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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Review: Hide by Kiersten White

Author: 
Kiersten White
Publisher: Del Ray Books
Publication date: May 2022

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don't get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Even though everyone is desperate to win--to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts--Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she's an expert at that.

It's the reason she's alive, and her family isn't.

But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.


Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Hide follows Mack and thirteen other contestants in a giant game of Hide and Seek in an abandoned and run down amusement park .  The winner gets 50,000.  Only it turns out that things are a bit more sinister than that.  What can I say about hide?  I'll be honest, it wasn't good.

This is supposed to be an adult horror, but it read as very YA and not really horror.  The characters acted and talked like teenagers.  The characters were plentiful as well as their points of view.  There were too many and the transitions were hard to catch.  There was an attempt at some back story for each contestant, but I found I didn't care.  None of them were very likable. I would have liked it if the story focused on one or maybe two characters only.  

The biggest disappointment was the plot itself.  It was kind of boring.  I wanted more of the game.  There wasn't enough of it.  The ending was dumb.  It was like the author couldn't figure out how to end it, so she just gave us that throw away line.  I do not recommend this one.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Spotlight: Kingdomless by Michelle Garyfalakis

 


Book TitleKingdomless (The Evamore Series Book 1) by Michelle Garyfalakis
CategoryYA Fiction (Ages 13-17), 422 pages
Genre:  YA Fantasy Romance
Publisher:  Self-Published
Release date:   January 2022
Content Rating:  PG-13 +M: There is a scene where our main character is held at knife point and her attacker grabs her breasts without consent. The word 'nipple' is used in this situation. This is the reason for the added "M" in the rating.
 
 The remnants of the United Kingdom of Garth, once ruled by the legendary Dynasty of Evamores are in the throes of conflict. Ten years ago, King Wren of the West discovered Raelle washed up on the shores of the Balour Sea, with no memory of the first nine years of her life. She was brought back to the castle and dutifully cared for and cherished by the king and his three older sons. On her nineteenth birthday, the Western Kingdom's adoptive princess is secretly sent away by her stepmother to marry King Veras as a token of peace between the kingdoms. But, the Northern King has other plans.

As Raelle's amnesia melts away with the help of a northern storyteller, she discovers more about the Kingdom of Garth, magic, the lovetie connection of the Evamores, and her role in the grand scheme of things. She is confused, angry, and curiously comfortable in the North.

A dark shadow overcasts all of the kingdoms, and the threatening influence of the fallen god Kellar seems to spread among the people, inciting disorder and violence. While the fate of the kingdoms may rest on Raelle's shoulders, she can't help but feel kingdomless. Betrayal is everywhere, from her own adoptive family to her newfound friends. Fearless, observant, witty, and determined, she is town between her attraction to King Veras' good nature and the unexplained pull to the Tracker Calak. The challenge that she faces is not simple. As the old gods, laws and magic awaken, so does her own sense of self. There is a choice to be made, step into the role expected of her, or dive into the unknown and make her own destiny.

This YA fantasy novel asks the readers important coming of age questions, captures the attention with witty dialogue, relatable characters, and a world that is reawakening its forgotten magic. The readers will be entranced and hungry for more (and perhaps a piece of chocolate cake).

 

BUY THE BOOK
Amazon Audible
add to goodreads
 
 
Meet the Author:


MICHELLE GARYFALAKIS was born and raised throughout Ontario, Canada. She currently lives just outside of Hamilton, Ontario with her husband, four kids and Snowy (their friendly Samoyed-Border Collie). When she isn't obsessively typing out new stories on her computer, you can find her drinking coffee with a friend, snacking on some guacamole or binge watching Outlander (again). Michelle loves finding creative ways to communicate with people, and her passion for storytelling is the newest addition to that list. 

connect with the author: website  ~  facebook  ~  instagramtwitter ~ bookbub ~ tiktokgoodreads
 
 
 
Tour Schedule:

