Review: Poison by Punctuation by Kelley Kaye

High school can be a killer, but second year teacher Emma Lovett is hoping to enjoy a murder-free school year. Unfortunately, Thomas Jefferson High is starting the year with graffiti and threatening notes, admittedly an improvement over last year’s dead body. Shortly afterwards, cheerleader Kisten Hollis is found dead after an insulin injection and murder is suspected once again. Emma and her best friend and fellow teacher, Leslie Parker, are determined to uncover the culprit, especially since they’ve also received one of the threatening notes.

POISON BY PUNCTUATION is the second book in the Chalkboard Outlines series but can easily be read as a standalone. Kelley Kaye provides enough character development for the reader to appreciate and enjoy even things such as the troubles brewing in the love lives of Emma and Leslie. I have to admit that the first book is now on my TBR as it’s enjoyable to see an author so effectively write about a school.

And oh, did Kelley Kaye ever capture the high school teaching experience! I probably laughed more than I should have over Emma’s rants about the school board, particularly their approach to bullying, as Kelley Kaye sums it up so well. Between that and Leslie’s penchant for literary quotes, it was almost a given that I would thoroughly enjoy POISON BY PUNCTUATION but Kelley Kaye also writes a darned good story! POISON BY PUNCTUATION takes some intriguing twists and I like the depth she’s giving to her characters. I can’t wait to see what Kelley Kaye has in store for us next in the series!

Review: When The Marquess Was Mine by Caroline Linden

Based upon rumors and such, Georgiana Lucas despises the arrogant and cruel Marquess of Westmorland even before learning that he’d won the deed to her best friend Kitty’s home in a card game. Still, Georgiana assures Kitty the marquess wouldn’t possibly come all the way to Derbyshire to throw them out. However, during  ride with the groom, Georgiana witnesses a  crime and a man being beaten. Heroically riding to the man’s rescue lies the victim, bloody and unconscious, she instructs the groom with her to bring him back to Kitty’s home.  Upon arriving Georgiana, finally got a good look at the unconscious man and discovered it was none other than the cruel Marquess.  Fearing, he might die or that Kitty wouldn’t give him any shelter, Georgiana blurts out that he’s her fiancé. Georgiana then took on the task of nursing the hateful man back to health and make him vow to leave and never return. The man who wakes up, though, is nothing like the heartless rogue Georgiana thought she knew…

Rob, the Marquess of Westmoreland, wakes up with no memory of being assaulted, of who he is, and is baffled completely by the beautiful woman who claims she is his fiance. The bewitching beauty tending him so devotedly calls him Rob yet she avoids his touch. Though he can’t remember how he won her hand, he’s now determined to win her heart. But as his memory returns and the truth is revealed, Rob must decide if the game is up—or if he’ll take a chance on a love that defies all odds.

*** Such an enjoyable read combining wonderful characters, backgrounds and motivations, where one can enjoy the sensualness and chuckle at the misinterpretation of assumptions.  I was caught up at once with Georgiana thinking so badly of the Marquess then having to save him first from being killed; then to have to nurse him back to health, all the while waiting in horror for him to blow her elaborate cover story.   Toss in a little suspense for good measure and the tale became even more delightful with a superb ending.  

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Fifth Doctrine by Karen Robards (Series: The Guardian Book #3)

First of all, I am so sad that this is the final book in a trilogy – I really do not want to see this series end and I hope Ms. Robards changes her mind and keeps it going! However, if she doesn’t then I must tell you all that THIS, was and is, a really great set of books highlighting a terrific heroine – Bianca St. Ives.

No one but the great Houdini could have escaped from so many hair raising and intense situations as Bianca eluding all those who are after her, from the CIA, FBI, MI6, Russian mobsters, Arab sheiks and everyone else who has ever been duped by Bianca and her father, Richard St. Ives.

The question has always been is her daddy alive or dead? He has this little quirk that shows he has more lives than the proverbial ‘cat’. And oftentimes even Bianca is left in the dark!

It took one relentless man (who also has personal scores to settle with her) to finally get the jump on Bianca and her capture involves a shot at a clean slate. One-shot, one last job and Bianca could walk away free to the legitimate life she wants in Savannah.

The job – infiltrate North Korea as an elite female hacker who recently stole top secret intel from NORAD. Bianca knows just how dangerous this job can be and if caught, torture or endless imprisonment would be her fate – assuming she lived. Bianca has somehow survived this long and in some pretty incredible scenarios which no one could have possibly survived. But if she can accomplish this – and it’s a BIG IF she might finally get a somewhat ‘normal life’ with friends and a certain lover?

