Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Root Awakening

Author:  Kate Collins
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  Flower Shop Mystery
Publisher:  Obsidian/Penguin Group

Description:  Now that they've tied the knot, flower shop owner Abby Knight and her husband, Marco, want to put down roots. When it comes to picking a house, Marco can’t wait to get his hands dirty, while Abby isn't ready for a fixer-upper. But conflict really sprouts when they’re checking out a dilapidated Victorian and watch a construction worker take a life-threatening tumble.

Since witnesses claim the man shouted for help, suggesting that the fall was no accident, the victim’s flamboyant wife hires Marco to find the person responsible. Meanwhile, Abby keeps secret from Marco her own investigation into the home’s inhabitants, a family whose off-kilter behavior has aroused her suspicions. If only Abby’s very pregnant cousin, Jillian, will stop distracting Abby with false labor pains, she can conclude her own inquiries before Marco finds out…and her case blossoms into a disaster.

My Review

This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. This is the 16th installment in the Flower Shop Mystery and I found it to be just as enjoyable as all the others in the series. This is a tight well written story with a good pace. By this point in the series the characters are well developed and thoroughly enjoyable. Abby is witty, stubborn and independent and her husband Marcus is a patient man when it comes to his "fireball." The rest of the characters are likable, funny and enhance the story to keep the reader engaged. It is always fun to see what type of art work Abby's mom is going to create. Abby's cousin Jillian also provides humor and that is no different this time around.  Jillian is very pregnant and there are plenty of times where I laughed out loud at her false labor, including the reaction of the hospital staff.  As for the mystery, I thought the author did a good job of weaving two seemingly unrelated mysteries together with enough twists and turns to provide a very satisfying ending.

Overall, this is a great series that is well written and keeps the reader engaged throughout the story. Kate Collins is one of those authors, for me, that automatically goes on the to be read list when a new book comes out. This installment in the series did not disappoint and I will be definitely looking forward to the next book.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Trick or Deceit

Author:  Shelley Freydont
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  #4 Celebration Bay Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime

Description:  This October in Celebration Bay, you can’t swing a black cat without hitting a haunted house. There are three finalists in the contest for the town’s official Haunted House, and ten thousand dollars will go to the winner, with the rest of the contributions and proceeds funding a new community center. Event coordinator Liv Montgomery has invited her friend Jonathan Preston, the debonair CEO of a philanthropic organization, hoping he will award a grant to the center.

But after the Museum of Yankee Horrors wins first place, the transformed Victorian boarding house is vandalized ... and among scattered mannequins of Hester Prynne, Lizzie Borden, and the Headless Horseman, a real dead body is found—one of the contest judges. Now in addition to playing host to Jon, Liv has to play detective and coordinate the clues to unmask a self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner.

My Review

It is time to return once again to Celebration Bay and just in time for Halloween. This is the 4th installment of this series from author Shelley Freydont and I find this to be a very enjoyable series. This is a well written story with a nice pace. The mystery has twists and turns and Ms. Freydont throws in some red herrings to provide some distractions as to the identity of the real killer. In addition, the characters in this town are wonderful, including Whiskey, the Westie owned by Liv Montgomery, the main character and town event planner. They are an eclectic mix of individuals who are likable and have the feel of people you would meet in a small town. She has created such a wonderful town and engaging, fun inhabitants that the reader is drawn into the story and forgets that Celebration Bay is a fictional place. My only request for Ms. Freydont is that I would like to see a little more development of a few of the re-occurring characters. Otherwise, this is a great Halloween themed cozy and fans of Ms. Freydont.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Murder in the Paperback Parlor

Author:  Ellery Adams
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  2nd in the Book Retreat Mystery Series
Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime
Rating:  4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Description:  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Jane Steward is organizing a week of activities for fans of love stories at her book-themed resort. But her Regency readers barely have time to brush up on their Jane Austen before tragedy strikes Storyton Hall. Rosamund York, one of the most celebrated authors in attendance, is killed.

Rosamund had as many enemies as she did admirers, including envious fellow novelists, a jealous former lover, and dozens of angry fans. It’s up to Jane, with the help of her book club, the Cover Girls, to catalogue the list of suspects and find a heartless killer quickly—before the murderer writes someone else of.

My Review

Murder in the Paperback Parlor is the second installment in the Book Retreat Mystery Series.  As with other readers of cozy mysteries, I have several authors whose book automatically go on my to be read pile because I am such a huge fan.  Ellery Adams is one of those authors for me.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every book that I have read by this author and Murder in the Paperback Parlor is no exception.  So far, I find this to be a delightful series. 

This installment has a strong story line with plenty of twists and turns before the villain is revealed.  The main character, Jane Steward, is being developed nicely and there is a cast of secondary characters, including her twin boys, her great aunt and uncle, her book group, the villagers and the Fins, that keep the reader engaged throughout the story.  In addition, Storyton Hall is a great setting for this series.  The way the author describes this old mansion and the secrets it holds, including hidden passageways and rooms filled with books makes me wish that I could find a place like this for a relaxing weekend retreat.  As an added bonus, there is a nice plot twist involving Jane's possible romance with her best friend's older brother that I think will play out nicely in future installments as a secondary story line to whatever murder mystery Ms. Adams has in store her readers.  I read this book in one rainy day, curled up on my couch with a nice pot of tea.  I am looking forward to the next installment in this series, which will automatically go on my to be read pile because Ellery Adams does not disappoint.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Look Both Ways

Author:  Carol J. Perry
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  October 27, 2015

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Description:  When Lee Barrett spots the same style oak bureau she once had as a child on the WICH-TV show, Shopping Salem, she rushes to the antiques shop and buys the piece. Just like the beloved bureau she lost in a fire, this one has secret compartments. It also comes with an intriguing history--it was purchased in an estate sale from a home where a famous local murder took place.

The day after the bureau is delivered, Lee returns to the antiques shop and finds the owner dead. The police suspect the shop owner's unscrupulous business partner, but Lee wonders if the murder is connected to her new furniture. At least part of the answer may be revealed through a mirror in the bureau, tarnished and blackened, allowing Lee to tap into her psychic visions. Using this bureau of investigation, Lee may be able to furnish her policeman beau with the evidence needed to catch the killer--before the next one to be shut up is her

My Review

This is the third book in this series, but the first book I have read by this author. I enjoyed it 
so much that I am going to go out and get the first two books in the series. I would consider this as somewhat of a paranormal mystery, as our main character, Lee has visions. The author captured my attention right from the first pages with the description of an old bureau that Lee had as a child. The story is well written and has a fast pace. I also really enjoyed the characters. The author does a wonderful job of engaging the reader with likable, relatable characters and a story line that is intriguing and full of mystery. There is a touch of romance for Lee but this does not detract in anyway from the mystery for those who might worry about that in a cozy. As someone who has been to Salem, I also found the author did a wonderful job in almost creating a secondary character of the city by her wonderful description of this town. All in all, this was a highly enjoyable read and I will definitely be checking out what this author has to offer in the future. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC from Net Galley in Exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Filthy Rich

Author:  Virna DePaul
Genere:  Romance
Publisher:  Bantam Mass Market
Publication Date:  October 27, 2015
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Description:  Cara Michal has had to fight every step of the way to earn her place in the glittering seven-figure world of Wall Street. Years ago her hardworking father, a small-time investment adviser, was wrongfully accused of fraud. Now Cara is at the top of her game, supporting not only herself but her mother and brother. The occasional night out dancing soothes Cara’s soul, even as a bitter need for revenge against the man who destroyed her father makes inner peace elusive.

Then, in a moment of heat, Cara kisses a sexy stranger at a party—only later to discover that the man is Branden Duke, her new boss, an infamous operator with a wicked reputation in bed and on the Street. Branden is a man who seemingly has it all—except a woman who connects with him on a physical and emotional level. Now that he’s found Cara, he’s not sure he can let her go, even if he should.

In spite of herself, Cara is drawn to this charismatic guy. He is a challenge like none she has ever faced in her life. Their passion for each other is unquenchable, surprising them both with its ferocity. Even as Cara wonders if she can trust this man with her heart and soul, the ecstasy of their love cannot be denied. But when the past threatens the present, the two are faced with a truth from which they may never recover.

