Friday, July 31, 2020

Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Title: Home Before Dark
Author: Riley Sager
Published: June 2020, Dutton Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?

My thoughts: As you know, I am a huge Riley Sager fan. I've read and loved his previous three books. Each new one I read becomes my new favorite, but I really think this one tops all his others.

I had been looking forward to this new one book for many reasons. Of course, the first being that it's just a new Riley Sager book. I literally devour these books and of course that's always such a good/bad thing. Good, because that obviously means I really liked it but bad because it means it will be that much longer until I have another new one in my hands.

But probably the more pressing reason I was looking forward to this particular book is that I knew it was going to have Amityville Horror vibes to it and I live right across the creek from this famed house. I literally look at the back of this house every day. Talk about being able to read a book in the most perfect of atmospheres!

This book was just the right amount of spooky and creepy, but not overly so. It never got to the point that I needed to put it down. And the whole book-within-a-book format works so well here. The two timelines give us two very distinctive voices that make this story really engaging on all parts. Maggie's POV is told in the present day just after she has inherited the house. The other timeline is excerpts of the book, written by Maggie's father after the family had lived in the house.

I loved seeing the parallels between what had happened in the book years ago happen again in Maggie's life now in the present. The book is a creepy story but are we supposed to believe it? That's what keeps you hooked and flipping that pages. And Maggie's chapters are just as engaging. Maggie grew up believing that her father was a liar, but is it possible that the house was really haunted?

This book is the reason why I love picking up books that have just a hint of horror. They are creepy but not to the point that I got nightmares! They are incredibly binge-worthy and addicting - once you start reading, you become totally consumed by the story and just want to know what is going on. I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good chilling tale!


Blog Tour & Review: Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins

Title: Behind the Red Door
Author: Megan Collins
Published: August 2020, Atria Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

The author of the “suspenseful, atmospheric, and completely riveting” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) debut The Winter Sister returns with a darkly thrilling novel about a woman who comes to believe that she has a connection to a decades old kidnapping and now that the victim has gone missing again, begins a frantic search to learn what happened in the past.

When Fern Douglas sees the news about Astrid Sullivan, a thirty-four-year-old missing woman from Maine, she is positive that she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure it’s because of Astrid’s famous kidnapping—and equally famous return—twenty years ago, but Fern has no memory of that, even though it happened an hour outside her New Hampshire hometown. And when Astrid appears in Fern’s recurring nightmare, one in which a girl reaches out to her, pleading, Fern fears that it’s not a dream at all, but a memory.

Back at her childhood home to help her father pack for a move, Fern purchases a copy of Astrid’s recently published memoir—which may have provoked her original kidnapper to abduct her again—and as she reads through its chapters and visits the people and places within it, she discovers more evidence that she has an unsettling connection to the missing woman. With the help of her psychologist father, Fern digs deeper, hoping to find evidence that her connection to Astrid can help the police locate her. But when Fern discovers more about her own past than she ever bargained for, the disturbing truth will change both of their lives forever.

Featuring Megan Collins’s signature “dark, tense, and completely absorbing” (Booklist) prose and plenty of shocking twists and turns, Behind the Red Door is an arresting thriller that will haunt you long after you turn the last page.

My thoughts: Last year I read Megan Collins's debut novel, The Winter Sister and really enjoyed it, so I was thrilled to be asked to be on her blog tour for her new book. And this latest one was just as dark and thrilling. 

This book hooked me right from the start and I was completely captivated the entire time. The use of fear as a theme was really a unique one and I loved seeing how it was played out in so many different ways. It's not just the fear of the unknown, though that is certainly a big part of what is going on here as Fern is desperately trying to work out why she feels she has some connection to this missing woman who has now gone missing again twenty years later. But it is also the twisted "fear experiments" that her father would do in the name of his research.

I loved that while I had my suspicions as to who was behind things, there were just enough twists that I doubted myself a few times, but ultimately I was right. This in no way detracted from my enjoyment because I needed to know why - what could possibly be the motivations if I was correct? 

This book is filled with broken characters and I loved that. Fern is obsessed with pleasing her narcissistic father, yet she's so traumatized by his neglect that she cannot see just how manipulating he really is. And her mother is no better, choosing to focus on her career rather than her daughter.

I loved the book-within-the-book format. I'm always a fan of this and thought it was used really well here. We get to read bits of Astrid's memoir as Fern is digging into it, hoping that it will spark memories. I looked forward to when we got those chapters. It provided so much insight.

