Cover Image: Secrets in a Small Town

Secrets in a Small Town

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Member Reviews

Nicole Stiling’s debut novel Secrets in a Small Town is a dynamic romance meets mystery that keeps you on your toes yet smiling page to page. No worries with this one, you won’t be scared to turn out the lights but you will be enchanted and thoroughly entertained. 

Savannah Castillo is the town manager of a sleepy little community of fewer than 1,500 people. She picked this small town specifically because it was an ideal place to raise her daughter, Eliana. Savannah is 100% an ice queen. She lets no one, other than her little one, close to her. This control fanatic is disturbed by the sudden onslaught of mysterious gifts. They arrive at her office and home at all given times with no sender to be found. The gifts start increasing in frequency as well as becoming more and more threating. Savannah thinks she can handle this on her own until her assistant goes over her head and involves the one person Savannah wants to avoid more than anyone, the chief of police, Micki Blake.

Micki loves working in Winter Valley. She was worried when she left the hustle and bustle of the city she would be bored. Come to find out she likes the slow pace of small-town life. The only thorn in her side is that the town manager seems to loathe her for reasons she can’t quite grasp. Micki takes Savannah’s attitude in stride and throws it right back at her needling the uptight town manager whenever she gets the chance. You really can’t rule this lighthearted good-natured police chief. When Micki’s friend and Savannah’s executive assistant, Chloe, brings the gift situation to Micki’s attention, the chief is bound and determined to help her abrasive nemesis. 

Nicole Stiling can write a damn good book that is for sure. My mind is still boggled a bit that this is a debut novel. It really has a good flow, the plot is dynamic and the dialogue reads very natural. From the very first page, I was drawn to the story and the main characters. As caustic as Savannah was at times I still liked her and Micki is just a main you are immediately drawn to. There were enough twists and turns in who the stalker might be that I was guessing to the end. I will definitely be reading what Nicole Stiling has to offer next.
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Savannah Castillo is the town manager of a very very small town. She has a reputation of being an ice queen and she is ok with it. When she starts receiving unwanted gifts she is reluctant to ask for help from the town's Deputy Chief Mackenzie Blake until she can't ignored her stalker situation much longer without putting her and her daughter's life at risk. Savannah is not Mackenzie's favourite person but she is on a mission to find the person who is putting in danger the life of people in this quiet town where everyone knows each other. 

I really liked this book. It moved at a great pace, the characters were well described and well developed. I really liked both main characters and they had great chemistry. This was not a slow burn book but I was ok with it. It worked for this characters.

The mystery wasn't the strongest part of the book but it was still a fun well written book.

ARC provided from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Great debut! This is a fast paced thriller with an enemies - to - friends style romance. When stern town manager Savannah Castillo finds out that she may have a stalker, she's reluctant to enlist Deputy Chief Mackenzie Blake's help. They're polar opposites and clash over everything except Savannah's daughter, who they both adore. When the stalker becomes more threatening, Mackenzie suggests that she becomes a temporary live-in bodyguard. Sparks end up flying as Mackenzie realizes how much she comes to enjoy Savannah's prickly smiles, and Savannah struggling to re-assert her sense of control. With the stalker circling ever closer, will the pair find out who they are?

I thoroughly enjoyed the characterizations here, especially with Savannah; you can see her need to control her environment, and how ruthless she is in making sure it happens, but not at the expense of the town she runs. It is fun to see a female politician like that, a total ice queen, but uber competent. There are a lot of layers to Savannah, like her wishing to be more spontaneous for her daughter, who has a completely different personality, but struggles with her innate introverted nature. Mackenzie is the type that leaves everything out there, except her deepest fears, which are touched on, but not until later in the book. I feel like Mackenzie is the most consistent character of our two leads, but that doesn't make her a lesser character. 

The stalking case is creepy, and does lend an air of mystery, leaving you to guess which of the suspects might they be. Savannah's reactions to the stalker's escalations were spot on. And it felt realistic; many stalkers find ways to invade the spaces of their victims in order to try to control them. Pairing that with Savannah's relentless need for control and Mackenzie's insistence to just be there and help just made everything more tense. I loved it. 

