THE WICKED WAYS OF ALEXANDER KIDD Review

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THE WICKED WAYS OF ALEXANDER KIDD is the second in Ms. Quinn’s The MacGregors: The Highland Heirs series. Allow me to introduce our hero and heroine…..

Captain Alexander Kidd, son of Captain William Kidd.
Alex learned to love the sea at a young age but the desire to answer to no man led him to follow his father’s path of piracy. Retrieval of his father’s legacy, a heretofore unknown treasure map, leads Alex to the Isle of Skye, Camlochlin, and the notorious MacGregor clan. Unbeknownst to Alex he’s about to embark on his life’s greatest adventure and learn what truly constitutes a treasure.
Alex’s sinful good looks, wicked humor, and devilish charm combined with all the qualities he hides under his flippant devil-may-care façade make him nigh irresistible. Alex is definitely worthy of a certain headstrong Highland lass.

Caitrina Grant, daughter of Connor Grant and Mairi MacGregor.
Trina’s family has been proscribed putting her life in danger the minute she leaves Skye. For her own safety Trina’s been trained in the art of self defense and archery. Trina prefers the weapons and combat training the boys receive to sewing and cooking. Her family history, particularly her matriarchal line, bold taste in literature, and thirst for adventure and foreign climes makes Connor’s expectation of Trina settling down to a quiet life of domesticity and babies idealistic at the least. Trina’s prayers for adventure are answered when she sneaks away and slips onto Capt. Alexander Kidd’s ship, Poseidon’s Adventure. She only wants a quick look round while she has the chance. Stowing away was purely accidental……..
Trina is beautiful, bold, intelligent, and daring. Our intrepid heroine is determined to wring every second from her unexpected adventure.

THE WICKED WAYS OF ALEXANDER KIDD begins with a bang. Ms Quinn sets and maintains a brisk pace of daring adventures on the high seas and in exotic locales favored by pirates while keeping the sexual tension between Trina and Alex as taut as Trina’s bowstring. I was totally captivated. The pages fairly flew by.
Their seafaring adventure of love, betrayal, and treasure seeking, accompanied by strong interesting secondary characters, is anything but predictable. The value of unpredictability can’t be overstated. I was tickled no end with the twists and turns that proved me wrong regarding a major plot point.
I was swept away by the bold, brash and engaging adventure created by Ms. Quinn, absolutely enthralled by THE WICKED WAYS OF ALEXANDER KIDD. What a wonderful escape….4.5 stars

Visit Paula

Wicked

THE ORACLE Review

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A monster lurks in the house next to the ancient ruins of Cumae where, in 427 BC, a young girl was chosen by the gods to become the Sibyl–oracle of the Greco-Roman people that enhabited the area. Though she lived to fulfill her mission, it is written that the chain of oracles, passing from one young girl to another, will continue forever.

Now, American author David Jeffrey is killed along with his teenage daughter, Angelica, when a fire breaks out in their Naples, Italy, home. When David’s brother, Jake, decides to leave Michigan with his family to visit his brother’s widow, Jennifer, strange things begin to happen in the modeled, castle-like home near the ancient ruins of Cumae. (Synopsis from Amazon)

The combination of history and mythology drew me to THE ORACLE. After finishing I’m left wondering what they really had to do with the story. Maybe I’m missing something but the Sibyl and the mythology surrounding her explains, barely, only one aspect of the modern story.

From ancient history to a modern day tragedy/semi-horror the link to the Sibyl was tenuous at best. Both the modern and the historical were well done and could have easily stood alone. Personally it would have been better to have one or the other. While reading I kept waiting for the AHA moment when it would become apparent what the ancient past had to do with the recent past and present. I think the moment came at the end but it was anti-climatic and unsatisfying. What was the reasoning behind it? What led to her in particular? What about the in between time? Why?

The modern tragedy was revealed and solved but I was left with too many questions regarding the history/mythology aspect.

THE ORACLE is well written. There’s no doubt Mr. Sedge knows his history and Italy but the lack of cohesive reasoning between the two time periods made this an average read for me.
3 stars

the oracle

SISTER EVE, PRIVATE EYE Review

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sister eve private eye

Sister Eve knows God moves in mysterious ways. And Eve adores a good mystery. Especially a murder.

