ARC Review: Redemption Road

Goodreads Blurb:

Redemption: The act of being saved from sin, error, or evil.

Antiques dealer by day, secret painter by night, Rory Flanagan arrives home to find a man, battered and bruised, sprawled out on her newly upholstered Victorian sofa. The brash, six-foot-four stranger takes an unusual interest in Rory’s vintage gold pendant—given to Rory by her mother the day she was killed.

They say Christian Locke is a loner, an orphan, a mysterious cowboy the small-town gossips deem an outsider. They tell her to stay away. But Rory can’t ignore the connection she feels to the mulish recluse, or the interest he has in the cursed necklace she wears around her neck.

Christian says he doesn’t believe in fate, but every twist and turn of the pendant’s story seems to lead her to the same place…

Welcome to Redemption Road.

Your secrets are not safe here.

My Thoughts:

I was pleased to be provided with an ARC from the author after reading Rattlesnake Road. (Which is pretty much my favorite book so far!) Thank you Amanda for the ARC. All thoughts are of my own.

Let’s get down to it then.

What did I like?
– Writing style. Amanda’s a wordsmith!
– Depiction of mental health and eating disorders.
– Twists and turns in the book. Very engaging for sure.
– Unique characters.
– Coming full circle. (The necklace)

What could’ve been better?
– Overall the book ended on a very wholesome note, but the resolution in regards to the killer left me unsatisfied. (At around 75%-80% mark of the book.) I wish there was more to it than just a scene used to pique my interest.
– Rory’s behavior towards Jake at the cemetery. I couldn’t come to terms with the term of events. I wish there was an explanation
– I admire the author’s attempt to tie up every loose end with an explanation, but real people don’t always get the answer to every question asked.
– There was a teaser in Rattlesnake Road in regards to Christian, I wish Grey and Declan had made an appearance in this one too. Freaking love Declan…

Overall, it’s a wonderful book. Very well written with an intense plot.

My Rating: It’s a 3.8/5.

Content Notices: Death, (attempted) suicide, visceral description of a dead body, suicidal thoughts, ED

Audience:  Young Adult

Pages: 418, Kindle Edition

Disclaimer: If you use my links, it won’t cost you anything extra, but I will receive a very small percentage of any sales. Every little bit helps, though, so thank you very much if you do! 🙂


Meet the Author:

Amanda McKinney is the bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than fifteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her latest book, Rattlesnake Road, was named one of POPSUGAR’s 12 Best Romance Books to Have a Spring Fling With, and was featured on the Today Show. The fifth book in her Steele Shadows series, Jagger (Steele Shadows Investigations), was recently nominated for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

Amanda wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY in 2017, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Her books include the bestselling series, STEELE SHADOWS SECURITY, the multi-award-winning BERRY SPRINGS series, BLACK ROSE MYSTERIES, and many more to come.

Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries peppered with steamy romance She lives in Arkansas with her handsome husband, two beautiful boys, and three obnoxious dogs.

Visit her website at www.amandamckinneyauthor.com
Follow Amanda on Instagram at www.instagram.com/amandamckinneyauthor
Follow Amanda on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandamckineyauthor


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: A Perfect Harvest

Goodreads Blurb:

Given a terminal diagnosis (actually two of them) thirty-five year old Miguel Padilla decides he must accomplish something meaningful before death. He seizes on the idea of donating a kidney to save someone’s life.

Then he decides: why stop there? Why not donate… everything?

Why not indeed?

My Thoughts:

The thing is, fear doesn’t stop death so much as it stops life, in the same way worry doesn’t take away tomorrow’s problems so much as it takes away today’s peace

Things I liked:

  • Interesting plot and characters.
  • Great amount of research.
  • Funny and sarcastic bits.

Things that could’ve been better:

  • Writing style. I disliked how the narrator interacted with his audience. Felt more like a screenplay.
  • The songs? They weren’t interesting or funny.
  • Characters’ emotions seemed superficial.
  • The story just didn’t work. It felt all over the place. It was draggy and at times boring. I was extremely close to not finishing it.

Overall, it spoke about an important issue which I was happy to read and learn more about.

My Rating: It’s a 2.5/5.

Content Notices: Death. Online Trolls.

Audience:  Adult

Pages: 258, Kindle Edition


Meet the Author:

Bill Fitzhugh worked at several FM rock radio stations in the 1970s and 1980s. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, he prefers The Band, Little Feat, and Van Morrison to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Iron Butterfly. The author of numerous screenplays and five comic novels, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his record collection.


