Sunday, June 25, 2017

Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain

Scandalous Ever After by Theresa RomainI really liked the first book in this series and was looking forward the second. In this book, Kate Whelan is visiting her father, hoping to borrow money to shore up the estate her late husband decimated with his gambling. While there, she sees that Evan Rhys is doing a lecture and decides to go  and see her husband's best friend. The three of them used to be great friends, but then came the steeplechase when her husband died and she hasn't seen Evan since.
Evan didn't feel like he could stay when he felt such guilt over the accident that took his best friend. But now that it's years later? He's ready to go after woman he's always loved. Of course it's never just that simple. Problems from both the past and the present rear up to make the course of Twu Lurv not so smooth.
And, while this was a nice story, there were a LOT of rocks on the path to HEA. Some of those rocks? Kate and Evan themselves. There's a lot of angst in this book. Will regular Romaine readers still enjoy it? Probably. But not as much as the first book.

Three stars
This comes out July 1

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Down Home Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Down Home Cowboy by Maisey YatesBoth Alison and Cain are familiar to regular Copper Ridge readers but I don't think you'd need to have read the whole series to dive into this book.
Alison was introduced as having been helped out of an abusive relationship by some of our previous H/H in the series. In subsequent books, we learned about her opening a bakery and reaching out to help other women in similar circumstances. This time, she's helping out the daughter of one of the Donnelly brothers. Violet's mother left her and Cain without a word and Cain then moved his daughter from Texas to Oregon. She's been sullen and withdrawn (few teenagers aren't) but Cain is only just starting to realize how much she's acting out.
Even though Cain and Alison agreed to have a no-strings affair, Violet and their own emotions are getting in the way. Can they
I didn't love the ending and there were some other plot points that bothered me but I really appreciated the adult conversations (the main characters talked to each other? No way!)

Four stars
This book comes out June 27
Follows Slow Burn Cowboy

Friday, June 23, 2017

Yellowstone Country by David Skernick

A book full of beautiful pictures from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The term "Yellowstone Country" is a bit of a stretch since many of the pictures come from way, way outside the Greater Yellowstone Area (yes, this is a defined area). I would suggest getting this book in print as it did not seem as impressive on an e-reader.

Three stars
This book comes out June 28

Thursday, June 22, 2017

If the Haunting Fits, Wear It by Rose Pressey

If the Haunting Fits, Wear It by Rose PresseyCookie Chanel is on the road helping a client, Danielle, dress for the Kentucky Derby. While attending one of the parties, she discovers the dead body of Danielle's jockey, Ramon. Of course, his ghost starts following her around. He joins regular ghost Charlotte and another woman who had joined earlier in the book, Maureen.
Cookie decides to stick around to see if she can help solve Ramon's murder. While there, both of her beaus (Love-triangle alert! Seriously?) follow her and try to help out. Not helping out? Heather, the woman who owns the B&B where Cookie is staying. Also not helping, the fact that Ramon doesn't seem to have been a nice guy. It makes it hard to find out who murdered you when there are a number of people lining up for the chance.
In comparison it to other books in the series, this book was just not as good. The love triangle with Cookie took up a lot of space (and didn't really add to the mystery), Maureen took up a lot of space (and definitely didn't add to the mystery), and there just wasn't enough room to develop the main mystery.
And don't even get me started on that horrible ending. I hope it gets changed before publication.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out June 27

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

Duke with Benefits by Manda CollinsThis book picks up immediately after Ready, Set, Rogue. Lady Daphne Forsyth and Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, have been circling around each other. She is a genius at mathematics. She's also very wary because she's been burned by men before. First, her father who would use her to win money at cards. Then her tutor's son who... well... that's a bit of a spoiler but when he shows up, she's not happy.
Dalton is taken aback by this woman who says what she thinks and is willing to have sex with him without the sanctity of marriage. He knows that she's smart at math, but he also knows that he's a genius with people (we're told this over and over again.) Together, they are going to be able to not only solve the riddles his aunt left for them both, but discover the location of some long-lost gold.
Like the first book, this is a fast trip between introductions and Twu Lurv. We get a little more time since Daphne and Dalton met in the first book but that book didn't cover much time. We also got two characters who were nice enough but we got more "tell" than "show" in character development.

Three stars
This book comes out June 27
Follows Ready, Set, Rogue

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel, #3)We met Seraphina in the first book when her sister, Sophie, pushed Sera's cheating husband, into a decorative pond. I was wondering how Ms. MacLean would let a blatantly philandering husband and his (at the time) pregnant wife find an HEA. Well, it's done in flashbacks. Going from when Malcolm and Sera fell in love, why they got married (is it true that she tricked him?), when he followed her to America, all interspersed with the present day when Sera is petitioning Parliament for a divorce. But is that what they both really want?
The problem with these two is that they really hurt each other. And we get to read about that hurt all throughout the book. There is some growth but I never really connected with either. Still an interesting trope to take on and I certainly won't quit reading MacLean because of it.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 27

Monday, June 19, 2017

Death of a Bachelorette by Laura Levine

Death of a Bachelorette by Laura LevineI had read a few Jaine Austen books but ended up giving up on the series.  There are a lot of cozy series I really enjoyed and this one didn't really hook me. I liked the premise for this one though. Jaine becoming a writer for a TV show based on The Bachelor. Not far-fetched since shows seem to have been chasing that dream ever since the show started.
Jaine is on more of a "Bachelor in Paradise" show where the women are competing to marry a prince, er, a man who is 87th in line for the throne. She's replacing the last writer who gives her a cryptic warning about the show. Well, not so cryptic. Basically, Jane lands and is told that the job sucks and she better be prepared for the worst. Well, having packed up herself and her cat, Jaine is ready to dig in. Even if it means dealing with three bitch contestants. And a room on the third floor where there is no air conditioning. In a tropical climate. And the food is unused airline meals. Dessert is from a vending machine. Oh, and one of the contestants just got murdered. While dealing with all of that, Jaine has to also fight off the king of the island who wants to make her his twelfth wife (his first wife is none to happy about that).
This was a fun and fluffy story. Jaine is still just slightly annoying to me and the whole subplot of the island king seemed superfluous. For readers who enjoy the series, I think this will be a book they enjoy.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 27