Two decades into her calling at a New Mexico monastery, Sister Evangeline Divine (pronounced Diveen) breaks her daily routine when a police officer appears, carrying a message from her father. Sister Eve is no stranger to the law, having grown up with a police captain turned private detective. She’s seen her fair share of crime—and knows a thing or two about solving mysteries.

But when Captain Jackson Divine needs her to return home and help him recover from surgery, Sister Eve finds herself taking on his latest case.

A Hollywood director has disappeared, and the sultry starlet he’s been running around with isn’t talking. When the missing man turns up dead, Captain Divine’s case escalates into a full-blown murder case, and Sister Eve’s crime-solving instincts kick in with an almost God-given grace.

Soon Sister Eve finds herself soul-searching every step of the way: How can she choose between the vocation in her heart and the job in her blood? (Synopsis from Thomas Nelson Publishers site)   

I’ve read many mysteries featuring nuns, priests, rabbis, reverends, and other religiously affiliated protagonists, contemporary and historical. Amongst all these Sister Eve (Evangeline) still manages to make an impression.  She rides a Harley, has a need for speed (and the tickets to show for it), collects strays, and even after twenty years has a problem with authority.

Sister Eve has spent her years in service at the Benedictine monastery in Pecos, NM. She’s been reprimanded recently for speaking out about the Vatican’s decision to move the nuns. Eve believes the funds would be better spent building an animal sanctuary vs new accommodations for the nuns.  It’s obvious from the beginning that Sister Eve has reached a crisis. Not in her faith but her vocation. Will going home help her decide? Is it apparent to her superiors? Is that why her superior gave her a two month leave of absence?  

Eve thinks she knows her family but she’s been out of the daily loop for twenty years. As is the case with most families the relationships are never easy. Eve’s sister, Dorisanne who’s living in Las Vegas, refuses to come home during The Captain’s surgery and hospitalization, telling Eve it’s her turn since she took care of their mother. This is the first in a series of familial surprises for Eve. The awkwardness and difficulty of trying to see beyond years of misconceptions surrounding those closest to us is reasonably depicted.  

The mystery of who killed Chaz Cheston, Hollywood director and writer, is mildly interesting. The murder isn’t one readers can solve before the protagonist, the facts simply aren’t there. Readers have to solve it along with Eve and the Captain. Mostly it serves as a catalyst to the Divine’s working out some of their issues.   

SISTER EVE, PRIVATE EYE is set in the austerely beautiful desert landscape of Madrid, Pecos, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. However, the setting isn’t utilized. Sadly, the area isn’t as much a character as the people.  

Personally I’d like to see a bit more depth to the characters, a more engaging mystery, and more use of the setting. SISTER EVE, PRIVATE EYE shows promise.

3 stars

Eileen Dreyer’s TWICE TEMPTED Review & giveaway

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Twice Tempted cover image

Fiona Ferguson’s troubles began with a kiss . . . 

It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne.

But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive.

Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way. (Synopsis from the Hachette Publishing website)

 

TWICE TEMPTED (Drake’s Rakes) is the fifth in the series and my introduction to Ms. Dreyer.  Though evident that a lot of water has already passed under the bridge I never felt lost or that vital information was missing.

TWICE TEMPTED is well researched with great attention paid to detail. It’s also fast paced, intelligent with an intricate continuing storyline, and engaging, highly appealing characters.  Fortunately for readers this could describe many historical romances available today. We truly have an embarrassment of riches.

Fiona and Alex are secondary characters from previous books. They’re blessed with wit, intelligence, and above average attractiveness. Both are strong and used to protecting and putting others first. 

Fiona’s been responsible for herself and her twin Mairead from an incredibly young age. 

Her resourcefulness, honor, loyalty, and responsibility are incredible. 

Alex Knight aka the White Knight. Alex feels responsible for others. The trait is both a blessing and a curse. It’s also led to his current rock and a hard place position.

Truly, a picture perfect hero and heroine but…..

What really distinguishes TWICE TEMPTED, for me, is the brilliance and singularity of Mairead, Chuffy, and Lady Bea. I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered their like portrayed as they are. Not only do they shine brightly but they cast a warm glow, enriching both the plot and characters around them. They’re treasured, respected, and the way their unique abilities and intelligence are utilized is marvelous.

Ms. Deyer would be added to my list for intelligent, richly peopled, complexly plotted writing; however the addition of those three characters has placed her at the top. Mairead, Chuffy, and, Lady Bea, as difficult and different as they are, have completely beguiled me.