My Review

This is the first book that I have read by this author and I found my introduction to be enjoyable.  This is a stand alone novel and while categorized as romance, I would qualify this as saying that there is an element of suspense and intrigue.  The story was well written with a fast pace.  What surprised me was the twist and turns and the intrigue that was part of this contemporary romance.

I found the characters to be well written.  Cara, was likable and vulnerable due to her past and her family issues.  She is independent and fiercely protective of her family.  She has taken on the burden of caring for her mother and brother and takes nothing for herself.  Branden is a dominant male, but not quite in the style that we are used to seeing in these types of novels.  He too has family issues and shows his protective side with each of his sisters/step-sisters.

I like that the author didn't make this a love at first sight type of story line.  There is plenty of lust at first sight which develops between the characters throughout the story.  These characters are well developed and we get to see that play out in the story.  All in all, this is a well written, faced paced story, with romance, intrigue, mystery and a healthy does of steamy scenes for the reader to enjoy.

Disclosure:  I was given an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Billionaire Takes a Bride

Author:  Jessica Clare
Series:  Billionaires and Bridesmaids
Genre:  Romance

Release Date:  October 20, 2015
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Description:  Billionaire Sebastian Cabral loves his family, he just doesn't love their reality TV show, The Cabral Empire. So when his ex-girlfriend tries to rekindle their relationship on camera, Sebastian decides that drastic measures are in order.

By day, Chelsea Hall is a happy-go-lucky, rough and tumble roller derby skater. By night, she’s still living in fear of her past. Most of all, she just doesn't want to be alone. And she really, really doesn't want to date.

So when their mutual friends’ upcoming wedding turns Chelsea and Sebastian into fast friends, they realize they can solve both of their problems with one life-changing lie: a quick trip down the aisle.

But with one kiss, Chelsea and Sebastian suddenly realize that their pretend relationship is more real than either of them expect.

My Review

This is the first novel by this author I have read. While it is part of a series, it is a stand alone book with no cliffhanger. I didn't feel like I missed anything by not having read the previous books in the series, but I will be sure to check them out. I really enjoyed this book. It is well written with great characters. 

The main characters are Chelsea and Sebastian and both are realistic. Although the story does involve a billionaire, Sebastian is not the dominant alpha billionaire that we have seen in so many other stories. There is more to him. The author has written him with vulnerability and emotion. I also really enjoyed the character of Chelsea. She is witty, fun, independent and also vulnerable due to a tragedy in her past. As the story unfolds we see this unlikely pair go from friendship to love and it is not overnight as with some other stories. This was a journey for the pair and one I enjoyed reading. There are also a lot of wonderful secondary characters including Sebastian's crazy family and Chelsea's roller derby family. And, there are plenty of steamy scenes for those who are looking for that in a story. All in all this was a quick fun read and I will certainly check out other books by this author.

Disclosure: I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ghost of a Potion

Author:  Heather Blake
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  A Magic Potion Mystery
Rating:  4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Description:  With all the ghosts that haunt her at this time of year, Carly doesn't exactly rush to celebrate Halloween.  Even a costume ball organized by her boyfriend Dylan's mother, Patricia Davis Jackson, holds little allure.  But to please Dylan, who wants peace between the two women, Carly reluctantly agrees to go. 

Gossip around town is that architect Haywood Dodd plans to make a big announcement at the party. But before he can address the crowd, he’s found dead with Patricia standing over him, holding the murder weapon. Anxious to clear Patricia’s name and perhaps broker a truce with her, Carly would love to use her snooping skills to find the real killer. Only she has bigger problems to deal with—ghosts are flocking to her for help, including a very persistent Haywood Dodd.

My Review

I will start by saying that I am a fan of Heather Blake and any new release automatically goes on my to be read pile.  This series is no exception.  Ghost of a Potion is the third book in the Magic Potion Mysteries and Ms. Blake has written a charming addition to the series. By now, the cast of characters are like old friends so it is always nice to stop in for a visit.  In the Magic Potion Mysteries, the main character Carly Bell Hartwell, is a white witch and empath, who runs her families potion shop in a small town in Alabama.  Although this installment is set during Halloween, this series is welcome entertainment anytime of the year.

