**ARC REVIEW** ~ Mother, by Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne

Psychological Thriller

Mother

Book Blurb

A Girl’s Worst Nightmare is Her Mother …
Priscilla Martin. She’s the diva of Morning Glory Circle and a driving force in the quaint California town of Snapdragon. Overseer of garage sales and neighborhood Christmas decorations, she is widely admired. But few people know the real woman behind the perfectly coiffed hair and Opium perfume.

Family is Forever. And Ever and Ever …
No one escapes Prissy’s watchful eye. No one that is, except her son, who committed suicide many years ago, and her daughter, Claire, who left home more than a decade past and hasn’t spoken to her since. But now, Priscilla’s daughter and son-in-law have fallen on hard times. Expecting their first child, the couple is forced to move back … And Prissy is there to welcome them home with open arms … and to reclaim her broken family.

The Past Isn’t Always as Bad as You Remember.
Sometimes it’s Worse …
Claire has terrible memories of her mother, but now it seems Priscilla has mended her ways. When a cache of vile family secrets is uncovered, Claire struggles to determine fact from fiction, and her husband, Jason, begins to wonder who the monster really is. Lives are in danger – and Claire and Jason must face a horrifying truth … a truth that may destroy them … and will forever change their definition of “Mother.”

My Review (Five stars *****)

Dark and Enthralling

Mother is a superbly crafted and enthralling psychological thriller which has emerged from the writing partnership of Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross. For me, the novel has strong echoes of David Lynch and Stephen King: there are a myriad of secrets and dark deeds which go on behind the immediate visual landscape, complemented by a host of quirky yet intense characterisations and a devilishly twisted plot. The read also contains some very dark humour.

The words sociopath, narcissist and even monster fail to adequately describe Prissy Martin, the ‘Mother’ of the title. She is one evil package of destructive, controlling, self-serving and remorseless desires who will let no one get in her way. Indeed, this monster’s tentacles reach far and wide…..

It is into this that Claire, her estranged daughter, pregnant with her first child, reluctantly returns, accompanied by her husband Jason, the couple having fallen on hard times. Surely Mother is not as bad as Claire’s memories indicate? Indeed, at first Prissy appears to do all she can to make them feel welcome, but it is not long before they too become prey to her nefarious designs and her need to control all around her. Their marriage, health and Claire’s sanity is soon under threat as Mother reverts to form.

Mother has her own special plans (exactly what we are not made privy to until the novel reaches its conclusion) and will not be thwarted….. Family secrets, lies and the past intertwine to create a read where, with each turn of the page, my heart beat ever faster as the evil intent reveals itself as we approach the novel’s shocking denouement. Madness threatens to consume Claire and her mother Prissy and it is uncertain who will be the victor.

The novel contains some truly superb characterisations, not just Prissy herself but also the unfortunate Claire, the unsuspecting Jason, Barb, Prissy’s long-suffering neighbour and friend and Fathers Pike and Flanagan, the current and former local priests. The residents of Morning Glory Circle each have their own secrets and there are many surprises in store as they are slowly revealed.

I was open mouthed as the plot unfolded. This deeply psychological novel contains truly appalling revelations, and is certainly not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for an unforgettable and heart stopping read that explores the depths of human depravity then this is the book for you. An unforgettable read by a writing duo that are at he top of their game.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, an ARC of this book was given to me for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Connect with the Authors

http://www.tamarathorne.com/

http://alistaircross.com/

Purchase Links

Amazon US  Amazon UK

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29866355-mother

**Double Review** ~ Seeking Nirvana and Eluding Nirvana (Dark Evoke series: #1 and #2), by V.L. Brock

The Dark Evoke Series

Genre: Dark Romantic Suspense/Psychological/Thriller

Step into the Abyss…..

I am overwhelmed after reading the first two instalments of this series, which I would describe as a dark romantic suspense/thriller. After devouring the first instalment, Seeking Nirvana I truly did not know if I was coming or going as I was as confused as the heroine Kady. And what an ending! I could not wait to get my paws on the next book, Eluding Nirvana! Although much is revealed in this second instalment I am itching t0 read the final book in the trilogy, Transcending Nirvana!

Scroll down for my reviews. My review of Eluding Nirvana, the second book in the series, naturally contains some spoilers for the first book (although I have tried my best to keep them at a minimum). If you think this series is one you’d like to read I’d therefore advise you not to read this particular review. Tina 🙂

Please note, both books were given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Seeking Nirvana (Dark Evoke #1)

Seeking Nirvana

Blurb

They say that old habits die hard, and twenty-seven year old, Kady Jenson, is about to discover how true that statement actually is.

