LAST YEAR I WAS READING…(January 19, 2022)

This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.

Here are the rules:

Take your current read and compare it to what you reading this exact time last year. Which one do you like better? What is different about the books? Any special facts/things you want to make note of or bring attention to

This Year I Am Reading…

Six bodies in a single grave… in the same West Texas country where Dakota left everything behind.

Every beat of my heart belongs to you.

Thirteen years ago, Dakota Jennings thought he’d found his forever when he fell in love with Shane Carson. But one afternoon shattered their love story, and both Dakota and Shane left Rustler, Texas, with broken hearts. Even now, Dakota is still feeling the agony of losing Shane. Sure, he’s a Texas Ranger, but that’s not how he wanted to live his life. All he ever wanted was to love Shane.

Loving you is the only time I feel alive.

Shane’s life was supposed to be different than this. There’d been a plan, ever since he was knee-high to his father. But falling for Dakota spun Shane’s world upside down, and for years, Shane has had nothing but the memories of all that he lost: Dakota’s gentle touch, and the sweetness of his lips, and the star-strewn nights they spent wrapped in each other’s arms.

West of the Pecos, there is no law.

When the Rangers get the call about six bodies being pulled out of a mass grave in West Texas, the governor sends Dakota to run the investigation. Dakota heads back to his hometown and comes face-to-face with the last man he ever expected to see again: only now, he’s Deputy Shane Carson… Dakota’s local partner assigned to the case.

There’s nothing Dakota wants more than a second chance with Shane, but so much is stacked against them: six corpses, a murderer on the loose, and history that refuses to stay buried. And the bodies keep piling up as Dakota and Shane try to run the killer down across the West Texas plains.

In a moment, everything changes: the hunters become the hunted, the past fractures, and all Dakota thought he knew comes tumbling down. Secrets break wide open as Dakota remembers–

This is West Texas, and out here, nothing is as it seems.

Big Bend County is a place of beauty and desolation, of secrets and small towns. Where the past and the present collide, and where nothing stays hidden forever.

This MM romantic suspense is the first in the new Big Bend Texas Rangers series. Come along for the West Texas sunsets, the heart-pounding thrills, and the hard-won Happy Ever Afters.

Bookshop: US
Amazon Buy Links: KindleAudiobook
Amazon UK Buy Links: Paperback | Audiobook

Big Bend is practically in the middle of the desert, but its boys sure know how to turn on the waterworks! Not my favorite Tal Bauer. So far, a tad too weepy. But, still good.

Last Year I Was Reading…

Harrison Baxter lives on a farm with his parents, on the outskirts of the village of Harmschapel. It’s picturesque, idyllic and tranquil – but Harrison is far from happy. His parent’s marriage is strained to say the least and on top of that, his boyfriend, Daniel, has been mentally and physically abusing him for years. After he finds himself with one bruise too many, Harrison has had enough. But when he plucks up the courage to finally end his violent relationship, Harrison’s life is changed forever when Daniel is found murdered in the most bizarre circumstances.

Detective Sergeant Blake Harte has moved to Harmschapel after his own relationship ended in tatters. But moving to a quiet village after working his way up the ranks in a city brings its own set of problems and Blake soon finds himself at odds with new colleagues who aren’t used to his style of policing. But when he is called upon to investigate the mysterious and impossible murder at Halfmile Farm, Blake finds himself facing the most challenging case of his career.

So how can Daniel have been shot in a locked shed that nobody could possibly have escaped from?

Is anybody really Untouchable?

Bookshop: US
Amazon Buy Links: KindleAudiobook
Amazon UK Buy Links: Paperback | Audiobook

Dashing British detective charms small-town folks and solves a mindboggling locked-door mystery. Loved it so much I binged-read the first four books in the series. Still waiting for the rest of the audiobooks.

My 4-star review here.