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina JeffriesWe've heard about Niall Lindsey in all of the other books in this series. He was forced to flee the country after he killed a man in a duel over his sister's honor. But nobody except his sister and her husband know that. Everyone else thinks that it is because he slept with the wrong man's wife. You see, he was a bit of a scoundrel. Or, he had been until he met Brilliana (oh, I had such a hard time with this name) Trevor. But theirs was a secret affection. He tried to get her to come with him, but she stayed to be with her dying mother.
Now it's seven years later and they both have lingering resentments. Bree believes that Niall had another lover while Niall thinks that Bree was just trying to capture a rich husband with the evidence being that she married mere months after he left, rather than waiting for him. The pair will have to work together though to discover who is passing counterfeit bills. Niall owes the man asking them to do this and Bree just wants to clear her father's name since he's the person that they know has been passing around the bills.
A nice addition to the Sinful Suitors series, the romance was a little rushed for me and the Big Misunderstanding a little bit to drawn out. Definitely still looking forward to Ms. Jeffries' next book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 20
Follows The Danger of Desire

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner

Poor fox. He just can't seem to get it right. When he goes over to the farm he's expected, but not feared. No one is afraid of him, not the pig, not the rabbit, not the chickens. And the guard dog doesn't even work up a sweat about seeing him in the farmyard. Even help from the wolf doesn't work. Until the wolf helps him distract the farmyard dog so that the fox can steal some eggs. But then the wolf thinks that they should hatch the eggs to have something more substantial to eat. Too bad the chicks think that the fox is their mother.
A cute story that went on a bit long. I thought from the cover that this was a children's book but would put it at a slightly more advanced reader. The jokes/story went on a little long but this might be fun for a somewhat reluctant reader who would be able to understand the jokes and read the short snippets.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 20

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The World's Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops by Ryan K. Sager

The World's Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops by R.K. Sager Zoey Kate is twelve-years-old and she's an adventurous chef combining things like chocolate and pork chops. So she's decided to take on some debt. Fifty thousand dollars to be exact. Why does she want to do this at such a young age? In order to win a prestigious cooking award. Adventures and mayhem ensue.
There was a lot of pop culture in this book. A lot. I'm not sure what felt off about this book for me but I felt a hard time connecting. It's possible that I'm not in (in fact, way out of) the age range this book is meant for but that doesn't usually bother me. Zoey was just a little too annoying, too perky, too sure of herself.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out June 20

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness by Paula Poundstone

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness by Paula PoundstoneWith the absolute mountain of self-help books out there that are promising happiness to everyone, it seems like there are also a mountain of books offering to test those books and let you know how it goes. I love Paula Poundstone and was excited to see how she would approach the topic. I think I set my expectations a little too high.
Each chapter is set up as a science experiment with descriptions of conditions, hypothesis, procedure, environment, etc. She tries things like exercise, being positive, going into nature.
Part of my problem with the book was that it was so fragmented by chapter. Ms. Poundstone took a long time to write the book so there wasn't a lot of flow.

This book came out May 9
Three stars

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories by Ernest Bramah

The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories by Ernest BramahThe claim to fame of Max Carrados is that he is blind. Blind detective, it's been done but Max was one of the first. His adventures are somewhat interesting but some of the solutions seem like great leaps of logic. I enjoyed the first few stories in the book but then it got sort of... convoluted. Good example of the time period but maybe not my faves.

Three stars
This book came out May 17

Monday, June 5, 2017

Death Around the Bend by T E Kinsey

Lady Hardcastle and her trusty sidekick/maid Florence "Flo" Armstrong are leaving home and heading to the country estate of Lord Riddlethorpe, also known as "Fishy." He is a racing man and the two ladies are sure they can talk him into letting them drive his cars. It turns into even more fun when he sets up a ladies' race and Flo gets to take the place of one of the lady guests who doesn't want to participate. But neither lady gets a turn behind the wheel because the male guests end up racing first and one of them dies. 
The man wasn't inoffensive but he certainly didn't deserve to have his brake lines cut. Lord Riddlethorpe asks Lady Hardcastle (and his butler asks Flo) to investigate. One more person will die before the culprit is found but Flo and Lady Hardcastle prevail.
Even though the feint was obvious, I still enjoyed this book. The ending was a bit... meh.. but overall a fun, fast, and easy read.

Four stars
This book comes out June 8
Follows In the Market for Murder

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Sky Full of Stars by Samantha Chase

A Sky Full of StarsMy favorite of the series so far, this book lets socially awkward and braniac astrophysicist Dr. Owen Shaughnessy  meet his match in the beautiful former beauty queen, former head cheerleader, and former mean girl, Brooke Matthews (a lot of jokes about her being named after a famous model, never quite figured this one out). She's now an artist obsessed with the night sky. Owen is about to take some students out to Red Rock to study the stars and his mentor/her uncle thinks Brooke would not only benefit from being able to go out with a group, Owen would get a go-between to help him with the students.
The two meet and have an immediate attraction. Brooke feels an affinity to Owen right away, being able to talk to him how she would have talked to her older brother, also a genius. But she feels a little insecure because her parents pushed her and her brother so much into the roles of Beauty and the Brain. There is a swift romance that involves a whirlwind trip from Chicago (where they met) to Las Vegas and then on to meeting Owen's family in North Carolina.
And it's here that I start to have some issues with this book. I think we start to move away from Brooke and Owen's story to the set up for the last Shaughnessy sibling, Darcy. The last Big Misunderstanding also felt a little forced and unnecessary. It just dragged out the story.

Four stars
This book comes out June 6
Follows This is Our Song

Saturday, June 3, 2017

An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles

The book opens with journalist Nathan Roy going undercover to expose spiritualitsts, not only because his boss has commanded him to but because he hates people who prey on others. And Justin Lazarus is one of those people. We know that because Charles lets us into his point of view, seeing that this is the only way that he knows how to make money. But when the two meet, there is an undeniable attraction.
An Unnatural Vice by K.J. CharlesNathan lost his partner in a hideous accident and hasn't been with anyone since then. Hasn't even wanted to be with anyone since then. The attraction he has for Justin is not only inconvenient, it's making him question his own mind.
Justin doesn't really care who he sleeps with -- men, women, clients. It's all the same to him. For sure there is something about Nathan that calls to him (the description of Nathan's hairiness made me see the attraction for the first time). But can he get involved with a man who hates him so much?
There is the search for a missing earl and someone killing to keep that earl secret. The killer is after Justin now so Nathan and Justin are on the run at Nathan's family home.
This is a fun series that I am enjoying and the sex... oofda. But I never really warmed to Justin, he was sort of an ass. And I never got why these two would stay together. Magic sex parts?

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 6
Follows An Unseen Attraction

Friday, June 2, 2017

A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe

A French Wedding by Hannah TunnicliffeIt took me awhile to get used to the rhythms and the writing of this book. For the first couple of pages, I really thought I was going to DNF this book. But then I got caught up in the story of Juliette (why the blurb seems to focus on Max, I'm not sure since the POV switches up and, really, I thought hers was really the story they all seemed to orbit around.)
Juliette is back in her hometown; rather than cooking in Paris at her own restaurant, she's the housekeeper for rocker Max who is just about to turn forty and has invited his six best friends to celebrate with him. Two are involved with each other and bring their rebellious teen daughter, but we're given hints that it is not a halcyon relationship. One of his friends, Rosie, is married to a man the rest of them hate. Eddie is bringing his very young girlfriend along. And Helen, the one that got away (from Max), is coming and bringing her sister.
It's a book that has it's issues, but it still drew me in and made me care about the characters. I wish we had learned more than the rather thin epilogue and that the beginning was a little less rough  but I overall thought three and a half stars.

This book comes out June 6

Thursday, June 1, 2017

There, There by Tim Beiser

There, There by Tim BeiserIt's rainy outside and Rabbit has a case of the grumps. Bear is trying to cheer him up but isn't having much luck. At least, until he drags Rabbit outside and shows him the life of a worm.
The verse this is written in is a little hard to follow. And I didn't love this story. But the illustrations are fun and it's a cute book..

Three stars
This book come out June 6

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan

New York, Actually (From Manhattan with Love, #4)We've met the Knight siblings on the periphery of the other "From Manhattan with Love" books. Harriet and Fliss are dog walkers who have worked with the Urban Genie women. Their brother Daniel, the hero of this book, is Lucas Blade's friend and neighbor. Each of the siblings was scarred in different ways by their parent's explosive marriage. For Daniel, he became a divorce lawyer; a shark specializing in helping to make sure that parents who shouldn't be together don't stay together "for the kids." This is why he gets so upset when the advice of a popular blog has one of his clients (both of whose children are having emotional problems) getting back together with his ex. It's a good thing he has is finally making headway with the gorgeous brunette he sees running in the park. Yes, it involves borrowing a foster dog from his sisters and engaging in some deception but he doesn't have long-term relationships anyway, so what does it matter?
Molly fled England after her personal life imploded on national television and her friends deserted her. She's decided that, because she has never fallen in love, her mother's abandonment has left her unable to love. But as a psychologist, she knows she can help others and does so on her blog. Too bad the hot guy with the gorgeous dog keeps distracting her.
There are some awkward expositional moments so I don't think you'll need to have read the other books in this series to keep up. Other drawbacks of this book are the somewhat fast resolution to the big drama and a bit of a twee ending with Yet Another Thing. I did, however, enjoy the characters, most of the story, and the light touch of adding in previous characters from the series.

Four stars
This book came out May 30
Follows Miracle on 5th Avenue

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

No One but You by Brenda Novak

No One But You by Brenda NovakNovak continues the trend of taking some truly difficult characters, in this case a former prisoner (accused of a double murder) and an abused woman, and having them find themselves and each other.
Dawson Reed just wants to fix up his adoptive parents (the double murder) farm and live his life so that he can win custody of his sister.
Sadie Harris just wants to make enough money to feed and house herself and her son so that she can win custody from her sadistic husband. The husband who seems like a nice guy to everyone else. The guy who is a cop... Oh.
This poor book suffered in  part because I read the beginning of Until you Loved Me at the end of this story, realized I had the ARC and read it right after this. It is such an awesome story with characters I connected with so much more easily than these two. I also got a little overwhelmed with everything that was happening. I don't think that regular Novak readers will be disappointed, I just don't think you should read these two in quick succession.

Three Stars
This book comes out May 30
Follows Finding Our Forever
Followed by Until You Loved Me

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope NicholsonI was surprised but grateful to get an ARC of this book after it was already on the shelves. Especially when I saw it was advertised in O magazine. And for a good reason. This book is very well-explored but with short engaging sections that start with a brief description of the comic, a lovely quote, and then information about the creators and when the book first appeared. Not just the popular comics, this book touches on some that only ran for a few issues, ones that are... not quite ready for prime time, and some comics that are just plain weird. I was intrigued by a few of the books based on Nicholson's descriptions and added to my TBR.
As easy and fun a nonfiction book as you'll ever find.

Four and a half stars
This book came out May 2

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander, Victoria Alexander

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen by Victoria AlexanderI was quite excited about this book and maybe set my expectations a little bit too high. It is the story of India Prendergast who is trying to find her cousin, Helen. A cousin that was involved with the Lady Travelers group. A group that hasn't been able tell India exactly where Helen is supposed to be. She has decided to infiltrate the group in order to find out exactly what has happened. What she finds instead is Derek Saunders, a man trying to help his aunt, one of the three ladies running the travel agency. He is determined to make sure that the ladies are kept safe, even from their own shenanigans.
For being a book about travel, the first half or so of this book takes awhile to get moving. India is not very likable for a good portion of the book which is hard in a heroine. And while we do get some growth from her, Derek doesn't get to do much growing at all.

Three stars
This book came out May 23

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Merely a Marriage by Jo Beverley

Merely a Marriage by Jo BeverleySo bummed that this is the last new Jo Beverly we'll ever get. This book starts off strong with the introduction of the VERY tall Lady Ariana Boxstall. She is terrified that her brother will die before he gets an heir and that will leave she and her mother at the mercy of Ariana's drunkard uncle. She had a rather disastrous season eight years ago and has decided not to marry. Her brother says that if Ariana can get married by Christmas, he will marry in January. Ariana swallows her nerves and heads to London. She is staying at the house of Lady Cawle who has agreed to help her get started. Also at Lady Cawle's house? Her godson who unknowingly contributed to Ariana's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season. Too bad he's a drunkard. And seems to be interested Ariana's dowry because he lost his own fortune. Or so Ariana surmises.
And this is where the story starts to crumble. All of a sudden we get all these extra characters in addition to a story that becomes a little less focused. Ariana is trying to consider other men, but she's in love with Kynaston. Or is she? And then they're in a scandal. But it's okay. Or is it? And what the heck is the Big Drama in Kynaston's background? And how hard is it to read that name?
Not one of my faves, for sure, but the beginning of this book shows the very best of Beverly, in creating characters and a sense of space. I will miss her stories.

Three stars
This book comes out May 30

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

Come Sundown by Nora RobertsBodine Longbow runs the resort side of her family's land, the Bodine Ranch. Her father and brothers run the ranch side while her mother seems to run them all. Bodine's life is interrupted by the return of one of her brother's old friends, Callen Skinner, who had been in Hollywood training stunt horses. It's also interrupted by the body of a dead woman and Bodine and Cal are the ones who discover her.
Bodine's story is intercut with that of her aunt, Alice. It seems Alice was always sort of a rebel. She ran away on the day of Bo's mother's wedding. Alice was on her way back to the Bodine Ranch when she was kidnapped and kept in a basement. We see both the lives of Bo and Alice; as Bo falls in love and as Alice slowly loses herself.
This book reminds me of a classic Nora Roberts and I think most of her faithful readers will really enjoy this book. It was one of the better books I've read set in Montana but it kept reminding me of so many of Nora Roberts' other books. A faithful Roberts reader, this book immediately hit me as a mix of Montana Sky and The Obsession; as soon as the villain was introduced, I knew who it was.I was disappointed that there were so many B-plots that took away from the main story. It seemed a bit patchwork. At least the heroine got to save herself this time.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out May 30

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzie

When to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzieThe third spinster of Loves Bridge has finally helped her two friends find love and now she gets what she wants most in the world, Spinster House. She moves out of her brother's home and into her own. Too bad she's starting to realize that a home of her own might not be what she really wants.
Alex, Earl of Evans, is also starting to realize that he might want more out of life. His heart was bruised when he was jilted (not quite at the altar but fairly close). It may be that she was just too young. He's discovering that an older woman (twenty-eight) might be the way to go.
This was a nice, gentle story but sort of elliptical. Alex likes Jane, Jane's not sure, 'round and 'round they go, spanning months.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out May 30
Follows How to Manage a Marquess

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Purely Private Matter by Darcie Wilde

A Purely Private Matter by Darcie WildeRosalind Thorne is still working. She's helping particular ladies in Society solve some very particular problems. This time it's one doozy of a case that has her sneaking into a gentleman's club at the opening of the book. But then she meets Margaretta Seymore. Margaretta is pregnant. But she's married, so that shouldn't be a problem. Except that her husband is getting notes saying that she's been cheating on him and that the child she's carrying isn't his. He's suing the man for... I can't remember what it's called but it's basically a cash grab. Too bad Margaretta's supposed lover, famous actor Fletcher Cavendish, is found stabbed. Margaretta's husband is the prime suspect. It's up to Rosalind to figure out who the real killer is before Captain Seymore is hanged.
This book was an oddity to me because I actually wished we had gotten to see a furtheration of the series' love triangle. There was so little of it in this book, that means it's just going to be dragged out even further. Other than that, this was not a grand-breaking mystery novel but I think regular Wilde readers will be more than satisfied.

Three and a half stars
This book came out May 2

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hospitality and Homicide by Lynn Cahoon

Hospitality and Homicide by Lynn CahoonJill Gardner is balancing a lot of responsibilities (as per usual). She's got her bookstore, her classes, the boyfriend that is starting to get serious (is she really ready for this?), an employee leaving, and her regular obligations to her dog and to the town business council. Heaped on that is a mystery author who is in town for a signing and, added bonus, is driving Jill's police chief boyfriend up a wall. So, she's really not ready for the dead body that turns up at one of the local vineyards. Or the fact that her neighbor and local psychic, Esmeralda seems to be falling apart because of a missing boy.
Jill does figure it all out in a story that is fast, fun, and fluffy. Regular readers of the Tourist Trap Mystery series will quite enjoy it.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out May 16
Follows Tea Cups and Carnage                                          

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sticks and Bones by Carolyn Haines

Sticks and Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney, # 17)Sarah Booth Delaney and her posse are back. And they're all united at being pissed at Frangelica "Sister" McFee, a local girl who has profited off the death of her brother and mother in a mysterious car accident. She even refers to Tinkie as "Stinky." Really, now. Now a film company is in town, getting ready to turn her story into a movie. But Sister isn't the only McFee whose name is out the world. Her father is making quite a name for himself while he runs for Senate, showing off his young, pregnant wife and denigrating Putin as much as possible.
Sarah and Tinkie are brought into the case when the filmmakers hire them to find out who killed Sister's family. They run into some people who really, really don't want them to find out the truth.
Regular Haines readers will not be disappointed.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out May 16

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ivy Get Your Gun by Cindy Brown

Ivy Get Your Gun by Cindy BrownIvy is still working on figuring out her life. I missed one of the books in the series but I didn't feel like I missed too much of the story.
Still working for her uncle's detective agency but also working as an actress, Ivy is trying out for "Annie Get Your Gun." She is somewhat sidetracked by the appearance of Arnie's son (supposedly). Nathan has borrowed money from Arnie (actually, it was Marge's money) to start a live-action Western town. Add to that, Arnie and Marge's pug, Lassie, has recently run away to run with a pack of feral Chihuahuas.
So, Ivy's working at the town, trying out for a play, searching for Lassie, and trying to figure out how to keep her relationship going when her boyfriend live  an hour away. It's a good book, much in keeping with the first one. A fast, fun, and fluffy read, it's perfect for a summer pick.

Four stars
This book comes out May 16

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Love Me Again by Jaci Burton

When the book opens, Loretta Simmons is still trying to figure out her relationship with Deacon Fox (and, seriously, is that not the best romance hero name ever?). Things are still awkward between them after she broke up their grand high school romance because her parents had better things in mind for her. But now Deacon is working on the shop next door to her bookstore so they're seeing each other every day. And Loretta's nine-year-old daughter, Hazel, is super-interested in anything dirty (e.g. construction) and is also somewhat looking out for a father-figure.
Love Me Again by Jaci BurtonDeacon is wary at first but <gasp> is adult enough not to hold a grudge for something that happened over a decade ago. The two start hooking up and then fall deeply in to love.
And that's pretty much the story with a Great Dane who is more of a plot moppet than Hazel is. I was only a little disappointed with Loretta's "resolution" with her parents (but, arguably, it's a work in progress and therefore truer to life). The part with her ex-best friends could have been fleshed out a bit more but I think served to introduce us to Josie and set up her romance with Zach (who I really, really hope ends up owning the fancy cabin they all went to in this book because he made a ton of money from writing romance novels.)

Four stars
This book went on sale May 2
Follows Don't Let Go

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return by Brian Lynch

Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return by Brian LynchI loved both Bill and Ted movies when I was growing up so I jumped at the chance to be able to review this. The first story was about the two of them going into the future and trying to stop Chuck de Nomolos from killing them. At first it seems like they succeed in befriending him but then his evil plan comes to light and he takes over their lives. It was a good story totally in keeping with the Bill and Ted oeuvre.
There are several other shorter stories with different types of art that aren't as good as the main story but somewhere enjoyable. Definitely a book worth picking up if you're a Bill and Ted fan!

Three and a half stars
This book came out May 2

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda QuickThe book opens with the murder of Anna Harris' boss. It seems her boss had an extremely valuable notebook. One that she left for Anna. So Anna quickly heads out the door and quietly disappears to California, becoming newspaper reporter Irene.
Too bad she gets tangled up in another murder. Well, it actually seems to be a series of drownings. She finds an informant dead in the pool of a very exclusive pool, a pool that Irene herself has to swim across in order to get away from the murderer. So now there are two murders and we're barely three chapters into the book.
Overall, this was a fun book, very much a throwback to some of the early Krentz works that I adore. If you're a regular Krentz reader, I think you'll figure out the "twist" in the story. The pacing was a bit uneven with the beginning and ending being WAY fast while the middle was long and slower (not slow, just slow-er). I got an ARC so there were also a few anachronisms but hopefully those will be weeded out before the final book.
I really hope that we will see Ogden's secretary Raina Kirk getting together with Luther Pell, somewhat shady club proprietor, in a future book.

Three and a half stars (honestly, will probably be four once it's better edited but I can only judge what I read)
This book comes out May 9

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Perfect Manhattan Murder by Tracy Kiely

Nic and Nigel, the gender-swapped, modern day Thin Man couple, are back for another fast-paced, quip-exchanging mystery. This was VERY loosely based on "Another Thin Man" but don't think that if you know the movie, you'll be on an inside track to figure out the murderer. This book is very fairly clued though and you should probably be able to figure it out.
Nic and Nigel are back in New York City to watch her friend Penny's new play. They are also seeing a third friend, Harper who is married to, Dan, the play critic for Vanity Fair. Nic and Nigel aren't excited about a dinner with Dan and Harper since the man is an egotistical bore. Harper just had their baby six months ago but Dan couldn't care less. He's even rented a "weekend apartment" so that he can work without having to listen to the baby cry.
When Dan turns up dead in the apartment, Harper is the most obvious suspect, though far from the only. He angered a lot of people with his reviews; he was working on a book that was going to be an expose of sorts and threatened to reveal a lot of people's secrets. And it's possible he was having an affair.
If you liked the first book, you'll certainly like this book. If you like books that are fast, fun, and fluffy with rapid-fire dialogue a la The Thin Man (sometimes quoted directly from the movie), you'll like this book. I don't think having seen the movies is a must, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Four stars
This book comes out May 8
Follows Killer Cocktail 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse TysonEven though the title says that the book is for people in a hurry, I wasn't expecting it to be just over 100 pages but that was a nice surprise because I'm not the worlds best science-y type person. In addition to being short, this book is very readable taking the history of the universe and making it well, not easy to understand, but at least palatable. I'm not sure how much of it I'm going to retain, but I'll takeaway the feeling of having read a very nice shorts intelligent book.

Four stars
This book comes out May 2

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford

I'm sure we know more of Laura and Roberts backstory from earlier books in the series, but I've only read the first one. I didn't especially feel like I was missing out because of that mostly because of the superlong expository scene where Robert picks up a small dog and then talks to him. And, while I realize the dog isn't child, it is a plot moppet extraordinaire. He always seems to know what's going on, he always wants people to follow him into places they should go, and he always seems to be the wisest of all the characters.
This was a nice little story, even with the dog, it was slow and gentle but there seem to be a lot of extraneous subplots. Robert is attending a house party, trying to get Flora, but then he's delighted that she's there. There is literally no angst about the fact that the woman that he's trying to get away from her suddenly showed up where he is. And we get the daughter of the house trying to wrangle her self into position as Roberts wife, but she is easily shaken off as well.
One of my biggest peeves with this book is not the fault of the author but with the back cover blurb which was nothing at all like what the story was, and less the blurb author was reading some different version of the story. They played up the villain who ended up not being in the book very much at all except for a scene that was sort of thoughtlessly tacked onto the end.
A nice enough read but with a lot of problems.

2 1/2 stars
This book comes out May 2

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sweet Tea and Spirits by Angie Fox

Sweet Tea and Spirits (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #5)Verity Long and her skunk are back along with her ghostly friend, Frank. She's been hired by the newest president of the local heritage society; the one who beat out her boyfriend's mother (who hates, HATES Verity.) Too bad Julia is dead. But Verity is concerned that Julia appears to have been moved. Was it something on the physical plain or a malevolent ghost? Julia had hired Verity because somebody in the heritage house keeps moving the mannequins into... inappropriate positions.
But who would have wanted Julia dead? Her husband whose previous two wives both died? Or someone else from her past? And why would the ghost of a former Widows and Orphans house be moving items around the house?
Not a lot of plot but I don't think regular readers will be too upset.

Three stars
This book came out April 25
Follows Deader Homes and Gardens

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding by Fiona Collins

Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding by Fiona   CollinsJojo is aghast. She's booked a hen's weekend (bachelorette party) for her friend Wendy, their two other friends from college, as well as Wendy's soon-to-be sister-in-law who none of the other ladies have ever met. Instead of a weekend of pampering, Jojo signed them all up for a boot camp run by none other than Wendy's serious boyfriend from college. The One That Got Away.
All of the women are struggling in their lives: Rose's marriage has become humdrum with three teen daughters and a husband who travels incessangly; Sal spent ten years in a bad relationship and has just started sleeping with the chef of the pub she owns and she isn't sure what to do about it; Jojo is so involved in her work that her personal life has fallen to the side; Wendy isn't sure six months is long enough to get to know the person you're marrying; and Tamsin... well, Tamsin is a little less developed than the four friends so we don't get to know her as well other than that she also seems to be a workaholic.
This was a fast and fun book. Because it was short and we got glimpses of four different women's lives, no one story was really well-developed. But if you go into it knowing that, this is an enjoyable book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out April 28

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall: A Honeychurch Hall MysteryOnce again, Kat Stanford is pulled into a murder investigation when the local postmistress turns up dead. Muriel Jarvis was also the local gossip. It was she who lost Hannah's mother's latest creation, another story written under her pseudonym, Krystalle Storm. It is also Muriel whose husband had recently died and left her deep in debt. Could it have been that Muriel was using her position to ferret out people's secrets and then making them pay for her to keep them?
This was an interesting book that had a nice mix of new and familiar characters. Harry is back as is his philandering father and slightly-dim-but-sweet mother. So is her brother who I didn't particularly like and I have a feeling we're going to see more of him. A lot of story shoved in to this book and I don't particularly love all of the side characters (the Iris/Alfred combo wears a bit) but other than that a nice addition to the series.

Three stars
This book comes out May 2
Follows A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do by Ashley Spires

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do by Ashley SpiresI didn't even realize that this book was by the same author as The Most Magnificent Thing.  I just liked the cover. And the story lived up to the cover. Lou is a little girl who can do anything. Except one thing. And her friends don't make fun of her for it, they just try to help. And whether she ends up doing it or not, they can still have fun.
Looking forward to more Spires books.

Five stars
This book comes out May 2

Monday, April 24, 2017

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton

Another lovely book with three little vignettes, three linked stories. Narwhal has decided that he is going to be a super hero and Jelly offers to be his sidekick. They have fun, help a friend, and discover their own super powers.
I'd still characterize Narwhal as overenthusiastic but with a good heart. Jelly is still hesitant but game. A lovely story and one worth sharing.

Four Stars
This book comes out May 2
Follows Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig

Brew or Die: A Java Jive MysteryThis series is starting to redeem itself for me a little bit, a very little bit. Rather than Juliet Langley just bungling about, getting involved in murders, she's now a trained investigator. Her first job doesn't go very well (the man she's been trailing claims she's attacked him rather than the mistress he just dumped) but she is starting to get the hang of it when Shane, one of the coffee shop's workers, asks her to investigate the death of his fiancee. She apparently died of a drug overdose but Shane claims she's been clean for years. So Juliet (and, of course, Pete) jump into the world of party planning, once again even going undercover to help solve the case.
I still wish we didn't have the love triangle... which may not actually be a love triangle? This will-they-won't-they is cute enough for the span of a book, but not more than that. And we're now six books into the series. This is what got me off of Joanna Fluke and this series is heading that way for me. At least Juliet was slightly less ditzy in this book.

Three stars
This book comes out April 25

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dial P for Poison by Zara Keane

Dial P For Poison by Zara KeaneI requested this book from NetGalley on a whim. There are any number of cozy series that I'm already reading and I didn't really need another. But I found one.
Maggie Doyle is a former cop. She found her husband cheating on her, reacted badly, and then accepted her aunt's offer to help run a movie theater/cafe in Ireland. Even though Maggie can't cook. Like, really can't cook. Instead of finding a relaxing life, Maggie is surrounded by her aunt's cats, she struggles not to alienate her aunt's customers while her aunt is getting surgery, and then discovers the town's evil queen dead at the local movie night. And the local garda seems eager to pin the crime on her aunt. It's up to Maggie to keep her out of jail.
There are some issues with this book, as there are many when an author is trying to build a series, but I really enjoyed Maggie and hope to read more about her.

This book came out April 12
Four stars

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris

A Good Day to Buy by Sherry HarrisAt the end of the last book, I wasn't sure that I liked our narrator, Sarah, very much. This book got her more on an even keel for me. Her brother has mysteriously shown up in town after nearly two years of estrangement. And this is right on the heels of a sale where the husband and wife were viciously attacked while Sarah was running their tag sale.
Now Sarah has to balance the love of her ex-husband (who doesn't really impress me much) with the love she has for her brother. There is also still a lot of tension between Sarah and her ex, most-eligible-bachelor attorney, Seth.
I like the way this story is heading better than the last one. This is still a fast, fun, and fluffy series worth following.

Three stars
This book comes out April 25

Monday, April 17, 2017

Slow Burn Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Lane Jensen has only just figured out that Finn Donnelly is a man. Well, she knew, but she didn't know he was A MAN. After being burned as a teen, she has never really considered that love could be something that she could have. And now that she's finally figuring out that Finn could be everything she's ever wanted, but will she be too late?
Slow Burn Cowboy (Copper Ridge, #7)Finn has trained himself not to want more than Lane can give. But he's done. He's done rescuing mice, he's done being the handyman. Basically, he's done being the boyfriend who doesn't get the sex. So... he and Lane start having sex. All while his life is falling to bits. Well, sort of. All of his brothers have moved back to the family ranch since their grandfather left it to them equally. Even though Lane is the one who's been there, taking care of everything. Now he has to share with the brothers he hasn't seen in years; the brothers who all left Copper Ridge.
It was an interesting book trying to continue a series while bridging into a new set of siblings. The romance between Lane and Finn suffered a little because of it but overall I think Maisey Yates' readers will enjoy.

Comes out tomorrow
Three stars
Followed by Down Home Cowboy

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Miss Feesenschneezen Is Ill by David Parmelee

Miss Feesenschneezen Is Ill by David  ParmeleeI was really expecting this to be a picture book, something along the lines of the Miss Nelson series. But this was more of a chapter book. And it was definitely again about an unruly class in need of a substitute. But this time we get to see the varied substitutes that come in to teach our unnamed narrator's class. There's the teacher from overseas here on an exchange program, a woman who used to work in a juvenile detention center, and a host of others that try to come in and teach this class, and fail.
A nice book but without the fun of Viola Swamp.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out April 20

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Thing About Love by Julie James

I think that FBI/US Attorney fans are going to be very happy with this book. Not only do we get to revisit the Chicago office, we get a whole new couple to root for.
Six years ago, Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd were in the same training class and battled each other every step of the way. They parted thinking "good riddance." And never gave the other a thought as Jess moved to L.A. and assumed John was recruited into an elite team in D.C. But, after his mother's illness, John ended up home in Chicago. Too bad he just found out that his girlfriend of two years is cheating on him with one of his best friends. And found out in the worst way possible.
Jessi just went through a divorce and has moved back to Chicago to be closer to her family and to her best friend. She's a great undercover agent and isn't surprised to be picked for an elite op taking down a corrupt Floridian mayor. However, she is surprised to find out that her partner in the op is none other than her old buddy John.
We get to see both John and Jessica's versions of what happened six years ago which is pretty nice, to see where misunderstandings took place. And I liked that the two actually talked about their differences. There was a lot of angst and some Medium Misunderstandings at the end that were a little overdrawn but it was an overall nice story and regular James readers will be pleased. The tie-ins to previous books are incredibly light and this would work as a good stand alone for new readers as well.

Four stars
This book comes out April 18

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Murder Is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. Duncan

Penny Brannigan is just spending a quiet afternoon painting at the local castle ruin. She follows a fox to what used to be a dog pen and discovers a dead body. It is the body of one of the local volunteers working to restore the castle to it's former beauty.
Murder Is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. DuncanThere are secrets to be discovered about the castle, both old and new. Penny's friend, retired policeman, Gareth is also drawn into the mystery when it turns out his grandmother was connected to a murder at the castle in the 1920s.
The mystery was a little hard to follow. I do appreciate that Ms. Duncan doesn't make Penny fall into the all-too-familiar trap of having a love triangle. It is always resolved by the end of the book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out April 11

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes -- anthology

Miraculous Mysteries by Martin EdwardsA nice collection of mystery stories; a good reason why the Poisoned Pen Press anthologies are quickly becoming a must-read. Stories of murders that couldn't have happened, mostly because of locked rooms. There were several authors with stories I already knew but enjoyed visiting (Sayers,  Allingham, etc.) as well as some new-to-me authors and stories. Was every single one a winner? No, but enjoyed most of them.

Four stars
This book comes out June 6

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley

Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn StanleyI first "met" Jessamyn Stanley on Instagram and loved her pictures. I saw her book on NetGalley and snatched it up. I loved the book. I love the writing, I love the language and I  love the pragmatism. There is language in this book. It's not a high-falutin' philosophic exploration of yoga (though it does include some of that). Instead, this is a lovely introduction to people who might be nervous about getting onto the mat for the first time. Yogis are often introduced as skinny white ladies twisting themselves into ridiculous poses but the fact of the matter is that everybody (every body) can do yoga.
I liked the mix of poses and writing. So many yoga books do all the writing and then do all the poses and then asanas. This was a nice interspersion.
A  nice review for experienced yoga-goers and I suspect a very nice beginning for newbies.

Four and a half stars
This book comes out April 4

Monday, March 27, 2017

Twelve Terribly Active Princesses who were not Exactly Dancing by Michael Ann Dobbs

I generally liked this book. There was a little too much text on the pages but the updated fairy tale was fun. The repetition of the mattress moving will delight children. And the fact that none of the princesses fell in love with their manager? Priceless!

Four stars
This book comes out April 4

Occult and Battery by Lena Gregory

I didn't read the first story in this series but I didn't feel like I needed to. The story of Cass Donovan, a former psychiatrist with just a hint of the psychic about her (though she doesn't seem to believe it.) She's excited to have been hired for a weekend party, even if it is at a supposedly haunted house.
Occult and Battery by Lena GregoryBut nothing seems to go right. A big storm moves in, her husband is there with the ex-best-friend he cheated on Cass with, and she seems to have conjured a real ghost. Then, one of the three siblings who hired her to make their new hotel a success is found dead. Why was he up in the cupola? And how much can Cass and her friends do while trapped in the hotel by the snowstorm?
The character of her (presumably gay) friend Bee was just a little too, too but I have hopes for future books in the series.

Four stars
This book comes out April 4

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Red Clover Inn by Carla Neggers

The meeting between Charlotte Bennett and Agent Greg Rawlings does not get off to an auspicious start. They're at a rehearsal dinner for Charlotte's cousin and Greg starts off by telling Charlotte she's too uptight. And it doesn't go uphill from there.
Red Clover Inn by Carla NeggersGreg is attracted to Charlotte and is delighted to learn that she is going to be at the Red Clover Inn in the Swift River Valley so he can spend more time with her. Well, Charlotte and his teenage children from a youthful first marriage.
I liked that this was a quiet story. Slow and steady, Charlotte and Greg built their relationship and fooled no one but themselves as they did so.

Four stars
This book comes out March 28

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Forever Mine by Erin Nicholas

Maya Goodwin rushes into life headfirst. No matter what she does, she does it with all her heart. It has gotten her in trouble including one where she got trapped inside a burning car. It was that incident that sent her to desk duty. Now she runs a center teaching martial arts through the lens of superheros. It's that center that sends Dr. Alex Nolan to Zoe.
Forever Mine by Erin NicholasAlex has only just discovered that he fathered a child almost ten years ago during a drunken one-night stand. He might never have found out except that Charli (his daughter) is a hemophiliac and that happens to be Alex's specialty. So he's trying to find a way to connect and wants to do it through her favorite, very geeky, TV show.
This is a lovely story where both characters show some growth and we get to seem them help each other. For the most part, they were adult about the whole thing and while there was a misunderstanding at the end, it didn't seem like a Big Misunderstanding. I didn't love everything about their relationship but Nicholas creates a nice story of two people coming together and I can't wait to hear more about costume designer, Sophie. Possibly with Maya's sparring partner Ben but I would also be okay with him getting his own book. A tough guy sidelined from his favorite activities? I hope that there is more to that story than just as a plot point for an Alex breakthrough.

Four stars
This book comes out March 28

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Crazy for You by Rachel Lacey

Bolstered by her friends, Emma has decided that it's time to divert from her normal stream of dull boyfriends and shake things up a bit. Her target? Her (now dead) brother's best friend Ryan. She's had a thing for him for years and is ready to act on int.
Ryan has a thing for Emma as well but he promised her brother that they would never hook up. Plus, his biological half-brother is in town and Ryan is trying to be a good example so that his brother's family will allow him to keep in contact. 
It's Ryan's rigid adherence to the dead brother's promise that made me enjoy this book less. It's repeated over and over and over with no growth on Ryan's part until the very end of the book. And Trent (Ryan's brother) is little more than a plot moppet (albeit eighteen-years-old). 
I really liked the first book in the series but just couldn't get into this one in the same way. I'm holding out hope for the next book when a wounded warrior and the woman he loved are getting their second chance.

Three stars
This book comes out March 28