As always, the pace and action are super fast where you don’t want to miss even one paragraph; where you don’t want to put the book down because you NEED to see what happens next! Bianca is a wonderful protagonist who thinks on her feet, and with a bit of help from a couple of cohorts she has managed to come out on top!

You can read this as a stand alone, but it is an amazing series and I suggest you begin at the start with ULTIMATUM.

Marilyn Rondeau
marilynsbookreviews.com

Review: Lady Sophies Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes

Rating 4*

Lady Sophie Windham only wanted a few days of quiet solitude before joining her family before she  joined her family for Christmas in Kent. Before Sophie knew it one of her servants took off leaving Sophie holding the tweeni’s 2 month old infant and trapped by a London snowstorm turned blizzard.   Now she finds herself with an abandoned baby and thankfully one kindly, handsome stranger who recognized her dilemma and offered his assistance.

Vim Charpentier sees little to feel festive about this Christmas. He is returning to the childhood home he never wished to revisit but as the presumptive heir he had put it off long enough – duty prevailed.   However, Mother Nature was about to step in and change his traveling plans.  Assisting Sophie to her home in the storm which was getting worse found him stranded along with this intrepid young woman. Who was she -really that she could invite him to stay in such splendid home?

Obviously, Vim’s growing attraction for Sophie Windham is the only thing that warms his spirits–but when Sophie’s brothers whisk her away, Vim’s most painful holiday is returning memories are reawakened.   It seems Sophie’s keeping secrets, as well as himself and now it will take much more than a mistletoe kiss to make Sophie’s deepest wishes come true…

Absolutely charming and lovely story for the holidays.  Characters were fleshed out beautifully and the addition of baby Kit added delightful humor along with the sweet sensuality of a budding love story.

Marilyn Rondeau 

Review: A Hero Born: by Jin Yong (Author), Anna Holmwood (Translator)

Rating: 5*

The epic Chinese classic and phenomenon published in the US for the first time! 

A fantastical generational saga and kung fu epic, Jin Yong’s A Hero Born is the classic novel of its time, stretching from the Song Empire (China 1200 AD) to the appearance of a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. 

After his father was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Genghis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned.

With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive.

*** At first I wasn’t sure I would finish this book for the first pages listed ALL the characters and their backgrounds right from the start.  And there seemed like hundreds!  [Pretty darn close too!]  And note these were not common names but ones I couldn’t pronounce so consequently, my reading was a bit slow at first until I really got into the story.  But once in I was HOOKED!   Even though the names were foreign, the action and pace moved extraordinarily fast.  And that is due to the excellent translation of the tome by Anna Holmwood.   It was an easy read with enormous momentum, and some of the key characters (of which some did not last long in this brutal world of fantasy and wonder)  added a plethora of emotions from horror and hate to caring and love.   

However, I did finish this book and there are a lot of words I can use to describe it – AWESOME – FABULOUS – UNFORGETTABLE – EMOTIONALLY STIRRING.   Loved the pace, the people, the historical strands of actual historical figures, and the wonder of the fantasy and of course, the descriptions of all the martial arts moves and action!

Highly Recommended!!!

Marilyn Rondeau * marilynsbookreviews.com

Review: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Hardcover, 384 pages Published September 3rd 2019 by Minotaur Books

ISBN 13: 9781250204448             Series :  Two Rivers #1    Setting: Devon, England 

In North Devon, England, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished by the Brethren, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too. 

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his detectives. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.  The case calls Matthew back into the community he’d thought to leave behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

Matthew Venn is just a regular guy – a cop turned detective after putting in his time but also a very good person.  He was brought up in a strict religious community but had come to the conclusion early on that he just didn’t agree with all their rules and tenets.  Unfortunately, you either agreed or you were out and as much as it hurt he followed his heart.    Now with the new case and leads beginning to point him back to the Brethren he has to discover what if anything the murder and the mysterious kidnappings of young women had to do with one another.  

The pace of this was to my mind a bit on the slow side in the beginning but it sped up. I did find it quite interesting to follow all the loose ends and tiny bits of clues as Matthew and his team dug into the murder and then missing young women to discover how the connections started to knit together.  