The author does a wonderful job creating a cast of witty, fun characters that will enchant you from the start. She writes this story will humor and emotion that will make you laugh out loud and become more attached to the characters.  Add to that a plot filled with mystery and some mayhem; throw in witches, ghost, and Carly's crazy family and you have the perfect blend for a wonderful story.   Ms. Blake never disappoints and I never hesitate to pick up the latest copy of one of her books.  Reading a story written by this author is like going home and catching up with old friends.  I have to say this was a great visit and I can't wait for the next installment.  Do your self a favor, if you haven't tried a book by this author pick up a book in one of her series and you will become a fan.  If you are already a fan like me----definitely put this on your to be read pile.  You won't be disappointed.

Disclosure:  I was provided a copy of this book by the author for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reclaim Me

Author:  Ann Marie Walker and Amy K. Rogers
Series:  Chasing Fire Trilogy
Genre:  Romance

Publication Date:  October 20, 2015
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Description:  There's almost nothing Alessandra Sinclair wouldn't do for Hudson Chase. He was her first love, and she's determined that he'll be her last. But when the terrible truth Hudson has been hiding comes to light, Allie finds herself caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a man from her past who's determined to use what he knows to ruin Hudson. Now, the only way to save the man she loves may be to lose him forever...

Hudson has always known that the secrets he keeps could be his downfall, but he never expected them to put Allie's life in danger as well. It's time for him to come clean--before everything he's ever wanted is destroyed...

My Review

This is the final installment in the Chasing Fire trilogy and for fans who have been waiting for this book it does not disappoint. I was excited and hesitant to read this third book because as with all good trilogies, the reader is sad to see the story end and to say goodbye to characters they feel they have come to know. However, once I started I finished the book in two days.

The authors have done a wonderful job of writing the characters in such a way that the reader not only becomes engaged but also invested in what happens as the story unfolds. The story itself is well written and in this third installment there is more intrigue than in the previous two books. However, I found there to be much more of an emotional connection between Allie and Hudson in this third book that really drove home the love story. And, there is also a healthy dose of steamy scenes. I think the authors wrapped up this trilogy nicely not only for Hudson and Allie but for the secondary characters as well. I enjoyed this trilogy and I am looking forward to any new stories these authors have to offer.

Disclosure:  I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Flipped for Murder

Author:  Maddie Day (a/k/a Edith Maxwell)
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  October 27, 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Description:  In this freshly baked series, author Maddie Day lifts the lid on a small town in southern Indiana, where a newcomer is cooking up a new start--until a murderer muddles the recipe...

Nursing a broken heart, Robbie Jordan is trading in her life on the West Coast for the rolling hills of southern Indiana. After paying a visit to her Aunt Adele, she fell in love with the tiny town of South Lick. And when she spots a For Sale sign on a rundown country store, she decides to snap it up and put her skills as a cook and a carpenter to use. Everyone in town shows up for the grand re-opening of Pans ‘n Pancakes, but when the mayor's disagreeable assistant is found dead, Robbie realizes that not all press is good press. With all eyes on her, she'll have to summon her puzzle-solving skills to clear her name, unscramble the town's darkest secrets, and track down a cold-blooded killer--before she's the next to die...

My Review

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This is the first in a new series by Edith Maxwell writing as Maggie Day. In this first installment, Robbie Jordan heads home to her Midwest roots in Indiana to open a cafe/antique cookware store. I thought this was a charming start to the series. The characters we ones that the reader could relate to as well as being likable. I felt that the author did a good job of giving us the back-story without bogging us down with too much description. For the first book in a new series, I thought the pace of the book moved along nicely. The mystery surrounding the murder built nicely throughout the story and I also enjoyed the sub-plot with the mystery surrounding the father of our main character. I found the locale and the cast of secondary characters to be charming and added to my enjoyment of this story. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and will definitely be back to see what Ms. Day has in store for these characters in the future.