Saturdays at the Café is a weekly feature hosted here to talk about and discuss the books I’ve discovered during the past week, added to my shelf and am excited about reading. They may be new/scheduled releases I’ve seen on NetGalley, at the library, or from publishers or they may be older titles my friends have reviewed and shared on Goodreads or blogs.
Minutes to Kill
After corporate attorney Hannah Barrett tries—and fails—to stop a kidnapping in Vegas, she can’t shake the haunting image of the terrified young girl she couldn’t save. She tells herself that a visit to her hometown in Scarlet Falls could be a welcome distraction. But soon, Hannah realizes the kidnappers have all the info they need to track her every move. And when chilling e-mails about the victim appear in her inbox, it’s frighteningly clear what happened in Vegas has followed her home.
Eight months after a terrible family tragedy, Hannah turns to Detective Brody McNamara once again. Brody is eager to help, though he’s embroiled in the investigation of a brutal murder. But the closer they work together, the stronger their feelings grow…and the more they stand to lose when two seemingly unrelated, but equally deadly, cases collide.
Minutes to Kill is the pulse-racing second novel in bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s Scarlet Falls series.
Seconds to Live
Wildlife biologist Mac Barrett avoided his hometown of Scarlet Falls for years—too many bad memories. But when he receives the news that his father is dying, he rushes home only to discover he’s too late. Shaken, Mac retreats to his remote cabin seeking peace and solace. Instead, he crashes his jeep to narrowly avoid running over the naked body of a woman lying in the road. Even more disturbing, when he regains consciousness, the body is gone.
Police detective Stella Dane wants to believe Mac, even if his story about the vanishing body seems far-fetched. But when Mac’s description matches the missing woman she’s been searching for, it raises a disturbing question: How does a dead body disappear?
Mac and Stella will have to work together to find the answer and catch a psychotic kidnapper—and quickly. The killer has a deadly message to send, and the case is about to become personal…
One of my Goodreads groups selected the Morgan Dane series to read as a group and we discovered it was a spinoff of this one, Scarlet Falls. We decided to read that one first and I already own the first book and these are the rest.
I’ll say this about Christian — he made one heck of a first impression. When I first saw the strapping man, he was doing handstands naked on a dock along the canal. His crown jewels were far more entertaining than anything else I’d seen on the boat tour, so I did what any curious woman would do — I took his photo. I might have looked at the shot a few dozen times. Little did I know I’d meet him again, a year later, at a secret garden bar in the heart of the city, where I’d learn that his mind and his mouth were even more captivating. But given the way my heart had been trampled, I wanted only a simple deal — No strings. No expectations.
Our arrangement worked well enough until the day I needed a lot more from him…
Let me just say, this whole part-time lover thing was her idea. I’d have gone all-in from the start, but hey, when a gorgeous, brilliant woman invites you into her bed, and only her bed…well, I said yes.
But then, one hysterical phone call from my brother later, begging me to find myself a wife so grandfather’s business stays in the family, and I need a promotion with Elise. Turns out a full-time husband suits her needs too, and a temporary marriage of convenience ought to do the trick, until we can simply untie the knot…
As long as no one finds out…
As long as no one gets hurt…
As long as no one falls in love…
But our ending was one I never saw coming.
Maren Gelb is on a company-imposed digital detox. She tweeted something terrible about the President’s daughter, and as the COO of Richual, “the most inclusive online community platform for women to cultivate the practice of self-care and change the world by changing ourselves,” it’s a PR nightmare. Not only is CEO Devin Avery counting on Maren to be fully present for their next round of funding, but indispensable employee Khadijah Walker has been keeping a secret that will reveal just how feminist Richual’s values actually are, and former Bachelorette contestant and Richual board member Evan Wiley is about to be embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal that destroy the company forever.
Have you ever scrolled through Instagram and seen countless influencers who seem like experts at caring for themselves—from their yoga crop tops to their well-lit clean meals to their serumed skin and erudite-but-color-coded reading stack? Self Care delves into the lives and psyches of people working in the wellness industry and exposes the world behind the filter.
