Blog Tour: The Confession by Jo Spain #TheConfession @SpainJoanne

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: January 25, 2018

Publisher: Quercus

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Confession today!

Review:

It’s getting harder and harder to find a book with something original, a uniqueness that sets it apart from its counterparts, but I had a feeling after reading the description of The Confession that this would provide something new. Holy smokes was I right!!

Right from the first page you understand that you’re reading something exciting, a brutal crime has been committed and the perpetrator is no secret, so where’s the mystery? In the why, the actions that led up to this brutal attack and Spain reveals the truth in a slow, meticulous unraveling that left me reeling by the end. You hear from Julie, the wife of the victim, JP the perpetrator and Alice the police officer working the case. It also flips back and forth between present day and both Julie and JP’s histories. Of the three Alice was my clear favorite, she was a fantastic character and I would love to see her again!

This was my first time reading a Spain book and it will not be my last, she has a real way with words, a piercing writing style that grips you all the way through. The pacing was spot on and the characterization was superb, I can’t recommend this one enough.

The Confession in three words: Remarkable, Engrossing and Finely Honed.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Burial Society by Nina Sadowsky

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: January 30, 2018

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

A woman running from a dark past stumbles upon a tangled nest of seductions and family secrets in this psychological thriller of obsession and betrayal.

When Natalie discovers her father dead in a luxury hotel room in Paris, she’s terrified that his death–or is it a murder?–will open up a history she’d rather forget. Years before, her mother went missing from their home in a wealthy Connecticut suburb, triggering a chain of violence that echoed through the years. Now Natalie is set on a collision course with her brother, who has secrets of his own. And watching from the shadows is a mysterious and alluring woman with a talent for making people in trouble disappear, who holds more answers than anyone would guess.

Review:

If you’re looking for a lighter style suspense that’s pure entertainment and a completely addictive page turner, allow me to introduce you to The Burial Society. I devoured this book in just a few hours because I simply could not put it down, it was one of those reads where I had planned on starting before bed and reading only a couple of chapters and before I knew it I was halfway finished!

One of the things that sucked me in and compelled me to keep flipping pages was the set up. There are several points of view and the chapters are super short, sometimes they’re just a single paragraph propelling you forward over and over again. I’m sure some will be put off by so many POV in addition to a lot going on, especially in the beginning but that only served to intrigue me and I didn’t find it confusing at all. Sadowsky has a sharp writing style that fit this structure to perfection and the setting of Paris was an amazing backdrop.

The description tells you just what you need to know and I’m hesitant to go any further than that, half of the entertainment of this one was not knowing exactly what I was getting into. There was a certain amount of sex appeal in this book, a racy little edge that sort of reminded me of The Girl Before. There was also a plot thread with a spy thriller vibe that I enjoyed, maybe it’s because most of it is set internationally but it was all very cloak and dagger and really added something clandestine that I think worked great!

(Quick side note, I’m trying something new at the end of my reviews, I want to sum up a book in three words to give you an overall, super quick feeling! Let me know what you guys think of this)

The Burial Society in three words: Enthralling, entertaining and sharp.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week:

Keep Her Safe was a well written romantic suspense that unfortunately missed the mark for me.

The Girlfriend was a slow burning, character driven thriller that I liked.

Let’s Talk About Six was a fun, saucy read.

The First One to Die was an awesome audiobook.

The Start of Something Wonderful was an uplifting read with a fun heroine.

Hydra was SO freaking good, straight onto my top books of 2018 list! Yes, I realize it’s only January but it’s that amazing.

Currently Reading:

Up Next:

No idea what else I’ll pick up this week but lord knows I have plenty to choose from 😂

What are you reading this week? Read anything great last week?

Review: Look for Me by Lisa Gardner

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, Look for me.

Review:

As you can tell even from the short to the point description of this book this has a dark plot, the brutal murder of an entire family (minus one) does not make for light reading but I wouldn’t expect, nor would I want, anything less when I’m diving into a new LG book. She has a knack for writing about tough subjects while showcasing human emotion and behavior that isn’t seen very often in crime fiction all the while coming up with fresh plot lines that never fail to engage me.