May 16 –
Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
May 16 - Rockin' Book Reviews – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
May 17 - Character Madness and Musings – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 17 - Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
May 18 – Kam's Place – book spotlight
May 18 - My Reading Getaway – book review / author interview / giveaway
May 19 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
May 20 – Wottaread – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 23 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
May 24 – Freda's Voice – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 24 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 25 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – book spotlight / giveaway
May 25 - Cheryl's Book Nook – book review / giveaway
May 25 - Living in a Bookworld - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 26 - Writer with Wanderlust – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
May 26 - Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 27 – From the TBR Pile – book spotlight/ giveaway
May 31 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 31 - Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
June 1 – The Page Ladies – book review
June 1 - Sadie's Spotlight – book spotlight / author interview
June 2 – She Just Loves Books – audiobook review / giveaway
June 2 - Books for Books – book spotlight
June 3 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:
 

KINGDOMLESS by Michelle Garyfalakis Book Tour Giveaway


 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Blog Tour: Review & Excerpt from The Honeymoon Cottage by Lori Foster

 


Author: Lori Foster
ISBN: 9781335506368
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Publisher: HQN Books
 
A wedding planner, who has resigned herself to spinsterhood, organizes other people’s happy endings in this romantic new women’s fiction from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster.
 
A light, romantic family saga centered around Yardley Belanger’s country wedding planning business and her eccentric family, and set in a quirky small town with the unusual name of Cemetery, Indiana. (Sure, people have tried, but Betty Cemetery, who is descended from the town founders, will let the name be changed…over her dead body.)
 
At 31, Yardley Belanger is really good at her job as a wedding planner—organizing other people’s happy ever afters. Yardley doesn’t care that she has zero love life...all the eligible guys in Cemetery are men she grew up with, and none of them interest her anyway. She’s put her heart and soul into her business and has built a reputation specializing in country weddings—complete with a cottage by the lake for honeymooners—attracting happy couples and their families from all around.
 
Travis Long had to take on too much responsibility too soon. When their parents died, he took care of his younger sister, Sheena. For years, it was just them against the world. But now his baby sister is getting married, and Travis is struggling to accept this change. He thinks Todd isn’t good enough for Sheena, and without meaning to, Travis is noticebly judgmental of his sister’s intended.
 
Travis and Sheena are in town to plan her country wedding. Travis wanted something classier for his sister, but then he meets Yardley. He notices she puts her heart and soul into everything, and that she really listens to what the bride wants. Yardley has this no-nonsense way of interpreting what his sister says and doesn’t say.
 
How the hell is he falling in love during wedding prep for his little sister? Easy. He never expected to meet someone like Yardley Belanger.

 
Buy Links: 
 
My thoughts:

After reading this book, I now know why I keep coming back to this author again and again.  It's been quite a week and I needed something to make me feel warm and happy. The Honeymoon Cottage was exactly what I needed to lift my sprits.  I can always count on a Lori Foster book for that. This is such an adorable, sweet yet slow burn romance.  I absolutely loved going on this journey with Yardley and Travis.  I loved watching Yardley finally realize that she is worth everything.  I was reserving judgment about her mom and aunt, but they showed some nice growth toward the end.  Along with Yardley and Travis, we are treated to watching two other sweet relationships.  The friendships (new and old) in this book are so endearing.  The town of Cemetery  is quirky and filled with wonderful characters and traditions.  I could go on.  Just go read it.  You won't be sorry!



Here is a sneak peek:

“Mother, didn’t you plan to go out?” It was nearing noon, and Aurora Belanger had yet to leave. Lilith, her mother’s sister, also lingered in the foyer right outside her office. It was as if they knew she had an appointment and they wanted to oversee the process. It was a fact that no matter how she succeeded, they expected her to fail, or sometimes they just disapproved of how she succeeded.

“Why the rush?” Aurora asked as she adjusted the V-neck of her sleeveless blouse to show more cleavage.

Granted, for an almost-fifty-year-old woman, her mother still had it. The problem was that she knew it, and she focused on looking sexy more than she did on making the business work. Yardley forced her mouth into a smile. “I thought you had some local honeymoon locations to scope out today.”

“I don’t scope out locations. And stop slouching.”

Automatically, Yardley straightened, but damn it, she hadn’t been slouching anyway. “So, what would you call it?”

“I visit, investigate, and collect valuable information that will enhance our clients’ experiences.” She shot Yardley a superior look. “It’s a key part of the business, you know. Certainly, the locations I suggest are more appropriate than that rustic Honeymoon Cottage you always recommend.”

“The cottage is amazing and you know it.” 

Aurora sniffed. “Most people are more interested in their honeymoon than the actual wedding.”

Meaning her mother’s contributions were more valuable than Yardley’s efforts? Baloney. She knew one thing though: Aurora’s choices were certainly more expensive. Folding her arms, Yardley said, “Huh. I guess a lot of happy clients didn’t realize that, because more than half choose the cottage, so—”

“Because it’s so disgustingly cheap,” Aurora insisted.

“Affordable,” Yardley countered, but why she bothered, she didn’t know. They’d disagreed on the point too many times to count.

“I need to leave soon for the café,” Aunt Lilith interrupted. She was four years Aurora’s senior, and though they shared similar features, she was more concerned with flaunting her intellect than her sex appeal. At least the niche, tea-parlor-type café Lilith owned turned a small profit, even though they’d transitioned from meeting prospective clients there to having them at the home office instead.

Lilith focused on Yardley with nerve-rattling acuity. “Whatever are you up to, Yardley? Do you have an appointment, hmm?”

“Yes, I do, and I need to prep for it. So… I’ll see you both later.” She took a step back. Then another. Neither of them budged. Damn.

Lilith gave her a longer look. “Don’t you have something more appropriate to wear?”

Looking down at her summer dress, Yardley frowned in consternation. It was one of her favorites. She adored the way the soft, flowing material gently draped her body. The skirt ended mid-calf, and it had just enough adornment to make it professional while still being comfortable. Plus Mimi had told her that the pretty blue floral pattern matched her eyes. “I love this dress.” 

“It doesn’t scream professionalism,” said her aunt.

“I’m not sure I want my clothes to scream.”

Ignoring that, her aunt said, “Yellow would be better for you, to offset your dark hair. Perhaps a business suit.”

A yellow business suit? She’d look like a block of butter.

“Nonsense,” said her mother. “Just the opposite is true. It wouldn’t kill you to wear something a little less matronly.”

“My dress isn’t matronly.” Was it? No, no, it was comfortable, damn it.

“You have breasts. Even though they’re small, you should showcase them.”

Yardley started to sweat. “Look, both of you—”

Aunt Lilith cut in. “Only you, Aurora, would think she needed to be sexy to sell a wedding. If you’d furthered your education, as I did, instead of getting pregnant so young—”

“That wasn’t my fault,” Aurora gasped in affront—as she always did when this debate got started.

“Well, it certainly wasn’t mine.” Lilith scoffed. “I didn’t have unprotected sex.”

“Likely because you, dear sister, have never experienced real passion.”

Lilith’s face went red. “No one said passion must equal an unwanted baby—no offense, Yardley.”

Yardley obligingly replied, “None taken.” This whole argument was so old, she knew the lines by heart. There was always some variant of the same thing. Over and over again.

It infuriated Mimi. If her friend was here now, she’d be blasting them both.

“I did the responsible thing,” Aurora specified with flair. “I raised my daughter. You’d probably have given her up.”

“How dare you?” Lilith pointed one manicured finger Yardley’s way. “I love Yardley.”

Now you do. But while I was carrying her?” 

“I was attempting to be the reasonable one.”

“You didn’t want her around, but now you try to claim her as your own.”

“At least I don’t advise her to show off her breasts!”

Yardley lifted her phone to look at the time…and then she heard two things. A man clearing his throat, and a young woman giggling.

OMG. Awash with humiliation, she turned to face her clients…and holy crapola. Pretty sure her ovaries just danced.

Travis Long was a feast for the peepers. She knew because her eyes were gobbling him up from head to toe.