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: Rattlesnake Road (A Small Town Mystery Romance)

Goodreads Blurb:

Everyone hits rock bottom, only the brave escape.

Welcome to 1314 Rattlesnake Road.

A quaint two-bedroom log cabin nestled deep in the woods of the small, southern town of Berry Springs—the perfect hideaway to escape your past.

Tucked inside thick, mahogany walls lay mysterious letters, forgotten and untouched for decades. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame breathtaking views of jagged cliffs, deep valleys, and endless lies. Mature oak trees, tall enough to touch the clouds, carry the whispers of the haunted, of stories untold

Inside sits Grey Dalton, emotionally battered and bruised, her only wish to pick up the broken pieces of her life. But outside, await two men, one a tattooed cowboy, the other a dashing businessman.

One will steal her heart, the other, her soul.

Rattlesnake Road is a standalone mystery romance about love, loss, hitting rock bottom, and clawing your way to the other side.

Your escape awaits…

My Thoughts:

I….. didn’t see any of THAT coming…?!

Okay, starting from the first chapter, this book starts on a REALLY HIGH NOTE! Details and events that are displayed churned my stomach and broke my heart simultaneously. I felt for Grey.

What did I like?

  • Declan. Forget like, I love him. What a freaking man. (Except for the feet fungus. That was hilarious though. )
  • Engaging story. Though the first half had up and downs, the story was beautifully crafted. I loved McKinney’s writing style. There was an obvious distinction between all her characters. The imagery used was just, beautiful. Starting from Grey’s new house to Declan’s property to the little bridge that connected their land. (So, you can imagine how Amanda was able to clench my heart through my chest when things went bad in the book.)
  • Angst between Grey and Declan. Two polar opposites. I love that trope.
  • Dialogues. Do I have to say more?
  • The amount of research. From gardening to essential oil distillery to tornados?!
  • Serenity bear. Just, ah… the back story behind that tied it all together.
  • Murder mystery of the young girl and the letters that Grey found. It piqued my interest in the book. For a part of the book, I thought there would have been no resolution but the ending took me by surprise.
  • Depiction of mental health & alcoholism. Not very easy to do justice to such deep topics.
  • The COVER!

What I didn’t like?

  • Grey. Her actions just pissed me off. (That could just be a compliment to how real the character was and her struggles.- Revealing the real killer and his REASONS left a distaste in my mouth. I don’t think his actions should’ve been justified in any way.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I would most definitely be checking out more of the author’s books.

My Rating: It’s a 4.5/5.

Content Notices: Miscarriage, Adultery, Violence/Self Harm, Alcohol Abuse, Questionable (rape?) sexual encounter, Murder of an animal in the past ( bares no relation to the MC), & Murder of a little girl in the past, ( bares no relation to the MC).

Audience:  Adult

Pages: 419, Kindle Edition


Meet the Author:

Amanda McKinney is the bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than fifteen romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her latest book, Rattlesnake Road, was named one of POPSUGAR’s 12 Best Romance Books to Have a Spring Fling With, and was featured on the Today Show. The fifth book in her Steele Shadows series, Jagger (Steele Shadows Investigations), was recently nominated for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

Amanda wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY in 2017, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Her books include the bestselling series, STEELE SHADOWS SECURITY, the multi-award-winning BERRY SPRINGS series, BLACK ROSE MYSTERIES, and many more to come.

Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries peppered with steamy romance She lives in Arkansas with her handsome husband, two beautiful boys, and three obnoxious dogs.

Text AMANDABOOKS to 66866 to receive Amanda’s newsletter and get the latest on new releases, promos, and freebies!

Visit her website at www.amandamckinneyauthor.com
Follow Amanda on Instagram at www.instagram.com/amandamckinneyauthor
Follow Amanda on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandamckineyauthor


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: When We’re Thirty

Goodreads Blurb:

Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.

Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.

My Thoughts:

Summary: Cute Romance, which could’ve been better.
2.75/5

Things I liked:

  • Characters such as Riley, Charlaine, & Kate.
  • The plot: “If we aren’t married by ___ age, then let’s get hitched!”
  • Sweet romance

Things that could’ve been better:

  • Better writing. The author tried to pan the book out, but certain high points turned anticlimactic because of the delivery. It just fell flat and was very frustrating. SPOILER! SPOILER! [Like the reveal of JT or their first time confessing their love to each other.]
  • Fights between Will and Hannah seemed so unnecessary most of the time even if it was used as a catalyst to advance the story further. I found it hard to digest SPOILER! SPOILER! [ how they just got back together with each other no matter what?]
  • The jumps between scenes. Important scenes just vanished, and certain rambles were in place instead.
  • Unnecessary spotlight on Madison and Jo. Their characters never seemed steady and always changing.
  • I had to push through the first half of the book, if it weren’t an ARC, I would’ve probably DNF’ed.