This was a tense, dark book and once I started it, I could not put it down. Even though parts were predictable, there were still things I did not see coming. And to be witness to the twisted family dynamics that Fern was part of just devastates me. Megan Collins definitely gives us a thriller that keeps you on edge and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!

Megan Collins is the author of The Winter Sister and Behind the Red Door. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. She has taught creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Central Connecticut State University, and she is the managing editor of 3Elements Review. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Off the CoastSpillway, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Rattle. She lives in Connecticut.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook    |   Instagram

Atria Books
On Sale: August 4, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9821-3039-8


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Book Feature & Review: Amazon Original Stories: Hush

Amazon Original Stories, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, is pleased to present HUSH, six stories exploring a web of lies. Where do you go for truth in an age of social media illusions and deep divisions? How do you trust what you think you know about your friends and family? In stories featuring conspirators, psychics, deceptive lovers, and desperate killers, some of today's most popular and award-winning crime writers explore the very nature of truth and the risks in uncovering the lies.

Available July 30, 2020
These stories are not available in print - only in digital or audio format. They are available on Amazon and if you are a Prime member - they are free!

Click here for more information. 

SNOWFLAKES, by Ruth Ware.
When a barrier between truth and illusion grows stronger, a family’s trust crumbles in this arresting short story by the number one New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10.

TREASURE, by Oyinkan Braithwaite.
A darkly comic short story of class divide, the lives we invent, and the very real risks of preserving an Insta-fame facade by the award-winning author of My Sister, the Serial Killer.

SLOW BURNER, by Laura Lippman.
A woman watches her marriage implode over text message and decides that ignorance is not bliss in this bitterly satisfying short mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of Lady in the Lake.

BURIED, by Jeffrey Deaver.
An old-school reporter discovers that the search for the truth is still full of surprises in a twisty short thriller from bestselling master of suspense Jeffery Deaver.

THE GIFT, by Alison Gaylin.
What’s a desperate mother to do when her child suddenly disappears? Anything it takes to keep the family together in USA Today bestselling author Alison Gaylin’s short story with a sting.

LET HER BE, by Lisa Unger.
A writer’s misguided suspicions ruined his life once before. This time he plans to prove he’s right in a New York Times bestselling author’s haunting short story of what happens when seeing is not believing.

As you all know, I am a huge fan of crime fiction, so I was thrilled to see some of my favorite authors in this mix. What I love about picking up something like this is that it allows me to get to read something from beloved favorites like Ruth Ware, Laura Lippman, Alison Gaylin and Lisa Unger, and at the same time, getting a feel for the writing of some new-to-me authors, in this case, Oyinkan Braithwaite and Jeffrey Deaver. And now I want to read more of their writing!

And the fact that these pieces are all short means that you can either read each piece in one sitting, spreading them out over a few days, or like me, devour all six stories in a matter of a few hours!  Each story captivated me completely and kept me engaged all the way through! They are thrilling and original stories that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend this short story collection - whether you read them all or just pick a won't regret it!

What do you think? Will you be reading or listening to these? Or have you done so already? Let me know if you do!



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Review: The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

Title: The Wife Who Knew Too Much
Author: Michele Campbell
Published: July 2020, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC E-copy, 352 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

From Michele Campbell, the bestselling author of It's Always the Husband comes a new blockbuster thriller in The Wife Who Knew Too Much.

Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha's life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. "I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death," it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

My thoughts:  Michele Campbell is becoming a go-to for the ultimate summer popcorn thriller. Her books are so twisty and addicting that you just can't help but read in one or two sittings and this latest one is no exception!

This book hooked me right from the beginning and it never really let up. The characters draw you in and while you might not love them all - there are definitely those love to hate kinds of characters here - you can't help but become consumed with them as you become invested with what is going on. I also found I wasn't sure who I could trust - everyone seems to be hiding something.

I always love a good obsession story and this one takes the cake! It had so many different twists to it, my mind was spinning. Every time I thought I had things worked out, something new would be revealed. This is definitely a book where nothing and no one is as it seems and it really keeps you guessing. 

This book is one that will totally consume you once you start reading it. You will be desperate to know what really happened to Nina  - that journal entry alone was pure brilliance! - and even though it's a crazy read, you won't be able to put it down until you get to that last page! I definitely recommend adding this book to your summer reading's such a fun, addicting read.


Review: Left for Dead by Caroline Mitchell (audio)

Title: Left for Dead
Author: Caroline Mitchell
Series: DI Amy Winter, #3
Narrator: Elizabeth Knowelden
Published: July 2020, Brilliance Audio
Length: 10 hours 4 minutes
Source: Publisher

A victim on display. A detective on the rails.