Anytime I’m able to catch up with D.D. Warren I’m a happy camper and since she’s teaming up with Flora Dane who made her first appearance in Find Her I was even more excited. These two are quite the pair and since they don’t exactly see eye to eye it adds an additional layer of friction and tension to an already highly intense, emotional plot. Since D.D. became a parent we’ve seen a softer, gentler side to her and this case hits close to home, at times it’s almost too much for her to bear. I’m a fan of seeing this side of D.D. and I think long time fans of this series will agree. She’s not totally mushy by any means, she’s still that fast talking, snarky woman we all love, but she does have a sweet side, who knew?!

Per usual I won’t be discussing the plot, Gardner’s books are too well executed and I wouldn’t be able to describe much without spoilers and that’s not my thing, it’s best to discover this on your own. I will say that sometimes she uses flashbacks in her novels and this time it switches between Flora and D.D. in the present day to a collection of personal essays from Roxy, the teenager who was the only member of her family left when someone murdered the rest. This structure worked incredibly well for me and as much as Roxy’s essays were a difficult read, they were just SO well written that I couldn’t get enough. Her story was utterly heartbreaking, this poor kid has had a rough time and there are mentions of abuse towards children, so heads up on that. Gritty, entertaining and a police procedural with depth and heart, if you haven’t read this series I can highly recommend each book, they’re all fantastic!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: Games With the Dead by James Nally @AvonBooksUK

Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK

Release date: December 28, 2017

Publisher: Avon Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Irish runaway. Insomniac. Functioning alcoholic.

Life is about to get complicated for DC Donal Lynch.

When a young woman is kidnapped, Donal is brought in to deliver the ransom money. But the tightly-planned drop off goes wrong, Julie Draper is discovered dead, and Donal finds his job on the line – a scapegoat for the officers in charge.

But when Donal is delivered a cryptic message in the night, he learns that Julie was killed long before the botched rescue mission. As he digs further into the murder in a bid to clear his own name, dark revelations make one thing certain: the police are chasing the wrong man, and the killer has far more blood on his hands than they could even imagine.

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Games With the Dead today! I have an extract from the book to share.

Extract:

Extract Seven: Chapter 7, pp.49-50

‘There were two obvious fracture injuries to the back of her skull, both about a week-old and caused by a blunt instrument. I’ll be suggesting these were inflicted nine days ago when she was first abducted.

‘I found chain-like marks around her right ankle; she had been forced to wear some sort of restraint or leg iron. The redness of the injury shows it was caused before death. I found no chafing marks around her wrists though, which seems odd as this is universally the preferred method of restraint.

‘I found another ligature mark running along the back of her neck. Her tongue was protruding through clenched teeth which you normally find in people who’ve hanged themselves. She must have been throttled very violently at the end.

‘Her fingernails were undamaged and there were no marks on her forearms, the sort of defensive injuries that you’d expect if a victim had fought for her life. In other words, when the time came, she must have been restrained and strangled from behind, quickly and cleanly, which will provide some small comfort to her family.

We both need a drink after that. But Edwina’s not finished.

‘Now here’s an odd thing. The changes to Julie’s flesh show she’s been dead for about two days. That makes it impossible for me to determine if she’d been raped or sexually assaulted. But the insects in her body suggest she’s been exposed to air for a lot less time, I’d say between twelve and twenty-four hours.

‘There was also something really striking and bizarre about her appearance.’

She squints at her drink, as if still trying to make sense of it herself.

‘She was completely bald.’

Oohh I’m definitely intrigued!!

Review: Hydra by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks

Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK

Release date: December 24, 2017

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the “Macleod Massacre.” Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden “games,” online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Hydra today!

Review:

I spent much of my time last year raving about Six Stories which is Wesolowski’s debut. This book truly blew me away, it was unlike anything I’ve ever read before so to say Hydra was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 is an understatement. Once again, this book knocked me out and just proves that Wesolowski is a powerhouse and one of the strongest, most unique voices in crime fiction today.

While Hydra is technically the second book in a series you don’t have to read SS first, but you would be missing out if you didn’t. Both books feature Scott King the host of a podcast and each book tackles a new case. The format of these books is one of the best parts, they’re delivered podcast style, broken up into six sections with a new interviewee each time. If you’re a fan of crime podcasts like Serial this is a must read. There’s something so current and timely about the structure that makes this series a real standout.

