Batter of Wits by Karla Sorenson (2020)
Grace is moving to Green Valley, but just outside town, her car breaks down. Tucker stops to help her, and she takes an immediate dislike to him. Those feelings don't last long, though, and soon the two are falling for each other - despite a lot of complications. I really loved this book - there were so many elements beyond the romance, although that did take center stage. Grace wants a fresh start in a new place; Tucker is unhappy in the life his father planned for him. And then these two find each other, and wow - the sparks, the deep intense feelings. They understand each other like no one else, but they can't be totally open with their relationship, and that's where the big issues come in. Although I felt like their problems were solved a little too quickly and easily, and I wanted more development in Tucker's background, I couldn't read this book fast enough - I was so engrossed in this romance! 4 stars
Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl (2016)
I don't know about you, but I felt very Marvel-deprived in 2020, so I was excited to come across this Black Widow novel. Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, rescues a Russian girl from the same man who trained her to be a spy; several years later, Natasha and Ava must work together to bring him down again. Although I felt the pacing was a bit slow, there was a lot to enjoy about this book. It felt like kind of an origin story for Black Widow; we got a bit more of her background and some surprise twists regarding other characters in the book. Natasha is not the sole focus of the story, as there is a lot from the POV of Ava and Alex, another teenager, but when Natasha shows up, she is in full spy mode and I loved seeing her do her thing, from working with S.H.I.E.L.D. tech to beating up the bad guys. There's a cameo from Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and his trademark snark came through in spades. Overall, a fun read if you're missing seeing Marvel films in theaters. 4 stars
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (2019)
Alicia's life seems perfect - beautiful home, successful career, happy marriage - until the day she shoots her husband in the face five times and never speaks another word. Psychotherapist Theo Faber jumps at the chance to work with the institutionalized Alicia, and the ensuing sessions will lead Theo - and readers - down an unexpected path. I haven't been reading many mysteries/thrillers this year, but the premise of this one really appealed to me. The story is told from the POV of Theo, interspersed with excerpts from Alicia's journal. I can't say I liked Theo that much; he seemed very pompous and obnoxious. But, the short chapters kept the story moving quickly, and there were enough "oh sh*t" reveals to keep me wanting more. As the story unfolded, I really couldn't imagine where it would end up, which is definitely the mark of a great mystery. It's best to go into this one as blind as possible! 4 stars
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