Category Archives: Mystery

Advance Review- Duke With Benefits by Manda Collins

Title: Duke With Benefits (Studies In Scandal, book #2)

Duke with Benefits

Genre: Historical Romance/ Mystery
Author: Manda Collins
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, June 27, 2017 (preorder available)
Pages: 320
Rating: 4.5
Sexy rating: 5
Violence rating: 5
Description from Amazon: Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.
Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

***
This is the second book in the Studies in Scandal series that was introduced in book #1, Ready Set Rogue. The series deals with four highly intelligent young women who together inherit a country estate from a benefactress who believes in their bluestocking leanings. To keep their inheritance the women must live at the estate for a year.
Daphne Forsyth has an inability to tell a white lie, she takes most everything spoken literally, which often causes others to have hurt feelings. This distresses Daphne since she is really a nice young woman who does not mean to hurt her friends. Dalton finds her entertaining and tries to help with her social faux pas. He is also falling in love with her and meets resistance from Daphne who has no desire to marry. She is content to be a bluestocking mathematician. There are evil villains who will stop at nothing to secure the treasure for themselves.
I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to the series. The romance is fun and certainly steamy, the mystery kept me guessing and the characters are well developed. I do think the reader will enjoy this book more if they read the first book in the series. That book gives a true foundation for the mysteries and the young women. However this book can be read as a standalone.
I can recommend this book to all Historical Romance readers. I certainly look forward to the next book in the series.
.

 

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Recent Release Review- All The Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

all-the-little-liars

Title: All The Little Liars (An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, book #9)

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: Charlaine Harris

Publisher: Minotaur, October 2016

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 240

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 2

Description from Amazon.com:

Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery—at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.

While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?

With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive.

**

I am delighted that Charlaine Harris has written another Aurora Teagarden mystery.  I have read all of the Teagarden books and have enjoyed every one and this one is no exception.  These are “cozy mysteries” in that there may be violence but it is not graphic and gory.  These are more in the who-done-it variety.

In this addition we find Aurora newly married and expecting her first child. She and new husband Robin set out to solve the mystery of her missing half-brother, Phillip. It is not too difficult to figure out who the villain is in this book.  I wish we had a few more red-herrings thrown in, but it is still a page turner and also a standalone in the series.

If you like figuring out the bad guy and don’t want gore then I recommend this book for a very entertaining read.

 

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Review- The Headmaster (Shivers) by Tiffany Reisz

the-headmaster

Title: The Headmaster (Shivers)

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Author: Tiffany Reisz

Publisher: Harlequin Digital, April 2015

Source: Purchase

Pages: 135

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 2

Description from Amazon.com:

A fever dream of desires fulfilled.

Nestled in the shadow of the Appalachians is where Gwen Ashby stumbles upon the William Marshall Academy, and she’s given a trial position as a literature teacher. The gothic boarding school seems trapped in time yet it feels like home the moment Gwen arrives.

She’s charmed by the lovely buildings, bewitched by the eager students…and utterly seduced by the headmaster. Edwin Yorke is noble, handsome and infuriatingly proper. But his tweedy exterior and courtly manners conceal a raw sensual power that Gwen longs to unleash.

It’s strangely thrilling to be the only woman on campus—save one other. An eerie white-clad figure roams the grounds by night. She never speaks. She leaves no trace. But this ghostly blight on Gwen’s new dream life is the key to the Marshall Academy’s mysterious allure.

RITA® Award nominated title from International Bestselling Author Tiffany Reisz.

**

It’s that time of year when there is bubble, bubble toil and trouble.  But it isn’t easy to come across a romance that can give you a few shivers without also being a bit terrifying.  This one is shivers not terrors. I have wanted to read this author and since Harlequin is now having a big $1.99 sale this seemed the perfect time to pick up one of Ms. Reisz’ books.  This is a novella so it is a quick read but I started it late in the evening and was up until the wee hours because I had to finish it.  There are ghosts and mystery and twists and surprises along the way. Truly a delightful read.  The romance is sizzling. Gwen is intelligent and beautiful.  Edwin is a hot and hunky headmaster. The side characters are a delight. I highly recommend this book to all romance lovers and especially to paranormal fans.

 

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Recent Release Review- Thrice The Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

Title: Thrice The Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d

thrice-the-brinded-cat

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: Alan Bradley

Publisher: Bantam, Sept. 20, 2016

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 352

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.

**

Once again in book #8 of this series, Flavia DeLuce is stumbling upon a dead body. If you have read my other reviews of books in this series, you know that Flavia is a precocious 12 year old genius with a particular interest in chemistry and crime solving.  She has been compared to Eloise and Sherlock.  For me she is just delightful.  The mystery here wasn’t as interesting as some of the past books but Flavia’s crime solving and interactions with adults is absolutely joyous. The series is set in post WWII Britain and I’m guessing the early 1950’s or late 40’s.  There is still a recovering economy and no fancy crime solving helps like DNA testing, etc.  The crimes need to be solved by ruthless investigation and brilliant deduction, both of Flavia’s star qualities. Flavia’s family consists of a hospitalized father, a book addicted reader sister Daffy and a boy crazy older sister Feely. Her chief emotional support comes from a family retainer, Dogger, who appreciates her genius and comes to her aid without condescending to her age.

