Friday, September 8, 2017

R. Franklin James - The Bell Tolls - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents he collected, letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it’s revealed that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.

Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar she knows a liar when she meets one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.

On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds particularly financial ones.

Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancĂ© and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.

Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well.

My Review

"The daughter she wished were dead was the only daughter who could keep her alive."

Harsh words, but true. It's clear Hollis is the proverbial black sheep. Ever since her incarceration and release from prison, her relationship with her family has been, to put it mildly, strained. Out to make a fresh start for herself, she decides to put some distance between them by choosing to go by her middle name. That is until her sister calls out of the blue, looking for her dear sibling formerly known as Rebecca. Because guess what? Mom needs a new kidney, and they're really hoping she's a match.

The family circle now needs her, but it still doesn't feel like including her. In fact, her family cares so little about her that they even make her sleep on the couch when she returns home for a round of preliminary testing. Their lack of consideration kills her inside, and "the emptiness she thought she'd locked away was falling open to the reality of daylight."

Because Hollis isn't agreeing to help her mother because she wants them all to think she's the big hero, riding in to save the day. That's just not who Hollis is, and she readily admits, "She's my mother. It's what you're supposed to do." Yet she's honest with herself about the reality of the situation she's facing, not sugarcoating anything, "She…chose me over death."

It's the honest to God truth, but it offers little in the way of comfort. However, Hollis carries on, determined to make the best of things, even sharing with her friends that for years she's been imagining herself as part of a pretend family in order to cope with the pain of estrangement she's experienced for most of her life. But now that things have taken a turn in a different direction, she relates, "I need to feel like a good daughter. I don't want to be cheated of how that feels like. And a good daughter donates a kidney to her mother."

As the two emerge from surgery, Hollis's mom, who is well know for hating displays of affection, opens the door to her heart, just a crack, and Hollis, unsure of this change in her mother, doesn't know what to make of it. Thrown off kilter, she's puzzled, not wanting to lower her defenses, only to be hurt again. In fact, "her mother's attempt to be kind was almost more than she could bear. Her sharp, mean-spirited barbs were more common and easier to block out."

So will they be able to repair their broken relationship? Only time—and the next installment in the series—will tell.


The Bell Tolls can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Sleuth, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 239
Release: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812177
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, The Fallen Angels Book Club was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, Sticks & Stones, was followed by The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, and The Trade List. The Bell Tolls, book five was released in June 2017.

R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.

Links to connect with R. Franklin James:
Web Site

About the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Judging by the blurb, book sounds very intriguing! This is a new author for me so thank you for the reveal!

  2. It really does sound interesting I would consider myself lucky if i get to read. it. I have read parts of it and want to read it all.

  3. I believe this is the last book of this series, hate to see it as I always want more of her books. I know she has a new series coming out and will wait for it. Sorry most authors can't publish more quickly. She is a great writer.