Waking up in a hospital room with a complete stranger at her bedside, should have caused panic and confusion, but for a reason unknown to her, Kady finds herself drawn, and calmed by the presence of the rugged, devastatingly handsome man with the pleasant Irish brogue. It’s when she discovers that she has just woken from a four day coma, with a three year void in her memory, which spawns confusion and panic.

Kady soon comes to realize that things change with time, and not only appearances.

Not only is the sexual chemistry she once shared with her long-term boyfriend, now a long-ago memory, but Kady also begins to unconsciously fall back into unremembered habits, and with each day, the increasing sense of foreboding, becomes increasingly harder to ignore.

Left on her own when her boyfriend goes on a business trip, Kady seeks help from the Irish stranger as they go on a quest together, in a race against time, to piece the puzzle together.

My Review

Suspenseful and Addictive *****

Seeking Nirvana, the first instalment in the Dark Evoke series is a dark romantic thriller par excellence. After waking up from a coma following a car accident Kady, the heroine, suffering from amnesia desperately seeks to remember what happened during the last three years of her life and struggles to come to terms with the present. Told in the first person, from Kady’s POV, I thought that the novel was expertly crafted (after reading book 2 (reviewed below), I realized this even more so).

On returning home with Liam, her long term partner, Kady is stunned to see that the reality of her life bears little resemblance to the one she led three years ago. What happened to her? Where is the woman she used to be? Why are her family estranged from her? Who is Mrs Steinbeck, the menacing and nosey neighbour who watches her every move? And more to the point, why does she increasingly feel more at ease with the handsome Walker than her longstanding and beloved Liam? Why do the two men appear to be so much at odds when it comes to Kady?

As the novel unfolds I felt as if I was walking hand in hand with Kady as she tries to remember and uncover the truth of what her life has become. It is Walker who makes Kady feel like a woman and who offers her solace, whereas Liam’s becomes ever more distant. Doubt and confusion become commonplace and Kady feels ever more desperate and conflicted over her feelings towards the two men in  her life, as the novel becomes ever more menacing. I began asking myself who was Kady’s friend and who was her foe as the book progressed and we are given glimpses of the reality of Kady’s situation.

The characterisations of both Walker and Liam are excellent. The two men could not be more different. As I read I was itching to solve the puzzle of Kady’s life and began rooting for her HEA. The novel does end on a major cliffhanger, which sets up book #2 perfectly.

It is a must read for fans of dark romantic suspense and for readers who like psychological thrillers.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Eluding Nirvana,  (Dark Evoke, #2)

***Due to the dark nature and content in this story, Eluding Nirvana is recommended to readers over the age of 18.***

Eluding Nirvana

Blurb

Three years lost; a body marred and a mission complete. Waking after a four day coma, Kady Jenson felt her life was crashing down around her. Three years of her memories were missing, and the compelling man at her side was not her years-long partner, but a stranger – a stranger who promised to help her recover what she had lost.

But how did Kady come to such a place?

What dark, mysterious events stole her past and threatened her future?

How did her lover become a stranger, and a stranger become so terribly important?

What happened to turn Kady’s orderly life into a terrifying nightmare which would leave her permanently marked, body and soul?

**AUTHORS NOTE**

Eluding Nirvana is the second instalment of The Dark Evoke Series, and is therefore not intended as a standalone novel.

My Review

Dark and Psychological Page Turner *****

This is a dark, dark read! Kady’s memory has returned and we find out about events in the last three years and the run up to her car accident. Both friends and foes are confirmed and we bear witness to the extent of control that a sociopath can have over their victim and the physical and emotional abuse that this can entail. It is truly terrifying and the author portrays it brilliantly.

Many of the passages and situations are dark and sometimes the emotions that they invoked made me want to put the book down, only to want to pick it back up immediately. I was just so emotionally invested in the characters.

The light in the darkness for Kady and myself, as reader, was undoubtedly Walker, a man who has his own dark past to come to terms with. Walker seems to understand Kady’s demons and helps her find release from her situation. It is clear that he would never hurt her. The motivations for Walker’s actions in the first book and those of Liam are explained more fully in this novel. We also learn more about the part their characters play in the story: Liv, Laurie and Mrs Steinbeck (a character who I wanted to slap).

The read brings us back full circle and I am eagerly awaiting the next book to find out where Kady goes next in her quest to find herself and secure her HEA.