Shopping with her sister, DI Amy Winter is admiring a Valentine’s Day window display of a perfect bride encrusted in diamonds and resplendent in lace—until she notices blood oozing from the mannequin’s mouth.

This is no stunt. A post-mortem reveals the victim was left to die on her macabre throne for all to see. When a second victim is found, it emerges that both women were ‘Sugar Babes’ arranging dates with older men online—and Amy finds herself hunting an accomplished psychopath.

As she tracks down the killer, Amy’s instincts go into overdrive when the charismatic head of the agency behind the display makes no attempt to hide his fascination with her serial-killer parents. What exactly does he want from Amy? With her own world in freefall as her biological mother, Lillian Grimes, appeals her conviction, Amy pushes the boundaries of police procedure when a third ‘Sugar Babe’ disappears…Is she as much at risk as the killer’s victims?

My thoughts:  This is the third book in Caroline Mitchell's latest series featuring DI Amy Winters and I love it! This is such a gripping series - the books really grab you and hold your interest, though I will say, they are dark and a bit disturbing, so be forewarned!

While most books that are part of series these days can be read as stand-alones, I really feel strongly that this series should be read in it's entirety. DI Amy Winter's backstory is really what this whole series is based on and that is built and developed over the course of the series, getting bit by bit as the series goes on. Yes, there is some recap in each of the books, but not enough to really understand the full depth just who Amy Winter is.

DI Amy Winter is such a fierce to be reckoned with. She isn't afraid to go with her gut, even when that means she has to go against procedure to get the answers to solve a case. And on the case she is working on, she instinctively knows who is guilty right away, even though her colleagues have someone in custody already. It was up to her to figure out how to change their minds.

I loved that right away, we are privy to who the guilty person was. It was creepy being inside this person's head. But on the other hand, these are the parts I find so fascinating because we get to find out their motivations.

I love how the book is perfectly balanced between the case and Amy's personal life. With Lillian's trial fast approaching, Amy's stress is quite high. Lillian is always playing games - that is just her modus operandi. And with Amy's sisters wavering on their stance, it's got Amy worried. What is going to happen at the trial?

So much is set up for the next book and I cannot wait to see what happens. What I love about this series is that Caroline Mitchell so cleverly raises the tension at just the right moments. The book is fast-paced and the mini-cliffhangers at the end of some chapters just beg you to keep reading or listening. This is a series that just keeps getting better and I will be counting down the days until book 4 is released!

Audio thoughts: I was very happy to see that Elizabeth Knowelden was back to narrate book 3 in this series. I am a big fan of consistency, whenever possible, in series. I feel it brings continuity to the story and Elizabeth Knowelden certainly did that, as she was consistent with the voices and her tone. As dark and gritty as this story was, Elizabeth Knowelden really brought it to life with her narration and I hope she continues to be the narrator for as long as the series goes on.

Books in this series:
  1. Truth and Lies
  2. The Secret Child
  3. Left for Dead
  4. ???


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Book Spotlight: The Fate of a Flapper by Susanna Calkins

Today, Susanna Calkins's latest novel, The Fate of a Flapper, is being published and to celebrate, I'm helping the publisher get the word out. This is the second book in her Speakeasy Murders series, a series set in 1920s Chicago. 

Title: The Fate of a Flapper
Author: Susanna Calkin
Series: The Speakeasy Murders, #2
Published: July 2020, St. Martin's Griffin
Format: Paperback, 320 pages

The Fate of a Flapper, the second mystery in this captivating new series, takes readers into the dark, dangerous, and glittering underworld of a 1920's Chicago speakeasy.A 2019 Agatha Award Nominee for "Best Historical Mystery"!

After nine months as a cigarette girl at the Third Door, one of Chicago’s premier moonshine parlors, Gina Ricci feels like she's finally getting into the swing of things. The year is 1929, the Chicago Cubs are almost in the World Series, neighborhood gangs are all-powerful, and though Prohibition is the law of the land, the Third Door can't serve the cocktails fast enough.

Two women in particular are throwing drinks back with abandon while chatting up a couple of bankers, and Gina can't help but notice the levels of inebriation and the tension at their table. When the group stumbles out in the early morning, she tries to put them out of her head. But once at home that night, Gina's sleep is interrupted when her cousin Nancy, a police officer, calls—she's found a body. Gina hurries over to photograph the crime scene, but stops short when she recognizes the body: it’s one of the women from the night before.

