Book Review: THE GHOSTS OF CRAGERA BAY by Dawn Brown (Harlequin E Shivers)

GhostsCollageSeries: Harlequin E Shivers (Box Set, Volume 3)
Publisher: Harlequin E
Release Date: July 7, 2014
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½

Declan James is the reluctant heir to a crumbling Welsh estate with a deadly history. He’ll never sell Stonecliff with a parapsychologist poking around fueling ghostly rumors. But his truce with beautiful Dr. Carly Evans is destined to end in bloodshed.


I’ve read three out of the four books from the Harlequin E Shivers Box Set, Volume 3, and THE GHOSTS OF CRAGERA BAY is definitely the darkest and spookiest. It gave me chills! After his biological father dies, Declan James/Meyers inherits his family’s dreary estate on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales. All he wants to do is sell the dank place known as Stonecliff as soon as possible and return to his life in Seattle.

Unfortunately, there are two major problems interfering with Declan’s plan. First, the creepy bog on the property called The Devil’s Eye has been a hub of evil over the past few decades, including numerous murders and hauntings, and no one knows why. Secondly, persistent parapsychologist Dr. Carly Evans wants to investigate Stonecliff’s unexplained paranormal activity, and she has an idea about why evil is drawn to The Devil’s Eye. If she can prove her theory, it will make selling the place all the more difficult.

THE GHOSTS OF CRAGERA BAY was a fast-paced, creepy-good Gothic romance that I really enjoyed. I was intrigued by the complex and gruesome history of Stonecliff and the mysterious bog. Declan was the consummate Gothic hero – brooding, tortured, sexy, and needing a good woman to save his soul. Carly was a likable heroine, with smarts, determination, and a fearless streak a mile long.

While reading this, I didn’t realize there were two previous books connected to it — THE DEVIL’S EYE and THE WITCH OF STONECLIFF. You don’t need to read them in order to enjoy, but I would like to go back and find out more back story details, especially about Declan’s half-sisters, Brynn and Eleri.

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

Book Review: ATONEMENT by B.J. Daniels

atonement
Series: Beartooth, Montana, #4
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Released: February 25, 2014
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Just how far are people willing to go to keep their secrets?

Protecting the citizens of Beartooth, Montana, is never an easy job. One year later, Sheriff Dillon Lawson still feels guilty that he couldn’t save his twin brother, Ethan. But the biggest test of his bravery comes when Tessa Winters arrives, claiming to be pregnant…with Ethan’s baby. At first, Dillon can’t decide if this beautiful woman is a con artist or a victim. If Ethan didn’t die in that car crash, then where is he—and why is he hiding?

Now, Dillon is prepared to do anything to uncover the truth…anything except admit his growing feelings for Tessa. But with violence threatening, Tessa and Dillon must trust in each other to save not only themselves…but also Tessa’s unborn child.

———

I was in the mood for a cowboy romance, and the blurb for ATONEMENT grabbed my attention. This is the first B.J. Daniels book I’ve read, so I’m jumping into this series late, and I did feel like I was missing parts of the back story.

The book starts out strong when the angry and pregnant heroine, Tessa, comes to Montana searching for her baby’s father, Ethan. Instead, she finds his twin brother, Dillon (who she didn’t know about), and Dillon claims that his brother died over a year ago, which Tessa knows couldn’t be possible. Dillon assumes Ethan has gotten himself in big trouble again, and that’s why he’s playing dead, so Dillon and Tessa set out to uncover the mystery and find Ethan.

The book switches back and forth between the Tessa/Dillon/Ethan story line and a murder mystery involving the town’s sheriff, Frank, and his girlfriend, Nettie. I’m assuming that Frank & Nettie’s story is being carried over from a previous book. While I was intrigued by their mystery, I thought it detracted from Tessa & Dillon’s story. It wasn’t easy keeping everyone and everything straight, and I felt disconnected.

I liked Dillon and Tessa as a couple, and I was rooting for them. With her being pregnant with another man’s baby, theirs was a unique and sweet romance that took time to grow. I did wonder, though, how a smart and strong woman like Tessa could have fallen for a screw up like Ethan. I guess love makes us do crazy things.

I think those who have read the previous books in this series will probably like ATONEMENT more than I did, though I enjoyed seeing how both mysteries played out in the end.

Rating: 3 Stars

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

Book Review: DARK WATERS by Toni Anderson

DarkWaters
Series: Vancouver Island – Carver Brothers
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Source: Review copy through the Amazon Vine Program

Danger once again laps at the shores of Barkley Sound, the Graveyard of the Pacific…

Since her rocky childhood and its abrupt, brutal ending, schoolteacher Anna Silver hasn’t given her trust easily. But when her estranged father gets in over his head—again—and winds up dead, his last message to Anna is as clear as it is insistent: she’s in danger and Brent Carver, the man with whom he shared a prison cell for five years, is the only person she should turn to for help. With nowhere else to go and with her father’s killer on her trail, Anna flees to what she hopes is safety.

​Tucked into the west coast of Vancouver Island, Brent Carver’s isolated home hasn’t seen many visitors. And his friend’s daughter is the last person he ever expected to grace his doorstep. She’s in trouble, and he can’t deny her protection…just as he can’t deny his attraction to the independent beauty. As their passion sparks into flame, the perfect storm brews off the coast of his island home, bringing with it a sadistic killer hunting Anna and the secrets she’s come close to uncovering.

———

DARK WATERS is the second romantic suspense novel I’ve read by Toni Anderson, and like the first, I really enjoyed it. Ms. Anderson has a knack for blending sizzling romance, angsty, well-drawn characters, and nail-biting suspense into a riveting read.

This story begins with Anna Silver receiving a frantic voice mail message from her father just before he dies. He’s an ex-con who’s found trouble again, and now Anna’s life is threatened. Her father tells her to find safety with Brent Carver, a man he shared a prison cell with for many years.

Since being released from prison four years earlier, Brent has shut himself off from the world. He makes a living as a reclusive yet very successful artist, and he doesn’t venture far from his secluded home on Vancouver Island. Brent’s none too thrilled about a strange woman invading his private space, but when he finds out Anna is his best friend’s daughter and hears her tragic story, he can’t turn her away.

Anna and Brent – wow, these two were lugging some heavy emotional baggage. I’m not sure which one had been wronged the most, but my heart went out to both of them. Understandably, they had major trust issues, yet somehow they made their relationship work. On top of that, Anna had a truly evil baddie on her tail wanting something of her deceased father’s. The villain was horrid! Not happy to just get the information from Anna, but he had to be a sadistic you-know-what too, playing on her fears. He made me cringe.

DARK WATERS was a fast paced, entertaining romantic suspense novel that was heavier on the darker “thriller” elements, which I liked. My only quibble was that I found it hard to believe Brent went to prison for 20 years for his crime, considering he was 16 at the time and there were extenuating circumstances. Still, it was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of the genre.

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for an honest review.