Review: Where Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

WildCherriesGrow

Paperback, 368 pages

Published June 15th 2017 by Black Swan                            ISBN13: 9781784160739

Where the Wild Cherries Grow: A Novel of the South of France

Published February 13th 2018 by Thomas Dunne Books        RATING:  4*

I wasn’t terribly keen on this book from the beginning, but as I stuck with it I became more and more pleased with the writing.   At first the split between the time 1919 and fifty years later to 1969 was a bit aggravating but as I became more immersed in the story I found I had trouble putting this book down.

It wasn’t until I was finished did this line make sense to me “I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .”

Emeline Vane came from wealth, from Norfolk, England – she had lost her mother, her brothers and now it was only her, her young brother Timothy and her uncle.  She is haunted by memories of those she lost and suffers bouts of melancholy, so much so that her uncle is taking her to a convalescent home  to recover.   However, during their stop in France, Emeline, having been given drugs to keep her calm regained enough of her mindset that she decided to run away – recklessly boarding a train to run from her uncle and the nurse who was her jailer.

Her journey led her to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. A kindly cafe owner, Maman, takes her in and Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land and using your own hands to care for yourself.

Soon a love affair develops with Maman’s son as passionate as the flavours of the village. Fifty years later, a young solicitor on his first case finds Emeline’s diary, and begins to trace a story of betrayal, love and bittersweet secrets that will send him on a journey to discover the truth before greedy relatives steal her inheritance away.

I really liked this story.  The writing was superb and the descriptions of the food and flavors made my mouth water.  So very sweet with a surprise ending I didn’t expect.

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose

Edgeofdarkness

Paperback, 608 pages                RATING – 5*

Published February 8th 2018 by Headline (first published November 2nd 2017)

SBN13: 9781472245854

Series: Romantic Suspense #20, Cincinnati #4

As the fourth and final book in Karen Rose’s nail-biting Cincinnati Series I cannot help but be sad – very sad!  Reading Karen Rose is such a pleasure and I know that while the Cincinnati Series is ending – Ms. Rose will be back with another series that will be equally good – or better!  

Homicide detective Adam Kimble is no stranger to battling demons working for a good year on battling his PTSD.   Meredith Fallon is a different kind of weakness: one that could actually be good for him, if only he would let himself depend on her. Meredith has loved Adam for a year, and seeing how hard he’s worked to deal with his PTSD makes her feelings only stronger, but she respects his need to work it out for himself.  Meredith keeps busy anyway: counseling sexually abused women to help them reintegrate into the world.  Yet someone doesn’t want Meredith helping woman and is ready to kill to make her stop!

***  As usual, Mr. Rose doesn’t pull any punches and slaps right into the middle of some of the worse type of killers around.  Killers who love to terrorize and bring the most pain to their victims.  In EDGE OF DARKNESS there are several folks who are killers and one boss who also delights in killing as well.

Meredith has escaped violence several times by people not wanting her to discover how much of an animal they are in how they treat their children, spouses and females of all persuasions.  But when Meredith takes one of her patients out to celebrate and is almost killed  the question becomes who were they trying to kill?  Was it Meredith or her companion.  In the meantime, Adam, assigned to Meredith’s case is fighting his own demons and trying to not break an oath he made to himself a year ago before he approaches  Meredith as a ‘new’ man.

This definitely a full body novel with a plethora of secondary characters all central and playing big parts in the tall of murder, violence, kidnapping, betrayal and greed.  In fact, it will take most of the book before you even get an inkling of who the real bad guy is!    Fast read – thrilling, exciting and simply one of the best!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

TwoGirlsDown

Kindle Edition, 322 pages

Expected publication: January 9th 2018 by Doubleday

ASIN    B071HCW3V8

When there are no leads on missing persons, the first person you should call is Alice Vega, a PI who seems to do the impossible.  Like a dog with a bone, Vega is tenacious in digging for the seemingly smallest clue and finding missing children.

After two young sisters had disappeared from a strip mall parking lot in a small town, the devastated mother fearing that the police were doing nothing, hires an enigmatic bounty hunter.  The police in this small town are stretched to the limit fighting a drug epidemic so they aren’t about to give Vega any leads (not that they had any).  Needing some tie-in with the police, Vega hires a disgraced ex-cop, Max Caplan who only wants to put the scandal of his past behind him. But Vega needs the help and bulldogs him into helping her.

***  Wow, with very little to go on and practically no clues whatsoever, Vega proves she is the best!  She was like a bloodhound to untangle what few clues she had to go on. One thing for sure is that she was a very private individual and as she and Max followed all the threads that sprung up now and then I was hoping that these two lonely souls would get something personal going on.  One thing for sure they did form a wonderful working relationship!