Could the Third Door have served the woman bad liquor? Or, Gina wonders, could this be murder? As the gangs and bombings draw ever closer, all of Chicago starts to feel like a warzone, and Gina is determined to find out if this death was an unlucky accident, or a casualty of combat.


"Winning...Calkins draws a memorable portrait of Prohibition-era Chicago."Publishers Weekly
"Written with wit and an understanding of the tensions during one of the most volatile times in history...will give readers insight into the world of Prohibition and what the human spirit is capable of in desperate times." Library Journal 

"You have to love a gal who takes chances while staying true to herself." Kirkus

"A fun romp...with lots of 1920s atmosphere."Booklist

Books in this series: 
  1. Murder Knocks Twice
  2. The Fate of a Flapper 

Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney (audio)

Title: His & Hers
Author: Alice Feeney
Narrator: Richard Armitage, Stephanie Racine
Published: July 2020, Macmillan Audio / Flatiron Books
Length: 10 hours 38 minutes / 304 pages
Source: Audio - ALC via / Print - ARC E-galley from Publisher

There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.
Anna Andrews finally has what she wants. Almost. She’s worked hard to become the main TV presenter of the BBC’s lunchtime news, putting work before friends, family, and her now ex-husband. So, when someone threatens to take her dream job away, she’ll do almost anything to keep it.

When asked to cover a murder in Blackdown―the sleepy countryside village where she grew up―Anna is reluctant to go. But when the victim turns out to be one of her childhood friends, she can’t leave. It soon becomes clear that Anna isn’t just covering the story, she’s at the heart of it.

DCI Jack Harper left London for a reason, but never thought he’d end up working in a place like Blackdown. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Jack decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realise he is a suspect in his own murder investigation.

One of them knows more than they are letting on. Someone isn’t telling the truth. Alternating between Anna's and Jack's points of view, His & Hers is a fast-paced, complex, and dark puzzle that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

My thoughts: I have been a fan of Alice Feeney since the beginning and I just fall in love with her writing more and more with each new book. This time around, I decided to go the audio route and all I can say is WOW! Whether you read or listen to this book, just know it is amazing!

I loved everything about this story! From the short chapters, to the twists and turns that this story takes, to the unreliable narrators - this book kept me guessing what was going on all the way through. It is fast paced and one of those stories that it's almost better going in blind because you want to experience it for all it's worth.

I listened to this book in one day because I could not put it down. I was completely captivated by the story. It is dark and twisted and I was all in. It's the type of story where everyone is a suspect and you don't know who you can trust - the type of story that I love! It's told from alternating POV's of Anna and Jack and a mysterious, creepy third person, who is not revealed until the very end. And let me just tell you, I was floored when this person was revealed! I had many guesses as to who this person may be and I never once guessed right.

I cannot recommend this book enough. I think this might be Alice's best book yet and I've loved them all! If you like dark, twisted, addictive reads, definitely pick this one up. And if you enjoy audio books, I highly recommend listening to this one - it's definitely done very well.

Audio thoughts: This was one of the best audio books I've listened to in quite a while. I was so excited to see it as a ALC pick from and I jumped on it. Both Richard Armitage and Stephanie Racine did such a great job with their parts, especially Richard with the mysterious third person, having that distorted voice sound effect - that was such an amazing way to do the voice so that we never knew who that person was until the reveal. Both narrators were spot on with their pacing and intonation and really did a great job bringing this audio book to life.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Cover Review: Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

I am so excited to help Lauren Willig spread the news today about her newest book - and share the cover!!! I love reading historical fiction and Lauren's previous books have been so good. I am so excited to read this one.

This book will be released March 2, 2021, but you can pre-order now. See the pre-order link below.

Title: Band of Sisters
Author: Lauren Willig
Published: On Sale March 2, 2021, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.

A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.

Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.

Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit.

With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters? 

About the Author: Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several novels. She lives in New York City with her family.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook    |   Instagram



by Lauren Willig 
William Morrow
March 2, 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0062986153
eBook ISBN: B089T1SYDS


Review: You Can't Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie (audio)

Title: You Can't Catch Me
Author: Catherine McKenzie
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published: June 2020, Brilliance Audio
Length: 8 hours 35 minutes
Source: Publisher

When the game is deception, nothing is as it seems in this novel of cunning psychological suspense by the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of I’ll Never Tell.
Do you want to play a game?

