Book Review: The Last Good Girl by Allison Leotta—and a Giveaway!

The Last Good GirlThe Last Good Girl
Anna Curtis #5
Allison Leotta
Touchstone, May 2016
ISBN 978-1-4767-6111-4
Hardcover

From the publisher—

It was her word against his…until she disappeared.

Emily Shapiro has gone missing. A freshman at a Michigan university, Emily was last seen leaving a bar near Beta Psi, a prestigious and secretive fraternity. The main suspect is Dylan Highsmith, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. At first, the only clue is pieced-together surveil­lance footage of Emily leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running down the street after her.

When prosecutor Anna Curtis discovers a video diary Emily kept during her first few months at college, it exposes the history Emily had with Dylan: she accused him of rape before disappearing. Anna is horrified to discover that Dylan’s frat is known on campus as the “rape factory.”

The case soon gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Anna has to find something, anything she can use to discover Emily alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to stop before she ruins the name of an innocent young man.

Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.

There are a handful of women who are former sex crimes prosecutors and have made use of their knowledge and expertise to create compelling protagonists and series featuring such crimes. Allison Leotta is one of the best and, with each book, I think she gets better. That, of course, is as it should be.

Anna Curtis is such an appealing character that she alone can draw me back; she’s intelligent, focused but not driven, compassionate towards the victims and passionate about giving them justice. Anna isn’t perfect and that makes her all the more human. When the investigation into Emily’s disappearance reveals that she had claimed that Dylan raped her, Anna is determined to do what’s right by the girl.

Campus rape has become more and more publicized in recent years and, in many cases, it’s a he said/she said situation. Ms. Leotta has crafted a storyline that brings this crime even more to the fore, largely by making her characters so vivid, so alive, that I literally felt the fear and anger that a friend of Emily would feel upon learning what had happened to her. What makes it even worse is the uncertainty that so frequently occurs when the young man involved may or may not actually be guilty and, yet, his future is in dire jeopardy. Add to that the privileged status of Dylan and so many of his counterparts in real life and you have to wonder if true justice is even possible.

In Ms. Leotta‘s hands, this tale becomes so intriguing, with twists and turns everywhere, that I was riveted, unable to put the book down until sleep deprivation forced me to. Anna is up against time and some powerful adversaries who could easily destroy her career but finding out what really happened to Emily is paramount.  That search for the girl—and the truth—kept me fully engaged until the very end and I’m already wanting Anna’s next book 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2016.

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Book Review: The Cave by Michela Montgomery

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Title: The Cave
Series: The Wind Cave #1

Author: Michela Montgomery
Published by: Post Hill Press
Publication date: April 7, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, New Adult

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The CaveThe Cave
The Wind Cave #1
Michela Montgomery
Post Hill Press, April 2015
ISBN 978-1-61868-917-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

When a nuclear war devastates the U.S., a four-day excursion quickly turns into a fight for survival in The Cave. Six Stanford students journey into one of the deepest and longest caves in North America. A day into their journey, a nuclear war begins from within the U.S. Unable to return to the surface, and unsure what they will find when they do, the Cave will test the strength and survival of each person differently – transforming six individuals into a team, and ultimately…a family.

One thing you will never ever catch me doing is caving. I’ve enjoyed a couple of the large caverns like Luray but the very idea of actual spelunking leaves me cold, partly because I’m moderately claustrophobic but also because camping in a tent is about as rugged as I want to get and I haven’t done that since the dark ages. Why then, you might ask, do I want to read about it? This really is the essence of why I’m drawn to post-apocalyptic and post-disaster fiction so much—I totally get into vicariously sharing the adventures and tribulations of people having to deal with such situations, especially having to cope with extreme conditions.

In The Cave, survival means lasting until it’s safe to go above ground again but it also means learning to cope with this warren of eternally dark places without destroying each other. Building relationships where they don’t already exist is critical if these people are going to endure and finding each other’s strengths and weaknesses is truly important. This is, unfortunately, where the book’s chief failing comes into play with the introduction of a love triangle. I keep hoping that authors of young adult and new adult fiction will recognize that a romance is not needed in every story, that it can get in the way, but I’m afraid I’ll have to keep hoping. I like Kate but I’d think better of her without this extra, unnecessary distraction. Romance can come later.

On the whole, I do wish the story had focused occasionally on what was going on outside the cave to broaden the scope of the disaster and to give us the perspective of those trying to survive the attacks but Ms. Montgomery has a way with words and we’ll be getting more of the outside world’s story in the next book so I’m satisfied for now 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2016.

About the Author

Michela MontgomeryMichela Montgomery graduated with her B.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach. She completed the Claims Law Program with AEI and occasionally teaches classes on negotiation, litigation and investigation at her Corporate University. Although born and raised in California, Ms. Montgomery considers Boston her second home and spends as much time there as possible. She enjoys singing, dancing, yoga, cooking, the Red Sox, the Patriots and a good cannoli from Mike’s Pastries. She lives in Northern California with her two children, a feisty Yorkie and a teacup Chihuahua named Killer.

http://posthillpress.com/writer/michela-montgomery

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