He wasn’t the intended, thank God, just the brother. Is he married?

Good Lord, why did she care? But she answered herself real quick as she took him in feature by feature. Sandy-blond hair, steaked by the sun.

Dark brown eyes, fringed by ridiculous—like, really ridiculous—long, thick lashes.

Broad muscled shoulders.

Lean torso.

Long, strong legs.

Of course he had to be married. He’d probably had a dozen proposals by now. Some lucky woman would have snatched him up already.

Unless… Remembering her initial phone conversation, she thought maybe he was too aloof. Too unfriendly. A discerning woman wouldn’t be reeled in by mere good looks. Somehow she didn’t feel all that discerning right now.

Whatever this man does for a living, it works in his favor.

The young woman laughed aloud this time. “Don’t worry, Ms. Belanger. He has that effect on everyone.” She nodded at Aurora and Lilith, and Yardley realized they were both gawking, too. 

Appalled, Yardley loudly cleared her throat—and accomplished nothing. Her mother and aunt continued to stare.

“I’ve told him he could have made more money as a model,” the young woman said, “but no, my brother went into construction instead.”

Attempting to ignore the heat in her face, Yardley stepped forward, hand extended—toward the woman. Who would be her client. She was the one who mattered. “Hello. You must be Ms. Long.”

“Soon to be Mrs. Borden, with your help.”

“Oh, I do hope so. That I get to help, I mean. Not that you become Mrs. Borden. I’m sure that’s a foregone conclusion or you wouldn’t be here.” Shut up, Yardley. “Please, just call me Yardley.”

“If you’ll call me Sheena.”

Beside her, Travis shifted but said nothing. Compared to him, his sister looked extra petite. Her hair, lighter blond than Travis’s, hung just past her shoulders. They shared the same striking dark eyes and sinful lashes.

Sheena appeared to be just out of her teens. Maybe twenty or twenty-one. Young, excited, and brimming with optimism. Total opposite of her silent, possibly brooding, brother.

What could she say with her aunt and mother still eyeballing him as if they’d never seen such a fine specimen before? Honestly, in Cemetery, they probably hadn’t. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to help plan your wedding.” Reluctantly, because she wasn’t yet prepared to gaze on him again, Yardley turned to Travis. It took her a second to get her lungs to work, and then she gasped, “I take it you’re Travis Long, the Victorian home enthusiast?”

“I am.” He briefly clasped her hand.

Very perfunctory. Not at all personal. Purely business.

But he had magic hands or something because she felt that touch radiate everywhere. With her tingling palm, she lamely gestured to the gawking duo. “My mother, Aurora Belanger, and my aunt, Lilith Belanger.”

Sheena greeted them with a little less warmth than she’d shown Yardley.

Travis merely gave them a nod, then said to Yardley, “I’m relieved to see you’ve kept the house true to the period.”

Oh goody, a safe subject, and one she was comfortable with. She could talk about the house and stare at him. “I’ve tried. Remodeling it has been a pleasure, but a slow process.” She wrinkled her nose. “Matching all that trim, finding the right valance windows, the iron railings—”

“And the slate roof. That impressed me.”

Oh, hey. She’d impressed him. Score one for her. “Most recently the kitchen got a facelift. I hope I did it justice.”

Sheena glanced around. “It’s beautiful. Can we do a tour of it later? I know it’d make this whole trip worthwhile for Travis.”

She shot a warning look at her mother and aunt. “Absolutely. I’ll show you everything.” What? “I mean, every part of the house. All the rooms. And stuff.” If only her mouth had a spigot she could turn off. “Even the upstairs rooms have been remodeled.” Had her mother and aunt left when they were supposed to, she’d have tidied their rooms for them. Now she couldn’t, meaning they were probably messy disasters.

Oh, how sweet it was to have a little payback against them. They were fanatics when it came to designing their rooms, but not so big on keeping them decluttered. Yardley knew exactly how they’d react—and they didn’t disappoint her.