One of my favorite things about SS was how creepily atmospheric it was and Wesolowski takes things to the next level here. I am not a wimp, I read some pretty disturbing books but this scared the daylights out of me! I was at about the halfway point late one night and had no intention of stopping until I finished but I did have to pause a few times because I was so scared!! His writing is that good, there is no escaping the menace that is lurking between the pages and the setting is so immersive you are absolutely consumed by it.

The plotting is meticulous, every section is laying the groundwork for what’s ahead and with each gasp worthy reveal I was shocked. This doesn’t hinge on one massive twist but rather has several moments of surprise that will astound you and make you applaud the author for his craftiness, I still can’t get over the resolution, bravo Mr. Wesolowski, bravo.

Overall rating: 5/5 (ALL THE STARS!!)

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert @janelambert22 @HQDigitalUK

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: January 5, 2018

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Previously published as Learning to Fly

It’s never too late to follow your dreams…

Forty-year-old air stewardess, Emily Forsyth, thought she had everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot boyfriend. Until he breaks up with her…

Catapulted into a mid-life crisis she wishes she’d had earlier, she decides to turn her life upside-down, quitting her job and instead beginning to chase her long-held dreams of becoming an actress!

Leaving the skies behind her, Emily heads for the bright lights of London’s West End – but is it too late to reach for the stars?

Don’t miss this heartwarming and uplifting debut, perfect for fans of Colleen Coleman and Cate Woods!

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Start of Something Wonderful!

Review:

This was such a refreshing read, maybe because the heroine isn’t your typical twenty something chick lit lead or maybe it was Lambert’s easy, flowy writing style, but whatever it is I wholeheartedly enjoyed this one and found it to be uplifting, inspiring and full of heart.

Emily is a forty year woman who decides it’s never too late to follow your dreams so she flips her life upside down to pursue an acting career. I really liked Em, she’s bright and bubbly and is willing to take risks, a quality I always admire in a person as I am not the risk taking type. There is a colorful and entertaining cast of characters that add humor cheer to the story and I genuinely laughed out loud several times while reading this delightful book.

You can tell Lambert has a personal connection to the story, it shines through and is heartfelt and honest. I loved the overall message of hope and encouragement that it really is never too late to start over, it’s a lovely thought and quite meaningful for such a fun loving book.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

#Audiobook Review: The First One to Die by Victoria Jenkins @vicwritescrime @bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: November 15, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Katie Villa

Blurb:

Four friends. A house full of secrets. And a killer picking them off one by one…

She tried to break her fall, twisting desperately, but there was nothing to catch hold of, nothing with which she could stop herself. Her single scream cut through the night air.

Keira North falls to her death at a party. It initially seems like an accident, but Detectives Alex King and Chloe Lane suspect foul play: they are convinced they are dealing with a murder.

When the detectives start to investigate, they soon find that all of Keira’s closest friends have secrets that someone might kill to keep.

And as Alex and Chloe are fighting their own demons and struggling to stay on top of the case, Keira’s killer is circling the group of friends, who one by one find that their lives are in danger…

The First One to Die is a heart-stopping and shocking detective thriller that will have you gripped until the very last page. Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Angela Marsons, and Val McDermid.

Review:

This is the second in a series following the dynamic duo of Alex and Chloe, I really enjoyed the first book The Girls in the Water and was eager to catch up with them again. I think one of the things that I love the most about this series is the fact that you have two strong women working as partners, it’s unique and I’m all about the girl power! I also enjoyed diving deeper into their personal lives and finding out more about what motivates them and seeing what Alex in particular is dealing with in her personal life was heartbreaking and really helped to explain some of her behavior.

The case they’re working is certainly intriguing, a group of friends seem to be harboring plenty of secrets and the further Alex and Chloe investigate, the more darkness they uncover. Though the list of suspects is on the smaller side I still couldn’t pin down a culprit, Jenkins definitely plotted this one well and kept me guessing and then second guessing over and over again. I found this to be set at a quicker pace than the previous book and I’m always down for a high speed, exciting story and this surely delivered.

Villa was an amazing narrator, her nuances for expressing various emotions or different characters was outstanding. I’m always enraptured by listening to someone with an accent and I swear Bookouture has the BEST narrators around, every single one of their audiobooks has a fantastic narrator as well as a fantastic story, so if you’re a fan of audiobooks I can highly recommend them!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

#ChapterReveal The Perfect Roommate by Minka Kent

Hey everyone! I have something a little different and super fun to share today, a sneak peek at The Perfect Roommate! I’ll be sharing my review so so stay tuned.