Each book in The Flavia De Luce Series is a standalone novel. You may enjoy later books in the series by reading the ones that went before for background but each mystery is solved in each book.

I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

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Advance Review- A Change Of Heart by Sonali Dev

Title: A Change of Heart

A change of Heart 2

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author: Sonali Dev

Publisher: Kensington, Sept. 27, 2016, pre-order available

Source: Free for review from the Amazon vine Program

Pages: 352

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Dr. Nikhil ‘Nic’ Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

**

After loving Ms. Dev’s first two romances I was truly disappointed in this book. Yes, she can write a good story and this one has a huge mystery going on but I never liked Jess and thought Nik was taken in by her. If I can’t get behind a main character then the book is not one of my favorites. I expected more romance. In the past I have enjoyed learning about the culture of India in this author’s books and that continues in this offering, so that it garnered 3-stars instead of two from me.

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Recent Release Review- Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie

Title: Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation

Sidney chambers and the dangers

Genre: Short Stories/Mystery

Author: James Runcie

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, June 2016

Pages: 336

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: N/A

Description from Amazon.com:

It’s the summer of love in late 1960s. The Apollo 11 astronauts are preparing to land on the moon, the war in Biafra dominates the news and Basil D’Oliveira has just been dropped from the England cricket team before a test series in apartheid South Africa. In the midst of all this change, Sidney Chambers, the loveable English clergyman, continues his amateur sleuthing investigations.

A bewitching divorcée enlists Sidney’s help in convincing her son to leave a hippie commune’ at a soiree on Grantchester Meadows during May Week celebrations, a student is divested of a family heirloom; Amanda’s marriage runs into trouble; Sidney and Hildegard holiday behind the Iron Curtain; Mrs. Maguire’s husband returns from the dead; and an arson attack in Cambridge leads Sidney to uncover a cruel cast of blackmail involving his former curate.

In the rare gaps between church and crime, Sidney struggles with a persistent case of toothache, has his first flutter at the Newmarket races, and witnesses the creation of a classic rock song. Charming, witty, intelligent, and filled with a strong sense of compassion, these six new stories are guaranteed to satisfy and delight this clerical detective’s many fans.

**

The book description pretty much tells you what the five stories are about so I won’t repeat it here.  I’m a fan of the Grantchester T.V. show on PBS now going into its third season.  I was particularly pleased with how the TV show captures what author Runcie characterized in his depiction of Sidney Chambers, the Vicar and now in this book Archdeacon, and Geodie Keating, Sidney’s friend and partner in crime solving, a police detective.  The stories would all make for terrific TV episodes.  Perhaps that is how they were conceived.  I did enjoy each story, especially how the author makes Sidney very “human” and not this paragon of virtue.  Sidney solves crimes using thoughtful insights more than physical clues. Sure there are plenty of clues also.

I do recommend this book to mystery fans and those fans of the PBS series.

I received this book free for review from the publisher.

**

Sidney and Geordie

Here is a 2-minute look at the Grantchester TV show( e-mail followers may need to view this on my blog site):

 

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Advance Review-A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

Title: A Certain Age

A Certain Age

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Mystery

Author: Beatriz  Williams

Publisher: William Morrow, June 28, 2016, pre-order available

Pages: 336

Source: Free for review from the Amazon vine Program

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

**

This is a wonderful book. It has romance, mystery, a philandering husband and a cheating wife, an innocent young woman, a flapper, a hunky ex war pilot, a murderer, a scandal along with the flavor of society in the 1920’s.  The chapters are Alternating between the voices of Theresa, the society wife who has taken a lover and Sophie, the innocent young woman engaged to Theresa’s brother.

There are multiple surprises and twists throughout the book that keep you turning pages.  Most questions are resolved in the end but I was left wanting to know more about Sophie’s sister and Theresa’s brother. How did all of the characters fare in the aftermath of all the choices that were made. I didn’t want the book to end.

I can highly recommend this book to fans of mystery and Historical Romance.

 

 

 

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Recent Release Review- London’s Glory by Christopher Fowler

Title: London’s Glory(The Lost Cases of Bryant & May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit)

London's Glory

Genre: Mystery Stories

Author: Christopher Fowler

Publisher: Alibi, March 2016

Pages: 243

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: N/A

Description from Amazon.com:

Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit are London’s craftiest and bravest detectives—and there’s no better pair to solve the city’s most confounding crimes. In this riveting eBook collection of mystery short stories, available together for the first time, Christopher Fowler takes Bryant and May on a series of twisting adventures and brings readers behind the scenes of his beloved novels.   Includes a preview of Christopher Fowler’s new Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery, Bryant & May and the Burning Man!

In “Bryant & May in the Field,” a woman is found with her throat slashed in a snowy park, yet the killer managed to escape without leaving any footprints. In “Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman,” a businessman drowns in the pool of a posh club, and the only suspect is a young woman who remains almost too calm during questioning. And in “Bryant & May Ahoy!” the pair go on holiday on a friend’s yacht in Turkey, but Bryant realizes there’s something fishy about their fellow passengers. From London’s grandest mansions to its darkest corners, from the Christmas department of Selfridges to a sinister traveling sideshow, there’s no scene too strange for the Peculiar Crimes Unit and the indefatigable detectives at its helm.

