Stranger at Sunset, Eden Baylee
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
This is a bit of a departure for me, a thriller without any romantic element. A fun read though, and one which had me wondering “who, why?”
It starts with us meeting the characters staying Sunset Villa, along with the owners and staff. They’re a mixed bunch – I loved peppy Jessica with the obnoxious boyfriend Rob, and of course Adam, very typical Alpha confident man. Kate and her three letters of name characterisations was interesting, and it was fun seeing her predictions of the types play out. Kate herself is quite closed, she’s a psychiatrist but keeps her own self very hidden while skilfully drawing out others. She’s a major player in the novel, and we see much of it through her eyes and actions. Of course there’s the obnoxious travel writer Matthew too….
The Villa is struggling, recovering from the expense of the hurricane damage would have been ok, but they’ve also been hit by a big drop in bookings since Matthew wrote a scathing review, and hoping to placate him and show him that his experience was unusual, owners Anna and Nolan have invited him back. He’s got a list of conditions a mile long, one of those people who’ve self diagnosed many intolerances, and it means special food prepared, special treatment of cleaning his room and linens, and he expects other guests and islanders to accommodate him too. One of his gripes is paint fumes from a nearby private property – he claims they exacerbate his problems, and is furious that Anna and Nolan can’t stop the property owners from painting until he is gone. I’ve huge sympathy for them – in my working life as a cleaning contracts manager one of my sites was a small library, only open a few hours a week and with only two hours cleaning time. First the librarian complained as the new cleaner didn’t pull out the weeds lining the path, and I pointed out it wasn’t part of her job, the old cleaner simply did it from goodwill. I suggested the library staff could do it – that met with shock and horror – they certainly couldn’t stoop to that, and they were angry I wouldn’t make the cleaner do it, despite her not getting paid for that. Then the main librarian said she was allergic to spray furniture polish fumes, and instructed that only water be used on the bookshelves, plain water, nothing added. So we did that, but unfailingly every Friday at 2 p.m. as the library opened I’d get a call with complaints, usually along the lines that the cleaner had activated some polish left on the radiators, by wiping them with the proscribed damp cloth. Nothing I could do, and nothing to keep her happy, just as Anna and Nolan here haven’t a hope of pleasing Matthew.
We kind of go through a day to day scenario with little gripes coming up between the guests, and learning more about the background to Anna and Nolan and their staff. Its a real “family” affair with staff being longstanding and loyal, and regarded as part of the family. Then the cracks appear, and we get different guests views about what’s happening…and find out some are more than they seem on the surface, and are prepared to shape events to get the outcome they want. When things heat up its a real puzzle working out who is responsible and why, and I had a couple of people in mind but simply couldn’t decide between them.
Stars: Four, its a compelling psychological thriller, and it was fun looking out for tiny clues to work out the puzzle. Its a one off for me though – I do prefer some romance in my suspense reads.
ARC supplied by author.
One kiss with a rockstar, Shari Slade
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I loved the first Half Life book, featuring Lock, and there was a real drama in them when pics of a threesome went viral. It was Krist that got most of the fallout, and the group as a whole have not really connected the same since. Krist values the group, looks upon them as family and he sees the op with Madeline Fox as a chance to improve their image. He woes her so it works well for both of them.
I thought Maddie was a typical spoiled, pampered pop princess at first but as I got to know here I saw through the facade she presented to the world. She’s harboured a crush on Krist since she was a young teen, and saw this as a chance to help him. She didn’t think it was fair he got all the fallout from the photo. He sees her as I did at first but still there’s a hot, sensual physical attraction between them he can’t avoid whatever his head tells him, and then when they spend more time together he learns things that make him feel differently about her. He looks at his own actions too, and sees what’s happening to the group and that they need to so something.
Just when Maddie thinks things are going well there’s a big let down – oh I so felt for her there, but as always she put on a brave face and never lets anyone see just how hurt she is. I love that part and it was well done here. I could feel her emotions.
I really enjoyed this read, has the same hot, sensual scenes as the first though with a bit of girl on girl this time! I didn’t quite connect so well with the characters, I think Hayley as an unknown worked better for me than Maddie as a female lead, but its still a steamy read with an excellent story behind it. As readers of my reviews know that’s something that’s really important to me!
Stars: not quite a five, four and a half.
ARC supplied by authors.