Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories by R. Austin Freeman

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The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories
by R. Austin Freeman


ISBN-13: 9780486814810
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: July 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from GoodReads:
Known as the father of the scientific detective story, Freeman was a physician who tested his fictional ploys through microscopic and chemical analysis. His tales not only challenged the wits of his readers but also inspired many modern detection methods.

This collection presents eight of the most compelling Dr. Thorndyke stories. "The Case of Oscar Brodski," "A Case of Premeditation," and "The Echo of a Mutiny" offer outstanding examples of a form Freeman originated, the inverted mystery. In these tales, the crime and culprit are revealed at the outset; the fascination begins with the entrance of Dr. Thorndyke, who spins a convincing web of evidence from the subtlest clues.

"The Mandarin's Pearl," "The Blue Sequin," "The Moabite Cipher," and "The Aluminum Dagger" incorporate scientific detection, featuring details evaluated by the author's characteristic scientific analysis. As a special bonus, this volume includes "31 New Inn," the now hard-to-find tale in which Dr. Thorndyke makes his debut.


My Review:
The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories is a collection of 8 short stories with Dr. Thorndyke as the main character. These stories were originally published in 1909 to 1912, though one story is apparently set in 1900. They take place in England.

Dr. Thorndyke is a "medical jurispractitioner," so he handles "cold cases" (when lawyers consult him) as well as recently committed murders. He looks closely at the forensic evidence, carries a portable laboratory, and uses logic to solve his cases. He has a friend, Dr. Jervis, who helps him solve crimes. If this sounds like Sherlock Holmes, it is the same type of character. However, I like Thorndyke better. He's clever, but he doesn't show off like Sherlock does. (Sherlock has a habit of guessing based on high probabilities just so he'll look extremely smart.)

Thorndyke encourages Jervis to learn his methods, shares all of the clues that he finds, and encourages Jervis to puzzle out these clues for himself. This gives the reader a chance to puzzle out the answer as well. Not all of the stories are puzzle mysteries, though. The first three show us the crime from the criminal's perspective, then switches to showing Thorndyke spotting and analyzing the clues. These worked better than I expected and delved a bit into why the criminals acted as they did. I enjoyed and would recommend this book.

The stories contained in this book are:
The Case of Oscar Brodski
A Case of Premeditation
The Echo of the Mutiny
The Mandarin's Pearl
The Blue Sequin
The Moabite Cipher
The Aluminum Dagger
31 New Inn


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

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Beneath Copper Falls
by Colleen Coble


ISBN-13: 9780718090715
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: July 10, 2017

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description from Amazon:
As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancĂ© to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.


My Review:
Beneath Copper Falls is a Christian suspense novel. It's the 6th novel in a series, but it's about Dana and Boone and so works as a stand-alone novel. The suspense is created by physical danger to a number of women. Dana's abusive ex-boyfriend followed her and is causing havoc. But then another woman dies, and it seems connected to an old murder investigation. Are the two cases connected? About halfway through, I realized from subtle clues where the book was heading, and then more obvious clues also pointed in that direction. This made the story even more suspenseful.

When I was just a teenager, I briefly knew a manipulative man online who used some of the exact same words as this fictional serial killer. "I though you were different from everyone else." Makes me wonder... Anyway, poor Dana has been traumatized throughout her life and now has an abusive, stalker boyfriend after her. Both she and Boone have to heal from past hurts. They make a great couple because they really do understand how the other is feeling, and they help each other stretch beyond hurt-imposed limits.

The Christian element involved Dana finding the courage to pray with people on the job and Boone forgiving people who hurt him. She also made a point about looking at a person's character (and developing your own) rather than focusing on outer good looks. There was no sex. The bad language was referred to with "he cussed" type phrases rather than with actual bad words. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, July 17, 2017

The Devil in Beauty by Heidi Ashworth

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The Devil in Beauty
by Heidi Ashworth


ISBN-13: 9780996104463
Paperback: 294 pages
Publisher: Dunhaven Place Publishing
Released: June 21, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Julian "Trev" Silvester, the Marquis of Trevelin, once had everything a gentleman could want--fortune, good looks, and enough charm to seduce the beautiful young ladies of the ton. But his involvement in a duel with a jealous duke leaves him disfigured, and Trev is ostracized by those who once celebrated him. Though his life is irrevocably changed, Trev is still loyal to his friends. When Willy Gilbert is accused of murder and Lady Vawdrey's diamond necklace is stolen, he jumps at the chance to help them.

Trev finds an unlikely ally, a man also interested in Miss Desdemona Woodmansey--a woman who isn't put off by Trev's scar or the scandal of the duel. Trev has already lived through the disgrace of a scandal, but can he survive a murderer who will do anything to protect a sinister secret?


My Review:
The Devil in Beauty is a mystery set in 1811 in London. Lord Trevelin is disfigured and in social disgrace. When a friend is taken to Newgate Prison more because he's disabled than because he's likely to have murdered his brother, Trev investigates to find the true murderer. A man visiting from Barcelona helps him despite their rivalry over Miss Woodmansey, a short woman who likes them both and thinks it'd be exciting to help solve a mystery. Her role was more to cause tension than to help, though.

The mystery was complex enough that confession was required to confirm exactly what happened, though you could guess at parts. Trev had a temper and cruel tongue at times, but the main characters were generally interesting and engaging. The story was not a happy one. Quite a few people died from various causes, including suicide. Nice historical details about Newgate, social manners, and such were woven into the story.

There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting novel, though it was different from what I expected from the book description.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

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The Cover Story
by Deb Richardson-Moore


ISBN-13: 9781782642404
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Lion Fiction
Released: June 27, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A fatal crash involving two college students heading home for the holidays seems like an unfortunate accident. But when the surviving girl wakens, she tells a curious story of the vehicle that forced them off the road--an old-fashioned, 1950s-style hearse.