I recommend this read to readers who like psychological suspense alongside their romantic reads and who are able to handle dark themes.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Purchase Links

Purchase links for ebook, Seeking Nirvana: The Dark Evoke Series #1:

U.S: http://amzn.to/1nhZQmd UK: http://amzn.to/1lI3VNr

Seeking Nirvana Paperback:

US: http://amzn.to/1sOYA6d UK: http://amzn.to/108Kaab

Purchase Links for Eluding Nirvana: The Dark Evoke Series #2:

US: http://amzn.to/1tRfEJO UK: http://amzn.to/1n6BVpS

Transcending Nirvana: The Dark Evoke Series #3

US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X68GR0A/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00X68GR0A?keywords=Transcending%20Nirvana%20(The%20Dark%20Evoke%20Series%20Book%203)&qid=1437642191&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Author Links

Amazon Author Link: http://www.amazon.com/V.L.-Brock/e/B00IJIB16C/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1408268470&sr=8-1

Facebook author page: https://m.facebook.com/author.V.L.Brock 

‘Control (The Soul of Voodoo #1)’ by M.C. Lavocat

Control (The Soul of Voodoo, #1)If you like to be up close and personal to the characters in a saucy sort of way, as well as have the added bonus of some fun, quirky comedy and dark paranormal goings on, then this is definitely a great book for you! Things are not always as they seem at the beginning of ‘Control’, as the reader and the characters become more and more drawn to darker sides – leaving us baffled, scared and tense. ‘Control’ is packed with romance, fun and horror as it opens up to reveal a deep, dark paranormal entity. Due to the passion and horror I would recommend this novel as a more adult read, possibly 16 years+.

The main focus is on Cecelia Milonas.  Studying neuroscience for her doctoral program, Cecilia also revelled in a social life and yet was still able to maintain good grades. Many were jealous of her and she had just about had enough of studying and dealing with her fellow students and so decided to leave. However, there is more to Cecilia as she is a ‘Foxy Lady’ as Jimi Hendrix would say. She has curves in all the right places that any woman would be jealous of and any man would admire.

It isn’t too long after leaving her doctoral program that Cecilia begins a hot and saucy, lustful relationship with her landlord, boss and panty-melter, Andre St. Clair. This is a guy she has yearned for but has never thought that anything would become of her feelings for him. Andre was her friend but he didn’t date anyone. His mind was in his business. As their relationship grows it becomes more and more intense and passionate and Andre in particular is becoming addicted and obsessed with Cecilia – he is burning for her. It is the intensity and passion here that reminded me a little of Fifty Shades of Grey! Hot! Hot! Hot!

And then there is Lance Bradley.  Aside from Cecilia, Lance is my favourite character. Whether it be destiny or a curse, Lance is drawn to Cecilia in ways that he cannot explain. His first introduction with her was so slight and yet he couldn’t remove her from his mind and had to follow his instinct to find a way to be with her. He would not force the issue but he was around enough to remind her of him to the point that at times she could not forget about him. (Whereas Andre is the tall, dark handsome type, who appears quite slick and smooth, Lance is very masculine and rugged with an athletic/muscular body.)

James is Cecilia’s best friend and in many ways he reminds me of the character Lafayette in True Blood. His character provides a great deal of the comedy, especially when mixed with Cecilia and/or Lance. James could quite easily be your best friend as he is very jovial. He knows how to lighten the mood and creates a good vibe. His friendship with Cecilia is so close that he is aware of her emotions and can sense the atmosphere/mood she is in and when something is up with her. However, these senses become a much deeper aspect the further the story goes on.

The story is written from Cecilia’s point of view and from Lance’s. I love this as the reader can connect to both characters from early on and understand their feelings and decisions. The relationship of Cecilia and Lance is magnetic and whether they want to or not it is almost inevitable that something could possibly happen between them. However, Cecilia is with Andre and even though their relationship can be tense at times she still wants to make it work with him, after all he is the panty-melter and the guy she has been wanting for three whole years.

In many ways the first part of ‘Control’ can appear to be a romantic love triangle situation but as the reader gets sucked in too, by the spell, we realise that it is so much more; where lives are at stake, time is not as it seems and people’s destiny’s are affected! There is nothing we can do to prevent it – or so it seems – but we have to find a way! A curse, a spell, voodoo even is considered when darker events take place and the ‘control’ or lack of it goes to a complete extreme. This is a must-read for those that love dark, paranormal horror, mixed with comedy and romance!

The second novel of the series, ‘Power’ will be released in the near future and as ‘Control’ has left me on tenterhooks at the edge of my seat, I simply need to know how the story can move forward.

For more information on M.C. Lavocat and/or ‘The Soul of Voodoo series please visit www.soulofvoodoo.wordpress.com

Cover artwork by Sugar Magnolia Photography

‘Control (The Soul of Voodoo #1)’ was received by myself gratefully, from M.C. Lavocat, in return for an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker