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**BLOG TOUR** The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

To the outside world, Gemma Adams has it all: a beautiful house, a job she enjoys, a handsome husband and a newborn baby boy. Gemma knows this is all a facade, however, and is harbouring secrets about her marriage that could destroy her. Now her baby has been taken by someone she thought she could trust and her marriage is going from bad to worse. She needs her baby back, even if it puts her own life in danger.

The Face at the Window is told from the perspective of two young women, each of them in an abusive relationship, even if they can’t actually see it. Gemma appears to have the perfect life, something she shares happily on her social media. The photographs she posts hide the true nature of her relationship, however, and we soon discover how controlling her husband, Nick, is. It was quite unnerving as a reader to see this develop, fearing for Gemma and willing her to make the break.

The other main protagonist is Scarlett, a young woman with secrets of her own. She, too, is in a controlling relationship with an older man but is too naive to see this. Perhaps for me, the most interesting aspect of her story was her search for her unknown father. book, leading to an exciting denouement that had me holding my breath.

Although this is about a missing baby and, indeed, this is an integral part of the plot, there is so much more to The Face at the Window. This is a book about coercive control and abuse and serves as a lesson into how we shouldn’t always believe everything we see on the likes of Instagram. Ruby Speechley has written strong, believable characters who made me question whether everyone who commits a crime should receive a punishment if the reason behind it is to save someone else.

This was one of those books that had me hooked from the start and kept my attention right until the very last page. A definite page-turner!

With thanks to Hera Books, Net Galley and Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side Publicity.

**BLOG TOUR** Alone in the Woods by Charly Cox

Teenager Addis Kensington arrives home with her friend, Emerson, to find her parents slaughtered in a scene straight out of a horror movie. While trying to contact her aunt, she makes a terrifying discovery: the killer is still in the house. On their arrival, the police, led by detective Alyssa Wyatt, find their worst fears have been realised when there is no sign of the girls anywhere, seemingly taken by the killer. To have any chance of finding the girls alive, Wyatt and her team must find out why private detective, Gabriel Kensington, and his wife were killed, uncovering a catalogue of crimes that have remained hidden for many years.

The Alyssa Wyatt series by Charly Cox have become some of my ‘must read’ books and I have been looking forward to reading this one. If you haven’t read the previous books in the series, this could be read as a standalone but I do thoroughly recommend the previous two, All His Pretty Girls and The Toy Box as they do give a great insight into Alyssa’s life and what makes her tick.

In Alyssa and her partner, Cord, Charly Cox has created hugely likeable characters with very realistic lives. Stories involving their families complement the main plot and do not overpower it unlike in many books of this genre. I find that many authors place too much emphasis on the detectives’ family life but here we see a very good balance, leaving you caring about Cord’s impending fatherhood and Alyssa’s relationship with her husband and children.

As well as seeing the police investigation into the murders and the missing girls, we also experience what the two teenagers are having to endure at the hands of their captor. We realise that there is more to this case than meets the eye and soon we are fearing for the safety of Addis and Emerson. I admired the tenacity of the girls who when faced with utmost danger somehow find the strength to continue.

There are a wide range of supporting characters in Alone in the Woods and I really liked how the author kept us guessing as to the motives of some of the people we meet. It is obvious that people are hiding something, but what? I found myself totally engrossed in the plot and couldn’t wait to see how everything fitted together, leaving me open-mouthed when the final reveal was made!

Charly Cox is becoming one of my favourite authors and Alone in the Woods has definitely confirmed my opinion. If you haven’t read any of this series yet, I recommend it highly – you won’t be disappointed!

With thanks to Hera Books and Net Galley and to Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Toybox by Charly Cox

Fear surrounds Albuquerque, New Mexico, after several teenage girls and young women disappear with no clue as to what has happened to them. After a body is found, Detective Alyssa Wyatt finds herself desperately trying to uncover what is happening, especially when the friend of her daughter goes missing. With no apparent link between the victims, Wyatt and her partner Cord, find themselves involved in an investigation into criminals much more depraved than they could ever have imagined. Can they locate the girls before they suffer the same fate as the murdered girl?

One of my favourite books of last year was this author’s debut, All His Pretty Girls, the first book in the Alyssa Wyatt series. As someone who doesn’t tend to read many books set in the US, this one completely blew me away and I  couldn’t wait to read the next in the series. I wondered how Charly Cox would be able to live up to the standard of her first book and I am so pleased to say that she has managed it with ease!

The subject matter is not for the faint of heart, dealing with the horrendous crimes of sex trafficking and physical abuse. This is so well written, however, that the author does not actually need to describe the extent of the suffering that these young women are having to endure as enough is implied so that you know what is happening without actually having to read it. This is, I feel, more powerful than seeing the events written down in front of you as your imagination can fill in the gaps, leaving you feeling nothing but horror about what is unfolding before your eyes. These women were incredibly brave despite their circumstances and I found myself desperately hoping that they would be freed from the predicament without anything even more horrendous happening to them.

One word of caution I will give with The Toybox is that there are spoilers aplenty about the previous installment, to the point that some pretty major twists are revealed. The events in All His Pretty Girls have definitely helped to shape Alyssa and some of her actions and feelings can be explained by what has gone before. Alyssa is a great character with a stable family life and a partner who she trusts implicitly. This is something that is often missing in other police procedurals so I really like how we can focus on the investigation rather than on the private life of the detective.

This really is a superb series and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are looking for a gritty police procedural with believable characters and a gripping plot, then The Toybox may just be the book for you.

With thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side for organising the blog tour and to Hera Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

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