Review: River of Shame – By Susan Goldner-CLayton

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This is the third book I’ve had the extreme pleasure of reading by this newer author and if you have not read her yet you are missing out on watching ‘a star being born’! Each of her books has been amazing and all different crimes with the exception of the same general location.   And I have to say the detective who solves the mysteries is someone you’d want living next door to you  – extremely kind and humane.  

The crimes this time are “hate” and “racial” in nature.  Horrible and inhumane acts delivered to those by a group of white  supremacists that eventually lead to murders.  The twists and turns of trying to find just a thread of evidence against whoever was involved in these crimes took the detective and FBI agent on a chase where red herrings abounded.   

However, since I’ve read three of this author’s books I have learned that not all is as it seems and you will be in for one unbelievable twist you didn’t see coming. A twist that may even make you a little sad.    No spoilers from me but another super great read from the  very talented author, Susan Goldner-Clayton.

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review:To Love a Duchess by Karen Ranney

ToLoveDuchess

ebook, 384 pages                Publication: July 31st 2018 by Avon

ISBN13: 9780062841056      Series:   All for Love #1

Adam Drummond is a spy working for the Home Office posing undercover as a majordomo in Marsley House with one mission – gather proof that the late Duke of Marsley was an unforgivable traitor to his country. Usually Adam never strays from mission but the very beguiling young and still-grieving duchess has him more than concerned for her safety and health.  Not only is she one of the most beautiful woman he’s ever met but she has secrets which he feels must be exposed – did she know or was she a part of the traitorous acts perpetrated by the late Duke?

Suzanne Whitcomb, Duchess of Marsley has not been herself for some time yet she is shocked that a servant such as the new majordomo has aroused her passion. Two years of grieving since the duke had lost his life and Suzanne can’t comprehend how the touch from a mere servant has quickened her pulse.  There are other dangers in Marsley House that Drummond is discovering that must be dealt with and when his real mission is revealed, along with the truths of Suzanne’s extreme grief are exposed – will it tear them apart or enforce the love that has begun to bring them together.   

Another excellent and extremely beautifully written sensual love story written by one of my very favorite historical romance authors.   Characterizations of the principals and secondary characters are always spot on and motivations are clearly shown.  The quick pace of the story make the book feel shorter than the 384 pages.  So happy when I can begin a series with book one and I’ll be looking forward to the next book by this extremely talented author.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

A wedding is supposed to be a time of joy and Julia Bonatti hoped the wedding would be all that and more for her best friend from college, Geneva Leary, despite the Moon-Mars-Pluto connection. Little did any of the wedding participants expect the evening would end in murder. When Geneva begs Julia to help her uncover the truth about the murder, Julia can’t refuse- but will the murderer come after her in the process?

The Zodiac Mystery series offers readers an unusual approach to solving mysteries. The heroine, Julia, is an astrologer and uses astrological charts to help guide her as she tries to solve the mysteries. Connie di Marco does a great job at providing readers unfamiliar with astrology enough details so that we can understand Julia’s reasoning based on the various conjunctions and signs she sees in the astrological charts.

Conni di Marco does a great job at creating a whole plethora of characters without overwhelming the reader. Julia is a fun heroine, despite her penchant for wandering into sticky situations. I love her quick thinking and her willingness to help her friends, even at her own peril. One of the things that makes ALL SIGNS POINT TO MURDER so much more fun than the first book is that the potential villains are much better fleshed out.

ALL SIGNS POINT TO MURDER is the second book in the Zodiac Mystery series but readers can jump right in and enjoy the characters.  In fact, Connie di Marco is really hitting her stride with ALL SIGNS POINT TO MURDER as I enjoyed it even more than the first book, THE MADNESS OF MERCURY. ALL SIGNS POINT TO MURDER is hard to put down as there was nary a dull moment and plenty of red herrings to keep readers guessing who was behind the murder. Easily recommended!

Review: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

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Hardcover, 368 pages                             Publication: July 11th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau

ISBN13: 9780812989465                          Rating 5*

Billie Flanagan was a beautiful woman, a free- spirit, charismatic with a picture perfect life. She had a brilliant beautiful daughter Olive and Jonathan, a husband who loved her!  Now it has been a year since Billie went on a solo hike in the Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail.  After weeks of searching the only things found are one of her hiking boots and a smashed cell phone.   No body!  And with no body, no closure, no burial, a husband and father desolate now turned to drink; and her determined that her mother is alive and sending her messages from the unknown to come and find her.