“Excuse me,” Lilith said, exiting in a dignified, unhurried stride…until she was out of sight. Then they all heard the rushed clomping of her short heels on wood treads as she raced up the stairs. 

Aurora managed a wan smile. “Yes, I should go as well. Good luck, dear. Oh, not that my daughter needs luck, of course. She’s quite the talented wedding planner. Very popular here and in the neighboring towns. Why, her vintage weddings are heavily trending, or so she tells me. Personally, I prefer something a little more chic, which of course she offers.”

“Mother,” Yardley said, feeling her cheeks burn. “You don’t want to be late.”

“Oh, no. No, I don’t.” Aurora barely lowered her voice when she said in an aside, “Don’t slouch.” Then she turned and sashayed away, making a little less noise on the stairs than Lilith had. Unfortunately, they could hear them rushing around in their rooms, probably tucking away bras and shoes, clearing clutter from their desks, and hopefully tidying their beds.

It was the one thing she had in common with them: they each loved to show off the house. Since Aurora and Lilith had personally helped with the decor choices for their rooms, they were especially proud of them and loved to show them off.

Yardley pinned on her most professional smile. “We finished the upstairs as a divided living area, so both my aunt and my mother have their own private suites with bedrooms, bathrooms, and seating areas. My mother chose the side with the balcony, and Aunt Lilith has that romantic turret.”

“You live here, too?” Sheena asked.

“Yes, my bedroom is off to the right of the foyer, and the kitchen is to the left.” She gestured down the hall. “Only the dining room is used as my office. If you’d like to come this way, we can all get comfortable while you share your wedding ideas. Once I have a grasp of what you’re thinking, I can show you my portfolio and we can go over the budget.”


Excerpted from The Honeymoon Cottage by Lori Foster. Copyright © 2022 by Lori Foster. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.




 
Author Bio: 
 
Lori Foster is a New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author with over 10 million books sold. She received the Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews and her books have been chosen as editors picks by Amazon multiple times. Foster is actively involved in charity work, and all of the author proceeds from her anthologies have gone to various organizations, such as the Animal Adoption Foundation, the Conductive Learning Center, and One Way Farm. She lives in Ohio with her high school sweetheart.

Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @LoriLFoster
Facebook: Lori Foster
Instagram: @lorilfoster
Goodreads

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Blog Tour: Excerpt from Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon

 


Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
ISBN: 9780778386100
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Publisher: MIRA Books

Gone Girl meets Fargo in this deliciously sinister suspense novel about a man who plots his wife's murder to cash in on her inheritance, only to have his brilliant plan turned around on him.
 
First comes love, then comes murder
 
Set to inherit his in-laws’ significant fortune, which would help him care for his ailing father, Lucas Forester decides to help things along by ordering a hit on his wife. (Michelle’s not exactly the most lovable person, anyway.) Everything is going according to his meticulous plan, until he receives a potentially recent photograph of Michelle. Frantic that his plan is being foiled, Lucas must find out if she’s alive, and silence her forever before she can expose him.

 
Buy Links: 
 

Enjoy this excerpt:

1

SUNDAY

The steady noise from the antique French carriage clock on the mantelpiece had somehow amplified itself, a rhythmic tick-tick, tick-tick, which usually went unnoticed. After I’d been sitting in the same position and holding my ailing mother-in-law’s hand for almost an hour, the incessant clicking had long wormed its way deep into my brain where it grated on my nerves, stirring up fantasies of hammers, bent copper coils, and shattered glass.

Nora looked considerably worse than when I’d visited her earlier this week. She was propped up in bed, surrounded by a multitude of pillows. She’d lost more weight, something her pre-illness slender physique couldn’t afford. Her bones jutted out like rocks on a cliff, turning a kiss on the cheek into an extreme sport in which you might lose an eye. The ghostly hue on her face resembled the kids who’d come dressed up as ghouls for Halloween a few days ago, emphasizing the dark circles that had transformed her eyes into mini sinkholes. It wasn’t clear how much time she had left. I was no medical professional, but we could all tell it wouldn’t be long. When she’d shared her doctor’s diagnosis with me barely three weeks ago, they’d estimated around two months, but at the rate of Nora’s decline, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if it turned out to be a matter of days.