Reporter Branigan Powers delves into the mystery that takes her to the college campus, and leads her into dangerous fraternity and sorority pledge parties.

Reunited with the homeless Malachi Martin, who is so adept at seeing what isn't there rather than what is, Branigan must uncover what is really going on at the college before other students are put in danger.

This second installment in the author's first cozy mystery series delves into the world of newspapers and life on the streets--both of which the author knows well.


My Review:
The Cover Story is amateur detective mystery. This is the second book in a series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and the previous mystery was not spoiled in this book.

Branigan, a reporter, has an excuse to ask questions because she's writing an article on the "accident." Malachi, a homeless man, helps because he cares about Charlie (who was in the crash). Sometimes he used illegal means to do so, like breaking into a room to search it. They passed their information on to the police.

A lot of information was dug up, but it wasn't clear how it all fit or if it was even tied together. There's uncertainty as to whether Charlie's life might be in danger, which added some suspense to the story. I could figure out parts of the mystery shortly before the main characters, but mostly this was a "along for the ride" mystery rather than a guessing game. With such interesting main characters, it was an enjoyable ride.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, July 14, 2017

A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren

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A Matter of Trust
by Susan May Warren


ISBN-13: 9780800727451
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 4, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he's remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana's rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can't seem to forget the past or the woman he loved, who betrayed him.

Former attorney Ella Blair is the second-youngest senator in the country. She regrets her part in destroying Gage's career as she knows that Gage is a good guy and an awesome snowboarder. When Ella's brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park's most dangerous peaks, Ella pleads with Gage to help her to rescue him. He'll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder--and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. Can they learn to trust each other--even when disaster happens again?


My Review:
A Matter of Trust is a Christian romance full of excitement and adventure. It's the third book in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones. However, certain events from the previous books will be spoiled since there are ongoing story lines in the series (mainly, the missing niece theme).

This story contained exciting snow rescues and snowboarding down dangerous slopes. I liked Gage, who was just trying to do the right thing and ended up paying a hard price. He's a more mature person for what he endured, but he hasn't forgiven himself for not being able to stop a tragic accident that wasn't really his fault. Ella was one of the lawyers who destroyed his career, which hurt since they'd been romantically involved before the accident. So these complex, likable characters have to deal with the past while trying to save Ella's brother, who is doing a dangerous snowboarding route right as a snowstorm hits.

The Christian theme was Gage and Ella realizing that God loves and cares for us even when we make bad decisions or mistakes. Just like the SAR team helps people who don't deserve it, God's help doesn't depend upon us deserving it (thank God!). There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this exciting novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Protective Measures by Maggie K. Black

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Protective Measures
by Maggie K. Black


ISBN-13: 9780373457199
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: July 4, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
After an attack at a military charity gala, navy commander Leo Darius learns someone is after him and his two daughters. He needs backup to complete his secret mission, so he hires Ash Security to protect him and his daughters. Though security expert Zoe Dean agrees to handle the threats and near-fatal assaults, she doesn't want to get attached to the handsome commander and his lovely daughters. But with the would-be kidnappers closing in, saving Leo and the little girls, while protecting her heart, may be one mission Zoe can't master.


My Review:
Protective Measures is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones.

Zoe was at the charity gala because Ash Private Security tracked a group of thieves there. The thieves' next target appears to be Leo and his daughters. Leo was there because he's the contact for a secret deal to buy important military intel from an anonymous source. He hires Ash Private Security to watch his back and protect his daughters while he waits for the source to contact him. Of course, Zoe was highly involved in this protection, and they save each other's lives several times. Zoe and Leo respect each other, and they fight together as partners. They also heal from past hurts as events force them to confront things in their pasts.

The suspense came from the bad guys attacking them, from not knowing who the intel contact was, and from a mean person from Zoe's past showing up to cause trouble for her. The Christian element involved forgiving people (including Zoe forgiving herself). There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting and interesting novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, July 7, 2017

The Incredible Crime by Lois Austen-Leigh

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The Incredible Crime
by Lois Austen-Leigh


ISBN-13: 9781464207464
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: July 4, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Prince’s College, Cambridge, is a peaceful and scholarly community, enlivened by Prudence Pinsent, the Master’s daughter. One fine morning she sets out for Suffolk to join her cousin Lord Wellende for a few days’ hunting. On the way Prudence encounters Captain Studde of the coastguard. Studde is on the trail of a drug smuggling ring that connects Wellende Hall with the cloistered world of Cambridge. He asks for Prudence's help in unraveling who is distributing the drugs, but will she help since her friends or family may be involved?


My Review:
The Incredible Crime is a romance which involves a mystery about who's smuggling drugs into the country. It was originally published in 1931 and is set in England. There were several different viewpoint characters, but young, independent Prudence seemed to be the main character.

An arrogant, rude man decides that he wants to court her, so he makes himself look more presentable and is mildly pleasant towards her. He's brilliant, so Prudence is told it's a great match and she should be flattered--and, amazingly, she is. At the end, he's still arrogant and has a temper, but that didn't seem to matter.

We also get descriptions of life at Cambridge and about fox hunts. And there is a mystery, it just didn't seem like the main point of the story. Near the beginning, a maid tells Prudence what has been going on, then Prudence happens to witness a few other clues. She comes to the obvious conclusion and decides not to help the police. Romance and fox hunts happen. Then there's a twist, which was also implied from the start. Still, the solution to the mystery will probably be a surprise.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this story because it was an interesting look at the time period, but don't expect a puzzle mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

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My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island
by Carrie Fancett Pagels


ISBN-13: 9781683220886
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books
Released: July 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Maude Welling expected to inherit her mother's inn, Winds of Mackinac, but her father refuses to let her run it now her fiance has come home married to another woman. He's even talking about selling the inn and moving to his farm. Maude decides to prove her ability to run the inn by secretly working as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist staying at the Grand Hotel, pursues a story about the hurried marriage of a rival newspaper owner's daughter to a local man. His boss wants to humiliate his rival. Ben is attracted to Maude and keeps her secret about working as a maid, though he wonders why she's doing so. He soon realizes that pursuing his story may alienate the very woman he's beginning to love.


