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 Darkest Corner by Liliana Hart

Tess Sherman had her life planned, intending to take over ownership of the local funeral home once the prior owner retired. Instead, he sold it to a mysterious stranger and now Tess has five sexy men working in the funeral home with her. She knows there’s something else going on as Last Stop, Texas is too small to need this much help at the funeral home. Unfortunately, she also can’t resist Deacon Tucker especially when he sets his sites on her. Deacon has secrets he can’t share with Tess, including the fact that his own country thinks he’s legally dead. However, a dangerous terrorist plot may pull Tess into Deacon’s world as she’s about to uncover all his secrets….

THE DARKEST CORNER is the first book in The Gravediggers series and I’m hooked already! Who can’t resist a story about men considered dead by their own countries and yet still willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good? Liliana Hart gives us pieces of the puzzle as we start to see more about these five mysterious and dangerous men.

I really like Tess and hope we see more of her in future books in The Gravediggers series. Tess is down to earth despite a scattered and unscrupulous upbringing by her mother, the infamous Theodora Sherman, and I love how she has risen past her family name to be her own person. My only wish is that we had delved a little more into her family’s history with Russia as we get hints at a bigger storyline.

Liliana Hart does a great job at weaving together a small-town romance with a deadly terrorist plot in THE DARKEST CORNER. The storyline and concept are intriguing and I hope we see more of Tess’ “merry band of death men” (as her friend Miller dubs them) soon. Highly recommended!

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: Blade Bound by Chloe Neill

Ethan Sullivan and Merit are preparing for the upcoming wedding when an infiltrator to Cadogan House attacks Merit. Initially, they suspect the attacker has mental health issues but later events show them that dark magic is at work in Chicago. Will the rise of a dark sorcerer destroy Chicago?

BLADE BOUND is the 13th and final book in the Chicagoland Vampires series and boy am I sad to see this series end! BLADE BOUND is best appreciated in the context of the series as a whole, particularly since it concludes several ongoing story threads (including the wedding).

One of the things I love about Chloe Neill’s books is the action. Chloe Neill doesn’t waste any time kicking things into gear as the action heats up almost immediately. However, this doesn’t detract from the wedding, which goes about how you would expect a wedding between Ethan and Merit to go. Needless to say, they didn’t need a trash the dress party afterwards!

And what can I say about the characters except that I love them? From the Ombuddies to the Cadogan House vampires to the Red Guards, each faction we’ve met throughout the series has earned a special place in my heart. Yes, Ethan and Merit are the heart and soul of the Chicagoland Vampires but all the supporting characters and factions are just as essential to Chloe Neill’s world. I love that BLADE BOUND truly showcases the diversity of the Chicagoland Vampires population and how working together is the only way to save the town from the sorcerer and her deadly weapon (and just wait till you meet her weapon!).

Finishing BLOOD BOUND is bittersweet as I really am not reading to say goodbye to these characters or the Chicagoland Vampires series as a whole. Thankfully, Chloe Neill’s website indicates a spin-off series is in the works so hopefully we’ll get to see glimpses of Ethan and Merit in those books. Highly recommended!

*copy of book provided through Netgalley

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: Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

Burntown

Print Length: 304 pages Publisher: Doubleday (April 25, 2017)

Sold by: Random House LLC ASIN: B01LZOU9XD

Rating: 4-1/2*

In the small Vermont town of Ashford, one might think it like any other typical sleepy New England town, but there were were people who lived in the shadows amongst the abandoned mills and factories that referred to Ashford as “Burntown”.

Eva Sandeski, known as “Necco” on the street had been a part of this underworld for years from the day the ‘great flood’ had come leaving her and her mother Lily homeless.  Her father Miles had been a professor but more than that he was an inventor of fantastic machines, one of which was purported to have been built off of stolen plans that once belonged to Thomas Edison.  Somewhere in the back of Eva’s mind it was the machine that had gotten Miles murdered.

Necco had been so young and told of this story so many times by her mom that she believed it and when Lily had mysteriously died, and then Necco’s boyfriend murdered, she’s convinced her mother was telling the truth.   One thing Necco did remember was a tattoo on the hand of the man whom she knew was bad ahdn probably was the one who had killed her family – she called him ‘snake eyes’ .  Now Necco had to rely on the group of women her mother had come to who lived off the grid and were known as ‘fireeaters’ to help protect her and guide her to expose the killer.

***  I must say that this was a fully robust novel with lots of twists and turns and plenty of red herrings town into the mix.   And of course, it goes without saying that the characters were extremely colorful and totally unique.   However, as misfits they were they blended well into the story.   From Pru, the cafeteria lady leading a secret life, to Theo who is trying to recoup the money she lost that belongs to a dangerous drug trafficker.

The action initially started slow but as I got deeper into the story, things started to both make sense and even get a little weird, but also quite interesting!   Where I once thought Necco was flying off  the deep end bits and pieces started to come together where it all made sense.   There was a VERY bad man who had a pair of dice tattoo that she named  “Snake Eyes”,   but that was not the only bad guy that was out to silence Necco and what might have been left of her family.

Bottom line:   Hang in through the slow opening.  You will find BURNTOWN just might turn your initial thoughts into a high five for this book!!!

Marilyn Rondeau