Southwest of Love and Murder by Brenda Whiteside

I really need to stop reading these suspenseful murder mysteries while I’m all alone and simultaneously watching Forensic Files. And Dateline. And an OJ Simpson murder special on A&E. Will I never learn?!

What’s it About? 


Mystery writer Phoebe Anderson owes her success to killing her first husband on paper seventeen years earlier. Now someone has actually done it. When she decides to take a few days away on the ranch of her best friend’s brother-in-law, she doesn’t expect romance to find her…or murder to follow her.

Mason Meadowlark is happy with his wild cowboy ways, avoiding love since the death of his baby and the end of his marriage twenty years ago. When Phoebe shows up, he fights to control his emotions but soon wonders if she just might be worth the risk of opening his heart again. With an obsessed fan close on her heels, Phoebe is thrown into her own murder mystery…and the next target on his list is Mason.

First Impressions

Phoebe had a wild one-night stand with Mason a few months back, and after her ex-husband is murdered she decides to take a trip to Mason’s ranch to do some “research” for her next book. Yeah right! Call it whatever you want missy, we all know you had every intention to ride that cowboy one more time. And good on ya! As for the actual murder mystery taking place in the novel, I was shocked that we as the readers learn right away who the killer is, while the rest of the characters remain in the dark. I thought this would lessen the overall suspense, but boy I was wrong!


A Killer’s Point of View

The entire book alternates between various characters’ points of view, one of which being the killer’s, who is intent on getting Phoebe’s attention so they can work on a future book together. This guy takes “crazy fan” to a whole new level with his wacked sense of reality.

The fact that we are privy to the killer’s inner thoughts, not to mention his future plans for murder, was an amazing way to increase the intensity of the book. There is one scene in particular where the killer goes after a close family friend of Mason’s, and everything is played out so slowly that you’ll be on the edge of your seat wondering if he’ll actually succeed. I kept wanting to scream out “Behind you!” You can see it happening, but you can’t do anything to stop it!


Another Cliché

This book has several murder mystery clichés throughout, which Phoebe almost mocks because she is now seeing them in real life as opposed to writing them in one of her novels. And yet, I was disappointed that she still manages to fulfill every single cliché rather than avoid them! For example, never ever agree to meet a murderer/kidnapper/psycho without police back-up! I thought the fact she was a mystery writer would mean she would catch on a bit quicker to the killer’s plans, but she was pretty slow to put things together. Probably the one feature of the book I would have liked to change.


*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: The Love and Murder Series, book 2. I never read book 1, and had no problems following along.

Should you read it? If you’re looking for a book with a little intrigue, then hell yes!  Plus, who doesn’t like a little romance mixed in as well?

Smut Level: There is some really hot foreplay, but the sex act itself was usually glossed over.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 302 Pages.

Locked, Loaded, & Lying by Sarah Andre

Cheese and monkeys this book is intense! A piece of advice: when you read this make sure you have no other plans for the day because you won’t want to put it down.

What’s it About? 


He might be innocent. Or he might be very, very guilty… Olympic skier Lock Roane was on top of the world: smashing world records, collecting medals, and basking in the love of a nation and his beautiful heiress girlfriend. It all comes crashing down after Lock discovers his girlfriend had an affair – then wakes from a drunken bender to find himself covered in her blood. Disgraced and dethroned, Lock awaits his murder trial with dread, not knowing if his girlfriend died at his own hands. Journalist Jordan Sinclair is out of options. To satisfy her blackmailer, she must get the inside scoop (and its cash reward) on Lock Roane. An attraction to the arrogant athlete was not part of the plan. Neither is trying to find out what really happened that night. Now Jordan risks everything – including her life – to help the man she’s falling for. A man who just might be a cold-blooded killer…

First Impressions

See what I mean? Intense! It’s like the Oscar Pistorius trial, but for the winter Olympics instead of summer. Unfortunately, every time I tried to read this book I kept getting interrupted, so I could only read a chapter or two at a time. My stupid social life kept getting in the way! I can’t even remember how many times I considered calling in sick to work so that I could stay home and finish reading this book in one go. Don’t worry, I still went to work, but this story would pop up in my mind multiple times a day. Not gonna lie, it kind of messed with my sanity.


Baggage and Poor Timing

Both Jordan and Lock have an immediate attraction to one another, but they also carry a heavy load of baggage from their respective pasts. Lock is only a week away from being tried for the murder of his girlfriend, which he can’t say with absolute certainty he didn’t commit. Jordan, on the other hand, is on the run from her abusive father, and is on a deadline to collect a reward for interviewing Lock so she can pay off her dad to leave her and her mother alone.


Needless to say, they both have baggage, and their budding attraction for one another couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time. However! Something I absolutely loved about this book was that they both admitted how ridiculous it was that they were thinking about getting each other naked when they had much more pressing issues going on. Their admission to the poor timing almost made it seem more realistic, not to mention romantic because they simply couldn’t deny their inner feelings/horniness.

So Much Sexual Tension!

