Now in Paperback: THE VANISHED BRIDE by Bella Ellis [Re-Post Review]


Series: A Brontë Sisters Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…


Hello! I’m re-posting my review of THE VANISHED BRIDE from last year to celebrate the paperback release with a brand new cover (which I love!). I’m also including the cover and blurb for the next book in the series, THE DIABOLICAL BONES, coming in November…♥


THE VANISHED BRIDE is a unique historical mystery that casts the famous Brontë sisters as amateur sleuths who set out to solve a local missing persons case. It’s 1845, and Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are once again living at home with their father Patrick and brother Branwell, before they became published authors. The sisters are struggling to find their place in the world as unmarried women who would prefer to set their own course in life. When they hear a young wife has disappeared under gruesome circumstances, the Brontës become “lady detectors” and use their smarts & daring to find out what happened.

I enjoyed this book very much! Not only was I intrigued by the twisty mystery, I absolutely loved being able to live in the world of the Brontës for a little while. From what I’ve previously learned about them, I think the author did a fantastic job capturing the sisters’ personalities, conflicts, and closeness to one another. Though the mystery was fictional, it had many elements that would have influenced this Charlotte to write Jane Eyre. THE VANISHED BRIDE is a must read for Brontë fans — intriguing, well-written, and great fun.

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

…and coming November 10, 2020, THE DIABOLICAL BONES:


Haworth Parsonage, February 1846: The Brontë sisters — Anne, Emily, and Charlotte — are busy with their literary pursuits. As they query publishers for their poetry, each sister hopes to write a full-length novel that will thrill the reading public. They’re also hoping for a new case for their fledgling detecting enterprise, Bell Brothers and Company solicitors. On a bitterly cold February evening, their housekeeper Tabby tells them of a grim discovery at Scar Top House, an old farmhouse belonging to the Bradshaw family. A set of bones has been found bricked up in a chimney breast inside the ancient home.

Tabby says it’s bad doings, and dark omens for all of them. The rattled housekeeper gives them a warning, telling the sisters of a chilling rumour attached to the family. The villagers believe that, on the verge of bankruptcy, Clifton Bradshaw sold his soul to the devil in return for great riches. Does this have anything to do with the bones found in the Bradshaw house? The sisters are intrigued by the story and feel compelled to investigate. But Anne, Emily, and Charlotte soon learn that true evil has set a murderous trap and they’ve been lured right into it…


 

THE DILEMMA by B.A. Paris

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★


A woman’s birthday party takes a dark turn in a poignant, heart-stopping new novel from the reigning queen of suspense, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, and Bring Me Back.

Knowing the truth will destroy her. Keeping it secret will destroy him.

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But Livia is secretly glad Marnie won’t be there.

Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for Livia: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the party. But before Marnie arrives, Adam hears some terrible news. Now he too is faced with a dilemma: Does he share what he’s learned with his wife? Is hiding the truth the same as telling a lie? And how far are Adam and Livia willing to go to protect the ones they love―and give each other a last few hours of happiness?


Not every book can be your cup of tea, and unfortunately this one wasn’t mine. THE DILEMMA is a domestic suspense novel with both husband and wife hiding dreadful secrets and not communicating. For me the book was terribly sad. Most suspense/thrillers are sad or disturbing in some way, but there’s an element or twist that still makes them satisfying — not the case here.

The blurb states that Adam is throwing his wife a 40th birthday bash, but that’s not really true. Livia has been planning and saving for this party for the past 20 years to make up for her small wedding. (???) She and Adam have different secrets about their daughter Marnie that they want to keep hidden so Livia’s birthday isn’t ruined. (???) I just can’t wrap my mind around these people’s priorities and way of thinking.

Though THE DILEMMA didn’t work for me, I appreciate the publisher giving me the opportunity to review this book.

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

IN HER SHADOW by Kristin Miller

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


A pregnant young woman becomes obsessed with the disappearance of her lover’s wife, only to discover that she may be headed for the same fate, in this novel from New York Times bestselling author Kristin Miller.