Twelve years ago Jessica Williams escaped a cult. Thanks to the private detective who rescued her, she reintegrated into society, endured an uncomfortable notoriety, and tried to put it all behind her. Then, at an airport bar, Jessica meets a woman with an identical name and birth date. It appears to be just an odd coincidence—until a week later, when Jessica finds her bank account drained and her personal information stolen.

Following a trail of the grifter’s victims, each with the same name, Jessica gathers players—one by one—for her own game. According to her plan, they’ll set a trap and wait for the impostor to strike again. But plans can go awry, and trust can fray, and as Jessica tries to escape the shadows of her childhood, the risks are greater than she imagined. Now, confronting the casualties of her past, Jessica can’t help but wonder…

Who will pay the price?

My thoughts: I have become a fan of Catherine McKenzie's books of late and this latest one was no exception. She really has a knack for creating such thrilling reads that pull you in right away and keep you captivated all the way through.

One thing I love about Catherine's book is that every one is so very different. You never know what you are going to get when you pick one up and I absolutely love that. This one delves into the world of cults and I have this weird fascination with cults so I was already intrigued before I even started the book. And luckily, the book held up on that front - sometimes, the cult aspect doesn't always work out, but here it totally kept me invested. 

The other thing I loved about this book is that it really kept me guessing. Every time I thought I had things worked out, something would happen that would turns things around. The twists and turns that this book takes really keeps you on your toes. Between the revelations that we learn from Jessica's time in the cult and the scam on her identity, this book really keeps you thinking!

I'm always a fan of a good old cat and mouse game, but Catherine McKenzie really turns things upside down here. She manages to take a simple revenge story and make it so thrilling and entertaining that you just cannot help but go along for the ride. This is why I love her books so much and I cannot wait to see what story she creates for us next!

Audio thoughts: Julia Whelan is one of my favorite narrators so I was so happy to see that she was narrating this book. She does a fantastic job bringing this book to life, giving each character their own unique voice and infusing just the right amount of tension and suspense into her voice as needed. Her pacing and intonation were spot on. I almost didn't want the book to end!


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

Today, I'm so happy to be a tour stop on the blog tour for the The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull. Thank you MIRA for inviting me to participate.

Title: The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, & Royal Scandal
Author: Bryn Turnball
Published: July 2020, MIRA
Format: ARC E-copy, 416 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

For fans of The Paris Wife and The Crown , this stunning novel tells the true story of the American divorcĂ©e who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.

In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.

In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.

Bryn Turnbull takes readers from the raucous glamour of the Paris Ritz and the French Riviera to the quiet, private corners of St. James’s Palace in this sweeping story of love, loyalty and betrayal.

My thoughts: It's no secret that I am a huge fan of anything to do with the royals. I love watching The Crown, so when I saw this book, I knew I just had to read it and I'm so glad I did. It was so fascinating and has me yearning to read more on what I've learned here!

I will admit, one of the things that first attracted me to this book is that Wallis's name is in the title. I'm quite fascinated by her and David's story, but this book is all about the woman who comes before her who I knew nothing about. This is why I love reading historical fiction - I feel like I learned so much here. Thelma Morgan is such a fascinating woman in her own right, without her getting tied up in the custody hearing for her sister's child and being involved with Edward, the Prince of Wales. Little did Thelma know that it would be her own actions that would push Wallis and Edward together in the end. 

This book is filled with scandal and drama and intrigue and it kept me engaged throughout the entire book. Because I've watched The Crown, I know all about David's abdication of the throne but I didn't realize he was involved with another divorced woman prior to Wallis. This book gives such insight into that and so much more. These characters come to life on the pages and I never felt that this book at any point becomes too bogged down. It moves along from the past, where we learn Thelma's backstory to the present where Thelma is helping Gloria with the custody case. I was equally invested in both story lines.

I haven't read much about the Vanderbilt family, so I wasn't aware of the connection between them and the monarchy, but I definitely plan on doing some digging and reading up on them. And this is why I love reading historical fiction. It always leaves me wanting to know more.

I really enjoyed this book. It is the author's debut novel and I for one will certainly be keeping an eye out to see what she writes next!

About the author: Bryn Turnbull is a writer of historical fiction with a penchant for fountain pens and antique furniture. Equipped with a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, a Master of Professional Communication from Ryerson University, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding the stories of women found within the cracks of the historical record. When she’s not writing, Bryn can be found exploring new coffee shops, spending time with her family in cottage country, or traveling. She lives in Toronto, and can generally be found with a book in hand.

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