Tag 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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Advance Review- The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

the-duke-kerrigan-byrne

Title: The Duke (Victorian Rebels, book #4)

Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian/Mystery

Author: Kerrigan Byrne

Publisher: At. Martin’s Paperbacks, Feb. 7, 2017 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 384

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

He is noble, notorious, and takes no prisoners… Strong as a Viking.  Handsome as Adonis.  Rich as Midas. Collin “Cole” Talmage, Duke of Trenwyth, is the stuff that legends are made of.  He’s the English Empire’s golden son–until fate has its way with him. Cole’s family is killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor–and desire. And now he’s ready for the fight of his lifetime… Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of convenience–one that left her a wealthy widow–but she never forgot Cole. Now that her long-lost lover has turned up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her, Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her leaves him wanting to protect and possess her…at all costs?

***

When it comes to Historical Romance, Kerrigan Byrne is right up at the top of the list of best of the best.  This her fourth novel in the Victorian Rebels Series is as mesmerizing and filled with heart pounding action as the other gems in this series.  We are treated to characters we cheer for, villains that make us hold our breath and love scenes that are filled with sizzling passion.  In this book we also have the mystery of a serial killer who seems to be fixated on our heroine, Imogen.  The Duke, Collen Talmage, is a shadow of the man Imogen once knew.  He has suffered extreme torture but is bent on fighting back to his former strength.  All of the other “Rebels” from the previous books in the series play important roles in this book. This is a standalone book but I feel you will enjoy it even more if you read the previous books in the series. This is what is now referred to as a “dark historical romance”; filled with violence and characters that are not always moral or even polite.  There are scenes of sex that border on violence and I mention this since some may find this difficult to read.  That said, this is a well written book filled with description that will have you underlining passages.  You will not be able to put this book down until you reach the last page.

The Victorian Rebels Series:

  1. The Highwayman (Dorian and Farah)
  2. The Highlander (Liam and Mena)
  3. The Hunter (Christopher and Millie)
  4. The Duke (Collin [Cole] and Imogen)

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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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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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Release Day Review- Named of The Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

Title:  Named of the Dragon

Named of the Dragon

Genre: Contemporary Romance (mystery, suspense, paranormal, history)

Author: Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, Oct. 6, 2015

Pages: 322

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 2

Description from Amazon.com:         

SOMEWHERE IN THE HEART OF LEGEND LIES THE KEY TO HER TERRIFYING DREAMS

The charm of spending the Christmas holidays in South Wales, with its crumbling castles and ancient myths, seems the perfect distraction from the nightmares that have plagued literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw since the loss of her baby five years ago.

Instead, she meets an emotionally fragile young widow who’s convinced that Lyn’s recurring dreams have drawn her to Castle Farm for an important purpose–and she’s running out of time.

With the help of a reclusive, brooding playwright, Lyn begins to untangle the mystery and is pulled into a world of Celtic legends, dangerous prophecies, and a child destined for greatness.

**

This is very much a romantic suspense novel with touches of the paranormal just like most of Kearsley’s books.  The setting is Wales and the characters are for the most part English.  Not only do we get a mystery but also some insightful looks at Welsh history. Once again Kearsley touches on all of my favorite tropes; romance, mystery, suspense and learning something new.  The author has combined a real life setting with fictional characters and plot.  Once you start reading you are immersed in the setting, time and place.  It is not apparent that there is evil lurking but there is something that is just a bit off.  As an involved reader you will try to help Lyn figure it out but it is often elusive and difficult to know who to trust. This is truly a wonderful book from a supremely accomplished author.

I recommend this book to all who like a good mystery and a happy ending with doses of history thrown in for good measure.

This edition is a re-issue of the book first published in 1999.

 

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Advance Review- The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

Title: The Curiosity Keeper

The curiosity Keeper

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Sarah E. Ladd

Publisher: Thomas Nelson, July 7, 2015(preorder available)

Pages: 338

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: Chaste kiss

Description from Amazon.com:

It is not just a ruby, as you say.

It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished.

And it is rumored to either bless or curse whomever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

**

Well…not so much passion, but certainly a slow building affection that becomes more and more romantic. Eventually binding Camille and Jonathan, this closeness will see Jonathan as Camille’s protector.

I enjoyed this novel. It is part suspense, part mystery and part romance and Ms. Ladd gives us all three with some surprises thrown in also. This is sold by Harper Collins Christian so there is no sex which is welcome to some readers. The extent of physical interaction is a kiss. There are nice characters, there are not so nice characters and then there are really down and dirty characters. This makes for some interesting interactions in the book.

This is a charming, story with some angst and I recommend it to those who want their romance on the sweet side.

(I thought the cover of this book was especially pretty.  What do you think?)

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Recent Release Review- As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by Alan Bradley

 

 

Title: As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust (A Flavia de Luce mystery)

As Chimney Sweepers Come To dust

Genre: Mystery

Author: Alan Bradley

Publisher: Bantam, Janury 6, 2015

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

Flavia de Luce—“part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (The New York Times Book Review)—takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley. Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.

**

This is my third Flavia de Luce mystery and I have to say Flavia is just a delight. She is precocious, borderline genius, fears nothing and is the bane of all adults.   A dead body greets her first night arrival at Miss Bodycote’s Academy, and the body falls out of the fireplace in her room. The event has traumatized another student who was in the room also but it has only fueled Flavia’s desire to solve the mystery.

I thought this offering in the Flavia de Luce series was a bit slower then the others I have read although I still enjoyed every moment of Flavia’s shenanigans. As with most mysteries there are red herrings and just when we think we have outsmarted our twelve-year-old heroine she outsmarts us once again. An enjoyable page turning read. I’m sure you will love Flavia like I do.