Olive’s dreams / hallucinations or whatever they are have convinced her that her mom is alive and she must try to interpret the messages she receives as clues to help her on her search for her mother. Except some of the clues lead to secrets that Billie had kept – shaking the very foundation of the pedestal which Olive and Billie’s husband had kept Billie on!

*** I have to say that this was a very interesting premise on a disappearance plot.   Naturally you have lots of red herrings that pop up all over the place but with Billie though one never gets to actually meet her as the story starts with her disappearance and small background glimpses of a person who appeared to have it all!   Billie did inspire loyalty though with the friends she did have.  Though I question the relationship of friend with regard to Billie whose so called friends kept a few facts from Jonathan that might have helped him determine the person Billie was.

The suspense was palpable and kept the action going. Whether you warmed up to Jonathan or not, who partially neglected his daughter as he drowned his grief with work and drink one can empathize with him – to a certain extent.   However, Olive was another matter. As a young teenager Olive needed her mom so much that the visions she was having (believe or not) were traumatic and to not be believed was even worse.    What was real, what was not.   What did the visions mean and where did they lead.  Had Olive followed them correctly and what would she find behind the door of the beach cottage all the clues lead her to?

Bottom line:  You will just have to read this very good thriller to find out!

Marilyn Rondeau

 

 

Review: The Sixth Victim by Tessa Harris

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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: Mulch Ado About Murder by Edith Maxwell

Cam Flaherty is embarrassed to see her mother, Deb, protesting outside of Westbury’s newest hydroponics greenhouse. After all, Cam has contracted with Nicole Kingsbury, the owner of the greenhouse, to start some of the seedlings Nicole will use.  Unfortunately, Cam’s irritation soon turns to dismay when she finds Nicole dead. Even worse, the death isn’t accidental and now Deb is hiding secrets. Cam knows her mother isn’t guilty of murder… but can she prove it?

MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is the fifth book in A Local Foods Mystery series but can easily be read as a standalone. Edith Maxwell does a great job at providing readers with enough background information to jump right in and thoroughly enjoy the story. However, each and every book in A Local Foods Mystery series is enjoyable so I suspect readers will find themselves wanting to read the rest of the series after getting a taste.

MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER provides us with some insight into Cam’s childhood as we get to know Cam’s parents, Deb and William. It took me a while to warm up to Cam’s parents, as Deb especially is quite secretive and almost cold at times. It’s easy to see why Cam’s Great-Uncle Albert and the farm are so important to Cam. Edith Maxwell does a wonderful job at bringing the storyline full circle, however, as Deb and William grew on me. In fact, I hope we see more of them in future books.

Edith Maxwell is quickly becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. I love the insight she gives into the ups and downs of an organic farmer’s life almost as much as I enjoy the mysteries themselves. However, it’s the wonderful characters and relationships that make A Local Foods Mystery series such a hit. MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is yet another great entry into the series and I look forward to what the next installment has in store for us!

Review: Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder by Sara Rosett

Professional Organizer, mom, and regular school volunteer Ellie Avery has her hands full managing all of the end of the year activities for her two children. The annual Mother’s Day breakfast is always a nice treat, however, even if she has to deal with her only work competition, Gabrielle Matheson.  In an unexpected twist, Gabrielle swears she’s seen a dead body- and yet there isn’t one to find. Later, the body reappears and now everyone is mistrustful as no one knows why the murder occurred. The ending of a school year is always chaotic, but never as much as when a murder is involved. Can Ellie uncover the murderer while juggling both her job and the activities of her children?

How could I resist a book that features the end of the school year and murder? Sara Rosett perfectly captures the mayhem that ensues at the end of the school year. Ellie is a great heroine, balancing her inquisitive nature with a respect for the privacy of others. Ellie is a very likable character and I can’t wait to read the earlier mysteries in the series as I want to spend more time with Ellie!