My Review:
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island is a Christian romance set in 1895. It contained just enough historical detail to remind the reader of the time period, but the time period wasn't critical to the events in the story (except for Mark Twain's visit). It's a nice enough romance, but I felt like the author tried to make Maude's part of the story much more complicated than it was.

For example, Maude's mother promised that Maude would inherit the inn but Maude's father acts like it's his. Rather than finding out who owns the inn (by asking the lawyer, her uncle, or her father), Maude decides to prove to her father that she can run an inn. Not by helping out at the inn but by working as a maid cleaning rooms at the Grand Hotel. Not sure how that proved she can run a business, but she also kept this a secret from her father, so how could it prove anything to him? And her brief employment as a maid didn't turn out to be necessary to her romance, her ambitions, or even Ben's story.

The terms of the will were critical to the story, but we don't actually learn what the will said until nearly the end. Much of Maude's worries would have been cleared up if she'd only found out the terms earlier (though some things earlier in the story made no sense in light of those terms). The romantic conflict ended up being that Maude couldn't leave the island but Ben's life and ambitions were in Detroit. So who will give up their dreams, or will they part?

The characters went to church and heard a sermon relating to Ben's struggles. At the end, Ben realized that God had been working behind the scenes. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to "clean romance" fans.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Grace to the Finish by Julie Hyzy

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Grace to the Finish
by Julie Hyzy


ISBN-13: 9780425281635
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 27, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Now that curator Grace Wheaton has officially been named heir to Bennett Marshfield's fortune, her usually busy schedule has become a juggling act. In addition to her duties at Marshfield Manor, she's bankrolling her roommates' refurbished wine shop, Amethyst Cellars. Grace is excited to check out the rustic space with Bruce and Scott. But that excitement turns to dismay when they stumble upon the body of the banker involved with the sale.

Grace wants to get to the bottom of this mystery quickly so that her friends' new venture isn't overshadowed by an unsolved murder, but she's got even more to balance when her troubled sister, Liza, is released from prison early. Liza's first stop is Marshfield Manor and her first priority is grabbing a bite of Bennett's fortune for herself. Grace has to keep her greedy sister at bay and catch a killer before her new life comes crashing down around her.


My Review:
Grace to the Finish is a cozy mystery. It's the eighth book in the series. This novel didn't spoil the mystery in the previous books. It will appeal most to people who have been following Grace's story and care about her personal life, as that made up much of the story. There were three "mysteries" going on.

The first involved a murdered woman. It was pretty straight forward and was solved by whodunit attacking Grace, even though she hadn't gotten very far with it. That's because her evil sister, Liza, is trying to sue Bennett to get a share of his fortune. An odd incident in their past may provide a good defense. Grace followed the clue but was reluctant to look too hard at it in case she didn't like what she found. The secret was so easy to figure out that only her reluctance (and Liza's antics) made this take up so many pages. Finally, Joe (the potential boyfriend) has a secret that he's been hiding but needs to tell Grace. They talked more about needing to talk than they did in dealing with the issue. Again, Grace was reluctant to investigate to determine the truth, so it's lucky that people who knew the whole story just keep telling her what she needed to know.

While Grace did find clues about the murdered woman and Liza, somehow the story felt more like it was about the drama than developing the mystery. I still like the characters, but you would hardly know that Grace ran a manor/museum in this one. But if this is the end of the series, then it did a good job wrapping things up. There was no sex or bad language.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

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For Love and Honor
by Jody Hedlund


ISBN-13: 9780310749301
Paperback: 239 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: March 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed?

Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have?

As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?


My Review:
For Love and Honor is a young adult romance set in a fantasy land at the time of knights in shining armor. While the main characters follow the Christian religion (and collect relics and religious art), the country is only vaguely based on the European Middle Ages. This is the third book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous ones to understand this one, and the previous novels were not spoiled.

Having read some of the author's highly historical adult novels, I was surprised by the lack of realism in this story. The heroic characters defy physics on a regular basis. I suppose the author thought that teens wouldn't know or care. The first half of the story involved bantering and falling in love. The second half involved secrets coming out and the knight repeatedly rescuing his girl from death.

Sabine and Bennet are manipulated into meeting under false pretenses and start to fall in love over their shared interests, but each has a secret. Lady Sabine has wealth but also a blemish that makes superstitious people assume she's a witch and want to kill her. Bennet's brother has put his family deeply in debt, so it's up to Bennet to marry for money so they can pay off their debts. If he doesn't raise the money in time, the neighbors will attack.

Sir Bennet has some pride issues and will only accept help on his own terms. Meanwhile, Sabine notices that everyone carries some sort of physical imperfection. When she realizes that someone (a human, not God) loves her unconditionally, she decides she should love herself, too. There was no bad language or sex, but there was a lot of kissing. Including one time when Sabine was still tied up (kiss her or free her? Hmmm).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Black Cat Sees His Shadow by Kay Finch

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The Black Cat Sees His Shadow
by Kay Finch


ISBN-13: 9780425275269
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Mystery novelist Sabrina Tate and her cat, Hitchcock, set out to catch a conniving killer. The town of Lavender, Texas is buzzing with tourists, and local businesses are pulling out all the stops for the annual Pumpkin Days Festival. On the eve of opening day, Sabrina comes face-to-face with her doppelganger, Tia Hartwell, an artist at the festival. The similarities between the two women are striking, including their matching black cats.

