5 stars by Phil Huston


Another cover-to-cover indie. This one because I said I would, and I needed something to read to get out from under some seemingly unending epics. I was not let down.

This is a well-crafted story and, though called a “novella,” it is an appropriate length for a modern fiction work weighing in with a 23.5k word count. It starts out as the story of a young woman who wants her own home so she can get out from under her in-laws and gets scammed out of her down payment savings. At this point it could go moralistic about the consequences of greed and impatience but does not. Instead, once we meet everyone and the scene is set, readers are taken on a surprise ride of consequence(s) far more dire than pissed off and embarrassed over identity theft. I’m going to stop there as far as the story line. Read it and you’ll see.

Any technical issues? Considering the material and the commercial quality of the work, I would say none that got in the way except several pages of a contract I could have done without. I see that stuff, my eyes glaze over I and skip ahead to story. I had issues with certain aspects of the work as regards the character dynamics as well, but to call them out would give the story away, and those issues do not reflect on the quality of the work, but on my preferences. Overall, this is a damn good book, regardless of whether I agree with the characters behavior(s). To get bumped out of my comfort zone and still feel like I read something that was a professionally written, solid story is a good thing.

I said surprised, but I shouldn’t be. And here’s an honest bit of prejudice on my part—I see the author’s subject matter and many of her covers and I think “Wasn’t this an episode of Law and Order? Or maybe a redux of this or that movie?” But they never are. Because the author can take everyday people (characters) and imbue them with humanity and freshness even when treading on what would outwardly appear to be worn ground. No easy feat. Stereotypes and cloning are easy. Believable characters and situations of the everyday world are not. Even Stevie’s bit players ring true. The protagonist’s discomfort with mother-in-law, husband’s laissez-faire assumption of comfort on his home turf—in fact, both sets of family are believable enough to live down the street. Because they aren’t over or under written cartoons.

Technical stuff—This book was edited by Denna Holm. Having read Stevie’s earlier self-edited or beta reader efforts, it was obvious. At least for the first 18% where I don’t recall being ejected, coerced or seduced by substituted dialog tags or adverbs. In fact, it seems all the “getting to it” portion of the book was pretty flawless. After that the adverbs and “replied” “asked” etc. tags kick in, but the structure and dialogue remain sound. There are readers in the world and styles of writing that require some of that, so again, as it wasn’t egregious, no fault, no foul.

The ending made me feel a little pulled up short, like a wedgie. But it was a slice of time novella. An episode. This would make great fodder for a 90-minute pick your Brit detective serial, or better yet, that Welsh thing Thirty-Five Days.14/11/21  


5.0 out of 5 stars If something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is a scam

Reviewed in the United States on November 14, 2021 by Tigerman55

This short but great story that I received as an ARC reader, shows how easy it is to be scammed. . It is well written and shows that one should always think before acting when offered something for nothing. The story points out that one can lose far more than money, so be warned. Take care not to be scammed by those waiting for the unwary.


5.0 out of 5 stars

Nothing is too good to be true

Reviewed in the United States by 'Kim' on November 18, 2021

I received this book as an ARC reader. I have always heard if something seems too good to be true it is usually a scam!

This story fits that saying so well, there are so many things that stand out to make you think how stupid is the character when she sees red flags but doesn’t want to believe them. When I got to the end of the book and everything came out it made me think is that really then end of the story or is it just me thinking like there could be a sequel to the book?


5 stars by Emma Hardy on  Goodreads 5/12/21:

This is such an addictive read and I could not put it down.  I expected this to be a predictable read with some dodgy dealings, but wow does this spiral and take a dark and surprising turn.  A real page turner due to its intensity and a gripping read.  Compelling, fascinating and one to add to the TBR immediately.


I enjoy Turner’s women’s fiction stories and Scam! held me captive to the very end. This story demonstrates just how vulnerable people are to the savvy tech scammers.


Lauren and Ben, both teachers, are saving to buy their own home, in the meantime, they are living with Ben’s parents. Lauren is eager to get her own home as she feels stifled and judged all the time by Ben’s mother. Lauren thinks she’s struck gold when she finds an online opportunity to invest in Bitcoin. The problem is, her and Ben have worked hard to save the $20 K so far for a deposit on a new home, and this opportunity looked tempting to double her money quickly. Lauren is sure everything looks legit and decides to take the plunge without telling Ben because she wants to surprise him when she makes the money – a sure thing says Paul ‘Cash’, her online stockbroker.