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a professional organizer as the heroine but I quickly grew to enjoy the change from my usual culinary cozy mysteries. I love the Organizing Tips for PTA women featured at the end of many of the chapters as they give a glimpse into the incredible tasks that face parents who want to be successfully involved in their children’s schools. I particularly love that the tips recognize that saying no is a perfectly acceptable answer as well.

MOTHER’S DAY, MUFFINS, AND MURDER is the tenth book in the Ellie Avery Mystery series but it’s easy to jump right in and enjoy the story. I hadn’t read Sara Rosett before but I have now downloaded the first book to my Kindle and can’t wait to see what other troubles Ellie has had. Highly recommended!

*A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Beloved Beast by Karyn Gerrard

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Series: Ravenswood Chronicles   Book 2 of 2      Paperback: 196 pages

Publisher: Lyrical Press (February 28, 2017)        ISBN-13: 978-1601836625 Rating: 5*

I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up BELOVED BEAST by Karen Gerrard, based on the title, but having read this author before I figured it would be good.  I wasn’t wrong and luckily for me … good turned into GREAT!

In the early 1800’s a very debauched Viscount Ravenswood lost his life, only to be revived  some time later as a new man with a new name and yearning for love.  Only now the once handsome man was horribly scarred with a monster like visage.  He married a woman he fell deeply in love with and they lived a quiet life together blissfully happy for 37 years before he lost her.   Luke knew that you didn’t get second chances on meeting your soul-mate more than once in a lifetime.  One other fact was for some unknown reason, Luke was not aging and still looked like a young man while friends aged out and died.   Watching the people you cared for age and die was a penance he was finding difficult to bear.

Now as a spy Luke was being asked to assist a young woman, Gillian Brown, whose spying activities in pre-war Germany had been discovered making her a target.  Luke found himself caring for her more than he should and recognized that she was finding him equally fascinating.   But knowing his own reality could he put his heart on the line and love again?  But first, he had to get Gillian out of the country and safe from the clever assassin whose job it was to silence her forever.

Bottom line:  Extremely fast paced, interesting and original plotting.   I truly enjoyed every page of this lovely spy thriller…   Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose

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Series: Cincinnati Series #3         ISBN -13: 9780755390052         624 pages

Expected publication: February 7th 2017        by Headline            RATING:   5*

Welcome back to the latest book (#3) in Karen Rose’s fabulous Cincinnati series.   Having started with the very first book in this series, I must admit that I am totally emotionally invested in seeing this entire series through to the end.   The act of human trafficking and sex slaves is abhorrent, but when it involves young children the act becomes even more despicable.  This set of stories follows the brave men and women who are determined to stop and shut down the monsters who perpetuate these foul acts against humanity.

FBI Special Agent Griffin “Decker” Davenport finally wakes from a medically induced coma.  His brain is a bit fuzzy but slowly he remembers the desperation he needs to remember moron order to find the missing children he knows are in danger. Just at the end of his last undercover investigation, Decker had thought it was all over.   Just before the case would have been closed, Decker discovered not everyone had been rescued, but he was severely shot and was unable to tell anyone that the case couldn’t be closed. .

Special Agent Kate Coppola had recently been assigned to Cincinnati and had a hand in saving Decker’s life and took it upon herself to sit by his hospital bed while listening to the tapes that Decker had recorded while undercover.   She has been trying to piece together the crime he was investigating and growing closer to the agent she was finding more and more attractive as time went by.   Thankfully it was Kate who realized that there were missing pieces and and Decker’s life was in danger and when someone tried to poison him in the hospital Kate was able to save him before it was too late.

Not only were Kate and Decker the main characters in book #3 but anyone following the series would be happy to see and enjoy the interaction of secondary characters that were introduced in the first two books of the series.   Actually I do believe EVERY DARK CORNER could stand alone but if you want my advice I would highly suggest reading them in order so that the reader enjoys seeing how the previous characters are making out as time marched on.

Bottom line:   EVERY DARK CORNER is a remarkable book that is packed with non-stop suspense and action.  Ms. Rose’s villain is a master of disguise and a genius at staying one step ahead of the authorities.  The chase is on with very little to go on and the suspense is amazing because of the cleverness of said villain.   Highly recommended!

Marilyn Rondeau