The story was brisk and it was a fast read, with lots of twists and turns which made the finale a real edge-of -the-seat- thrill ride.   Whether we see Max show up in future Vega books is something I hope the author considers.  I really like Vega even though you never get to ‘know’ her.  Determined and someone you want in your corner if the need ever arose!     Great story!

Marilyn Rondeau

Eternal Mourning

AUTHOR: Carrie Ann Ryan

Walker Brentwood is a healer for his pack but there is nothing he can do about the changes in the mating bonds. Shifters have always “known” their mate by scent or sight but that has changed. They struggle now just as the humans search for love and sometimes get it right.

Aimee Reagan knows shifters and magic are real, but she isn’t sure about herself. She knows something is wrong but not what and when someone other than a Talon Pack member sets his sights on her, her battle to survive begins in earnest.

Walker and Aimee are what I have been waiting for in this fascinating series. Their story is truly magical and one that stays with you long after “the end “appears. I love this series with it’s twists and turns as the packs deal with daily life and with things beyond their control. There is a number of moments that will have you smiling, laughing and just might bring you to tears.

We also get a better look at the enemy pack and their Alpha, Blade. I am so hoping he gets his soon.

If you want a heart touching, scorching with steamy moments, family and friends that have the couples back then get your hands on ETERNAL MOURNING.

Review: Pre-Meditated Murder by Tracy Weber

PreMeditatedMurder

PRE-MEDITATED MURDER is the fifth book in Tracy Weber’s Downward Dog Mystery series. I haven’t read the earlier books but suggest that you read it in order if spoilers are an issue. In fact, the entire plot of PRE-MEDITATED MURDER hinges around a huge spoiler for the relationship between the main character, Kate Davidson, and her boyfriend, Michael.

Kate is expecting Michael to pop the marriage question to her at the expensive birthday dinner he has arranged for her. After all, her best friend, Rene, saw him exiting a jewelry store with a purchase in hand shortly before the big night. Unfortunately, their entire relationship is about to come into question as Kate will have to use all of her yoga calming skills once she finds out Michael has a secret… he’s already married and his estranged wife is demanding a huge sum of money for the divorce! Things only worsen when Kate and Michael try to work things out with Gabriella and she turns up dead, murdered with Michael being the primary suspect. Can Kate uncover who Gabriella’s murderer is? And will their relationship survive?

Admittedly, it’s hard to get thrown into the middle of a crisis in a relationship with characters you haven’t met previously and appreciate the emotional struggle they are undergoing. Tracy Weber, however, does a marvelous job at drawing readers into the heart of the dilemma.  Kate’s emotional anguish is palpable from the opening pages as we watch her excitement turn into horror when she realizes Michael has been lying to her.

And oh, how can I not mention Bella, the slightly neurotic German Shephard with separation anxiety? I loved her antics, from her hatred of beards to her protectiveness of the overexuberant toddler she meets. I want to read more of the Downward Dog Mystery series if only to see more of Bella!

PRE-MEDITATED MURDER is easily recommended for cozy mystery readers, particularly if you love animals.

Review: Whiskey Secrets

Author: Carrie Ann Ryan

Dare Collins, former cop turned bartender is working on getting his act together and the last thing he wants is to become attracted to the family’s new innkeeper. The Inn is above his bar and restaurant so he finds himself working with the city girl with new ideas and legs a mile long.

Kenzie Owens, divorced from her abusive husband, goes to Whiskey, Pa. to start a new life. She didn’t plan to fall in love with the aggravating bartender or his family. But their world is hard to resist. It is unfortunate that her past viciously finds her and threatens everything that she has come to hold dear.

Wow – what an amazing beginning to a new series. Author Carrie Ann Ryan has a way of spinning a story that makes you feel as if you are a part of her make-believe world and never want to leave it. The Collins family are awesome, they are there for one another either an ear to listen, a pat on the back or a punch in the face … whichever is needed. There are a lot of things that are complicating both of their lives and Ms. Ryan, deals with each problem in a concise way that adds to the realistic feel of this couple.

Whiskey Secrets is filled with love, sweet and very steamy, family being helpful and/or a pain, real life situations, danger and drama all adding up to form a book that will thrill you.

Review: Moon Bound

By Donna Grant

Werewolf Kane LaRue’s family has been battling Delphine, a voodoo priestess who has her mind set on ruling the world, for years. Now things have changes as his brothers, and a number of cousins, have mates. He is single so he takes it upon himself to rid the world of one evil voodoo priestess.