What could go wrong is a loaded question. This may be a novella, but as usual, this author knows how to pack in a lot of suspense in her short stories. I do not want to give out spoilers here, so I will just say that a simple scam turns into way more than just the scam itself, escalating into burglary and even murder. That should be enough to tempt. At approximately 100 pages this story reads fast because there’s always something happening, making it hard to put down and not difficult to read in one sitting.


Carol Balawyder rated it 5 stars on Goodreads on  30/1/22

Lauren is tired of living with her in laws, especially her dominating mother-in-law and can hardly wait to be able to move out with her husband, Ben and have the privacy and liberty she craves.  Her desires to escape her current situation make her the perfect target for falling for a scam. One in which she practically loses all her and her husband’s life savings and in the process is destroying her marriage.


There is more to this novel besides the scam which places it above the white color crime genre and into the mystery crime novel.

This was an easy read and one that anybody who is thinking of embarking in a get rich scheme ought to read this book. It’s bound to make them think twice about embarking in any get rich quick schemes.  It is a face paced book with well developed characters. This is a story about forgiveness, mistakes and the power of love. It’s short enough to be read in one sitting which I did not because of its length but because I couldn’t put it down. All in all a fun read.


Jan Sikes rated it 5 stars on Goodreads 19/2/22

This is a short read, but a powerful one. When you are dreaming of a better life, it's easy to get caught up in "get-rich" scams. That is the situation for Lauren and Ben. Newly married and forced to live with Ben's parents, Lauren is desperate for a way to buy a house. They need privacy and a chance to begin their lives away from the harsh scrutiny of Muriel, Ben's mother. And Lauren doesn't have the patience to wait years while they add to their savings. So, when she stumbles across an enticing investment opportunity, she withdraws their savings without telling Ben. She wants to surprise him. He'll be so proud of her when the puts the money they need to purchase a home in his hands. It's advertised as a no-fail, quick profit investment. The author did such a great job of exposing how easy it is to get sucked into situations such as the one Lauren falls for. When she loses everything, it's impossible to foresee how her marriage can survive. But when it turns deadly, all hope for a happy future is crushed.

While the story comes to a satisfactory conclusion, with hope for this couple, it's not a feel-good happily ever after. It's realistic and chilling.


5 stars by Sally Cronin 12/3/22

5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing psychological thriller

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 March 2022

This is an intriguing read and apart from a great story concept and interesting characters, it also carries a very important message.

There are many temptations available online, and so easy to be taken in by the glib and bequiling charms of those who wish to part you from anything they can. Money of course but also confidence, dignity and very often the respect of loved ones.

Enticement becomes menace very quickly when they have their claws into you, and once you have let them into your lives and offered up your information, it is not only you who may suffer the consequences.

This is the case for Lauren who looks for a shortcut to moving into her own home with her husband Ben, who is determined to work hard and take the time necessary to build up their savings towards their deposit.

Bad enough to become a victim of a scam, but when the criminals are on the doorstep there may be more repercussions than from some remote hacker thousands of miles away.

This is a game of cat and mouse and it impacts not just the safety of those close to Lauren but her marriage, job and future.

A thriller that will keep you turning the pages and a stark reminder that the old saying ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’

Recommended read for anyone who shares their life online.


5 stars on Goodreads by Alex Craigie 2nd January 2023

This book was recommended to me by someone else and I have to admit that it shattered my preconceived conceptions of what to expect from it.

The story starts fairly straight-forwardly with newly-married Lauren desperate to escape from the house that she and her husband Ben have to share with his parents while they save for a place of their own. The claustrophobic atmosphere in the house is wonderfully portrayed and gave credence to Lauren’s stupidity in falling for an online scam.

We all think we’re too clever to be taken in by a scam – until we are. The scam itself was slickly done despite the reader seeing clearly what was going on. However, the scam itself wasn’t the important part of the story for me. The way the author handled the impact that it had on Lauren and Ben, and how those ripples further impacted on those closest to them, showed that far more than money is lost in a situation like this.

This wasn’t a long read and was one that I finished in one, gripping sitting. I really felt for the characters and it’s one of those books that will stay with me.