bell_tolls_300Hollis Morgan has had her share of ups and downs. She’s paid for her mistakes, turning her life around to become an attorney. Though things aren’t always cut and dry, she makes sure she does the best she can with what she’s given. When an unexpected murder lands on her lap, she soon realizes that nothing is as it seems. Secrets have been kept, many of which she must crack if she’s to right all wrongs that have been committed. Refusing to give up, she pushes forward, intent on surviving no matter the cost.

Though I’ve come into this series via this book, I must say that it acts as a standalone novel. The Bell Tolls catapults us into Hollis’ chaotic world. This is a woman who’s had to fight for everything she believes in. It doesn’t matter that she’s turned her life around. In the eyes of those who once loved her and should have been there for her, she’s now someone they mustn’t associate with. That, in itself, is a hard pill to swallow.

I like the fact that Hollis refuses to give in to her uncertainties. R. Franklin has done her best to show us just how resilient Hollis is. There are times, though, that her vulnerabilities surface. They cause her to question the world around her. While it may seem like there’s no way out, Hollis bounces back and pushes forward, striving to succeed even when people think she should just turn around and walk away.

The author’s vivid storytelling allows the reader to envision the environments she’s created around Hollis and the rest of the characters within the story itself. At times, it feels like there is no way out for any of them. Throughout the chaos, however, a good many claw through the adversities that surround them. I’m definitely looking forward to catching up on the rest of the books in this series.




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 letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it becomes apparent 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 sees 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.

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’ fiancé 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.

Book 5 in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series, which began with The Fallen Angels Book Club.




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RaeBkshAbout 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.






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