling of great sadness, too. It’s a journey of loss, companionship, love and needing to be happy with your life, with or without a Significant Other. I am sure that most of us could identify with the protagonist, Rhona on some level, at least. I certainly know that I could, so much so that I found myself wanting to help her to break out of her life of monotony and dreariness. “Keep Walking, Rhona Beech” gives out the message that there is a need to be happy with yourself otherwise there may never be a happy ending.

In the novel, the reader is taken on a journey to experience, along with Rhona, her everyday struggles with her current life, as in her purpose, friendships, love and even her very identity. Rhona and her pals are just like the rest of us – likeable, flawed and sometimes perplexing. The journey ranged from the mundane to the downright outrageous that had the effect, at times, that I was Rhona. There were instances where this was a very difficult read for me, however, it was always convincing, credible and extremely worthwhile. 

I enjoyed “Keep Walking, Rhona Beech” so much and I’m hoping to read more by Kate Tough soon…

[Thanks to #NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and the author, Kate Tough, for my free ARC of #KeepWalkingRhonaBeech in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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A Flicker of Hope by Julia Cook | Review

Book Synopsis

HOPE is our children’s window for a better tomorrow. In terms of resilience and well-being, hope is a critically important predictor of success. This creative story from the best-selling author of My Mouth is a Volcano!, and Bubble Gum Brain, reminds children that dark clouds can be temporary and asking for help is always okay. We all have times when we need to borrow a little hope from someone else.

When your clouds get too dark,
and too heavy to push away,
Reach out and ask,
“Can I borrow some light?”
“I’m having a really bad day.”

It’s always okay to admit to yourself,
“I just can’t do it today.”
Everyone needs somebody sometimes,
to help them find their way.”

Sometimes the dark clouds overhead seem too heavy and you feel like giving up. Little candle knows all about this. Bad grades, blasted on social media, worried about making the team, and wondering who her real friends are—so many hard things to deal with! All she can see is darkness. But her story begins to change when someone notices she needs a boost of hope. As little candle is reminded she has purpose and her own unique gifts, and that she isn’t the only one with dark clouds, her dim light begins to shine brighter.

This hopeful story emphasizes for children (and adults) the many different ways to ask for help, and their ability to be a hope builder for others, too.

Advance Praise

A Flicker of Hope is a much-needed resource for our times. As an international speaker on resilience, mental health, and suicide prevention, I have noticed diverse populations struggling with how best to reach out when times get tough. This book gives readers both the language and mindset of how we can build caring communities everywhere. Together we can build the emotional intelligence needed to create a more supportive world.~ Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psychologist and Mental Health Advocate.

My Thoughts

This is a lovely book primarily intended for children about never giving up hope no matter how dark things may seem. The main message of the story is characterised by a candle whose light is very dim and gradually becoming dimmer. The candle receives some help from another very bright candle who gives it more light, or in other words, hope.

The book gives a clear message about asking for help, finding the courage to keep on going and to never give up. It shows that it is possible to push away the dark clouds that are only visible to you and no one else. “A Flicker of Hope” shows the reader that hope is very important, no matter what your own personal dark clouds might be, such as anxiety, low self-esteem, depression or loss. Beautifully written and illustrated very nicely, this book enhances  that message.

This is a great little book for both adults and children and one I would definitely recommend.

[Thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher for a free ARC of #AFlickerOfHope in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Baby Bird by Andrew Gibbs | Review

Book Synopsis

“All birds are born to fly,” thinks Baby Bird, watching the other hatchlings leave the nest. “I suppose it’s now or never…” But one of Baby’s wings is twisted and shrunken and not at all like the other one. Instead of flying, Baby plummets to the ground. There, Baby makes a new friend, and learns that sometimes you have to find unexpected ways to achieve your dreams. A moving story about the power of friendship and the importance of accepting yourself just the way you are, this lovely watercolor picture book shows how friends can help you overcome difficulty.

My Thoughts

A delightful and adorable tale illustrated with eye-catching watercolour. A little bird is trying to learn how to fly. But one of Baby Bird’s wings is twisted and shrunken and not at all like the other one. Instead of flying, Baby plummets to the ground. Baby Bird meets another bird, Cooter, who helps Bird accept that, even if you can’t fly, you can still get around and enjoy life!  

“Baby Bird” by Andrew Gibbs is a sweet tale about friendship and acceptance which is also an important reminder for both adults and children. I really enjoyed reading ”Baby Bird.” The lovely illustrations will keep young children engaged in the story and it is a fantastic bed-time story for them.

{Thank you to #NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for the free copy of #BabyBird and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop” by Rebecca Raisin is a lovely, light read. When you have just discovered that you have a husband who is a cheat, what a wonderful way to start life over by going travelling in a camper-van. I thought it was great that Rosie made herself some new friends along the way, as well as earning some money at music and food festivals.

I delighted in this quirky, fun story. There were many laugh-out-loud moments and it was wonderful getting to meet all of the characters, although I did not particularly have a favourite.

I especially loved the idea of owning a pink camper-van like Rosie’s, and a fuchsia pink one at that – so unique and off-the-wall. Also worth a mention are some of the references to delicious culinary delights such as the spotted dick, and the Turkish delight butter-cream cupcakes or some of the more suspect ones like the wheat-grass smoothie or the Dijon tofu.

This fantastic book has left me keen to go touring and travelling and I strongly recommend giving this wonderfully uplifting romantic story a whirl!

{Thank you to #NetGalley and HQ Digital for the free copy of #RosiesTravellingTeaShop and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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The Shadow Between Us

The Shadow Between Us by Carol Mason

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Carol Mason, the best-selling author of ’After You Left’ has written an incredibly moving and poignant novel in this slow-burn, very beautiful work of fiction.

Olivia moves to the pretty coastal town of Port Townsend, with her marriage on-the-rocks, and her life in pieces. She doesn’t know if things with her husband Mark are truly over, or quite why the phone call she longs for on her daughter’s birthday will never come.

After joining a letter-writing club held at her local cafe she meets Ned, an ex-soldier badly wounded in Afghanistan. This chance friendship revives unexpected emotions and memories she’d rather forget.

Can Olivia find the courage to confront what she’s hiding from and finally begin to heal the wounds that have torn her life apart?

Liv, as she is known to her husband, is an extremely intriguing character. Regularly displaying a cocktail of emotions, I could still really empathise with her. She could be caring and thoughtful one minute, but then be frank, blunt and very much to-the-point, the next moment. At times she was positively distant and unkind. She was not alone in her attitude and behaviour as some of the other characters in the story shared similar traits such as cafe owner Beth. For me, this added to and complemented this wonderful character-driven story.

THE SHADOW BETWEEN US was a very insightful and thought-provoking read about reflecting on the mistakes we sometimes make and finding hope in second chances. I very much liked the emphasis on letter-writing, reading and quotes from favourite books, running throughout the story.

The dialogue between Olivia and Ned was lovely and liked how they had an almost immediate connection. I was very keen to see how their relationship might develop. I found THE SHADOW BETWEEN US a very enjoyable read, helped by Carol Mason’s beautiful writing which has depth and substance. The ending was very fulfilling although with an unexpected twist. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

[Thanks to #NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Carol Mason for my ARC of #TheShadowBetweenUs in exchange for an honest review.]



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