Sabrina learns that her new twin Tia has an enemy: bad-tempered jewelry vendor Calvin Fisher. When Fisher is found slumped over dead in his pickup, Tia tops the suspect list. With the help of her feline sidekick, Sabrina must clear her new look-alike friend before she finds herself in a deadly case of double jeopardy.


My Review:
The Black Cat Sees His Shadow is a cozy mystery. This is the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the mysteries in the previous books.

The heroine asked questions and observed what was going on around her. Her cat frequently ran off, leading her to clues. She wasn't stupid, but there were occasions when she didn't think out her actions and so put herself (and others) in potential danger.

It's a clue-based puzzle mystery, yet the heroine didn't seem very interested in who had means and opportunity. I guess she was leaving that for the police while she discovered who had a motive. I was able to spot whodunit before the heroine figured it out.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Freedom's Price by Christine Johnson

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Freedom's Price
by Christine Johnson


ISBN-13: 9780425251355
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revel
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Amazon:
When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her parents and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother's family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships, but whose real goal in life is to bring to justice the man who stole his father's ship and caused his untimely death.

When Catherine finally arrives at her family's plantation, she finds it in disarray and her family absent landowners. Longing to restore the plantation to the way it was when her mother lived there, Catherine tries to take control of plantation. She soon discovers that more is going on than meets the eye. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice.


My Review:
Freedom's Price is a romance set in 1856 in Key West and New Orleans. I was profoundly unhappy with the ending of this book. Catherine seemed sorry that her pride, selfishness, and greed got her into trouble rather than sorry for her behavior. Even at the very end, Catherine wasn't satisfied with using only what actually belonged to her and Tom to free the slaves. She didn't hesitate to cheat someone (who never did her any harm) out of what was rightfully his because she didn't like that he had slaves.

Tom was interesting and had his own arc about learning not to take vengeance into his own hands. Catherine seemed decent at first since she cares about slaves and tenants, but it's always on her own terms (which sometimes left them worse off). People kept telling her that her intended actions would put her (and others) in danger, but she always felt that she knew better.

Catherine selfishly thinks she should have everything she wants, so she acted like she had the right to run her cousin's plantation even though she had no idea if she had a right to any part of it. Even though she didn't do a good job running her father's estates and knows nothing about sugar plantations, she's sure she can do better than anyone else. I didn't like Catherine.

This is the third book in a series. Characters from the previous books appear in this story, but you can understand this story without having read the previous books. There was no sex scenes or bad language.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Romancing Daphne by Sarah M. Eden

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Romancing Daphne
by Sarah M. Eden


ISBN-13: 9781524402969
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Released: June 21, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
As her first London Season looms before her, the thought of the impending social whirl fills Daphne Lancaster's timid heart with dread. She hasn't her sisters beauty nor their talent for conversing easily. Even her family's enviable connections may not be enough to prevent disaster.

But Daphne's misery turns to surprised delight when the first event of her Season brings an unexpected visitor to her door—James Tilburn, whose tender kindness stole her heart in her youth. When the handsome young gentleman expresses his desire to court her, Daphne is elated. Their feelings for each other quickly grow, and it appears that, much to Daphne's disbelief, her happily ever after is within reach.

Yet nothing is as it seems. The couple finds themselves caught in a tangled web of greed and deceit, leaving James and Daphne to determine whether they are willing to risk everything for true love.


My Review:
Romancing Daphne is a Regency romance set in 1812 in London. It's the third book in the series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. This is a touching novel with a heroine with a soul-deep hurt.

When her mother died and her father withdrew from life, Daphne and her siblings had to fend for themselves. Quiet Daphne was often overlooked, and her father refused her the affection she craved. Daphne is now a young woman full of intelligence, caring, and wit, but she doesn't believe anyone will want her. Especially since she's overheard many a person call her plain.

James has a controlling, manipulative father. Under threat, James agrees to befriend Daphne during her Season and perhaps court her. He comes to appreciate how easy it is to talk with her and how she genuinely cares for people. Of course, Daphne soon overhears "proof" that James is only showing her attention because he was forced to. She withdraws from the pain, determined to never let anyone hurt her like this again. Can James prove that his love is genuine (and survive the avenging guardian and brother)?

There is some humor in how Daphne's guardian, the Dangerous Duke, scares people. I like that the novel acknowledges how our upbringing can shape how we view ourselves and others. Daphne and James were better people for knowing each other, and they help each other release their burdens. The historical details about the politics, social manners, and such were woven into the story, though accuracy was often suspended when it came to the Dangerous Duke's behavior. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

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The Captain's Daughter
by Jennifer Delamere


ISBN-13: 9780764219207
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London: H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan. A naturally talented singer, she soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he's glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can't wait to leave behind.


My Review:
The Captain's Daughter is a Christian romance set in 1879 in London. The story took place at the London theater playing the Gilbert and Sullivan show, "H.M.S. Pinafore." The author worked in historical details about Gilbert and Sullivan and about what working at this theater was like. Rosalyn also grew up in the orphanage run by George Muller, so references were made to how that orphanage was run.

The main characters were likable. Nate learned to forgive and let go of the past so he could move on. Rosalyn was sweet and resourceful but came across as extremely naive and trusting. Her former employer's husband made sexual advances toward her, and subsequent events should have made it abundantly clear to her that men were sexually interested in her. Yet when she's warned away from a charming man, she thinks, "surely he doesn't think of me that way" rather than being wary or asking for more information as I would have expected. She received excellent advice about several things from people she trusted yet usually didn't follow it. This was partly so we could clearly see how God was protecting and providing for her despite her choices.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel, especially to Gilbert and Sullivan fans.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, June 16, 2017

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

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With You Always
by Jody Hedlund


ISBN-13: 9780764218040
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She's had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children's Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn't want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City's wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother's shadow and is determined to win his father's challenge. He doesn't plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.