Overall, it’s a decent book for a debut. If you enjoy family angst intertwined with romance, this might be the one for you.


My Rating: It’s a 2.75/5.

Content Notices: Emotionally abusive ex.

Audience:  Adult

Pages: 295, Kindle Edition


Meet the Author:

“I’m a working writer and mom. By day I work in corporate marketing communications and at night I spend quality time with my husband and daughter.

I love to write love stories and stories that focus on the intricacies of relationships–whether they be romantic, familial or friendship. My stories focus on the quiet, inner workings of women and how everything in their lives leads them to exactly where they are, whether they like it or not.

In 2019, When We’re Thirty (under the title First Comes Marriage) won the Contemporary Romance Writers Stiletto Award for Unpublished Women’s Fiction, and earned finalist positions in the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Contest and the NorthWest Houston RWA LoneStar Contest.”


I received a complimentary advance review copy, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

ARC Review: Mango, Mambo, and Murder (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery, #1)

Goodreads Blurb:

Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quinones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel Reyes’s Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.

Food anthropologist Miriam Quinones-Smith’s move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, is traumatic enough without having to deal with her son’s toddler tantrums and her husband’s midlife crisis. Her best friend, Alma, adds some spice back into Miriam’s life when she offers her a job as an on-air cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women’s Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.

When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes–especially after the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him. But then, Detective Pullman learns that the socialite’s death resulted from a drug overdose–and an anonymous tip fingers Alma as the pusher.

Pullman persuades Miriam to ply her culinary know-how and her understanding of Coral Shores’s Caribbean culture to help find the killer and clear Alma’s name. While her hubby dallies with his ex-girlfriend, Juliet, Miriam quizzes her neighbors for answers and researches all manner of herbs.

As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.

My Thoughts:

“Holding onto a grudge is like holding onto an anchor and jumping into the sea.”

Now that an inspiring quote has made an appearance, let’s begin!

What I liked/loved:

  • Characters! I feel like authors don’t get enough credit for creating NEGATIVE characters./ antagonists. There were a few of those in this book that made my blood boil. (Which translates to Raquel doing a fantastic job in bringing them to life!) Since I have mentioned the antagonist, I cannot take the spotlight away from the MC.
    Miriam. She was a likable character and her affection for her family and best friend seemed genuine. I admired her self-control when experiencing racism.
    Manny. What a delight!!! Are toddlers really like that? (My guess is going to be no, haha.)
    Robert. Being in an interracial marriage, it was admirable how he welcomed her culture and they worked together. I was rooting for them throughout!
    So many amazing characters, I wonder how book 2 would go about it!
  • Writing style. Despite being around 300+ pages, I was able to finish the book within a day. Written in the first person past tense, the author was able to capture my attention with her engaging plotline and dialogues. I cannot stress how much I LOVED being introduced to the Caribbean culture. It’s so beautiful. The food, history, and family structure.
  • Bilingual aspects. Mainly written in English, it included a few Spanish dialogues and words. It made it feel more authentic even when there were a few instances where I found myself trying to translate the words, haha.
  • Recipes at the end? Hell yes! That was such an added bonus! I am very keen on the papaya smoothie.

What could’ve been better?

  • Miriam and Detective Frank Pullman’s relationship. It lacked authenticity once she had turned into an informant.
  • I was hoping someone else was the “killer” though there was a good amount of information and research involved to create a good distraction. While it was expected, sort of, I wasn’t bored reading through Miriam’s thought process or the events that occurred in her life.

It took about three minutes of turning the water off and on, flushing the toilet and opening and closing the hall bathroom door to stir Manny.

Okay, not necessarily an issue, my personal opinion on here. Why was she doing this? Her husband was an environmentalist! And I thought she was too. When these lines popped up, I WAS SHOCKED! Why Miriam, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!

Overall, I loved the book! Can’t wait to read more from the author!


Meet the author!

Raquel V. Reyes writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Raquel is a co-chair for SleuthFest. Her short story “A Star Goes Dark” is in the 15th Malice Domestic anthology.