When secretary Colleen Roper becomes pregnant by her boss, Michael, he whisks her away to Ravenwood, his opulent estate. Abruptly thrust into a life of luxury she’s never known, Colleen finds the immense house suffused with the memory of Michael’s wife, Joanna, who left months ago and haunts her imagination. With rooms she’s prohibited from entering and a staff that greets her with hostility, there is little room for a new mistress of Ravenwood.

It’s not long before bones are unearthed in the grove across the street and Michael falls under the suspicion of detectives. The soon-to-be mother of his child finds herself hurled deeper into her lover’s dark past, a past filled with unfaithfulness and deception. Making a claim to her new life is harder than it seems—especially since she’s walking in the shadow of the hauntingly beautiful Joanna. As Colleen untangles truth from lies, she discovers that nothing is what it seems, and that some people will kill to keep their secrets as quiet as the dead.


Kristin Miller has penned a clever modern retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA with its own delicious twists in her latest novel IN HER SHADOW. The young protagonist Colleen finds herself pregnant and living at Ravenwood, her boyfriend Michael’s lavish seaside estate. Months earlier, Michael’s wife Joanna left him and abandoned Ravenwood, yet Colleen still feels her oppressive control within its walls. The situation gets much worse when human remains are found across the street, and Michael becomes a suspect.

This book was an exciting combination of mystery and Gothic suspense that kept me guessing. Ravenwood was gorgeous but creepy, and I couldn’t wait to find out what secrets it held. The story is told from a few different characters’ perspective, and I was never quite sure who to trust. The surprising twist at the end was one I did NOT see coming, a definite what?!? moment. Enjoyed! 

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

THE CLOSER YOU GET by Mary Torjussen

Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


They had the perfect plan to start a new life together…before it all went horribly wrong.

A new twisting novel of psychological suspense from the acclaimed author of The Girl I Used to Be.

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love—but they’re married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start a new life together. Ruby has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, so she tells him she’s leaving and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby has lost everything. Harry won’t answer her calls, and she’s fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she’s hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen—someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night—and she is going to have to fight for her survival.


THE CLOSER YOU GET is a wonderfully tense and twisted domestic thriller that had me on edge from the start. This tale of a workplace affair gone wrong is told from the POVs of Emma and Ruby, the wronged wife and the “other woman.” Of course, as it turns out there’s more going on than meets the eye! I enjoyed getting the perspective of both of these flawed and compelling women. 

This was a gripping and entertaining read that had my stomach in nervous knots several times. The tangled web of lies and manipulation these characters created had me hooked, and how it all played out in the end was quite satisfying. Highly recommended to fans of domestic suspense!

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

DARLING ROSE GOLD by Stephanie Wrobel


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★


Mothers never forget. Daughters never forgive.

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.


DARLING ROSE GOLD is a dark domestic suspense novel featuring a majorly twisted and unhealthy mother/daughter relationship. Mother Patty has just been released after five years in prison for abusing her daughter Rose Gold. She was accused of intentionally making Rose Gold sick her whole 18 years for…attention? Or to keep her daughter totally dependent on her? Whatever the reason, it was horrible, and of course Rose Gold suffered physically and mentally.

I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll just quote the blurb to (sort of) summarize the plot: “Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…and she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.” It seems Rose Gold still has a score to settle with her mother even after her incarceration. Fair enough. Suddenly we’re learning Patty’s tragic backstory and wondering just what Rose Gold has in store…

DARLING ROSE GOLD was a quick and suspenseful read, as the two main characters try to manipulate each other. I wish, though, that the book had delved deeper into the psychology of Munchausen by proxy. In this case it felt rushed and simplified so the characters could concentrate on their vengeance. I ended up feeling bad for the wrong person, which may have been the biggest twist!

Though I had some issues with this book, I think fans of dysfunctional family dramas and twisty stories of revenge will enjoy this chilling debut novel.

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