My Review:
With You Always is a Christian romance set in 1857 in NYC and then in Illinois. You've got pride, prejudice, an "I never knew myself" type moment, and a romantic couple who are better people for having known each other. Just saying, P&P fans might like this novel.

Elise's family was wronged by a rich man, and now she and her sisters are poor and orphaned. After a financial crisis hits NYC, Elise can no longer find work there and must risk the unknowns of taking the Orphan Train to new employment in Illinois.

Thornton just wants his father to be proud of him, but all his father's pride seems aimed at Thornton's twin brother. Their father pits the brothers against each other to build a town in Illinois and fall in love in the next six months. Elise challenges Thornton to care about people and listen to their needs, not just see them as assets. But will acting ethically mean losing the challenge?

I enjoyed the banter between Elise and Thornton. They were both kind and honorable at heart even if their actions weren't always perfect. They faced hard decisions and grew as people throughout the story. The historical details were woven into the story and gave a good sense of what life was like at that time.

The Christian element was Elise learning to draw closer to God during hard times. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

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Bread of Angels
by Tessa Afshar


ISBN-13: 9781496406477
Paperback: 375 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant's daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father's secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances--along with her father's precious dye--help her become one of the city's preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can't outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.


My Review:
Bread of Angels is a Biblical novel about Lydia's life up to and shortly after she meets Paul in Acts. The main theme of the story was fear. Lydia constantly worried about what could go wrong, partly due to something that happened to her mother when Lydia was very young.

I could see what was coming regarding what happened to make Lydia move to Philippi. Some of Lydia's actions didn't make sense to me as it seemed so obvious to me what was going on from the start, but her actions may have been simply because she was young and a bit naive.

Lydia befriends a Hebrew woman who teaches her about God, which is why she was with the women meeting at the river. The author wove the events that happened to Paul into Lydia's story in a way that forces her to face her fears and learn to trust God in times of trouble. The characters reacted to events in realistic ways, and I cared about what happened to them.

Historical and cultural details were woven into the story and helped drive the narrative. These details seemed fairly accurate, though it's my understanding that the patron-client relationship was more binding than the author implied that it was. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I highly recommend this enjoyable and insightful novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

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Hidden Legacy
by Lynn Huggins Blackburn


ISBN-13: 9780373457137
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Arriving home with the baby she's adopting, Caroline Harrison finds her house vandalized…and an intruder intent on shooting her. She's saved when police sirens approach, but all signs point to the little boy as the true target—and the assailant won't give up.

Now she has to rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why someone's after her soon-to-be adoptive son. Reunited after thirteen years apart, Jason can't help but hope their love might be rekindled, but Caroline and her son's safety come first. Because if he wants a chance at a future—and a family—with them, they have to outrun a hit man.


My Review:
Hidden Legacy is a Christian romantic suspense novel. This is the second book in the series, though it works as a stand alone. However, this book did "spoil" what went on in the first novel.

The suspense was created by someone trying to kill Caroline and her son. I loved the scene where Jason's mother tells them to get inside (rather than get romantically distracted in the open) since someone's trying to kill them--but what does she know, she's just a housewife! lol. Go, girl!

I liked all of the main characters. The hero and heroine both had some issues to face before they could get together. Jason previously left Caroline behind because he didn't want to be near his birth father. Caroline was dealing with why God allowed bad things to happen.

The Christian theme was naturally woven into the story and was about forgiveness and trusting God. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

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The Road to Paradise
by Karen Barnett


ISBN-13: 9780735289543
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Ranger Ford Brannon doesn't relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills. They fight their growing attraction since Ford rejected God after he lost his father in a climbing accident but Margie's main goal is to bring people to Christ through her nature talks.

Then Margie's controlling former boyfriend threatens to develop the Paradise Inn and the park into a tourist playground as a way to manipulate Margie into returning to him. As he pushes through his plans, Margie and Ford try to find a way to preserve the wilderness of the park.


My Review:
The Road to Paradise is a Christian romance set in 1927 in Washington. Margie flees to Mount Rainier National Park as a way to avoid her manipulative and controlling former boyfriend. It's also a dream of hers to work as a ranger, though she works as a naturalist who gives talks and tours to visitors. Her former boyfriend pushes through plans to develop the park into a ski resort, golf course, and such while promising that he'll drop the plans if Margie will agree to marry him.

While Ford and Margie both love the park and are attracted to each other, Margie avoids Ford since he's rejected God. I liked that Christian characters realized that only God (not dating Margie) could heal Ford's grief over losing his father in a climbing accident. Margie initially had this "the mountain/nature is sacred" attitude that surprised me, but this changed into helping people see God's hand in nature through her nature talks.

We get a "tour" of the park through Ford's and Margie's work there and get a sense of what the parks were like in their early years. There was no sex. The minor amount of bad language was expressed in the "he cursed" style. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and sometimes suspenseful story.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Mysteries

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Miraculous Mysteries
edited by Martin Edwards


ISBN-13: 9781464207440
Paperback: 358 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: June 6, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Impossible crime stories have been relished by puzzle-lovers ever since the invention of detective fiction. Fiendishly intricate cases were particularly well suited to the cerebral type of detective story that became so popular during the ‘golden age of murder’ between the two world wars. But the tradition goes back to the days of Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins, and impossible crime stories have been written by such luminaries as Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham.

This anthology celebrates their work, alongside long-hidden gems by less familiar writers. Together these stories demonstrate the range and high accomplishment of the classic British impossible crime story over more than half a century.


