THE LUCKY ONES manages to be both seductive and horrifying at the same time. As the pages flipped by, I fell further down into the rabbit hole with Allison as she begins to regain memories that she thought were lost forever.
When I first heard about THE QUEEN OF HEARTS, I will admit I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t want to read a book about long-time friends who have shared their lives and their professional passion since their twenties combined with past secrets and tragedy? However, the book that I got was even better than I could have imagined.
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is one of those books that plays with perceptions. You will think you know what is going on and have a firm stance on the situation as well as the characters. Then a twist comes and you are thrown into the cycle of having to gain your footing all over again. It is truly masterful how the author developed this story.
“Miss Whitney says you aren’t eating. Want to tell me why?” he asked.
Allison had dropped her chin to her chest. “Not hungry.”
“Does your stomach hurt?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“No?” he said. Allison stopped talking and hoped he would, too.
“Have you ever seen the ocean?” he asked her. That was not the question she’d been expecting.
“You know what it looks like?”
“I saw pictures,” she said.
“We can do better than that.” That’s when he plucked her off the counter and set her on her feet. He took her by the hand and led her out to the back porch. There was nothing back there but a slab of concrete where a few old chairs sat looking at a yard of scrubby dirt backed by a hill of scrubby dirt. Everywhere she looked out there she saw nothing but scrubby dirt.
“See all that?” the doctor said, pointing from one end of the hill to the other.
“I see dirt,” she said.
“Okay. Now imagine everything you see is water,” he said.
Allison’s eyes went wide. She stared at the dirt and in her mind’s eye it started to change color from brown to gray to blue. The hills turned to waves, the raw wind became an ocean breeze and the concrete slab they stood on became a raft, bobbing and floating on an endless sea.
“I see it,” she said, grinning up at him.
“That’s the ocean,” he said.
“It’s lovely,” she said.
“Lovely? Yes, it is lovely, isn’t it?” he said, laughing. “That’s where I live, you know. On the ocean.”
“In a boat?”
He laughed again. “No, in a house. But the house is right on the beach and you can see the ocean from almost all the rooms.”
Allison couldn’t imagine that. She never even looked out the windows in this house. Nothing to see but dirt out the back windows and other sand-colored houses out the front.
“Can you swim in it?”
He stroked his beard. “You can swim in it. Might not want to. It’s kind of cold, but my son swims in it a lot.”
“You have a son?”
“I have two sons,” he said, smiling with pride. “And a daughter. They’re all kids like you. Some bad things happened in their lives so now they live with me in my house by the ocean.”
“Is it pretty?”
“If I told you it looked like a dragon, would you believe me?”
“No,” she said, laughing. That was the silliest thing she ever heard. “Dragons have wings. They have fire in their noses.”
“I promise it looks like a dragon.”
“I’m not,” he said, and looked hurt. Then he grinned. She liked him so much when he smiled like that. “It’s a sea monster, I swear.”
“I know a water poem,” she said. “Do you want to hear it?”
“I want to hear your poem. Go for it.”
Allison recited for him.
“The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright—
And that was odd because it was
The middle of the night.”
The man laughed heartily, a Santa Claus laugh, though he didn’t have a Santa Claus belly.
“That’s wonderful, Allison. Did you learn that in school?”
“I taught it to myself,” she said. That was true but she didn’t tell him why she’d taught it to herself. He’d probably laugh at her. “Can I come to your house and see the ocean for real?”
He squatted down low again so they were the same height, and while he wasn’t smiling with his mouth, he was smiling with his eyes.
“I would take you to see it,” he said, “but we have a rule at my house—everybody has to eat every single day.”
She gave that a good long think and then made up her mind.
“If I could see the ocean, I would eat,” she said.
“Every single day?”
“Every single day.”
“Good,” he said. He stood up again. “It’s a deal. Let’s go get you packed.”
“You mean it?” She couldn’t believe it, but she couldn’t believe this smiling man who wore pajamas to work would lie to her, either.
“I mean it.”
She raced to her room and found her suitcase. She didn’t have much to pack but one suitcase of her clothes and one bag of her books. Miss Whitney hugged her for a long time and kissed her cheek and told her she was a lucky little girl, because she was going to a wonderful home. Over Allison’s shoulder, Miss Whitney winked at Dr. Capello. When Allison started out the door, her small hand in Dr. Capello’s big strong hand, the other girls did nothing but wave half-heartedly from the couch where they sat playing a dumb video game on a too-small television.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.
Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She's determined to find out what really happened that fateful night--was it an accident or, as she's always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?
But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she'll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.
A vivid and suspenseful tale of family, grief, love—and the dark secrets that bind everything together—Tiffany Reisz’s latest is enthralling to the final page.
About the Author: Tiffany Reisz is the author of the internationally bestselling and award-winning Original Sinners series for Mira Books (Harlequin/Mills & Boon). Tiffany's books inhabit a sexy shadowy world where romance, erotica and literature meet and do immoral and possibly illegal things to each other. She describes her genre as "literary friction," a term she stole from her main character, who gets in trouble almost as often as the author herself. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer, and two cats. If she couldn't write, she would die.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning I’ll receive a small commission should you purchase using those links. All opinions expressed are my own. I receive no compensation for reviews.
“Since you’re so talkative, I’ll start the conversation,” he says. “If you want to get rid of those guys then stand here and talk to me, and I’ll stand here and talk to you. You can smile like you know me because it’s tough to make me smile, and it will seem fake. Then I can try to win you a stuffed animal. Won’t be a snake, but it will do. Those losers will catch on we’re friends. Eventually, they’ll keep walking, and then they’ll return to their loser frat house where they’ll play with themselves for the rest of the night because they don’t know how to properly talk to a girl.”
I blink because all thought processes have taken a mini break. Either that or I’m having a stroke.
“Just a smile. Maybe a few mumbled words. Tell me anything. Doesn’t have to be poetic. Just your lips moving in my direction without your current blank expression.”
I blink again, many times, as the sights, sounds and smells of the midway blast back as if someone had pushed the play button on my life. I flash the perfectly practiced public smile I’ve used too many other times in my life.
“I don’t know how to get them to leave me alone.” I pause, then the bitterness leaks out as well as a grim grin. “At least not without a baseball and a well-placed throw. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to continue their genetics.”
The right side of his mouth tips up, and my eyes narrow on him. “I thought you didn’t smile easily.”
“I have a twisted sense of humor, and I didn’t think a girl like you could make me laugh. You’ve done it twice now. That’s a record for the past year.”
I bristle, still on the dangerous edge of anger. “A girl like me?”
“Yeah, one that’s out of my league. Listen, if you want to get out of this situation without it escalating, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll take a step back, and you can do whatever you need. I’m all about helping, but I’m not looking to get into a fight. Your call on how this goes down, but if it’s violence, you’re on your own.”
He says he doesn’t want to partake in violence, but there’s an essence about him that says he could drop anyone at any time and do it without breaking a sweat.
He’s looking at me, I’m looking at him, and the flutter in my chest returns. “Thank you for the offer, but I can take care of myself.”
Sure can. Just need that ball, a good throw, and then my mother will be seriously ticked off. I’m tired of people like those guys, and I’m also tired of pretending to be perfect. I rub my eyes at the exhaustion caused by the combination of both.
“Don’t doubt you can,” he says, “but you really think they’re going to back off if you give them a reaction? And if you keep walking, do you think they’re going to leave you alone? They aren’t some third grade bully who’ll run when you sock him in the nose, and ignoring them isn’t working either. Guys like them get high off your anger, get off on your fear. Trust me on this one. I’ve spent almost a year in the presence of some real assholes.”
“Why are you helping me?”
He lifts one shoulder like he doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t care he has an answer, yet he answers anyway, “I have a younger sister. You met her earlier.”
It’s not an explanation, but it is, and he inclines his head to the game. I move to stand in front of it, and as I go to retrieve money from my pocket, he shakes his head, and pulls out his wallet. “It’s on me.”
The anger that had been boiling in me retreats because him paying for this game feels old-school James Dean. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, but don’t expect much from me. Odds are I’m going to lose.”
ABOUT THE BOOK:
"Doesn't matter who did it. Not anymore. I did the time. It's over."
When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.
Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.
When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.
But sometimes love can breach all barriers.
Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katie was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. She is the author of the Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road series. Say You’ll Remember Me will be released in 2018. Katie loves to hear from her readers.
DEATH BELOW THE STAIRS is the first in a series that I hope will have many more to come. Being a fan of both cozy mysteries and historical fiction, this book checked off all the boxes for a perfect read for me. From page one, I was instantly draw into Kat’s world and all the pomp and circumstance of Victorian England. There is something so great about an author who can take a historic setting and through a well crafted story, make it seem modern and fresh.