Saturday, November 28, 2015

UNSTOPPABLE by Shannon Richard

Publisher:    Forever
Published:   December 3, 2013
ISBN:       978-1455547432
Genre:    Contemporary Romance
Format:   Ebook   
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


One of two survivors of mission gone wrong in Afghanistan, Bennett Hart seeks peace in his home town of Mirabelle, Florida.  He picks up with his life as best he can and works to resolve his issues from war.  What he doesn’t bank on is meeting one Melanie O'Bryan.  After being shot in a robbery gone wrong, Melanie puts herself on the line emotionally to live the life she wants and that includes falling, hard, for Bennett.  But Bennett hardly knows Melanie is alive let alone how she feels about him.  Yes, he’s there for her when she is shot, but Bennett would do that for anyone.  It’s what happens and how he feels after Melanie is back on her feet and getting on with her life.  Determined to win him over Melanie goes after what she wants and things seem to be moving along rather well until Bennett’s past catches up with him.  He knows he loves her, but is he willing to risk his heart to follow that love?

I requested this and several other of Shannon Richard’s Country Roads books because they sounded so good.  What more could a lover of contemporary romance want beside a town with some fun characters finding each other and falling in love.  I was disappointed with book one, UNDONE and ,thought perhaps it was because it was a debut novel and the author was finding her  voice.  Clearly an agent and/or editor saw something in her writing.  Unfortunately after reading the first three books I’m just not seeing it.

I never warmed up to any of the characters; never connected with any of them enough to care about their ups and downs.  There was more telling than showing—pages and pages of telling “Melanie did this”, “Melanie did that”.  Not once did I feel any kind of visceral reaction to anything that happened in UNSTOPPABLE, book 3 of the series.  I picked up and put it down month after month and finally pushed to finish it because I made the commitment to review it. 

Mirabelle does have a certain charm to it and the characters, once they exhibit and evoke some emotion will be memorable in their own way. 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


Friday, November 27, 2015

IT TAKES A WITCH by Heather Blake

Publisher:     NAL
Published:    January 3, 2012
ISBN:      978-0451235527
Genre:     Cozy Mystery
Format:   Print
Obtained via:  Publisher 
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Shortly after the death of their father, Darcy and Harper Merriweather move to the quaint little town of the Enchanted Village in Salem, Massachusetts.  Yes, that Salem.  Within days of arriving they find that their sweet Aunt Ve, a woman they only knew at a distance growing up is a witch.  Not only is Ve a witch, but so are Darcy and Harper and Darcy has a most unique talent—if someone makes a wish with a pure heart she must grant that wish.  Of course there are rules as to when, how and who she can grant the wishes.  The thing about the Enchanted Village is that some residents are witches and some are not and the witches cannot give up their true talents or they will lose them.  So they live side-by-side in a secretly magical world.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some folks who would like very much to have some magical abilities. 

Or claim to.

And what happens when one magical person doesn’t quite agree or get along with another?  And what happens with a witch finds herself draw more and more to a mortal—a mortal who may not be all he seems to be…or is more than a simple private security guard?  But before they can investigate their attractions a wannabe witch is killed and Darcy’s Aunt Ve’s beau is first in line as the suspect.  Can magic find the killer?

I liked the idea of the Enchanted Village where Heather Blake’s IT TAKES A WITCH takes place.  It reminded me of a fun combination of Mystic Seaport village and Disneyland with quirky characters, fun shops and entertaining events.  There was also a smidge of Wonderland in the myriad animal characters.  I have to admit Archie the bird was my favorite although Pepe the mouse was pretty darn cute too. Blake also seemed to give a lot of solid thought to describing the historical lore around the village and different types of witches inhabiting the town. 

IT TAKES A WITCH had all the elements that make a cozy mystery an easy and fun read—one of the things I like about cozies is that the reader can often feel part of solving the mystery.  I never really warmed up to Darcy—her sister, Harper, was more my kind of character.  And I felt that the attraction between Darcy and Nick was forced.  It just didn’t seem natural to me.  Maybe it was all the secrets she had to keep about her real self and that she herself was learning how to be a witch that got in the way.  I’ll have to read on in the series to see how she progresses and if I feel more about her as a character. 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A SPLENDID JAPE by D.C. Williams

Publisher: MLR Press
Date published: October 2015
ISBN: MLR-1-02015-047
MM, Regency Historical
Reviewed by Helen
Obtained via publisher
Rating: 4

Algernon Grimsdale’s life is complicated by his mother who is ill, and his younger sister, who he hopes to find a husband for before his mother becomes too ill to enjoy the wedding. As for himself, his own tastes are illegal in Regency England.