Elise is a veterinarian who after surviving a horrifying event in her past has settled in the bayou. She is living a simple life caring for animals in the area. How could she ever imagine that one night would change her life once again? In an attempt to rescue a very large black dog she comes face to face with the sexiest man she had ever met. This “man” brings out things she just isn’t comfortable with but knows that just that quickly her heart is very much involved.

MOON BOUND is the amazing finale of this series. I am a big fan of author Donna Grant, fell for her Warriors and her Dragon Kings a long time ago, but this is the first LaRue book I have had the opportunity to get my hands on. Moon Bound is Kane LaRue’s story and wow … is it action packed, with just the right touch of romance. I loved Elise, right away and knew that if anyone could, Kane would help her see that she still was a woman who deserved to be loved. Kane is a protector, who is willing to do whatever he must to protect his family, to protect the people he loves even commit the biggest sacrifice … his life. I can’t say much more as it could be construed as spoilers and I hate to do that to anyone. Suffice it to say love wins and evil loses.

Review: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

Romancing the Scot

Kindle Edition, 284 pages                                           ASIN  B0746MLYFZ

Published November 14th 2017 by Swerve           Series   The Pennington Family #1

Rating:  5*

Grace Ware is an enemy of the English crown along with her father, an Irish military commander of Napoleon’s defeated army. On top of that, her mother, was an exiled Scottish Jacobite. On a the way to deliver a new message to the wife of Napolean’s brother things went terribly wrong.  Her father and his footmen slain and Grace was in the run for her life. While running from her father’s murderers through the harbor alleyways of Antwerp, she hid in a crate never realizing that said crate would then be sealed moved aboard a ship.Grace’s luck went from bad to worse when the crate was delivered to the home of an aristocrat in the Scottish Borders. Baronsford is the last place she could expect to find safety, and Grace feigns a loss of memory to buy herself time while she recovers.

Hugh Pennington—Viscount Greysteil, Lord Justice of the Scottish Courts, and a hero of the Napoleonic wars—is also a grieving widower with a death wish. When he receives an expected crate from the continent, he is shocked to find a nearly dead woman inside. Her identity is unknown, and the handful of American coins and the precious diamond sown into her dress only deepen her mystery.

***  This was an absolutely terrific read with an amazing adventure and truly sensual romance.  Grace had spent her entire life caring for her father after her mother’s passing.  Bad enough to have seen her father’s murdered bloody body but when trying to escape she had the misfits to hide in a crate, which was then sealed and loaded onto a ship without food or water for five days.  When Hugh Pennington discovered her half dead body it was no wonder she wasn’t forthcoming with information about herself.  After the many days it took for her to recover, she discovered she was in the home of a man who had every reason to detest her for her father’s actions during the war.

However, there was even more hurdles to overcome when both began to feel the passion that seemed to be brewing in each others hearts and to realize someone  out there was still looking to capture and/or kill Grace for the secrets she was carrying without knowing herself what they were.

Truly a great read and one I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed

Series:  Westcott #3            Rating: 5*                          Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages

Publish:  November 7th 2017 by Berkley                   ISBN13: 9780399586064

Wren!  What a refreshing and delightful protagonist she turned out to be!  Wren had literally been a recluse for letting a purple birthmark on the left side of her face dictate her future.   But a year after her beloved adoptive parents passed,  Wren decided she wanted more out of her life and being fabulously wealthy and independent decide she would ‘buy’ herself a husband. Doing her homework, to find a man who would wed her and let her continue on as before she made a list of four prospective men she would interview.

When Alexander Westcott became the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. However, he dutifully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life knowing it would take years to bring the estate back to life.

Being a business woman who ran a highly successful glassworks factory, Wren initially began in a very brusque manner stating the obvious to Alexander of his lack of coin in his circumstances of inheriting a pile of stones and estate he couldn’t possibly afford.  Then went on to explain that he might consider wedding her whereby, she could “with her ample supply of cash” help him refurbish the estate.  Alas, Alex was astounded at her bad taste in bringing up such a personal matter which was in bad taste to ever discuss upon just meeting someone.

***  The first thing I must say is when I start a novel by Mary Balogh, I get that “Ahhhhhh….” feeling just knowing that when I get to the last page, I will experience that very same feeling of contentment and relaxation.  In SOMEONE TO WED I had already read the first two books in this series so was more than ready in anticipating this third book, though I hadn’t  come across anyone like Wren before.

Obviously, both protagonists had a lot to work out between them before any romance could ever be developed.  Both had issues – Wren with letting her birthmark define her life; and Alex with his abject horror to discover that he just might be the type of person who would marry for money?    Alex finally agreed to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. Naturally, neither was prepared for the desire that overwhelmed them both when Wren finally lifted the veils that hid the secrets of her past.

Marilyn Rondeau