The characterizations of the lead characters were beautifully molded together with compassion and love.  I particularly loved that Matthew and his husband were treated  as not an oddity, but as two people who genuinely cared for one another, even though the Brethren had to get a couple of snipes in along the way.  However, the writing and the story itself were both done exceptionally well and I love a great mystery so yes, I highly recommend this book. Good solid writing. 

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: How to love a Duke in 10 Days by Kerrigan Byrne

I believe that HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN 10 DAYS is going to be one of the 10 best books I’ve read in 2019!  It was truly a different and original storyline that is unique and fresh and to my mind extremely good.     Famous and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane, knows how to look out for herself, traveling the world over as a famed archeologist.  Nobody but her two closest friends know of the terror that haunts her, and yet, they do NOT know of the blackmailer who has been plaguing her for the last 7 years.   What she needs is a wealthy husband! 

Traveling to meet up with her two best friends, Lady Cecilia and Lady Francesca (who is about to be married to a man she hates) Alexandra meets up with a dashing man whom she assumes is the stable master after he claims a runaway stallion who Alexa had caught after he broke away from his handler. The man was striking and it was very unusual for Alexa to ever be attracted to a male but there was something about him….

Piers Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne is seeking revenge and his first step is to secure a bride.  Winning a ladies hand however, is not easy when that man comes with a reputation as the Terror of Torcliff.   When Alexandra enters his life his whole resolve changed, when she proposes marriage, he knows that she possesses dark secrets and like him, haunts her being.   Yet, her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens passion and desire within him. Feelings he’s never experienced before.  

***  The question is who is trying to kill him, or could it be who is trying to kill her?  After a few close calls, one can’t quite figure it out!  So many questions as to what is really going on, while passions are simmering and trust is fragile with so many secrets still to be told.  Who is the villain and who is the victim?  Can two hearts trust the other before betrayal tears them apart?   The suspense, sensualness, and romance was divine!   Highly recommended!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: BLIND SPOT BY Brenda Novak

(The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #4)

I have been following this series since the very beginning and it has been wonderful.   What an amazing concept with a fast pace, and fascinating characters ! Since the beginning I have been enthralled with Dr. Evelyn Talbot and the whole concept of Hanover House while still trying to capture Jasper Moore!   Her aim is to try and understand the mind of the worst serial killers and discover what makes them tick – Wow!   

In this fourth book of the series, Jasper Moore has finally been caught and Evelyn can examine the mind of the man who tortured her as a teenager and tormented her for so many years.  But utmost in her mind is getting married to Amarok, her Alaska State Trooper love interest, before she delivers their baby!   

Only, Evelyn now has more on her mind than getting married. A psychopath from the much more recent past comes out of nowhere and kidnaps her in broad daylight. Instead of planning her wedding, Evelyn finds herself doing everything she can to survive, save her baby and devise some way to escape while Amarok races the clock to find her – before it’s too late.

Absolutely wonderful pacing with the most unexpected help coming from an unexpected place!   I really can’t wait to find out if Ms. Novak has any more books planned for this series.  It’s really too good to stop here!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks

Rosamond Tomkins had an almost perfect childhood until her grandmother died and the woman who was her mother reclaimed her to live with her new family and twisted husband.  In her new household she was treated no better than a servant and was mistreated and abused both by step-brothers and especially her step-father.   The day she was almost run over by a wealthy nobleman, Sir Everard Blithman, Rosamond thought she had been saved, but rather traded off one hell for another.  But for one caveat – her mother (bad as she was) made sure that the nobleman married Rosamond before he took her.

Sir Everard recognized not only Rosamonds unusual beauty but the undeniable fact she looked so much like his deceased daughter.  Sir Everard presided over a luxurious London chocolate house where wealthy and well-connected men go to be seen, exchange news, and indulge in the sweet and heady drink to which they have become addicted. It was a life of luxury and power that Rosamund had never imagined for herself, and she thrives in it, quickly becoming the most talked-about woman in society, desired and respected in equal measure. But when disaster strikes, Rosamund stands on the brink of losing all she possesses. Determined not to return to poverty, Rosamund makes a deal with the devil that could preserve her place in society—or bring her the greatest downfall.  She was set up by a madman, and only her husband’s greatest enemy could save her!  

Absolutely an enthralling historical story set against the decadent, chaotic backdrop of Restoration London, the plague, and the Great Fire.   The Chocolate Maker’s Wife is a tale of revenge and redemption, love and hope—and it is definitely a book I HIGHLY RECOMMEND and I absolutely LOVED IT!!!

Marilyn Rondeau