The Flavia de Luce novels in order (Although each is a standalone):

THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE

THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN’S BAG

A RED HERRING WITHOUT MUSTARD

I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS*

SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES*

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.    

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Recent Reissue Review- Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Season of Storms

Season of Storms

Genre: General Fiction/Mystery/Romantic Elements

Author: Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, Sept. 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 2.5

Sexy Rating: 3

From Amazon:

A mystery trapped in time

In 1921, infamous Italian poet Galeazzo D’Ascanio wrote his last and greatest play, inspired by his muse and mistress, actress Celia Sands. On the eve of opening night, Celia vanished, and the play was never performed.

Now, two generations later, Alessandro D’Ascanio plans to stage his grandfather’s masterpiece and has offered the lead to a promising young English actress, also named Celia Sands-at the whim of her actress mother, or so she has always thought. When Celia arrives at D’Ascanio’s magnificent, isolated Italian villa, she is drawn to the mystery of her namesake’s disappearance-and to the compelling, enigmatic Alessandro.

But the closer Celia gets to learning the first Celia’s fate, the more she is drawn into a web of murder, passion, and the obsession of genius. Though she knows she should let go of the past, in the dark, in her dreams, it comes back…

**

This novel is a reissue of a book written in 2001. I’m finding it difficult to come up with an original view on this book. Having read many of Ms. Kearsley’s novels and enjoying them immensely I was disappointed in this offering. The story was so very slow with most of the action and romance coming at the end of the book. There are pages of description that seem repetitious. The plot would have been interesting in a shorter book but the pacing here almost killed my interest in finishing. But I did plow through because even though I found it difficult there is always that seed of something-will-happen-to-change-my-opinion but sorry to say that never happened here.  And yet I must give Ms. Kearsley her due accolades; she can write description of place and time beautifully.  If you want a truly wonderful Susanna Kearsley book then pick THE WINTER SEA, MARIANA, THE SHADOWY HORSES OR THE ROSE GARDEN all of those are just wonderful.

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Recent Release Review- Why Lords Lose Their Hearts by Manda Collins

Title:  Why Lords Lose Their Hearts(Wicked Widows, book #3)

Why-Lords-Lose-Their-Hearts

 Genre:  Historical Romance/Mystery

Author: Manda Collins

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, July 29, 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

THE TRUTH COULD RUIN HER

In Manda Collins’s Why Lords Lose Their Hearts, Perdita, the widowed Duchess of Ormonde, keeps a dangerous secret—the truth of how her brutish husband died. But a mysterious avenger seems to know it, too, and when anonymous threats turn into public attacks, there’s only one friend she can turn to for help—her husband’s former secretary, Lord Archer Lisle. The man who witnessed her every heartache. The kind of man whose love she can only dream of …

WILL HIS LOVE SAVE HER?

The youngest of the Duke of Pemberton’s five sons, Lord Archer Lisle is used to waiting his turn. For years, he could only stand by, seething, as Perdita suffered at the hands of her husband, but now she’s under threat from another source—one who will stop at nothing to make her pay for the late duke’s death. But the good-natured Archer can be dangerous when crossed—and he’ll do anything to keep the woman he’s adored for so long safe in his arms…

**

Archer has been in love with Perdita for several years. Perdita, now a widow, is recovering from an abusive marriage and although she contemplates remarrying she does not want a man who is in anyway controlling. Thus she holds our hero at arms length and makes some stubborn decisions not in her best interest. Archer and Perdita’s friends try to persuade her to think of her own safety when threats are made against her from an unkown source.

This was a good romance and mystery and, unlike in the first two books of the trilogy, the mystery is solved. Unfortunately for me I came in to the series on this the third book. I have to admit that although there was quite a bit of background given, I still felt that I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read the first two books of the trilogy.

Wicked Widows Trilogy

  1. Why Dukes Say I Do
  2. Why Earls Fall in Love
  3. Why Lords Lose Their Hearts

P.S.- For the entire time I was reading this novel the heroine’s name, Perdita, kept me envisioning Pongo and Perdita of One Hundred and One Dalmations. It did make me slightly distracted. Authors should be very careful how they name their characters. Another pet peeve of mine is when several main characters all have similar sounding or confusing names; such as David Stevenson and Steven Donaldson or Lord Tomlin, Tomasina and Tomasina’s best friend, Tammy. Well you get my drift.

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Review- The Burning By Jane Casey

Title:  The Burning

The Burning

 Genre: Mystery/Police Procedural

Author: Jane Casey

Publisher: Minotaur books, august 2011

Source: Free For Review from the publisher

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5- not explicit

Description from Amazon.com:

The Burning Man. It’s the name the media has given a brutal murderer who has beaten four young women to death before setting their bodies ablaze in secluded areas of London’s parks. And now there’s a fifth.

Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable, keen to make her mark on the murder task force. Her male colleagues believe Maeve’s empathy makes her weak, but the more she learns about the latest victim, Rebecca Haworth, from her grieving friends and family, the more determined Maeve becomes to bring her murderer to justice. But how do you catch a killer no one has seen when so much of the evidence has gone up in smoke?

Maeve’s frenetic hunt for a killer in Jane Casey’s gripping series debut will entrance even the most jaded suspense readers.

**

This is a well plotted police procedural novel. There are some elements of surprise but it is pretty much predictable and the guilty party is easy enough to figure out ahead of time. That said, this is still an enjoyable page turner. For some reason the ending slows everything down to a crawl and there is repetition of the preceding investigative elements by the guilty party. This went on far too long. I do recommend this book to those who like to follow the police procedure in bringing a murderer to justice.

 

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