If there's any complaint, its that I wish it was maybe twenty or thirty pages longer, to allow the characters a little more time together and to develop. I think the author did a great job in not allowing the characters to be 'changed' or 'fixed' by finding each other. Savannah especially; she's mean and prickly, but has a huge heart that is very generous, and that doesn't need to change at all. We just get to see that side of her with her daughter and Micki.
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MacKenzie (Micki) Blake likes her job as Deputy Chief  very much. When she started her career she worked in slightly larger communities but there's something about working in a small town like Winter Valley that just seems to suit her. She leads a staff of three including herself and she would love to have a extra set of hands to at least help with all the paperwork. But that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. 
     Winter Valley Town Manager  Savannah Castillo runs a tight ship and didn’t have any money in the budget to help Micki with her problem but then again even if she did she probably would find a reason to refuse the request. She loves what she does and really only seems to have room in her life for her young daughter Eliana.  Getting along with others isn’t very high on her list so when she starts receiving the attention from an stalker she surely doesn’t want help, especially from Micki.
    Ms Stiling does a good job of setting  up this story. Well paced with a nice little mystery she makes this book quite a enjoyable story. I look forward to reading more from this author. A very nice read.
ARC via NetGalley
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It’s hard to imagine this is a debut novel! I enjoyed this one a lot even though it had some minor glitches! But overall i definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to be entertained! 
For starters, both MCs were very interesting. I loved the banter between them and at certain points it was actually funny. There was very good chemistry between them, although I found the insta love a bit too much. But because the book is so smooth, I actually didn’t mind it in the overall storyline.
The mystery/stalker part was done nicely as well. Turns out my guess was wrong, so for that, an extra point goes to the author :)
Supporting characters were also quite interesting especially the daughter and the Chief’s roommate.. 
My rating is 3.75 rounded up to 4. I really did enjoy this one. 
Copy provided from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Secrets in a Small Town by Nicole Stiling is a well-written story about two women who are thrown together because of a stalker. Savannah Castillo, the town manager of Winter Valley is a perfect ice queen character. She must always be in control of everything and everyone around her. The only person she is close to is her seven year old daughter Eliana. When Savannah begins to receive anonymous gifts and messages that gradually become more ominous and threatening, she is forced to ask for help from the one person in town that she really detests. Deputy Chief Mackenzie (Micki) Blake agrees to help Savannah even though the two can barely stand being in the same room together. The two are completely different and mix like oil and water, but they must learn to put that aside and work together to find the stalker before someone is hurt or worse.

This is a very enjoyable read. The characters are well-developed and the dynamics between the two are perfectly written. The pacing of the story is good and kept me interested from the first page to the last. While the reader is given lots of clues to who the stalker might be, the author kept me guessing almost until the last, and even threw in some twists that threw me off the scent for a while. I also loved the humor the author displays throughout the tale. She had my interest from the first sentence and had me chuckling by the second page. Humor helped to keep this book from being a totally scary and nail-biting tale, and made it something you could read and enjoy without having to keep all the lights on in the house.

I really enjoyed this book. I believe this is a debut novel for Ms. Stirling, and she did an excellent job. I will be looking for more from this author.
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A gentle, simple, reasonably enjoyable read.

The snark between the characters was enjoyable and funnily enough, one of the best parts of the book. The characters honestly didn't seem perfect for eachother so the very quick transition of their relationship was a bit of a stretch for me.
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This was an excellent debut from this new author. Secrets in a Small Town was engaging from the start and continued that way until the end. 

The two lead characters, Micki and Savannah, are at odds from the get-go. What seems like a small thing that Savannah blows out of proportion inserts a wedge between the two heads of the town, and develops into an antagonistic relationship. They interact because they have to, but Savannah will go out of her way to avoid Micki at all costs.

Happy go lucky Micki doesn't actively avoid Savannah, but if she has the chance to needle her, she'll take it. I loved the character of Micki in this book. She was funny and sweet and her ability to see through Savannah's bitchiness was really endearing.

