Review: The Sixth Victim by Tessa Harris

SixthVictim

Published May 30th 2017                                   by    Kensington Publishing Corporation

ISBN13: 9781496706546                                   Series: A Constance Piper Mystery #1

Rating:   4-1/2*

London’s East End,  1888     –    When Jack the Ripper roamed the streets London’s Whitechapel district had become the a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper.  No one was safe especially the women of the night who sold themselves.   Why even the young flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to the dread of being singled out by the Ripper even though she is more concerned with the strange feelings and dreams that seem to haunt her sanity.

During all this hullabaloo over Jack – clairvoyants were coming out of the walls claiming to have been contacted by the victims.  Constance’s mother is certain they’re real and wants to contact her dead husband in a seance.  Constance herself is beginning to think that she herself is having these powers.  Her dreams seem to be coming true, and she longs for her teacher and friend Miss Emily Tindall, but to all intents and purposes Miss Tindall seems to have disappeared.

***   Set in that turbulent time as Jack the Ripper roamed the streets of London, the author tells the tale of  the mood and terror the East Enders lived in while Jack roamed the streets, committing horrendous and brutally depicted slayings of the prostitutes that lived during that period.  However it brings to mind that possibly not all the grotesque murders were committed by Jack.

Told thru the eyes of Emily Tindall, and musings of others we examine the changes that were coming to life in Constance, who wasn’t quite able to understand the changes she was going through but was given glimpses of things that she knew she was meant to look into.   Not until a lady of means came to Constance asking her to help her find her missing sister did the messages Constance was receiving begin to make sense.

Bottom Line:  The mystery was actually quite good and even as I rather guessed at what was going on, I still had to read on to make sure my guesses were correct.  However, if the reader is expecting to discover the identity of Jack – this is not going to happen – that is still the mystery for the ages.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

 

Review: Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

SomeKindHero

NET GALLEY July 11, 2017                             ISBN13: 9780345543820

Published: Ballantine Books                      Series   Troubleshooters #17

Rating:  5*

Navy men are pretty cool, but in spite of being highly intelligent, strong, determined and even bit stubborn, I am beginning to think that good looks are also a key to becoming a top Navy Seal.  Peter Green is a very tough cookie – he has to be to in order to accept only the top of the crop for entrance into the Seal program.  However, after his ex-wife’s death and his somewhat estranged daughter, Maddie came to live with him, Peter was at his wit’s end!   He thought he was doing everything right but tough rules and standards he taught his recruits were not something that his daughter was ready to accept.  In fact – Maddie had just disappeared and Peter had no idea where to turn.

Romance writer and author Shayla Whitman could solve all sorts of problems with her writing and the assistance of her imaginary sidekick Harry.  Never did she ever expect to be drawn into the drama her new hottie neighbor was having since his daughter had come to live with him.  However, she is a mother and having the experience of raising two sons, she was more than willing to steer Peter in the right direction to begin looking for clues and obtaining information the could help him in his search.

*** Well now here is the gist of the story.   Rather than think this is just a simple runaway kid theme – well it is – but it’s not.  Being new in town, Maddie was befriended by a not so good ‘friend’.  So called ‘friend’ happened to be dealing drugs unbeknownst to Maddie then left town leaving Maddie holding the bag – only the bag was empty and the bad guys believed Maddie had absconded with their ‘stuff’ so Maddie, aged 15, is on the run with her boyfriend who happens to be 21 and Peter finding this out is ready to roast the boyfriend alive.

However, Shayla, his neighbor has been sticking to him and advising him about how teenaged daughters react to somewhat overbearing fathers (who have never been part of their daughters life until now).  The dialogs between Peter and Shayla (including comments from Harry which sometimes Shayla forgets that Harry is imaginary and answers) are downright hilarious.   And naturally what would this very hot Navy Seal want with an older woman like her – even if she still looked pretty damn hot with a very active libido that could match his.

Bottom Line:  SOME KIND OF HERO was a terrific read, suspensefull, hard to put down, amusing, and sensual.  Obviously it is definitely a recommended read!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

HouseQuillCourt

Narrator – Anne Dover Audible Audio, 13 hours and 2 minutes

Published January 7th 2016 by Hachette Audio UK Rating: 5*

In 1813, Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her lovely, frivolous mother and idle younger brother.  Venetia’s father Theo is an interior designer with whom Venetia shares his passion and talent for design.  While he is away traveling for new and exciting items and accoutrements for his wealthy clients, Venetia and her family are always excited waiting for him to come home.  In the meantime Venetia daydreams of one day having an interior design shop where she and her father can display only five finest in home furnishings.

Just before Christmas a handsome but fairly hostile stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage to deliver terrible and life-changing news.  Venetia’s beloved father is dead, her life turned topsy-turvey, and with no other options available to them Jack has come to escort the family to their new home in London -to the house in Quill Court.   Consequently, Venetia’s creativity, courage, and strength will be stretched to the limit, and the impossibility of discovering a love far greater than she ever could have imagined could be hers if only she can stay alive long enough to claim it!

***  I was totally immersed in this book from page one.  I loved Venetia right from the beginning, for her kindness in dealing with her frivolous and anxiety ridden mother and a little less for her catering to her lazy spoiled brother.   She was smart and her passionate artistic nature was a delight where I could almost feel her creativity flowing right through me.    I also felt her pain and disappointment in discovering her father’s ‘other’ family.     Unfortunately, Jack Chamberlaine, her father’s ward, was a little more difficult to warm up to having grown up with the ‘other’ family, he naturally felt that Venetia and her family were the upstarts and wouldn’t treat her step-sister kindly.  These were Jack’s assumptions without ever even trying to get to know Venetia.

The story was filled with great depth and very detailed scenarios.   All of which touched upon several of the secondary characters who all played really great parts in the overall story including, of course, some of the nasty villain(s) and their loathsome cohorts.  As I listened, the story and the all the characters seemed to find themselves up against the wall so many times and sometimes they were saved and other times, not so much.   As mentioned before the scenario’s and the villain were very well put together and trying to discover how the villain always seemed a step ahead of every plan will keep the reader on edge.

Bottom Line:   I loved this book, the story itself, the fast-pacing and the wonderful narration by Anne Dover.   This is highly recommended and I urge you to give this new author (at least for me) a try.   Highly enjoyable.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

MostDangerousDuke

Paperback, 304 pages                      Publication: May 30th 2017 by Zebra

ISBN13: 9781420143904                   Series: Decadent Dukes Society #1

Rating:  5*

Adam Penrose the Duke of Stratton fled England for his mother’s homeland of France shortly after his father’s mysterious death. Now, returning to England his reputation as the dangerous duke of dueling in France, precedes him.  Because of some of the rumors in England that a particular family was a source of Adam’s father’s ruination, the Cheswick family reached out to Adam to offer him their beautiful younger daughter as a bride to bind the two families together and avoid any more dueling.

 

Lady Clara Cheswick’s  grandmother (and her brother the new Earl) had arranged a meeting to propose a truce with Adam and to introduce him to his prospective bride to be. Naturally, they offered him the hand of Clara’s much younger sister. However, at first sight, Adam decides that Lady Clara would suit him much more. Unfortunately, Clara’s single purpose in life was to continue to pursue her efforts in creating and publishing a journal she hoped turn into a weekly magazine of sorts.  Of course, Adam

instantly refused the younger daughter’s hand. However, his attraction  to one Lady Clara was hard to deny.   Moreover, what were Adam’s true motivations – ruin his enemies favorite daughter, or discover what transpired all those years ago that led to Adam’s father’s death?

***   I have been a fan of Madeline Hunter for many years and have always found her stories to be full of twists and turns with characters that come alive and are fully fleshed out with emotions and motivations.  I loved Clara right from the start.  Luckily she knew her own worth and because her father had left her extremely well off, she was able to follow her dreams of creating a journal/magazine with essays, recipes, news worthy articles and even gossip…. Probably a forerunner to Good Housekeeping for the discerning woman.

Adam was a wonderful hero who was deeply disturbed by his father’s death and the way his mother had been treated so badly she fled back to France after her husbands death.  It was natural to feel that Adam would want to ruin the family he believed responsible for his father’s ruination and demise, but right from the start the reader understood that Adam would never hurt a woman, but simply wanted to discover for himself the truth of what had caused the rumors and problems.

Bottom line:  This was a fully robust story and I loved the courting that Adam went through to gain Lady Clara’s affection. The sensuality was created slowly with deep feelings and I was engaged right from the very beginning.    Loved this book and can’t wait for the next books in this new series.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Wed to A Spy by Sharon Cullen

WedToASpy

Publication: May 23rd 2017 by Loveswept ASIN:   B01M6ATB84

Series:  All the Queen’s Spies #1 Rating: 4*

I’m beginning to think that there was more spying done during the middle ages than what goes on today.  Not only spying but assassination plots and betrayals abounded during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary which happens to be the setting of WED TO A SPY.

Aimee de Verris was just a young maiden in love with a charming French courtier but she was banished from the French court by Catherine de Medici.  Aimee was told to join the court of Queen Mary and report back to Catherine any information that would be useful.

Simon Marcheford has been a spy for Queen Elizabeth for many years and wants nothing but to settle down and swears that this is his last mission before he retires.   He is sent to Queen Mary’s court and while he is trying to discover a diabolical plot against Mary she orders him to marry her cousin Aimee de Verris and asks that he discover if Aimee is a spy from the French court.

***  Lots of threads to spin in this mystery of spies, betrayals and planned murders.  Having been watching the TV series of REIGN  I had some knowledge of the different characters and historical significance of what was going on.   However the romance between Aimee and Simon was fresh and appealing in it’s innocence and eventual passion.   After a murder occurred in front of Aimee who happened to be standing close to Queen Mary, Aimee was immediately put in a dangerous spot that pointed to Aimee’s involvement (which obviously was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time).  Here was where Aimee began to see Simon for the wonderful husband, man and protector he became after he rescued and helped Aimee escape Scotland to England.

Bottom line:  The character development was skillfully done, and the slow and sensual attraction between Simon and Aimee was slowly built and cleverly worked to perfection as Aimee discovered the difference between infatuation and true love.   Actually, this was a quite enjoyable read where history and fiction blended beautifully together.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Bad Luck Bride by Jane Goodger

BadLuckBride-Goodger

The Brides of St. Ives #1

Expected publication: June 13th 2017 by Lyrical Press

ASIN : B01LX89UI9 Rating:  4*

It’s bad enough when a bride waits for a groom who ultimately never shows up for the wedding vows, but when it happens for the THIRD time, said bride now gets dubbed “The Bad Luck Bride”.   Lady Alice Hubbard has had enough – frustrated and subdued Alice returns to her family’s estate in St. Ives and is now determined to accept her lot in life – as a doting spinster.   Although to her great surprise, an old friend Henderson Southwell shows up.  Henderson was not only her deceased brothers BEST friend, but Henderson had been Alice’s secret and cherished love. Henry as only Alice called him, the person Alice had held in her heart since the day she met him.

When Alice’s brother Joseph had died, Henderson was devastated blaming himself for not being with him the night most thought he had taken his life.  Henderson was so upset, he then left directly after the funeral and no one had heard from him until he showed up at Alice’s wedding claiming he was there to ‘stop’ her from marrying.   He knew that her family would never accept him because of his lack of aristocratic blood but somehow he knew that eventually, Alice would be his.

***   THE BAD LUCK BRIDE was a good read with crisp writing and an interesting fun plot that I quickly became immersed in the story.   Alice and Henderson had virtually grown up together since Joseph and Henderson had formed a close bond during their school years.  Henderson was welcomed into the Hubbard household and was treated like a member of the family, but once he showed his attraction to Alice the family gathered round and let him know how inappropriate his intentions toward Alice were.   After all, he was illegitimate with no real claim to any type of aristocratic background.

Naturally, Alice didn’t see it that way but then who shows up but the errant groom who now wants to make amends and beg for Alice’s forgiveness.  What does one do, when faced with following your heart or following the wishes of your beloved family?

Bottom line:  THE BAD LUCK BRIDE was a good start to a new series as I discovered a new author to me.   I enjoyed Goodger characterizations of Alice and Henderson, and actually came to like Alice’s previous suitor who kind of grew on you after a while.  Couple that with a little bit of a mystery regarding Joseph’s supposed suicide and several other accidental deaths and it leant another layer to a very nice romance.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

BadLuckBride

Series: The Cavensham Heiresses (Book 1) Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 2, 2017) ISBN-13: 978-1250116123

Rating:  5*

Most of the ton were shocked to hear that the “cursed” Lady Claire Cavensham was about to marry Lord Alexander Hallworth especially when it was apparent that the ball she was intending to announce her betrothal to another Lord, failed to said Lord who sent a note instead.  However, Lord Alexander had an inkling of what was going on and rushed to Lady Claire’s aid.

What left Claire breathless though, was Lord Alexander’s pronouncement of his esteem for Claire and asking that she do him the honor of becoming his bride.   Claire hardly knew Alexander but after three other engagements that all ended in disaster, and now the fourth about to disintegrate, Claire was hardly in a position to refuse.

***   I have to say I feel honored  to have been able to read an advanced copy of THE  BAD LUCK BRIDE by Janna MacGregor.   At 352 pages I was so ensnared that I couldn’t put it down.   Not only was the writing fresh and engaging, but the dialogs, the plotting, and the buildup of such a sensual romance was intoxicating.

This is not to say that Claire and Alex didn’t have issues.  Claire was still reeling over the death of her parents many years back and the powerful tangle of her emotions of that horrible accident haunted  her

still.   Alex on the other hand, felt immense guilt over the suicidal death of his young sister and was bent solely on revenge of the person he held responsible.  Both Claire and Alex had to come to grips with these haunting events that threatened any happiness they might be able to find together.

To me I found this a very powerful and emotional read waiting and hoping that one or the other would finally open up and let the pain flow out to be shared and let the healing begin.  When that happened the love they had each been afraid admitting to would be a most glorious end to such a wonderful story.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Carnal Innocence

Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte Length: 17 hrs and 55 mins

Unabridged Audiobook Release Date:04-06-12

Publisher: Recorded Books Rating: 5*

In CARNAL INNOCENCE author Nora Roberts has created a mesmerizing tale of madness, murder, and love in a small southern town of the bayou.  Put into play is Caroline Waverly, a beautiful world renowned concert violinist who is still fragile from both a public breakup and private breakdown after witnessing her lover with another.  Caroline, has left the concert circuit escaping to her late grandmother’s home in Innocence, Mississippi.   However instead of the peace and tranquility she expected, she found a town reeling from two vicious and heinous murders. And, if that weren’t enough Caroline discovers a third victim on her property.

Enter Caroline’s devastatingly handsome bad-boy neighbor – Tucker Longstreet.  Big, beautiful with a devilish grin and the sexiest southern drawl ever.  But for some reason, Tucker makes Caroline feel safe even though his reputation for breaking hearts has put him at the top of the suspect list, seeing as how he was connected to each of the murdered women.

***  Lordy, lordy, but I have listened to Tom Stechschulte before and I have to say that NO ONE does sexy Southern drawls like Mr. Stechschulte!  He is a master of making a written hero pop to life as one very SEXY heart throb – just by hearing that rich southern interpretation.   Wow!  And let me also say that the sensuality both actual and implied was steaming all the way through to the very end!

Now mix that with exquisite storytelling by Nora Roberts and you have a perfect combination that will force you to keep listening way into the middle of the night and then turning it back on as soon as you wake up!  Be it children, heroes or heroines, pets, even nasty villains  – Ms. Roberts writes the books that grab you and simply won’t let you go.    Loved every minute of this audiobook, the outstanding performance of Mr. Stechschulte and the entire cast of characters who made this ‘very hard to put down’  and immensely satisfying book!

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: The Chosen: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood By J.R. Ward

The Chosen

Narrated by: Jim Frangione Length: 17 hrs and 32 mins

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 15 Release Date:04-04-17

Publisher: Random House Audio                                      Rating:  5*

I have waited a long time to finally get the real story of Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards; convicted of treason against the Blind King and at the end of book 14, was captured and awaiting a brutal interrogation and a most heinous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.    Xcor would never have given in if it weren’t for the promises he made to a sacred female, The Chosen Layla.  She was never his, but she had saved his life and after the life he’d led he knew he’d never deserve someone like her.

Now that Layla has delivered her young twins she finds herself at loose ends and wants something for herself including the warrior she knows who is a good man Xcor.   When Quinn discovers that Layla had been seeing Xcor behind his back – he went nuts and wanted to keep her babies from her.  Devastated by the chasm she had caused  between the young’s biological father and the warrior she loved Layla had to summon the courage to stand up to the only family she has for the only man she has ever loved.    Layla knew Xcor’s heritage and was torn between keeping the secret or revealing that which might divide their world further.

****  Once again, a stellar book to add to Ms. Wards fabulous Black Dagger Brotherhood series.   The more answers that are revealed in these books, the more questions and subplots emerge keeping this series alive and well.   Enter a new deity which seems very evil and new characters begin to come to the forefront where one cannot wait for the next book to be written.   Just as new folks begin to take on life, characters we thought we knew seem to be taking on new persona’s such as our resident fallen ‘angel’  – now what is that all about?

So many directions Ms. Ward can go in with the revelations found in THE CHOSEN –  I personally cannot wait to see what comes next!   And Ms. Ward – Please, Please – help out Assail!

Marilyn Rondeau