This was offered for audio review and I almost gave it a pass until I read a few of the reviews. Now I’m excited!
Twenty-four-year-old Megan may have her whole life ahead of her, but it already feels like a dead end, thanks to her dreadful job as a gastroenterologist’s receptionist and her heart-clogging resentment of the success and happiness of everyone around her. But no one stokes Megan’s bitterness quite like her coworker, Jillian, a grotesquely optimistic, thirty-five-year-old single mother whose chirpy positivity obscures her mounting struggles.
Megan and Jillian’s lives become increasingly precarious as their faulty coping mechanisms–denial, self-help books, alcohol, religion, prescription painkillers, obsessive criticism, alienated boyfriends, and, in Jillian’s case, the misguided purchase of a dog–send them spiraling toward their downfalls. Wickedly authentic and brutally funny, Jillian is a subversive portrait of two women trapped in cycles of self-delusion and self-destruction, each more like the other than they would care to admit.
This was also offered for audio review and I was immediately intrigued. New-to-me author who appears to have a winner here.
Chloe Sanderson is an optimist, and not because her life is easy. As the sole caregiver for her father, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, she’s pretty much responsible for everything. She has no time—or interest—in getting swept up in some dazzling romance. Not like her best friend Annie, who literally wrote a rom-com that’s about to premiere in theaters across America…and happens to be inspired by Chloe and Nick Velez, Chloe’s cute but no-nonsense boss.
As the buzz for the movie grows, Chloe reads one too many listicles about why Nick is the perfect man, and now she can’t see him as anything but Reason #2: The Scruffy-Bearded Hunk Who’s Always There When You Need Him. But unlike the romance Annie has written for them, Chloe isn’t so sure her own story will end in a Happily Ever After.
This is the sequel to Waiting for Tom Hanks and I got it for audio review.
Ruby has a strange relationship to privilege. She grew up the super’s daughter in the basement of an Upper West Side co-op that gets more gentrified with each passing year. Though not economically privileged herself, her close childhood friendship with Caroline, the daughter of affluent tenants, and the mere fact of living in such a wealthy neighborhood, close to her beloved Natural History Museum, brought her certain advantages, even expectations. Naturally Ruby followed her dreams and took out loans to attend a prestigious small liberal arts college and explore her interest in art. But now, out of school for a while, she is no closer to her dream job, or anything resembling it, and she’s been forced by circumstances to do the last thing she wanted to do: move back in with her parents, back into the basement. And Caroline is throwing one of her parties tonight, in her father’s glorious penthouse apartment, a party Ruby looks forward to and dreads in equal measure.
With a thriller’s narrative control, The Party Upstairs distills worlds of wisdom about families, great expectations, and the hidden violence of class into the gripping, darkly witty story of a single fateful day inside the Manhattan co-op Ruby calls home. Told from the alternating points of view of Ruby and her father, the novel builds from the spark of an early morning argument between them to the ultimate conflagration to which it leads by day’s end. By the time the ashes have cooled, the façade that masks the building’s power structure will have burned away, and no party will be left unscathed.
The cover alone was enough to grab my attention. Offered for audio review, I decided to take a chance on this debut novel.
Emma Porter is not real. She is an accomplished young woman, living a fulfilling life in New York City, working for an online news agency, and striving toward normalcy. The truth, however, is something else. She was once Emily Webster, a child of privilege, and the twenty-first century Lindbergh Baby. Her high-profile, unexplained abduction and subsequent rescue led to a childhood of paranoia and preparedness, as her kidnapper remained at large and still on the hunt. With her father’s guidance and resources, Emily became Emma Porter, living each day in her new identity, vigilant and unattached. Unattached but for the seemingly unbreakable tether that connects her to the man who, as a young boy, lived next door.
Like Emma, Nathan Bishop is not what he seems. Preparing to helm his family’s defense contracting company, Nathan is better known for his womanizing and reckless behavior than his business acumen. His striking image peppers the pages of society tabloids and police blotters, but beneath the facade of a rake, lurks a warrior. When an arms dealer procures a lethal bioweapon and is rumored to be selling it on U.S. soil, Nathan and his team must use every resource at their disposal to stop the threat.
