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contemporary

The Christmas Party by Mikayla Davids

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This was an interesting mystery involving a dysfunctional family, a 5 star hotel in the country and a snow storm. What more do you need for dark family secrets to come out and someone to commit murder?

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Wrapped in Winter (Three Kings Duet Book 1) by Penny Asher-Darke

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a fun and steamy romance book that is a quick and easy read. Winter Harris was fired from her management job at a prestigious hotel in Aspen and was forced to take a demotion and work at a lower tiered hotel in Vail. Fighting to work her way back to management and impress her annoying boss, she is tasked to work as a VIP manager for three mystery guests at the hotel’s most exclusive cabin. She meets the men who are all gorgeous, powerful businessmen. Winter is instantly attracted to all three men, and finds it difficult to remain professional.

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Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble (Winner Bakes All #2) by Alexis Hall

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a cute and fun LGTBQ+ contemporary romance. Paris is a hot mess. He’s got a cat, a degree, a roommate and a love for baking. But, his constant self-doubt and second-guessing have left him a hot mess. His roommate enters him into the country’s biggest baking competition (think The Great British Bake Off) and he’s excited and nauseas at the same time, thinking he’ll be the first one sent home. To his surprise, he wins the first challenge, despite hitting a fellow contestant, Tariq, in the face with his refrigerator door. But, the public scrutiny is harsh, interacting with the fellow contestants is nerve-wracking, and Paris spirals.

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The Wicked Remain (Grimrose Girls #2) by Laura Pohl

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a satisfying conclusion to a good YA Fantasy duology. The events pick up a few months after the first book. The girls continue to search for a way to break the curse, but are waylaid by personal issues that distract them from their goal. As they make progress on finding out the origin of the curse, more girls start dying.

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The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve been a bit ambivalent about the author’s previous books, but I enjoyed this one. It’s a good mystery/thriller that kept my attention and kept me reading late into the evening. Amelie is a young woman that is used to struggling to survive. Down to her last few dollars, she befriends a group of wealthy women and begins working as a housekeeper and cook for one of them. This brings her into contact with Jed Hawthorne, a wealthy billionaire. Before she understands what’s she gotten herself into, she’s married to Jed and forced to be his perfect trophy wife. Then one night Amelie is snatched from her bed and wakes up in a pitch-black room with no idea where she is. The captors don’t speak and she doesn’t know why she’s taken, or why she feels safer with the captors than she does with her husband.

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Racing the Light (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike #19) by Robert Crais

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is another fun and exciting Elvis Cole mystery/thriller. This time, Elvis is hired by a mother desperate to find her son Josh, a controversial podcaster. She thinks he’s in mortal danger, and although she’s quirky and has a flock of professional bodyguards following her around, Elvis takes the case. And the cash. As Elvis starts to look into the son’s life, he once again attracts danger and enlists the help of his buddy Joe Pike to watch his back.

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A Murder at Balmoral by Chris McGeorge

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is a good locked-door mystery set in an alternative universe England where King Edward VIII did not abdicate and marry an American divorcee. In this story, his lineage sits on the throne. As the story begins, King Eric has required his immediate family attend Christmas as Balmarol and he’s sent all of the staff away, except his chef Jonathon and his head security officer. During an after dinner speech, King Eric begins to speak, begins choking, and falls to the ground. Moments later, he’s dead. Each member of the family has motive and opportunity, is keeping secrets, and they’ve elected the chef to investigate the murder.

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The Quiet Girl by Nichole Heydenburg

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Violet Hale moves with her family to North Carolina from Michigan. She had friends and a boyfriend in MI, but in NC, isn’t able to easily makes friends and draws the attention, and ire, of the school’s queen bee on her first day. Every day after that, Violet is bullied by her and the popular kids. One day a cute boy, Jess, defends her after Violet is bullied, and he and his friend Kayla befriend her. Violet is grateful to finally make friends, but the more she gets to know them, the more sinister their friendship becomes.

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Jackal by Erin E. Adams

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wow. This book was a crazy ride. I started reading and couldn’t stop until I finished it. I thought this was a mystery/thriller, but it’s so much more. There is a horror element to the book that I didn’t know was there going in, but thinking back, it makes sense because I was so tense reading it. There were so many times were I had no idea what was going to happen next and the story had plenty of twisty turns and false leads. The writing was so well done that it kept me second guessing throughout the book. The story deals with tough issues including racial prejudice, domestic violence, and class and wealth inequity. The book requires the reader to suspend disbelief toward the end, otherwise it won’t make a lot of sense. I struggled with this until I realized there were other elements besides a mystery.

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