4.5 stars

Eileen’s giving away a print copy of TWICE TEMPTED, open internationally. You can enter at Miss Ivy’s Book Nook Take II

ALL GOOD DEEDS Review

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AllGoodDeedsEbook-200x300

Lucy Kendall worked for Child Protection Services for ten years. Time and again she witnessed the systems failure to protect the innocents. Well, Lucy’s had enough. After quitting CPS she becomes a private investigator. With her clandestine network for tracing and tracking she’s taking matters in her own hands and unlike Lady Justice, Lucy isn’t blind. She clearly sees the guilty and knows exactly what needs to be done.

Lucy Kendall is a thought provoking protagonist. She’s aware of the inner darkness that allows her to be judge, jury, and executioner; the consequences when she’s finally caught. It’s not a question of if but simply when. By correcting the lapses and mistakes of a system that fails those it’s assigned to protect Lucy is simply providing a service for society and thereby preventing further victims.

Lucy may be a killer but she isn’t your typical vigilante. She doesn’t consider herself infallible nor is she intractable. Lucy makes every effort to ensure her prey is guilty. She asks herself hard questions and it never becomes routine or easy. But things are seldom that black and white. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, what if she’s wrong? The other characters Lucy meets on her twisted route to find Kailey Richardson, Chris, Justin, and Todd to name a few, are well developed, expanding the scope and plot in unexpected ways. The path to Kailey is one of the most sinuous trails I’ve ever read.

It’s surprisingly easy to like and relate to Lucy. Pedophiles can’t be cured or fixed. Why are they allowed back in society? They’re predators and a danger to children, shouldn’t that trump everything else? Registering isn’t enough to stop them, after all, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Pedophilia and other child abuses make ALL GOOD DEEDS a disturbing read that, none the less, holds the reader in a viselike grip. Ms. Green peels back the curtain revealing an ugliness and depravity that hurts your heart and leaves an indelible mark. It’s bound to make moral compasses spin madly. W hen children are involved most of us can easily be swayed to desire an eye for an eye and more. ALL GOOD DEEDS saving grace, the bright shining thread through all the ugliness is hope. I’m on board for whatever & wherever is next with Lucy.
4 stars

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THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE Review

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the red book of primrose house

3.5 stars
Texan transplant Pru (Prunella) Parke was offered and accepted the position of head gardener at Primrose House in Sussex. Using the famous Red Book of Humphry Repton, Pru’s mission is to restore the gardens to their former glory. Hiring Pru, versus the local applicant, has created tension and bad feelings locally. Are those feelings strong enough to justify the murder of one of Pru’s crew?

THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE (Potting Shed Mystery #2) was my introduction to Pru and Christopher.

Pru is half English (mother) and Texan (father). Her mother’s stories about England created a yearning in Pru, from a young age, to live in England. She finally makes the leap and at the end of #1 is offered the head gardener post at Primrose House ensuring her stay in England.
There’s a lot I like and enjoy about Pru.
Her maturity, she’s fifty-four.
Her work ethic, gardening isn’t easy work but it does have numerous benefits physical and mental.
She’s intelligent, has a sense of humor and is courageous. Not many people would pull up stakes leaving everything behind and move to another country.
Now here is what bewildered me about Pru. Feeling an affinity for another country or place when you’ve grown up hearing stories about it and experiencing many of its traditions is understandable. There’d naturally be a desire to see and experience it yourself. What’s hard to fathom is why Pru would want to suppress her Texan. She pretty much has the British reserve down with the exception of a cry or two. These lapses are completely understandable given the circumstances. What I didn’t see was any real evidence of the justifiably famous Southern warmth and charm. On the contrary, she tries to keep Texas from her speech and hides to drink ice tea? Why? Is there an attempt to explain this in the first book?

Christopher Pearce, Pru’s fella. Christopher is a DCI at the Met in London. He’s handsome, intelligent, and not the least reserved when with Pru. They have the weekends but soon discover that isn’t enough. Nor is he close enough to suit him when the garden vandalism incidents begin. He’s aware of Pru’s penchant for getting involved and the danger that can entail. His protective streak is endearing, even more so as he can’t always be there or fix everything. His feelings obviously run deeply. There’s no shortage of passion and intensity between these two.

THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE is the only mystery I can recall where the prologue is the murder from the victims point of view. The first chapter then pre-dates the murder giving the reader a unique perspective. This literary device actually made it easier for me to suss out the who in whodunit. The secondary characters are well developed. However, taking into account the ending of THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE and the nature of Pru’s work these appear likely to change each book, with a few exceptions of course.
THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE is an entertaining niche cozy liberally laced with clever red herrings and a mature protagonist who is taking life by the horns and giving it her all. The gardening details combined with the historical aspect of the Red Books and their author is especially interesting. Personally speaking, historical additions always make a good read better.
Reviewed for Miss Ivy’s Book Nook Take II & Manic Readers

HELLO FROM THE GILLESPIES Review

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hello from the gillespies

Let’s meet the Gillespies………

Angela Gillespie is fifty-five and has recently started suffering from frequent severe headaches, menopause or something more? She’s been married to Nick for thirty-three years. They’ve always been best friends, the rock for the other when necessary and together there’s nothing they can’t face and overcome.  Therein lies the problem.  Nick has shut Angela out. He spends his days, when not seeing to the station maintenance, closeted in the office researching his Irish roots and talking to Carol, the Irish genealogical researcher.

Angela herself has taken to escaping into a fantasy world.

The situation with Nick, concern for her children and their varied issues combined with her health fears are about to overwhelm her.  It’s this mood and advice from her dearest friend Joan that prompts her to write a completely honest Christmas letter this year. No bright side spin just the plain unvarnished truth. Maybe putting it in writing will help her to gain some perspective.

When Nick unintentionally sends the letter never meant to be seen by anyone other than Angela it’s the catalyst for changes, desired or not.

Nick feels he’s let Angela, his children, and those who came before him down. He’s run up massive debts and had no choice but to accept an offer that’s bound to set his neighbors against him. Worse yet, he can’t bring himself to talk to Angela. He simply can’t bear to face her disappointment. Despite his deep abiding love for Angela, his inability to speak puts him further from her with every passing day.

Genevieve is the oldest twin. Hairdresser to the stars in New York, Genevieve is a bit on the snarky side. Without a shy bone in her body she grabs life by the throat and wrings as much as she can from it. Unfortunately, Genevieve’s filter issues and lack of discretion are about to bite her…

Victoria’s the quieter twin. Nick believed Victoria would take over the station but her life took a different path when she and Fred Lawson broke up. Victoria was a successful radio producer in Sydney until her radio personality locked himself in the booth and went on a drug and alcohol fueled rant. Victoria finds herself the scapegoat for his meltdown.

Rosalind aka Lindy is the daughter born after the twins.  Lindy’s always felt left out because of the close relationship between the twins.  I found Lindy to be a whiner.  She’s my least favorite character.

Ignatius aka Ig is Angela and Nick’s surprise late life baby boy. Ig is a delight from beginning to end and one of my favorite characters.

Celia is Nick’s aunt and, much to their dismay, spends a lot of time with the family. She was married to his uncle and helped run their successful small parts business. Celia’s one of those difficult people. It’s hard to like her but for many reasons she’s earned and deserves respect. She’s never really approved of Angela and their relationship is an uneasy one. Angela’s remarks in her Christmas letter don’t improve on it much.

Joan is Angela’s oldest and dearest friend. Joan and her husband own a neighboring station. She’s been there for Angela, in fact the whole family, and always will be. Friends like Joan are a true blessing.

Would it really be so awful to tell the truth? Perhaps not bluntly but making honesty palatable and a priority can’t be a bad thing can it?  Personally, the truth is preferable over any of the alternatives.  In HELLO FROM THE GILLESPIES Angela and the rest of her family are about to discover how powerful the truth is.

In the tradition of Maeve Binchy, Ms. McInerney introduces readers to the Gillespies and immerses them in their lives.  Though ordinary hard working people the Gillespies live on an exotic (for me) Australian sheep station with seasons the complete opposite of ours.  Everything about that vast landscape and sky is fascinating. The Gillespies location may be alien but their problems, with a few exceptions, are similar to everyone else’s making them easy to relate to.  The Gillespie’s travails allow escapism while also giving readers potential insight into their own particular situations and dilemmas.  Escapism and a broadening perspective, it’s a win on both levels.

This is my first book by Ms. McInerney but not the last. I’ll definitely be scoping out her back list.

3.5 stars

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