She’s my roommate.

I know how she takes her tea, how she organizes her closet.

I know when she goes to bed each night, what she eats for breakfast, the passcode on her phone.

I know she calls her mother on Mondays, takes barre on Thursdays, and meets her friends for drinks on Fridays.

But more important than any of that … I know what she did.

It’s a pretty little house with an ugly little address.
47 Magpie Drive.
What should have been an ordinary Sunday kicked off with an eviction notice on my door and ended with my belongings shoved into wrinkled grocery sacks and the neighbor’s stolen WiFi on my computer. With just minutes to spare, I managed to find the perfect place—one that didn’t require credit checks, a huge deposit, or a long lease.
With clammy palms stuck to the peeling steering wheel of my ’97 Civic, I stare through my cracked windshield at an adorable white-washed brick ranch nestled in the heart of a family-friendly neighborhood south of Meyer State’s picturesque campus.
I find it difficult to believe that a college student lives here, but her ad was posted on the Tiger Paw Portal and a quick reverse search of her email address in the student directory revealed her name to be Lauren Wiedenfeld, senior in English Lit.
Just like me.
In fact, I recognized her photo immediately, having taken a good handful of classes with her over the years. Shiny ash blonde hair. Dimpled smile. Crystalline eyes accented by thick, curled lashes. I couldn’t count how many times I’d seen her stare past me like I was invisible.
Just like everyone else.
Sniffing my shirt, I’m relieved to drag the scent of dollar store fabric softener into my lungs. I was in such a hurry on my way out, I wasn’t sure if the clothes I’d grabbed were from the clean basket or not.
I need this girl to like me. If she doesn’t? I’m not sure where I’ll go. Apartments in this town come at a premium, and if it weren’t for the fact that my car needed new tires and a new transmission this winter, I might still be holed up in my studio right now. Un-homeless.
Killing my engine, I shove the keys in my purse and check my reflection in the rearview.
At least I got to shower today. My hair is clean, my teeth are brushed, and my pits are slicked with two layers of store-brand deodorant. Plus, I don’t reek of stale alcohol—which is more than most students around here can say on the weekends.
My hands threaten to tremble as I climb out of my car, and I try not to slam the door—I don’t want to seem careless. The ground wobbles beneath my feet. If I were a super hero, social awkwardness would be my power. My entire life, I’ve struggled to get out of my head, constantly overanalyzing every little word or movement or shift of a gaze. I’ve learned it’s easier to sit back and shut up. I find I don’t make as much of a fool out of myself that way. Quietude has become the law of my land, with silence being my official language.
But I don’t have a choice today.
If I want Lauren to welcome me with open arms as her shiny new roommate, I have to plaster a smile on my face, see her bubbly personality, and raise her one of my own.
After rapping on the front door a moment later, I wait with my arms straight at my sides. Signature awkwardness. My heart knocks in my chest before whooshing in my ears, and warmth blooms in my cheeks.
I haven’t officially met her and already I’m blushing.
Shit.
Inhaling a breath of frosty February air, I soften my expression, loosen my shoulders, and wrap my right hand around the worn leather strap of my purse. I’m not sure if this is what casual and confident looks like, but the sound of the door latch tells me I don’t have another second to try and figure it out.
“You must be Meadow?” I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Lauren is all smiles as she gets the door—as if she’s happy to see me. “Come in!”
The scent of soft gardenia emanates off a flickering boutique candle centered on her glass coffee table, and in the corner, the glow of diffused lamplight paints the room in a welcoming ambience. Her phone is docked on a set of speakers next to her TV, playing the kind of chill music I’d expect to hear in some upscale Manhattan bar.
“Have a seat wherever you’d like,” she says, lowering herself into a rattan chair covered in a faux fur throw. Lauren tucks her mile-long legs beneath her and adjusts her sweatshirt so it hangs just so, revealing a hint of her left shoulder. Her hair is piled on top of her head, and I’m convinced she’s one of only ten people on the planet who can make a messy mane look chic.
Glancing around before I settle in the middle of her gray linen sofa, I have to remind myself to talk. “Love your place. So cute.”
I can do this. I can be friendly even if I have to fake it. People like her don’t understand people like me—the quiet type. They think we’re weird. And no one wants to live with a weirdo.
Lauren’s face lights and she shrugs, almost as if the flattery makes her uncomfortable. “Thanks.”
“Is that your major? Interior design?” No way in hell I’m going to tell her I did a little research on her before I came here.