The mystery was interesting and plausible. I thought I'd had the suspect pegged but from the halfway point, but oops, I was wrong. I loved the way the whole thing played out.

I do wish the novel was a bit longer, with more scenes between the two mains. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance, mystery, or a good combination of the two.

Thanks to Netgalley and BSB for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I like fan-fiction and I generally like it just as much when it is altered and published. This has so many markers resembling ‘Once Upon a Time’ that I would be surprised if it didn’t start out as a SwanQueen fic. Winter Valley’s town manager, Savannah Castillo, loves her job but her least favourite part is dealing with Deputy Chief Mackenzie ‘Micki’ Blake. Micki revels in antagonising Savannah although she’s really fond of Savannah’s six-year-old daughter. Savannah is arrogant, cold, rigid and solitary. When she receives some disturbing notes and gifts from an unknown sender the last thing she wants to do is involve Mickie, who she considers incompetent.

The pairing of an ice-queen and a happy-go-lucky woman is a pairing I’m often drawn to and they are, for the most part, well-written in this novel. The parts that I found a little disjointed have to do with the speed and ease with which they get together with not enough engagement between the two them portrayed or alluded to. 

The plotline of the stalker was a good one and kept me guessing (incorrectly) until the end. It’s a good read with a fast-paced plot.

Book received from Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.
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Secrets in a Small Town is the debut novel from Nicole Stiling.  It tells the story small town Mayor, Savannah Castillo and Deputy Police Chief, Micki (Mackenzie) Blake who are introduced as two public figures who often have public disagreements.  When Savannah starts to receive unsolicited gifts and messages from a stranger, Micki becomes her protector.  Slowly they grow closer and Micki melts Savannah ice queen persona.  The chemistry between these two characters was intense in a love/hate approach.  I also enjoyed the interactions between Savannah's daughter, Eliana, and Micki.  

The mystery held me in suspense but I did not pick the correct suspect.  

I will be reading more offerings from Nicole Stiling.    

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a great book. I am a first time reader of this author's and I'm happy to say I'll read more of her books if she writes them. Savannah is definitely an Ice Queen. The mystery was carried throughout the book and balanced the romance well. I think based on the circumstances, their quick connection makes sense. I will always be a fan of the "fast to love" couples who then deal with the book's adversities together. This is a definite recommend. 
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A quick and easy read romance with some mystery thrown in to keep things interesting. Great characters with plenty of chemistry and a solid mystery. An entertaining and fun read.
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This was a surprisingly fast and easy read. I loved the characters and the plot, but I couldn't shake off the "SwanQueen" fanfiction vibe it gave me (I am not familiar if it was a fanfiction-turned book). Nevertheless, this book was very fun and it held my attention all throughout it. I loved both Savannah and Mackenzie and I heartily recommend this book.
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interesting story from Nicole. The thriller part is exciting and it keeps me reading on to find out who is the person.
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I liked it in general. but the story was somehow off. The way the relationship developed left me wondering !  I'm not big fan of "I love you" being there so fast. I did not feel the connection between the 2 characters. I don't know, everything was easy and fast. the first chapter was good it had so much potential. I don't know what happened 

It's mostly romance not mystery and that did not bother me much since I tend to like romance more 

 I was giving a free copy in exchange of an honest opinion
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#SecretsInASmallTown #NetGalley

Mackenzie Blake is struggling as Deputy Police Chief in the small town of Winter Falls. She loves her job but is constantly met with resistance from town Mayor, Savannah Castillo, who has taken offence to Mackenzie (Mickie) for some reason.

Savannah sees Mickie as someone who doesn’t back down when Savannah thinks she should and challenges her in town meetings, much to Savannah’s chagrin.

But things are about to change. Someone is stalking Savannah. Against her wishes, Savannah’s assistant tells the Deputy Chief about the items and letters Savannah has received. As things escalate, Savannah allows Mickie to stay at her home to protect her and her young daughter until the culprit is found. Eliana, Savannah’s daughter, adores Mickie and knows her mom isn’t a big fan so is reasonably perplexed by the sudden home sharing.