My Review:
Miraculous Mysteries is a short story collection of 16 locked room or impossible-seeming mysteries, though some were not as baffling as that sounds. These are clue-based puzzle mysteries. Many could be solved from the provided clues, but some withheld clues until the big reveal. There are only so many ways to do a locked room mystery, so I could guess at least the general method of murder in most of the stories. There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable collection.

The included stories:

The Lost Special by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Thing Invisible by William Hope Hodgson
The Case of the Tragedies in the Greek Room by Sax Rohmer
The Aluminium Dagger by R. Austin Freeman
The Miracle of the Moon Crescent by G.K. Chestertom
The Invisible Weapon by Nicholas Olde
The Diary of Death by Marten Cumberland
The Broadcast Murder by Grenville Robbins
The Music-Room by Sapper
Death at 8.30 by Christopher St. John Sprigg
Too Clever by Half by G.D.H. and Margaret Cole
Locked In by E. Charles Vivian
The Haunted Policeman by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Sands of Thyme by Michael Innes
Beware of the Trains by Edmund Crispin
The Villa Marie Celeste by Margery Allingham


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Weaver's Needle by Robin Caroll

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Weaver's Needle
by Robin Caroll


ISBN-13: 9781634099943
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Released: June 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident—to help her ailing father. Now that she’s on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and he’s good at his job.

A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver’s Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden.

Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there’s someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.


My Review:
Weaver's Needle is a Christian romantic suspense novel. Both Nick and Landry are recovery specialists who could use a chunk of cash. They both accept a challenge by a rich, newly-widowed woman to recover a treasure map that went missing when her husband was murdered.

The two initially worked on their own, but they soon realized the only way to survive and succeed was to work together. And they made a great team. They even had different approaches so they weren't just repeating the same efforts or ideas. The suspense came from the frequent physical danger from the murderer (who wanted them gone), scorpions, and "ghost warrior" Native Americans who guarded the mine.

There were detailed scenes of some shamans making petitions to their Great Spirit and a vision quest, and some locals believed the Native Americans guarding the mine were spirits/ghosts. In contrast, Landry prayed a few, brief prayers, and Nick let go of his anger toward God. It seemed like more time was spent on the shaman's religion than on God.

There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting adventure.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, June 2, 2017

On Copper Street by Chris Nickson

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On Copper Street
by Chris Nickson


ISBN-13: 9780727886965
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Severn House
Released: June 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Leeds, England. March, 1895. The day after his release from prison, petty criminal Henry White is found stabbed to death at his terraced home on Copper Street. Pursuing inquiries in a neighborhood where people are suspicious of strangers and hostile to the police, DI Tom Harper and his team find the investigation hard going. If anyone knows anything about Henry White s murder or the robbery that landed him in gaol in the first place they are unable or unwilling to say.

At the same time, acid is thrown over a young boy in a local bakery in a seemingly unprovoked attack. Praying for a breakthrough, Harper knows that he must uncover the motive in each case if he is to have any chance of catching the culprits.


My Review:
On Copper Street is a mystery set in 1895 in England. It's the fifth book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this story, and this book didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

The main character was a police detective who's offered a chance at promotion (involving mainly office work) while he's in the middle of several stubborn cases. It's a grim, gloomy story. Several of his friends died from natural causes, the death-by-murder body count was high, and several innocent people were disfigured, disabled, or died in an accident.

The detectives carefully followed up each lead, but the clues were so vague that they didn't clearly point to anyone. In the end, it was a lucky accident that raised Harper's suspicions. Though this wasn't a puzzle-mystery, whodunit was the only person that I (mildly) suspected. The historical details were a backdrop to the story and involved things like his wife's political activities.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language (including British bad language). Overall, I'd recommend this story.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dead and Berried by Peg Cochran

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Dead and Berried
by Peg Cochran


ISBN-13: 9780425274552
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
It's June in Cranberry Cove and Monica Albertson's plan to sell cranberry relish to chain stores is taking off. The cranberry bogs are in bloom, and local beekeeper Rick Taylor and his assistant Lori Wenk are bringing in bees to pollinate the blossoms. When a fatal prick fells Lori, the buzz is that Rick is to blame.

In trying to clear her friend's name, Monica discovers that more than a few people in Cranberry Cove have felt the power of Lori's venom, and it looks as if this time she may have agitated the hive a bit too much. With the fate of the farm on the line, Monica must get to the bottom of the crime before another victim gets stung.


My Review:
Dead and Berried is a cozy mystery. This is the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based mystery, and there were enough clues to guess whodunit. The clues were easy for me to spot, so I knew whodunit very early on and further clues only confirmed it. The heroine isn't stupid, but she's a little slow in connecting subtle clues together. I liked that the police also figured out whodunit. The heroine provided them with any solid evidence she discovered, so she was helpful to them. She's also generally a nice person and so didn't go around ruining people's reputations in the course of her investigations (which I appreciate).

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting novel.

Side note: I'm getting a little tired of cozies (by other authors) where the police are incompetent so the slow heroine can be the one to solve the case. My favorite cozy mysteries are those where the heroine is very clever and/or provides clues to the police that they can't get on their own. I don't enjoy cozies where the heroines essentially compete with the police. Why not just make the heroine a police detective if she's basically doing the same things the police are (or ought to be) doing? The point of the amateur detective is that they can learn details that people won't tell the police (for one reason or another) or spot things the police don't even know to look for. And, yes, I've been reading some cozies lately that I didn't like and so didn't review but which inspired this rant.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson

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Murder in the Bowery
by Victoria Thompson


ISBN-13: 9781101987117
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Frank Malloy's latest client is the well-dressed Will Bert. He's searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie, so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie, but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.

