Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

Secrets and LiesFrom Goodreads: Magdelyn Becker lost her entire family when she was seventeen. Ever since, she’s avoided relationships at all costs: personal, physical, emotional. She doesn’t trust anyone and won’t allow herself to get close enough to create a connection. It’s the way she is. Take it or leave it. Her new job as an FBI agent has her letting her guard down, and letting the wrong person into her life, her mind and her heart.

Taylor Donovan is tall, sexy and powerful. He doesn’t show emotion and he can spot an agent a mile away. Being an FBI agent is the farthest thing from his mind when he lays eyes on Maggie Becker. She’s beautiful, sweet and honest and honesty is not something that Taylor is used to in his business. It’s her beauty that blinds him, though, and it might be what costs him everything, including his heart.

No one can be honest 100% of the time, not even Maggie. It’s her job to lie to Taylor. It’s her job to break him down then bring him down. The only problem is she has to do it without Taylor realizing it’s happening. After all, Taylor Donovan is supposed to be dead. The FBI shouldn’t be looking for him.

Secrets & Lies is a companion novella to A Secret Life. It is recommended to read A Secret Life first.


This companion novel to A Secret Life takes place a few years after the conclusion of its predecessor, focusing on a whole new cast of characters as the plot unfolds, drawing readers once again into the world of the FBI as they track a killer hell bent on finding the only girl he ever lost, Courtney (also known as Kat in A Secret Life). This is a well written story, and I liked the change of pace, seeing everything from the opposite side as Brownell focuses on the “bad guy” as opposed to the good, as she did in her previous novel.

I will admit that I feel as if a piece of the story is missing—the gap between how Taylor survived and has since outwitted the FBI alludes me a little, mainly as Taylor was portrayed as being less than smart when a teen. Years have passed, and he certainly has turned hard, but I really want to know the backstory here—how, why, and while there is a sentence of two that define this a little for readers, I’m dying for the whole story and am hoping that Brownell will fill readers in with another novel in this series.

Brownell does a great job making Taylor a likeable character. We don’t see the bad in him as much as maybe we ought to, which is the same issue Maggie has as she attempts to infiltrate his business, and watching the two dance around one another was a ton of fun. The instant-love connection showed up again in this novel, though, and I’m not really one for a whirlwind romance. However, I completely get the characters feelings, and I do love how hard they fall for one another, even if it is instant.

This is definitely a book that needs to be read after the first in the series, A Secret Life, so that readers understand Agent Cam’s obsession with Taylor, and who Taylor really is, in the first place. Though seemingly far-fetched at times, this is a fun read and I did thoroughly enjoy it. I am certainly hoping for a follow-up, or perhaps a novel that bridges the gap behind the lost years. Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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A Secret lifeFrom Goodreads: “I think you and I were meant to meet. I think all of this was supposed to happen. You are my destiny.”

She never thought that her life would be this complicated. Or this dangerous. Running from her past, Kat and her mom end up in a small Colorado town when Kat run’s directly into her future. She changes everything about herself to try and blend into the background, to go unnoticed. She pushes everyone away and erects walls around herself and her heart. As hard as she tries, though, Kat can’t seem to escape the pull that Cam has on her.

Cam has never been so intrigued by anyone. Not only is Kat the most gorgeous girl he’s ever seen but also the most mysterious. She’s hiding something and he’s hell-bent on finding out what it is. The only problem is that she’s trying to shut him out which only furthers his determination to get close to her.

When Kat learns that her past is catching up with her again she has to run, leaving Cam, and her broken heart, behind.


I read this novel a few weeks back, and it’s stuck with me ever since. While I did find the insta-attraction portion of the novel just a tad cheesy in the beginning, as the novel progressed and the characters grew up, going from high school to college, I found myself rooting for the lovebirds, Cam and Kat, enjoying their antics and so happy that their attraction to one another lead to a much deeper relationship. Brownell tells their story in two parts, glossing over a few years in between in order to take her YA novel into the NA world while keeping it clean, and it works very well.

This novel has many different layers; many stories to tell. It’s about a mother and daughter in witness protection. It’s about first love. About danger. Crime. Grief. Protection. The FBI. Doing what’s right. Outrunning your past, and looking to the future. And I enjoyed this aspect of the novel very much. There is so much going on and Brownell slowly peels back the layers, providing a fun, easy, engaging read, though I will admit that I have many more questions than I have answers, and I think that’s one of the reasons this novel has stuck with me long after I finished it. I find myself trying to figure it out at random times during my days, and that’s a rarity for me as I read so many books and move from one to the next quite rapidly.

I am intrigued by Cam and his love for Kat. I love Kat’s tenacity and her yearning for a simple life. Together, they are perfect, insta-love aside, and I’m glad they found one another. What I don’t necessarily get is what happened during the climax of the novel–we’re led up to it, but as we’re looking through Kat’s eyes, and she’s not watching events unfold, we seem to miss everything as it unfolds, and as no one clarifies the event for Kat, we are left in the dark. All we know is that some very bad things went down, and I’m dying to know what happened to everyone. I need to know. And I also need to know how some of the people mixed up in it all got mixed up in it all. I’m not giving names nor explanations, because that’d be a spoiler, but I keep wracking my brain trying to figure it out. I need to know, and Brownell’s next novel in the series, Secrets and Lies, releases tomorrow… so here’s hoping for more. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Kindle (only $1.99) | Barnes and Noble

11385485From Goodreads: It takes more than a school trip to Washington, D.C. to change fifteen-year-old Christy’s life. It takes murder.

A witness to the brutal slaying of a Senator’s aide, Christy finds herself watched not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot boys.

She discovers that if she can’t help the FBI, who want to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.


This is an interesting novel that deals with real life drama, politics, terrorist attacks, and love triangles. It’s an easy read, though I can’t attest how accurate it is as I’ve, thankfully, never been in any situation quite like Christy’s, with witnessing a murder, being tailed by terrorists, and dealing with the FBI. Part of me thinks that as a minor her parents would have needed to be contacted at some point during all of this, but then again, this is the FBI we’re talking about, so those rules for minors probably don’t apply.

Regardless, though, this was a good read that had just enough romance for those of us looking for that triangle, and just enough pacing to keep reader interest. Parts of it sped up, parts slowed down, but the pacing worked very well and I enjoyed it, especially the paranoia of it all because neither Christy nor her seven mates on the D.C. trip ever really knew who to trust or who was after them. While some of the events were foreshadowed enough that I knew they were coming, other portions were a complete surprise, and I liked it.

I did feel some type of way about the fact that the terrorists in this novel are middle-eastern. I understand the USA has dealt with terrorist threats and attacks from the middle-east a lot in the past 15 years, and that this is a “real-life” drama, but part of me really wanted the terrorist group to be from a made-up part of the world or something because the text deals in politics and I felt a little like there was an underlying commentary here, but perhaps that just me.

While this novel doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, per say, it does leave readers wondering what will happen next because there isn’t a real conclusion. The novel just sort of stops, and it’s a great place to stop, but I would have liked to be either on the edge of my seat in anticipation, or peaceful about the ending, but I didn’t feel either.

I think this would be a great MG or YA books. It’s clean and insightful into the teenage mind, and I love that Christy is so smart, and in this case, it isn’t really looked down upon by others. While her peers back home don’t like her, Christy is able to make friends and be herself in D.C. despite her “geekyness,” and I liked this. However, she seems to get a complete make-over in regards to her appearance, which was a tiny turnoff as I’m an advocate of inner beauty, not the outer beauty mantra, but… it’s really no biggie in the grand scheme of things.  Three stars.

3 stars

All Night Reads has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.

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