Ovarian cancer. As a thirty-two-year-old Englishman who wasn’t yet half Nora’s age I’d had no idea it was dubbed the silent killer but now understood why. Despite the considerable wealth and social notoriety Nora enjoyed in the upscale and picturesque town of Chelmswood on the outskirts of Boston, by the time she’d seen someone because of a bad back and they’d worked out what was going on, her vital organs were under siege. The disease was a formidable opponent, the stealthiest of snipers, destroying her from the inside out before she had any indication something was wrong.

A shame, truly, because Nora was the only one in the Ward family I actually liked. I wouldn’t have sat here this long with my arse going numb for my father-in-law’s benefit, that’s for sure. Given half the chance I’d have smothered him with a pillow while the nurse wasn’t looking. But not Nora. She was kindhearted, gentle. The type of person who quietly gave time and money to multiple causes and charities without expecting a single accolade in return. Sometimes I imagined my mother would’ve been like Nora, had she survived, and fleetingly wondered what might have become of me if she hadn’t died so young, if I’d have grown up to be a good person.

I gradually pulled my hand away from Nora’s and reached for my phone, decided on playing a game or two of backgammon until she woke up. The app had thrashed me the last three rounds and I was due, but Nora’s fingers twitched before I made my first move. I studied her brow, which seemed furrowed in pain even as she slept. Not for the first time I hoped the Grim Reaper would stake his or her claim sooner rather than later. If I were death, I’d be swift, efficient, and merciful, not prescribe a drawn-out, painful process during which body, mind, or both, wasted away. People shouldn’t be made to suffer as they died. Not all of them, anyway.

“Lucas?”

I jumped as Diane, Nora’s nurse and my neighbor, put a hand on my shoulder. She’d only left the room for a couple of minutes but always wore those soft-soled shoes when she worked, which meant I never heard her coming until she was next to me. Kind of sneaky, when I thought about it, and I decided I wouldn’t sit with my back to the door again.

As she walked past, the air filled with the distinctive medicinal scent of hand sanitizer and antiseptic. I hated that smell. Too many bad memories I couldn’t shake. Diane set a glass of water on the bedside table, checked Nora’s vitals, and turned around. Hands on hips, she peered down at me from her six-foot frame, her tight dark curls bouncing alongside her jawbone like a set of tiny corkscrews.

“You can go home now. I’ll take the evening from here.” Regardless of her amicable delivery, there was no mistaking the instruction, but she still added, “Get some rest. God knows you look like you need it.”

“Thanks a lot,” I replied with mock indignation. “You sure know how to flatter a guy.”

Diane cocked her head to one side, folded her arms, and gave me another long stare, which to anyone else would’ve been intimidating. “How long since you slept? I mean properly.”

I waved a hand. “It’s only seven o’clock.”

“Yeah, I guess given the circumstances I wouldn’t want to be home alone, either.”

I looked away. “That’s not what this is about. I’ll wait until Nora wakes up again. I want to say goodbye. You know, in case she…” My voice cracked a little on the last word and I feigned a cough as I pressed the heels of my palms over my eyes.

“She won’t,” Diane whispered. “Not tonight. Trust me. She’s not ready to go.”

I knew Diane had worked in hospice for two decades and had seen more than her fair share of people taking their last breaths. If she said Nora wouldn’t die tonight, then Nora would still be here in the morning.

“I’ll leave in a bit. After she wakes up.”

Diane let out a resigned sigh and sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the bed. A comfortable silence settled between us despite the fact we didn’t know each other very well. I’d first met Diane and her wife Karina, who were both in their forties, when they’d struck up a conversation with me and my wife Michelle as we’d moved into our house on the other side of Chelmswood almost three years prior. Something about garbage days and recycling rules, I think. The mundane discussion could’ve led to a multitude of drinks, shared meals, and the swapping of embarrassing childhood stories, except we were all what Michelle had called busy professionals with (quote) hectic work schedules that make forging new friendships difficult. My Captain Subtext translated her comment as can’t be bothered and, consequently, the four of us had never made the transition from neighbors to close friends.

Aside from the occasional holiday party invitation or looking after each other’s places whenever we were away—picking up the mail, watering the plants, that kind of thing—we only saw each other in passing. Nevertheless, Karina regularly left a Welcome Back note on our kitchen counter along with flowers from their garden and a bottle of wine. Not one to be outdone on anything, Michelle reciprocated, except she’d always chosen more elaborate bouquets and fancier booze. My wife’s silent little pissing contests, which I’d pretended to be too dense to notice, had irked me to hell and back, but when Nora fell ill and Diane had been assigned as one of her nurses, I’d been relieved it was someone I knew and trusted.

“I’m sorry this is happening to you,” Diane said, rescuing me from the spousal memories. “It’s not fair. I mean, it’s never fair, obviously, but on top of what you’re going through with Michelle. I can’t imagine. It’s so awful…”

I acknowledged the rest of the words she left hanging in the air with a nod. There was nothing left to say about my wife’s situation we hadn’t already discussed, rediscussed, dissected, reconstructed, and pulled apart all over again. We’d not solved the mystery of her whereabouts or found more clues. Nothing new, helpful or hopeful, anyway. We never would.

Silence descended upon us again, the gaudy carriage clock ticking away, reviving the images of me with hammer in hand until the doorbell masked the sound.

“I’ll go,” Diane muttered, and before I had the chance to stand, she left the room and pulled the door shut. I couldn’t help wondering if her swift departure was because she needed to escape from me, the man who’d used her supportive shoulder almost daily for the past month. I decided to tone it down a little. Nobody wanted to be around an overdramatic, constant crybaby regardless of their circumstances.

I listened for voices but couldn’t hear any despite my leaning toward the door and craning my neck. I couldn’t risk moving in case Nora woke up. Her body was failing, but her mind remained sharp as a box of tacks. She’d wonder what I was up to if she saw my ear pressed against the mahogany panel. Solid mahogany. The best money could buy thanks to the Ward family’s three-generations-old construction empire. No cheap building materials in this house, as my father-in-law had pointed out when he’d first given me the tour of the six bedrooms, four reception rooms, indoor and outdoor kitchens (never mind the abhorrent freezing Boston winters), and what could only be described as grounds because yard implied it was manageable with a push-along mower.

“Only the best for my family,” Gideon had said in his characteristic rumbly, pompous way as he’d knocked back another glass of Laphroaig, the broad East Coast accent he worked hard to hide making more of a reappearance with each gluttonous glug. “No MDF, vinyl or laminate garbage, thank you. That’s not what I’m about. Not at all.”

It’s in the houses you build for others, I’d thought as I’d grunted an inaudible reply he no doubt mistook for agreement because people rarely contradicted him. As I raised my glass of scotch, I didn’t mention the council flats I grew up in on what Gideon dismissed as the lesser side of the pond, or the multiple times Dad and I had been kicked out of our dingy digs because he couldn’t pay the rent, and we’d ended up on the streets. My childhood had been vastly different to my wife’s, and I imagined the pleasure I’d find in watching Gideon’s eyes bulge as I described the squalor I’d lived in, and he realized my background was worlds away from the shiny and elitist version I’d led everyone to believe was the truth. I pictured myself laughing as he understood his perfect daughter had married so far beneath her, she may as well have pulled me up from the dirt like a carrot, and not the expensive organic kind.

Of course, I hadn’t told him anything. I’d taken another swig of the scotch I loathed, but otherwise kept my mouth shut. As satisfying as it would’ve been, my father-in-law knowing the truth about my background had never been part of my long-term agenda. In any case, and despite Gideon’s efforts, things were working to plan. Better than. The smug bastard was dead.

And he wasn’t the only one.


Excerpted from Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Copyright © 2022 by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.




Author Bio: 

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors, Her Secret Son, Sister Dear and You Will Remember Me. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.