When Will's name is mentioned, Freddie runs off only to be found dead a short time later. Suspicious, Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman, Estelle Longacre, also recently deceased. Frank can't be sure if Estelle's risky behavior and the company she kept was to blame, or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah Brandt's help to unearth the dark secrets of the wealthy Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie s death. Together they must navigate a perilous underground web of treachery to find the truth."


My Review:
Murder in the Bowery is a historical mystery set in New York City in July of 1899 during the newsboy's strike. This is the twentieth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Frank, Gino, and Sarah asked good questions and followed up clues until they all fit together. The mystery involved a lot of twists. I'd say, "I think such-and-such is going on" and, yes, they'd discover that was true. But then new information came up, and I'd think "Maybe so-and-so is actually a better choice for whodunit." So I had an idea of where it was going, but I didn't guess whodunit until every clue was finally exposed.

Interesting historical details about the newsboy's strike and Bowery Street were woven into the story. The main characters were nice people and had realistic reactions to events. Even though I understood their reasoning for not pressing for justice through the normal channels, I was a little bothered that Sarah and Frank not just allowed (knowing what would happen) but essentially asked for what happened to whodunit.

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting historical mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Purely Private Matter by Darcie Wilde

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A Purely Private Matter
by Darcie Wilde


ISBN-13: 9780425282380
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Rosalind Thorne has slowly but assuredly gained a reputation as “a useful woman”—by helping respectable women out of some less-than-respectable predicaments.

Her latest endeavor involves Margaretta Seymore, who is with child. Her husband is receiving poisoned pen letters that imply that her condition is the result of an affair with the notorious actor Fletcher Cavendish. Margaretta asks Rosalind to find out who is behind the scurrilous letters. But before she can make any progress, Cavendish is found dead, stabbed through the heart.

Suddenly, Rosalind is plunged into the middle of one of the most sensational murder trials London has ever seen, and her client’s husband is the prime suspect. With the help of the charming Bow Street runner Adam Harkness, she must drop the curtain on this fatal drama before any more lives are ruined.


My Review:
A Purely Private Matter is a mystery set in 1817 in London, England. This is the second book in the series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the previous mystery.

This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Rosalind and Harkness carefully asked questions and collected information in their different ways. Rosalind was clever, but the mystery was complex and twisty. I was pretty certain of whodunit shortly after we met the character and only became more convinced as the case progressed. It turns out I wasn't quite correct, though whodunit is technically guessable and actually had a better motive than my guess.

The characters were interesting and complex. Though the romantic triangle was still there (the duke or the Bow Street runner?), the focus was on the mystery and on finding Rosalind's sister. I started rooting for the Duke, though, partly because people wouldn't be able to threaten to ruin Rosalind's reputation (and thus manipulate her) so easily. The historical details were woven into the story as part of the case, and the author clearly put research time into getting those details correct.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories by Ernest Bramah

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The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories
by Ernest Bramah


ISBN-13: 9780486814803
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: May 17, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Sightless detective Max Carrados solved his first cases in Edwardian London, in the early days of the 20th century when the city was the beating heart of the vast British Empire. This collection contains the very best tales of the blind sleuth, 10 adventures that range from his first challenge, "The Coin of Dionysus," to mysteries set during the World War I era and the early 1920s.

Like Sherlock Holmes, Max Carrados debuted in The Strand magazine, and his stories rivaled those of the Baker Street detective in popularity. This collection offers an excellent introduction to the suave private investigator whose deductive skills are surpassed only by his perceptive powers, which enable him to hear a heartbeat from across the room.

Carrados' creator, Ernest Bramah, was one of the few authors in the early days of detective fiction who could combine physical and intellectual thrills with imagination and stylistic brilliance. Brimming with charm and humor, these vintage stories are utterly unique in the field of detective literature.


My Review:
The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories is a collection of 10 short mystery stories set in the early 20th century. These are clever, clue-based mysteries. The solutions aren't usually clear until Max explains it, though all the clues were available.

What makes Max Carrados unique is that he's blind, though he turns this into a strength rather than a weakness. He looks beyond the obvious and can perceive things that sighted people don't. He's also very well informed and so might consider a possibility that others wouldn't even know to consider. I enjoyed all of the stories, and I'd highly recommend this collection.

The included stories:
The Coin of Dionysius
The Knight's Cross Signal Problem
The Mystery of the Vanished Petition Crown
The Holloway Flat Tragedy
The Disappearance of Marie Severe
The Mystery of the Poisoned Dish of Mushrooms
The Ghost at Massingham Mansions
The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage
The Last Exploit of Harry the Actor
The Ingenious Mr. Spinola


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal

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Murder Between the Lines
by Radha Vatsal


ISBN-13: 9781492638926
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Kitty is tasked with writing a story about Westfield Hall, a prestigious girls' boarding school. Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctors proclaim that the girl's sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn't so sure. Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty investigates a more chilling scenario—a murder that may involve Elspeth's scientist father and a new invention by Thomas Edison.


My Review:
Murder Between the Lines is a suspense set in Dec. 1915 to Jan. 1916 in New York City. This is the second book in the series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the previous mystery.

Kitty asked questions about Elspeth's death against her father's wishes. He pointed out that it was either an accident (so why dredge things up) or something dangerous. Kitty pushed on, anyway, and more people died--accidents and suicide or a dangerous plot? By the end, she wondered if it wouldn't have been better if she had left things alone.

The author wanted Kitty to witness some significant events that happened during this period, so she used these events in the story. The author often quoted the real newspaper coverage of the event. This made sense when Kitty's only source of information was the newspaper, but it felt a little jarring when she's at the actual event or the article went on for a while (with details not necessary to the story).