Humina yumina bumina. For the majority of the novel, Jordan and Lock are trapped together in a small cabin with a roaring fire, and a snow storm just outside. I can’t really think of a better setting for complete and total seduction! Of course, you can’t help but feel sorry for Lock’s poor brother Leo, who is also stuck in the cabin with them, and is the official third wheel of the novel. The sexual tension between Jordan and Lock continues to intensify as the story goes on, as they are constantly interrupted whenever they try to do the dirty. I usually don’t like when a romance novel prolongs the arrival of the sex scene, but in this case it just worked by adding to the overall intensity of the book. Rest assured though, once we do finally get around to the good stuff, it is described in slow and delicious detail. Not at all disappointing, and well worth the wait!


The Big Reveal

Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything! I will tell you I thought I had the whole mystery figured out right away in the first chapter. But as the story moved on I think I questioned who dunnit about 50 times, and probably suspected just about every main character at some point for committing the murder. I will say though I thought the big reveal was a tad disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely interesting, and an emotional scenario, but it was also kind of unrealistic. It was one of those, “Oh, let me tell you everything about the murder in exact detail so the cops can stop for a doughnut and still get here on time”, kind of situations.


*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Not that I know of, but I crave a sequel featuring Lock’s brother Leo more than I crave Hershey’s chocolate. And that’s saying something. He was one of the more captivating characters of the entire novel.

Should you read it? Oh yeah. It’s the perfect blend of suspense and romance. The characters just draw you in until you can’t look away, and you really feel like you’re part of the team in trying to prove Lock’s innocence.

Smut Level: There is only one sex scene, and you have to wait for it, but you’ll love it. Trust me.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Select Suspense. 331 Pages.

The Long Weekend by Terry R. Barca

the long weekendI have read many a book, and I have seen many a metaphor for sex. Doing the dirty. Hiding the sausage. And then there are the ever famous (and my personal favorite) dancing connotations, including the horizontal mambo and/or tango. But this book introduced me to a new one, which just might become my new favorite go-to expression: horizontal folk dancing! I just…I can’t…I don’t even know what to say. I mean, I understand the comparison with the mambo, or the tango. They are sensual and passionate dances which exude sexuality. But folk dancing? Love it.

Sam is a recently retired private detective who has decided to take a long weekend vacation with his wife, Scarlett (aka his folk dancing partner), when a brutal murder takes place near their hotel. The detective on the case knows that the couple is staying nearby, and decides to pop-in and ask a very reluctant Sam for some assistance. Now, I was told before reading this book that it might not exactly be my cup of tea, which to be honest it kind of wasn’t, but when an author is kind of enough to provide me with a copy of their book I feel that the least I can do is read it.

The summary provided on Goodreads talks about how this short novella is more about the characters than exactly “whodunit”, which I thought was a rather strange approach for a mystery novel. I mean, when a murder takes place in a book my first response is to ask who did it. Even though I did enjoy getting to know each character, there were so many flashbacks and anecdotes that it was sort of difficult to keep the timeline of events straight. We learned how Sam and Scarlett first met, why Sam became a detective in the first place, the one and only case Sam ever failed to solve, etc. That’s all well and good, but then there were some tangents thrown in that I couldn’t really see how they related to the unfolding mystery. For example, Sam determines the worth of a bartender based on whether or not he is familiar with an obscure drink from a 1940s movie. I guess we can label that under learning about a quirk of his? Again, there’s nothing wrong with adding in those little details, but they were often discussed in so much detail that it could really drag on and on.

It’s hard to pick just one favorite character in this book, mainly because I really loved Scarlett and Detective Inspector Blank. Scarlett was just so enthusiastic about trying to solve the murder, and couldn’t wait to get to the morgue to look at the body. Can you think of a better way to pass the time on a long weekend? And then there’s the detective who is just so strange I couldn’t help but love him. In the first scene where Detective Blank and Sam discuss the case, Blank is trying to practice different facial expressions to show surprise, hesitancy, consideration, etc. I love me some awkward social interactions.

The entire book was definitely a build up to the big reveal at the end, but I felt it was kind of a lackluster reveal. I thought there was going to be some kind of big Sherlock Holmes reveal by Sam as to who the killer was and why he killed his victim. Instead, when Sam confesses to Scarlett that he knows who committed the crime, he unveils the likelihood of it being a certain kind of person, particularly someone high up in the government who would probably hire someone else to actually commit the murder. I would say that’s more of a profile clue than actually solving anything. It isn’t until the epilogue that we discover who orchestrated the murder, and it was mainly because of Blank’s detective work that the killer was apprehended. Sam just sort of game him some ideas of where to start looking. If anything, this book should be referenced as, “A Sam and Scarlett Mystery…Ultimately Solved by Detective Blank”.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: A Sam and Scarlett Mystery, book 1

Get it on Amazon: Click Here

Should you read it? If you’re looking for a short little mystery novel to read over the weekend, then sure. Also, the book takes place in Melbourne, and provides a fun insider’s look at the city, so if you’ve ever been to Melbourne you might get a kick out of the details.

Smut Level: HORIZONTAL FOLK DANCING!! Nothing else need be said. folk dance