Today we have two police procedurals from each side of the pond. The current case appeared to be a crime committed by a serial killer. Last year’s case is a locked-room mystery with only one victim. Both books are series openers set in small towns and involve law enforcement officers nursing broken hearts. The current book has both MCs unable to move on from their breakup 13 years ago. The tone is angstier and more dramatic. Last year’s book has the detective, fresh from a breakup, moving to a small town to start anew. The tone is more neutral, with dry humor characteristic of British books.

Never Stay Gone opens Big Bend Texas Rangers, a series about a tough breed of rangers who patrol the desolate deserts of Big Bend County. In one of Chief Deputy Shane Carson’s patrols, he stumbles upon a mass grave of women. The seriousness of the case had the Texan governor bring in her special Texas Ranger and personal guard, Dakota Jennings. Also, Shane’s secret high school sweetheart, 13 years ago. The two were practically all set to live together after graduation when Shane, pressured by an overbearing dad, broke things off. Dakota disappeared. Now, he’s back. Is it too much to ask him to stay?

The book is written in dual 3rd-person POV. Which I appreciated because the amount of angst this had would have been too raw in 1st person. This is perhaps one of the most melodramatic from the author, with all the crying going on. The case involved six victims buried together. Their injuries were different from each other but still had some commonality that might point to a serial killer. I’m heavily betting on one of the LEOs as the perpetrators. But you never know with this author. He might just pull out another big twist.

Untouchable kicks off the Blake Harte Mysteries. Detective Sergeant Blake Harte transfers to a small town, Harmschapel, in an effort to heal his broken heart after a bad breakup. He was immediately called upon to investigate what appeared to be a shooting inside a locked barn. The victim was alone and it was immediately established that he did not shoot himself. He had no gun. Also, the barn was locked from the inside.

This had all the good stuff I loved about British mysteries with the added bonus of having an MM romance. Despite touching upon heavy themes such as domestic abuse, this still felt cozy. The story is written from Blake’s 3rd-person POV. I was immediately drawn to his character. His personality drove the story forward. The love interest is a timid young man, Harrison, the ex-boyfriend of the victim. The romance is pretty slow burn. They started dating in the second book. They’re still super cute though. Especially as it happens alongside Harrison coming into his own. Blake could be such a dork.

Between badass rangers and dashing detectives, the desolate beauty of the Texan desert can only take so much rain. I prefer the more clement weather of idyllic English towns.

I’m ending the post with a book I’m looking forward to reading.

In the cold spring air of Lukos, a man wraps a cloak of fur around his shoulders and transforms into a sleek white wolf, racing across the countryside…

Zephyr has always been cursed. The same fur that gives him the ability to shift between wolf and man allows others the power to control his will. Doomed to follow any order given by one who holds his cloak, Zephyr steals it from his tyrannical foster-father and takes off into the wilderness. He’s heard stories of the wolf-people of Lukos, the ones who don’t hide away in the caves Zephyr grew up in but build houses to weather the harsh winter, but there’s no telling what they’ll do when they see him. Even here, Zephyr knows he will never be truly safe.

Dragan Wolf-Breaker has spent his life leading the people of Lukos and raising his daughter, Elena, as a single father. When the injured white wolf who collapsed on his door turns out to be a man mistreated by those who were supposed to protect him, Dragan slowly begins to earn Zephyr’s trust by showing him that his submission is a gift, not a curse. But as the weather grows warmer in Lukos, the danger from Zephyr’s former life grows closer than ever, threatening his new home and his new life with Dragan.

SPRING OF THE WOLF features a powerful dominant with a firm hand and a protective streak, a wolf-shifter submissive with a need to be settled and yearning to be safe, and an ancient curse that can only be undone through the bonds of love, trust, friendship and family….

Amazon Buy Links: US UK

The people of the frigid island of Lukos completely charmed me with their warmth and hospitality. I’m looking forward to another visit.

What were you reading this time last year?

(I hope it’s as riveting as Morticia’s book)

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