She shakes her head. “English lit. What about you?”
“Same.” I exhale, sinking into the cushions. She’s easier to talk to than I assumed she’d be. “I think we might have some classes together? I swear I’ve seen you in World Lit.”
Lauren laughs, rolling her eyes. “No kidding? I’m so oblivious most of the time.”
Of course.
That’s why she looked through me all those times …
I’m still not sure if I’m buying this cutesy, friendly shtick of hers because girls like her can be sickeningly fake when they want to be, but I’m willing to give her a shot if she’s willing to take a chance on me.
Besides, it’s not like I have any other options to fall back on.
“People probably think I’m some snob.” She waves her hand, endearing almost. “But I’m just in my own little world most of the time.”
I pride myself on my keen observational skills, something I’ve honed and polished to sheer perfection over the years … but I may have been wrong about this one.
Maybe.
“You thirsty?” Lauren rises from her chair, straightening her shirt and eyeing the doorway to her kitchen. Since she’s already up, I can’t exactly say no. “Fiji water? San Pellegrino? Tea? I’d offer you a glass of wine, but it’s only ten o’clock in the morning.”
I chuckle out of politeness, not because I think she’s funny. “Tap water is fine.”
Her expression falls, as if she’s unable to comprehend that my broke college student taste buds haven’t yet acquired the taste of artisanal water. “Meadow, the lead levels in the water here are off the charts. Haven’t you been following the news? It’s all they’re talking about anymore. And the city’s broke. No plans to do anything about it. I’m telling you, Bonnet Creek is going to be the next Flint, Michigan.”
She disappears around the corner before I get the chance to tell her that between working twenty-four, sometimes thirty hours a week cleaning houses and taking sixteen credits, I don’t exactly have time for late-breaking local news stories.
Lauren returns a moment later, a square bottle of luxury water in one hand and a floral printed paper napkin in the other. She places them before me, like a proper hostess, and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll always be this formal once we live together.
If we live together.
This has to be an act.
People aren’t actually this formal, are they? At least the ones back home, the ones I grew up around, weren’t. I’ve never heard of anyone needing a coaster to go with their bottled water.
Then again, this coffee table looks pricy with its reclaimed wooden legs and crystal-clear glass top.
“Thanks.” I take the water from her, unscrewing the cap and ensuring I don’t so much as spill a drop.
This place is much too nice of a dwelling for a typical Meyer State student. Her family clearly comes from money.
I’ll try not to resent her for that.
“So, tell me about yourself.” Lauren settles into her chair again, resting her elbow on her knee and her chin on her hand, leaning toward me. My Intro to Psychology professor taught us years ago that when someone leans in to you, they’re interested, genuinely interested in what you have to say. “What’s your schedule like? Who’s your ideal roommate? Do you smoke? Throw parties?”
Brows lifted, I let her questions marinate, unsure of where to begin. “Oh. Um. I don’t smoke or drink. I don’t party. So nothing to worry about there. I work. Part-time. And when I’m not working, I’m home. Usually studying. I don’t make a lot of noise. Basically, I’m a clean-freak, studious homebody.”
My cheeks flush and I feel myself growing flustered, but the fact that she isn’t staring at me like I’m some kind of social reject is somewhat reassuring. I suppose I’ve never stopped to examine my uneventful existence, but I’ve always been content to keep to myself.
It’s better if I don’t know what I’m missing out on.
Lauren’s face is lit as I ramble on, like I’m telling her everything she wants to hear.
“Okay, so what do you do for fun?” she asks.
I was hoping I could avoid that question. Pretty sure to someone like Lauren, I’m a shining example of a boring bookworm. Not the kind of person she’d be caught dead with.
“I like to see plays,” I lie. I don’t have money for a theater membership. Not even with the gracious 50% student discount. “And I see movies.”
At the dollar theater. Maybe once every three months.
“Do you ever do Friday After Class at Wellman’s?” she asks. “They have dollar wells from four to six.”
Beer. Pass.
“Sometimes,” I lie. Again.
Lauren sinks back, eyes still glued on me. “That place is always crazy packed. I bet we’ve been there at the same time and never even noticed.”
Taking a sip of water, I nod. “I’m sure.”
My tone echoes hers, something I do when I’m nervous. It’s like second nature, adopting her body language, her intonations, the cadence of her words.
“Where do you work?” she asks.
I push a breath through my nostrils and roll my eyes. “Sparkle Shine Cleaning Co.”
I hate that fucking name.
And the Minion-yellow car I’m forced to drive from client to client, the one that matches the Minion-yellow uniform I’m forced to clothe myself with.
But the pay is decent.
And it sure as hell beats working in food service. Food service means interacting with people all day long, being yelled at by customers when the kitchen screwed up their order or their fork has a water spot on it or I’m not refilling their third glass of Diet Coke fast enough.
No thanks.
“Never heard of it,” Lauren says. “Do you like it?”
What kind of question is that? And what does she expect me to say? That I love scrubbing people’s shit-stained toilets? Don’t even get me started on some of the bathrooms I’ve had the pleasure of bleaching from floor to ceiling. Rich people—or people rich enough to pay someone to clean their house for them—aren’t always as clean as one might expect.
I shrug and offer a tepid smile. “It’s a job. What about you? Do you work?”
Lauren bites her lip and scrunches her face, hesitating for a second. “I don’t.”
Of course not.
“My parents want me to focus on my studies,” she says, as if that makes up for her good fortune. “They said school should be my full-time job, so I get a monthly stipend as long as I keep my grades up. They did the same for my brother. They actually own this house. My brother lived here when he went to Meyer State and my younger sister will live here next year when she’s a freshman. My parents didn’t want to throw money away on rent, I guess. That’s their excuse anyway. If you ask me, I think it’s just a way for them to control their adult children.”
She huffs. I huff.
“Anyway.” Lauren shrugs, studying me, perhaps silently waiting for me to judge her. I keep a poker face.
“So what happened to the roommate before me?” I ask.
“I’ve never had one.”
“Okay. So, why now?”
Exhaling, Lauren says, “So that stipend? It’s based on my GPA. Last semester, I kind of got a little … distracted … and I failed a class. First time in my life. It was a seven AM on the north side of campus on Friday mornings. Anyway. It’s no excuse. I failed it. GPA plunged. Parents were livid. Chopped my stipend in half—essentially barring me from having fun. Their way of punishing their twenty-three-year-old daughter.”
“Oh.” Nice to know I’m scrubbing toilets so she can get wasted with her friends.
This explains everything. The lack of a deposit, the lack of a lease or a background check. She’s desperate for some supplemental income, willing to take in a stranger to maintain her cushy little life.
“Just to let you know … my parents won’t know you’re living here,” she’s quick to add. “And you’ll only be able to stay through May. Maybe July. Depends on how quickly I land a job after graduation. I hope that works?”
So, she likes me.
She’s choosing me.
Just like that.
“That’s perfect actually,” I say. “I’m graduating too. Hoping to get the hell out of here.”
I wear a smile that matches hers and we bask in a moment of mutual understanding for a single, endless second. Our desire to leave Bonnet Creek might be the only thing we have in common, but I’ll take it.
“You want me to show you around?” Lauren rises from her seat and straightens the hem of her top.
Returning my water to its floral napkin resting place, I stand. “Sure.”
Spinning on the ball of her foot, she struts across the small living room, toward a dark hallway. I follow. Flicking on the light, she says, “This house is, like, a million years old. It’s really dark. Windows are small. And your room is on the smaller side, by the way.”
My room.
“I mean, the room you’d be renting,” she clarifies. “If you want it.”
Stopping at the last door, she reaches her hand inside and gets the switch.
Clearly we have different definitions of “small.” This room is easily the size of my last apartment, complete with shiny wood floors, a double bed, a nightstand, dresser, and two curtain-covered windows.
“But you’d get your own bathroom—the hall bath.” Lauren’s words are rushed, as if she’s worried I’m having second thoughts. “I never use it.”
We step inside, and she shows me the closet, which is the smallest thing about this room. But it’s fine. I don’t have a lot.
“What do you think?” Lauren lifts her nails to her mouth, watching for my reaction. “It’s yours if you want it.”
“You sure?” I lift an eyebrow. We’ve known each other all of fifteen minutes, though I suppose living with strangers is kind of the college way.
“Oh my God, are you serious?” She laughs. “You’re everything, Meadow. All that stuff you told me? You’re the perfect roommate. Quiet. Studious. Polite. You’re a rarity in this town, do you know that?”
Yes. Well aware. And she’s kind to say that. I let her earlier words echo in my mind. No one’s ever called me perfect before—in any context.
It feels kind of … amazing.
As much as I try not to, I beam like an appeased idiot, my ego practically purring like a milk-fed kitten.
I know nothing about Lauren Wiedenfeld besides the fact that she treated me like a human being today, which maybe marks the first time in my collegiate history that anyone’s ever tried to have an actual conversation with me about anything, the first time someone’s ever been so engaged and interested.
She’s not the mean girl I expected.
“When do you want to move in?” she asks, bouncing on her toes and clasping her hands across her chest like an excited schoolgirl anticipating a slumber party. Not that I would know anything about that. I didn’t have friends in school. I just saw the way other girls would giggle and jump around Friday afternoons as they talked about the sleepover they’d been planning all week and whose mom was doing the picking up and whose mom was doing the dropping off.
“Is … now … okay?” I ask, exhaling. “My stuff is in my car. I moved out of my apartment a while back, and I’ve been staying at my mom’s, commuting back and forth.”
I have to lie if I want this place.
And I do. I want it so bad.
This house is adorable and clean and it smells like fresh flowers and it’s decorated like a page out of a Serena and Lily catalog. It would be the nicest place I’ve ever lived in. Maybe the nicest place I’ll ever live in.
“Yeah, of course.” If Lauren doesn’t believe me about the commuting thing, she does a good job of hiding it. “You want me to help?”
We head out of the room and down the hall, her messy bun bobbing as she walks, and she reaches up to tighten it—which of course makes it look even better.
“No, it’s fine. I don’t have much,” I say, realizing I sound like someone who’s been living out of their car for God knows how long. “I mean, most of my stuff is back at my mom’s. I didn’t bring any furniture because your ad said the place was furnished.”
I bite my tongue to keep from rambling on and making a mountain out of my mole hill of a lie. I hate lying. It feels unnatural, slimy. And I hate liars.
But desperate times and all of that.
I fully expect karma to bite me in the ass after all the little white lies I’ve told today.
“Right,” Lauren says. “My mother had this place professionally decorated.” She reaches for a magnifying glass resting on top of a curated stack of interior design books on a marble-topped console. The handle is painted navy blue, with little stripes of bone-colored stone. “They went with a California coastal theme,” she continues. “My mom grew up in Orange County. Moved here to Minnesota when she married my dad. I don’t think she ever got used to living in the frozen tundra. You should see their house. Looks like it’s better suited on the beach in Malibu than in some gated neighborhood outside St. Paul.”
Ooh. A “gated” neighborhood. How fancy.
That’s the thing about rich people, they feel the need to insert these little details so casually in conversation, as if you’ve forgotten for a moment that they have money. It’s a crutch, I think. A side effect of their insecurity. And it’s a damn shame, too. Lauren could be that much more likeable if only she didn’t feel the need to word vomit her privileged upbringing into every topic of conversation.
It’s almost as if she’s worried I won’t like her—which is hilarious. No one’s ever cared if I liked them.
“Anyway, I’ll let you get settled,” she says, turning to face me when we reach the end of the hall. “If you need any help with anything, I’ll be in my room.”
I smile and nod. It’s exhausting having to talk this much, having to smirk and laugh and be social and constantly engaged.
But at least it didn’t kill me.
Lauren disappears into her room, leaving the door open a crack. Soft, downtempo music plays a second later, the glow of her expensive, feather-light laptop filling her dark room. The sliver of light is like the tiniest peek into her world, and I must admit I’m curious—though I’m not sure why.
Heading out to my Honda to grab my things, I realize that I’ve parked behind her shiny black Lexus. We’ll have to talk parking spots and particulars later. But for now, I need to focus on getting these bags and bins out of my backseat and into my beautiful new place.
Lugging the first plastic tote in my arms a minute later, I return inside and trek down the hall to my well-appointed guest suite. Dropping it on the center of my bed, the top loosens and falls to the wooden floor with a plastic-y thump. Swiping it off the floor, I catch the hint of a white envelope sticking out from beneath the ruffled bed skirt.
Upon first glance, it appears to be an old bill of some kind, or maybe a credit card offer? The return address is too generic to tell. I place it on top of the chest in the corner with the intention of giving it to Lauren when my gaze falls on the name.
Emily Waterford.
I grab the envelope again, examining the address.
47 Magpie Drive.
And the date on the postage meter sticker.
December 17th of last year.
Only two months ago.
Lauren looked me in the eyes and told me she’d never had a roommate before, that her dire financial situation essentially began this semester.
Did she … lie?
God, I hope not. As hypocritical as it may be, if there’s anything in this world I can’t stand, it’s being lied to. It’s disrespectful, insulting. My tolerance for bullshit and everyday annoyances is higher than most, and keeping my mouth shut when something bothers me is what I do best, but being lied to drives me insane.
It’s like they think I’m stupid. Or unworthy of the truth.
Folding the envelope, I tuck it into my purse. I’m going to have to do some digging as soon as I get settled. But for now, I need to concentrate on not being homeless.