This is only a short story, so there isn’t a lot of space to allow a big build up of plot and characterization, but D.C. Williams copes well within these confines. I really like the way the two main characters are demonstrated as drawing together with some teasing and body language as well as just their need for sex, especially since the sex is much more hinted at than described (which might also be because of the tight word count).

There are a surprising number of characters in such a short book, and all are sketched in well, as is the historical background, although the background is more one of how the people are confined by the rules and expectations of the day. I particularly enjoyed Algie’s worries about the kind of men who wouldn’t be suitable for his sister to marry. It was neat, time appropriate and yet so different from today.
The ending is great and an excellent hook for the next book, which I’ll be watching out for.

The book itself was well edited and very clean except for one enormous blooper. Right at the front of the book, on the blurb, an editorial comment is printed in the text. It really ought to be removed asap.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In the Dark by Sally Eggert

Publisher:     Random House
Published:    January 28, 2014
ISBN:       B00E735H0O
Genre:     Contemporary Romance
Format:    Ebook
Obtained via:  Publisher via Netgalley
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Bartender Josie Nielsen’s has a pretty low key life.  But not exactly a boring one.  She’s got a great imagination, especially when it comes to sexy bad boy, Johnny Boyer. He smokes, he has a lazy smile and holds a fascination Josie just can’t deny.  Johnny seems to feel the same attraction and the pair find themselves spending more and more time together.  Their relationship doesn’t go unnoticed.  Not at all.

Peter Shand is out to put a stop to Johnny and his drug dealing. But he doesn’t want just Johnny.  He wants to bring down the entire drug ring bent of selling a drug worse than ecstasy.  To do this he enlists Josie’s help.  At first Josie has no problem delivering the goods on Johnny.  But the closer they become to each other the harder it is for Josie to turn the man she is falling in love with in.
Sally Eggert’s IN THE DARK isn’t the worst book I’ve read this year, but it is far from the best.  The whole premise of a federal agency asking a woman to get close to and sleep with a suspect in this day and age just seems too farfetched.  The writing was stilted and at times so basic it read like a first draft.  The book began fairly strong with the feel you’d get from a Sam Spade mystery.  But once Josie started to set Johnny up the story seemed to go downhill for me. 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Publisher:     Berkley    
Published:    September 1, 2015
ISBN:      978-0425275245
Genre:    Mystery
Format:   Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Sabrina is your basic, down-to-earth, kind of gal.  She isn’t superstitious in any way, shape or form.  When she heads off to Lavender, Texas to help her Aunt Rowe and get to work on her own version of the Great American Novel—the cozy mystery!  Now, some of that down-to-earth thinking may be called into question. Not that Sabrina’s thinking is up for changing that much—rather it’s the town’s belief that a little kitty may be bad luck simply because he is black. Feeling bad for the little guy, in addition to his attaching himself to her, Sabrina names the cat Hitchcock.  It doesn’t take long for Hitchcock to start surprising Sabrina in more ways than one.  How does he manage to keep turning up where ever she is, even after she’s made sure he’s safely secured in her home?

But Sabrina has more to worry about than Hitchcock’s escape artist abilities…when her Aunt Rowe’s long lost brother shows up in town she’s determined the swindler won’t walk away with Rowe’s home.  Before she can delve into the veracity of Bobby Joe Flowers’ claims he’s found dead and it doesn’t take long for the law to point the finger at Aunt Rowe. 

On top of being caught up in a murder investigation, her dream agent is coming to town and wants to hear Sabrina’s pitch for her cozy mystery!  How can she focus on her book when her life has turned into that very mystery she’s trying to write?

Being on the staff of three cats, two of them black cats, how could I not pick up Kay Finch’s BLACK CAT CROSSING to read?  And it was a fun read.  The intertwining of a mystery writer trying to write a mystery while solving another has some fun parallels.  I liked the way Sabrina tried to protect Hitchcock while also trying to educate the superstitious Lavender townsfolk how ridiculous thinking black cats are bad luck is. 

Hitchcock was, of course, my favorite character.  Like I said, what’s not to like about a story that stars a cat?  Particularly a street savvy black cat?  He’s quite the hero too.  Finch does a nice job of describing cat actions and reactions.

Fun mystery with some good twists and turns…Bobby Joe sure did get around!

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.