**

An author of renown, Christopher Fowler does not disappoint in these 10 short mystery stories.  Some are Whodunit, some are why did they do it and some are how in the world did they do it? All are quick easy and delightful reads centering in and around the city of London and the detective duo of Arthur Bryant and John Mays, two detectives that are getting on in years.  Each story is introduced by the author with a reference to other well-known mystery writers who influenced this particular story.  Also there is a lengthy, very interesting Introductory chapter to the book that discusses many well-known or not so famous mystery writers and their influence on the authors writing.  This is an easy to pick up and put down book for when you have a few minutes to indulge in a well written mystery.

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Recent Release Review- The Infamous Heir by Elizabeth Michaels

Title: The Infamous Heir (Spare Heirs, book #1)

the infamous heir

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Elizabeth Michaels

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, March 2016

Pages: 448

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 2.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

The Spare Heirs Society Cordially Invites You to Meet Ethan Moore: The Scoundrel

Lady Roselyn Grey’s debut has finally arrived, and of course, she has every flounce and flutter planned. She’ll wear the perfect gowns and marry the perfect gentleman…that is, if the formerly disinherited brother of the man she intends to marry doesn’t ruin everything first.

Ethan Moore is a prize-fighting second son and proud founding member of the Spare Heirs Society-and that’s all he ever should have been. But, in an instant, his brother’s noble title is his, the eyes of the ton are upon him, and the lady he’s loved for years would rather meet him in the boxing ring than the ballroom.

He’s faced worse. With the help of his Spare Heirs brotherhood, Ethan’s certain he can get to the bottom of his brother’s unexpected demise and win the impossible lady who has haunted his dreams for as long as he can remember…

Spare Heirs:

The Infamous Heir

The Rebel Heir

The Wicked Heir

The Unsuitable Heir

**

This is a mystery along with romance. The villain is revealed fairly early and I would have liked a bit more mystery about him. Roselyn is under a huge misunderstanding about the events of a crucial day that nearly destroys her relationship with Ethan but then that is resolved almost too quickly. For days and perhaps weeks she is in a rage with Ethan then suddenly all is well between them. They are the target of murderous intent by the villain’s henchmen and it seems that the bad guys keep getting away no matter how much they are beaten.

I personally did not find this book to my liking. That does not mean that the writing was poor, only that it didn’t meet my expectations. Ethan was a boxer and this profession pushes some of my dislike buttons so perhaps it is for this reason I did not especially like him and Roselyn was so hither and yon with her feelings I could not get behind her either.

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Recent Release Review- The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer

Title:  The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer

The Case of the missing Morris

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: Cathy Ace

Publisher: Severn House digital, Feb. 1,2016

Pages: 224

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating:0

Description from Amazon.com:         

The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, featuring a quartet of female PIs, working from a Welsh stately home. The Anwen Morris Dancers are to play a pivotal role in the imminent nuptials of Henry, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth. But it looks as though the wedding plans might go awry unless Mavis, Annie, Carol and Christine can help Althea, the Dowager Duchess, by finding a missing Morris man and a set of ancient and valuable artefacts in time for her son’s wedding. Anwen-by-Wye might look like an idyllic Welsh village where family values reign and traditions still mean something in a modern world, but what will the WISE women find when they peer behind the respectable net curtains?

**

My first question upon reading this book was, what are Morris Dancers? So I looked it up and found this video.  It is a type of folk dance in Great Britain.

Video of Morris Dancers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZjLATAUwao

Now that you have been treated to that little snippet, let me explain about what a “cozy mystery” actually is, just in case you were unaware of the genre.  Cozy Mysteries are whodunnits without the gory details.  There can be murders or other dastardly deals but the reader is spared the grisly and gruesome.  Some famous Cozy authors are Agatha Christie, one of my favorites, Alan Bradley who writes the Flavia De Luce mysteries that I’ve previously reviewed and Charlaine Harris who writes the Aurora Teagarden mysteries.

This is a very British mystery set in present day Wales.  I say it is very British because it is chock-a-block full of British slang and references to items that are not generally known in the USA.  So because of those two things, the non-British reader is immersed in anglophilia and for this reader that is a delight.  The ladies of the WISE agency are all distinctive personalities which adds to the enjoyment of the story as do the personalities of the other characters.  There are several small mysteries to be solved within the pages along with discovering the whereabouts of the missing Morris dancer. There is some romance brewing and a baby on the way for some of the WISE women.

I really was surprised that the agency ladies were able to access the Morris dancer’s home and rifle through his computer.  They did justify this somewhat but it still seemed a bit illegal to me.  I will not say too much because I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it was not difficult to figure out who the bad guy was and I might have enjoyed the story even more if he had been introduced earlier.

In this read I was once again introduced to something I knew very little about, Morris Dancing. I look forward to reading more adventures of the WISE women from Cathy Ace and learning more about the Brits..

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