It doesn’t take long for Savannah and Mickie’s mutual disdain to give way to passion, especially when Savannah feels safer with Mickie in the same room and bed.

Their relationship happens swiftly and the one comfort Savannah holds onto is; if they end, she knows Mickie’s relationship with Eliana wont change.

Mickie springs into action when she figures out who the stalker is and rushes to save Savannah.

I really enjoyed this book. The chemistry between Savannah and Mickie is believable and the conclusion is sweet.
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This is a read which is so surprisingly easy that it feels much shorter than it is. 

Savannah Castillo is an ice queen town manager with definite control issues. Deputy Chief Mackenzie Blake is easy going but ends up having frequent public disagreements with Savannah frequently. Savannah starts getting anonymous gift which turn creepy but she is unwilling to report it to the police because that would involve Micki. However, Savannah’s assistant, Chole, takes it on herself to get the police involved without telling Savannah. But the very first time Micki does a ‘surreptitious’ stakeout of Savannah’s home, Savannah catches her and actually thinks Micki is the one stalking her. But then the hunt for the real stalker starts and Micki moves in with Savannah to make sure nothing happens to Savannah or her cute baby, El. 

We liked both the characters, but Savannah just a wee bit more. We also liked that Savannah was a bisexual but there was no major song and dance about it. We enjoyed the relationship, but wish there was more simmering attraction before the first touch. Would’ve made it more believable. 

On the whole, this is an easy, enjoyable read.
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Yep, that was most definitely a small town in New England that I just read about. Heh. Felt like New England through and through, although, I would have liked a few more 'wickeds' in there.

It's the story of Savannah (and her daughter Eliana) and Mickie. Savannah is the Town Manager of Winter Harbor, Mickie is the Chief of Police. And at first they really really don't like each other, but, when someone starts stalking Savannah, Mickie is on the case. And that brings them much closer and they start not just loving each other, but, understanding one another better as well.

It was a fun book. The characters were all so unique and leapt off the page also. And the plot most definitely kept me guessing.

I received this book via Netgalley thanks to Bold Strokes Books.
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This is a mystery, and as with all good mysteries, it's a difficult one to figure out until the last quarter of the book. 

Mackenzie "Micki" Blake, Chief of Police in Winter Valley, and Savannah Castillo, Town Manager of Winter Valley have butted heads for awhile, Micki constantly asking Savannah for more money for her police department budget, and Savannah constantly turning her down. 

Savannah has begun receiving strange gifts and letters, making her feel uneasy and fearful for her safety and that of her young daughter, Eliana. Strange events and a break-in in her home quickly get the attention of Chief Micki Blake, who finds these occurrences out of the ordinary in her sleepy town. Micki investigates, and in the process, begins to have feelings for Savannah. Micki uses the process of elimination to try and figure out who's been sending these items to Savannah. 

A good mystery and a touching love story.
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There are actually NO secrets in this small town. 

Savannah is an uppity town manager and Micki is the amiable Deputy Chief. These two have not gotten along ever since Micki rolled into town. They continue to challenge each other in town meetings, budget discussions, and personal interactions until someone starts sending unwanted gifts to Savannah and Micki needs to provide protection.

I can't believe this is a debut offering from Nicole Stiling. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from beginning to end.

The main characters had a lot of tension and developed chemistry as they had to spend more time together. I really loved Savannah's little girl Eliana and her dynamic with Micki. They would gang up on Savannah together. Fun banter. 

I appreciated the Savannah was bisexual but there was no preaching, explanation, or any huge amount of attention put to it. It was just as is. Refreshing.

I had fun trying to figure out who Savannah's stalker was. I thought I knew. I was wrong. 

Everything about this was captivating. The only thing I had an issue with was how snotty Savannah was in the beginning. There was a lot of growth with her character but I wish she would have been a TAD bit more tame to start off.

I recommend this to people who love romance, mystery, girl cops, ice queens, small towns, and the song "You are my Sunshine."

 I received an ARC from the publisher for an honest review. 
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