Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Books Read and Listened To Part Three

And now the promised set of books set on trains:

Ticket Home
by Serena Bell
Published by Samhain Publishing
ISBN 9781619214347

Is that a cell phone in his pocket…or is he just happy to see her?

A Strangers on a Train story

When Amy Moreland left Seattle, she never expected to see her workaholic ex-boyfriend again. Encountering him on her Connecticut-to-New-York-City commute is the surprise of her life. He seems hell-bent on winning her back, but every time his cell phone rings, it’s a painful reminder of how he failed to put her first.

Jeff Havers can’t help that his phone keeps interrupting his carefully composed apology speech, but having Amy sic the Metro North security team on him is a bit much. Once he talks his way out of handcuffs, he focuses on coaxing Amy to talk about the fears that drove her away.

As the train ride takes them through the landscape of their lost life together, sparks fly and remembered heat reignites. But if they’re not brave enough to overcome the still-fresh pain of old wounds, it could be too late to pursue what really matters—their ticket home.


The first out of a whole series of standalone short stories about train journeys, which I read recently while travelling on trains. This probably wasn't the best one for me to start with: the hero came across to me as unlikeable and borderline abusive as well as a workaholic, and there was no indication that those first two qualities were going to change even if he cut down on his off-the-clock working hours. Plus the message seemed to be that the only way to solve the rift was for the heroine to give up on her aspirations and the rise in status she'd achieved by moving away, and going straight back to the hero's hometown, rather than any other form of compromise. A shame, because there was at least one worthwile minor character in there as well.

Big Boy
by Ruthie Knox
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 9781619215306

He’ll be any man she wants—except himself.

A Strangers on a Train story

Meet me at the train museum after dark. Dress for 1957.

When Mandy joins an online dating service, she keeps her expectations low. All she wants is a distraction from the drudgery of single parenthood and full-time work. But the invitation she receives from a handsome man who won’t share his real name promises an adventure—and a chance to pretend she’s someone else for a few hours.

She doesn’t want romance to complicate her life, but Mandy’s monthly role-playing dates with her stranger on a train—each to a different time period—become the erotic escape she desperately needs. And a soul connection she never expected.

Yet when she tries to draw her lover out of the shadows, Mandy has a fight on her hands…to convince him there’s a place for their fantasy love in the light of day.


This story was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the lengths the hero and heroine went to in making the characters they played on each date true to the period without ever consulting each other on more than the year and the train. When they finally meet in the real world, things don't run so smoothly, and I guessed why before the heroine did. Definitely one to reread when I'm after something a little different.

Tight Quarters
by Samantha Hunter
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 9781619213777

Two hearts converge…until fear runs love off the rails.

A Strangers on a Train story.

In the years since a horrific car accident left her with a long list of phobias, Brenna Burke has overcome them all except one. Crippling claustrophobia—not a good trait for an aspiring travel writer.

With an interview for her dream job looming, Brenna forces herself to board a train for a weekend tour through New York State…only to find her berth has been double booked.

Retired NYPD detective Reid Cooper isn’t happy about the mix-up, or his attraction to his petite, sexy roommate. But as their up-close-and-personal weekend progresses, something remarkable happens. Being with Reid makes Brenna feel normal, unafraid of anything.

After one passionate night, both are thinking beyond a mere weekend fling. But when Brenna’s last phobia pounces at the worst possible time, she could miss the last boarding call for happily ever after.


This was an interesting take on phobias, and worked very well for me, as did the description of the train journey itself. The double-booking issue has turned up rather too often recently for me to find it particularly fresh as a way of throwing characters together, but a fun read nonetheless.

Thank You for Riding
by Meg Maguire
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 9781619213371

The last train of the night might just be the start of something good.

A Strangers on a Train story

Stung ego or not, Caitlin’s relieved her fizzling relationship is over, even if she’s just been unceremoniously dumped between the copier and a dead ficus tree. At least she has an excuse to ditch the lousy office Christmas party in time to catch the last subway home…to her cat, and early-onset spinsterhood.

Instead of a lonely, chilly ride, she gets an unexpected holiday treat in the form of a nearly familiar face—a handsome stranger she encountered last week at the blood drive.

At the end of the line, neither can seem to let their chance meeting end—until their extended flirtation finds them facing the prospect of spending a frigid winter night locked in an unheated subway station. And they wonder if keeping each other warm is merely a delightful form of rebound therapy…or a memorable first of many more dates to come.


This was a heartwarming story for anyone who's ever totally misread their partner's intentions in a relationship. The setting was original as well, and it was very cute that the characters had seen each other before but under very different circumstances. Another worth rereading.

Back on Track
by Donna Cummings
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 9781619213760

What’s a little lie between strangers?

A Strangers on a Train story.

Allie Whittaker is in a dating slump, too busy getting her fledgling marketing company off the ground to have a personal life. All that could change, though, if she can get baseball superstar Matt Kearns on the cover of a charity calendar. Except Matt won’t even talk to her.

Matt is in a slump, worried his career might be over. A Napa Valley wine tour isn’t enough to take his mind off his troubles—until sexy, funny Allie plops into the adjacent seat and tells him three things about herself. One of them, she says, is a lie.

Matt can’t resist playing along, and soon the afternoon getaway becomes an interlude with lies, truths, and desire flowing as fast as the wine. Then Allie lets slip one truth too many…and they both realize they’re playing for keeps.


This one was going great with all the playful lying and the running around the train trying to avoid the hero's adoring fans even as the heroine claimed that he had to be a lookalike because she'd dated the real version, and with the hero never quite sure whether she'd recognised him or not (at least he was bright enough to realise that her claiming to have dated the 'real' him was a lie). Sadly the great set-up was let down for me by what felt like a very cliched and contrived Big Misunderstanding, and I just couldn't get into the final pages because of that.

The Excursion Train
by Edward Marston
Published by ALLISON & BUSBY
ISBN 9780749082376

On the shocking discovery of a passenger's body on the Great Western Railway excursion train, Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and his assistant, Sergeant Victor Leeming, are dispatched to the scene. Faced with what initially appears to be a motiveless murder, Colbeck is intrigued by the murder weapon - a noose. When it emerges that the victim had worked as a public executioner, Colbeck realises that this must be intrinsically linked to the killer's choice of weapon. However, the further he delves into the case, the more mysterious it becomes. And when a second man is strangled by a noose on a train, Colbeck knows that he must act quickly. Can he catch the murderer before more lives are lost? Set in Victorian England and rich in historical detail, "The Excursion Train" will hold you captivated from the beginning to the end of its journey.

I liked this one better than the first book in the series, although I still felt slightly overwhelmed at times by the author's attempts to Tell Us Everything About the Trains. Plus there was altogether too much repeating of exposition between different sets of characters. Readers will remember the first time a big clue gets explained: they don't need the complete details twice more as the various characters report back to each other. There was also another of my big bugbears: the scene where a character spots or realises something important, but readers aren't told what that might be. This series gets one more chance, and that's only because I know others round here like it.

One more set, and I'll be all caught up again.
Tags: audio books, ebooks, goodreads, reviews
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