Minka Kent has been crafting stories since before she could scribble her name. With a love of the literary dark and twisted, Minka cut her teeth on Goosebumps and Fear Street, graduated to Stephen King as a teenager, and now counts Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens, and Caroline Kepnes amongst her favorite authors and biggest influences. Minka has always been curious about good people who do bad things and loves to explore what happens when larger-than-life characters are placed in fascinating situations.

In her non-writing life, Minka is a thirty-something wife and mother who equally enjoys sunny and rainy days, loves freshly cut hydrangeas, hides behind oversized sunglasses, travels to warmer climates every chance she gets, and bakes sweet treats when the mood strikes (spoiler alert: it’s often).

Want to hear about sales and new releases? Sign up for her non-spammy newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cwOMSD

Review: Let’s Talk About Six by Aine Toner @aineltoner @BooksManatee

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: January 11, 2018

Publisher: Manatee Books

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

Love and relationships are tough in 21st century Dublin, as six characters, bound by circumstance are about to find out…

Beth – in love with boyfriend Adam, Beth thinks life coupled up is great – sex on tap, and no worries about regularly shaving your legs…but when Adam no longer seems interested and an unexpected web history shows he might be looking for something else, Beth starts thinking of revenge.

Adam – Adam loves Beth. Very much. But there’s something he’s hiding from her – something’s been wrong for quite a while and he’s scared to face up to the truth. Thankfully, he has support from his other woman…but how long can Adam keep his secret?

Declan – forty-something, shy, and ruled by his militant mother, Declan owns sex shop Firm to the Touch. Desperate for a romantic love affair, all he wants is for his dream woman to notice him…OK, so they have nothing in common, but opposites attract, right?

Lily – a woman who does things her own way, Lily leaves a trail of broken-hearted men whenever she goes. Only now, Kristian is on the scene, and Lily wants him – for good. With a reputation for making bad life decisions and being a fickle seductress, can Lily change her ways and get her man?

Johnny – the ultimate ladies man, Johnny leaves notches on every bed post, so when one night stand Kate falls pregnant with his baby, his whole world turns upside down. Now it seems, Johnny feels more for Kate than just lust…but will he get the opportunity to show everyone that a (saucy) leopard can change their spots?

Kate – a paediatric nurse who can’t remember the last time she had a five-minute shower, permanently tired Kate is juggling work, being a mammy to Matthew, and now the attentions of gorgeous doctor, PJ O’Malley. But is a serious relationship really what she wants…and is PJ O’Malley really The One?

Just because you’re a grown up doesn’t mean you always make the right decisions…

Review:

This was a saucy little read, a really fun one full of inappropriate humor and naughty jokes. I appreciate that sort of thing and found it to be hilarious and a real breath of fresh air. Toner isn’t afraid of pushing the envelope a little and she wrote sexy book that follows an outrageous group of people that are interconnected in some way.

Each of the six characters, Kate, Bethany, Adam, Declan, Lily and Johnny all narrate and each has a distinct voice and unique point of view. The chapters are snappy and I found the pacing to be brisk and engaging, I was always interested in what each of them were doing and saying. Of the six main characters I found myself liking Declan the most, he’s utterly clueless in the most lovable way and there was something endearing about his odd behavior. I enjoyed the rest of them as well, even the ones making shady decisions and behaving badly. Pick this one up if you’re having a bad day and need a laugh, the combination of sugar and spice makes for a racy read with softer, gentler moments to balance it all out.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.