With danger closing in, fate, once again, puts Emma in Nathan’s path, and the two must determine if the weathered bond between them is enough to find the truth behind their false fronts.
I no longer accept requests for review from authors and publishers who I don’t already have a previous relationship (my plate is full) but I made the mistake of reading the preview of this one, got hopelessly hooked and broke my rule.
Morgan Dane is a spinoff of the Scarlet Falls series. After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls with her three daughters, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity as an ADA until she’s asked to defend her neighbor’s son.
This series was selected as a group read by one of my Goodreads groups. I owned the first book and these are the rest. Since it’s a spinoff, we’re reading it after its parent series.
Lauren Cress teaches writing at a small college outside of Washington, DC. In the classroom, she is poised, smart, and kind, well-liked by her students and colleagues. But in her personal life, Lauren is troubled and isolated, still grappling with the sudden death of her parents ten years earlier. She seems to exist at a remove from everyone around her until a new student joins her class: charming, magnetic Siri, who appears to be everything Lauren wishes she could be. They fall headlong into an all-consuming friendship that feels to Lauren like she is reclaiming her lost adolescence.
When Siri invites her along on a trip home to Sweden for the summer, Lauren impulsively accepts, intrigued by how Siri describes it: “Everything will be green, fresh, new, just thawing out.” But once there, Lauren finds herself drawn to Siri’s enigmatic, brooding brother Magnus. Siri is resentful, and Lauren starts to see a new side of her friend: selfish, reckless, self-destructive, even cruel. On the last night of her trip, Lauren accompanies Siri and her friends on a seaside camping trip to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve, a night when no one sleeps, boundaries blur, and under the light of the unsetting sun, things take a dark turn.
Ultimately Lauren must acknowledge the truth of what happened with Siri and come to terms with her own tragic past in this gorgeously written, deeply felt debut about the relationships that come to us when things feel darkest–and the transformative power of female friendship.
Another debut novel that captured my attention. I almost let this one go but I kept coming back to it so I accepted it for audio review.
IT’S A CRIME THAT HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF.
Beauregard “Bug” Montage: husband, father, honest car mechanic. But he was once known – from North Carolina to the beaches of Florida – as the best getaway driver on the East Coast. Just like his father, who disappeared many years ago.
After a series of financial calamities (worsened by the racial prejudices of the small town he lives in) Bug reluctantly takes part in a daring diamond heist to solve his money troubles – and to go straight once and for all. However, when it goes horrifically wrong, he’s sucked into a grimy underworld which threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear . . .
From a stunning new voice in fiction, BLACKTOP WASTELAND is a dazzling, operatic crime novel that holds up a cracked mirror to the American dream. The perfect page-turning read for fans of acclaimed writers such as Don Winslow, Attica Locke, Bill Beverley and Thomas Mullen.
This was offered to me for review in eBook format but I think I’d rather listen to the book so I’ve recommended it for library purchase.
The best of friends . . .
In the Portland suburb of West Knoll, Delta and her friends were the pretty, popular elite of the high school. That was fifteen years and a whole lifetime ago. Even then, backstabbing and betrayal erupted among the women in the group, a trio of which are now gathered around a hospital bed. And most of it revolved around the man lying close to death before them . . .
Until the day . . .
To Delta, it feels as if a nightmare unfolds every time they get together. It started at their senior year graduation party when a group of daredevils led by Tanner slipped under the safety rope and tumbled into the dangerous, fast-flowing river. One of their clique died following his lead. It all seemed spontaneous at the time. A thoughtless deed. But since then, there have been more deaths, more “accidents.” And the question hovers, unspoken: who’s next?
They die . . .
As the body count rises, Detective Chris McCrae, one of Delta’s classmates and a long ago friend of Tanner’s, realizes that stopping the terror means digging deep into the past. Hidden beneath the conflicting stories, gossip, and scandalous half-truths are secrets that someone will kill again and again to protect–until there is no one left to tell . . .
I recently discovered these two writers are sisters. Having read and enjoyed books by both of them, I decided to add this one when it showed up at my library. Sounds like a good one!