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

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A Love So True
by Melissa Jagears


ISBN-13: 9780764217524
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town's red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn't limited to orphans. The owner of the mansion, Nicholas Lowe, is willing to help her try to get the women working in prostitution out of the district as well--if she can gain the cooperation and support of local businessmen to go against the rest of the community.

David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father's companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he's shown interest in Evelyn's work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause. They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David's dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them?


My Review:
A Love So True is a Christian romance set in 1908 in Kansas. It's the second book in a series, and you can understand this book without reading the previous one. This book spoiled some of what happened in the previous story, though not in a major way. While I enjoyed this story, I felt like the first book had a stronger story line.

Evelyn wanted to start a women's home in addition to running the orphanage, but she needed to get local support before Nicholas would finance it. I wondered how she thought she had the time to run the home since she was needed full time at the orphanage. Then again, this challenge seemed to exist more as a reason for Evelyn and David to spend time together than as the point of the story.

They were attracted to each other, but Evelyn pushed David away due to a shameful secret in her past. When writers spend most of the book only hinting at a character's motivating secret, it almost always turns out to be something that doesn't really stand in the way. And, yes, it's basically just her pride standing in the way of being free to love David. There were some issues that could have caused emotional conflict in their relationship (like where they would live, her ministries, etc.), yet these were resolved very easily.

The Christian element was Evelyn admitting her past rebellious act and accepting forgiveness and love. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

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Wings of the Wind
by Connilyn Cossette


ISBN-13: 9780764218224
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?


My Review:
Wings of the Wind is biblical fiction (with a romance) set when the Israelites were at the end of their 40 years of wandering in the desert and ends after the attack on Jericho. This is the third book in the series, but it's basically a stand-alone novel. The author stayed true to the description of events given in the Bible. She wove interesting cultural details into the story, and we get a glimpse of what the land was like just before the Israelite incursion.

The characters acted realistically and were complex. Alanah is a Canaanite that has lost everything due to her family joining in a recent battle against the Israelites. She joins the next battle, only she's captured by Tobiah. He reluctantly marries Alanah following the Deut. 21:10-14 law to keep her safe while she heals. They come to respect and love each other, and they make a good pair (though obviously that took time and their relationship was rocky during the story).

Alanah saw the difference in how women and children were treated under God's law compared to the Canaanite culture. The Christian theme was how God was in control and working things out for good even when everything seemed to have gone wrong. There was no bad language or sex scenes. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman

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Fatal Mistake
by Susan Sleeman


ISBN-13: 9781455596461
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: FaithWords
Released: May 9, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGelley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan--to stay alive for another day. She knows he's coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months--to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf's bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they'll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.


My Review:
Fatal Mistake is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The action started with the heroine stumbling across a serial bomber--someone she knows. She called the information in, but now the bomber is after her. Of course, the lead FBI agent falls in love with her while protecting her and hunting down the bad guys.

The suspense was high throughout the story as the bomber managed to repeatedly outmaneuver the FBI team. The romance was initially just physical attraction (and was recognized as such), but they drew closer as they worked together and got to know each other. I understood why they liked and respected each other (which is a good foundation for a relationship).

Both characters dealt with guilt. The hero felt guilt over his missions where people died, and he pushed hard for perfection and control. The heroine felt guilt over the people whom the bomber killed because they were associated with her. Both wondered why God allowed innocent people to die at the hand of evil people when He could stop it. Friends urged them to release their guilt and trust God more.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of "he cursed" style references to bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting suspense novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Family Matters by Anthony Rolls

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Family Matters
by Anthony Rolls


ISBN-13: 9781464207426
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Robert Arthur Kewdingham is an eccentric failure of a man. In middle age he retreats into a private world, hunting for Roman artefacts and devoting himself to bizarre mystical beliefs. Robert's wife, Bertha, feels that there are few things more dreadful than a husband who will persist in making a fool of himself in public. Their marriage consists of horrible quarrels, futile arguments, incessant bickering. Scarcely any friends will visit the Kewdinghams in their peaceful hometown Shufflecester.

Everything is wrong - and with the entrance of John Harrigall, a bohemian bachelor from London who catches Bertha's eye, they take a turn for the worse. Soon deep passions and resentments shatter the calm facade of the Kewdinghams' lives. This richly characterised and elegantly written crime novel from 1933 is a true forgotten classic.


My Review:
Family Matters is crime fiction that was originally published in 1933 and is set in England. This is one of the oddest crime novels I've ever read. It's not a mystery as we're told exactly who is poisoning Robert, how they are doing it, and what the bizarre result is. And yet, at the end, it's hard to say exactly who and what finally killed him. Also, we're apparently supposed to be rooting for the poisoners, so don't expect a typical mystery novel's ending.

The story started by describing the location and the many characters. As this information came all at once and before the scenes started, I quickly got muddled about the details. But correctly remembering these details didn't really seem to matter. Once the action started, the author still spent more time telling the reader about the characters than using scenes to show their personalities. On the other hand, I'm not sure I could take much more of Robert than we got, so maybe it's just as well. Anyway, the writing style is more like someone is telling you about this bizarre occurrence than watching the events unfold.

There was no sex. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this to people who enjoy bizarre crime stories with quirky characters.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mrs. Jeffries Rights a Wrong by Emily Brightwell

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Mrs. Jeffries Rights a Wrong
by Emily Brightwell


ISBN-13: 9780399584206
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Thomas Mundy checked into London's Wrexley Hotel but he never checked out. The maid found him on the floor of his room, bludgeoned to death by his own walking stick. Inspector Witherspoon is soon on the case and learns Mundy had a reputation for being polite and charming.

But Mrs. Jeffries and the household staff uncover that Mundy was less of an amiable businessman and more of a duplicitous con man with enemies on both side of the Atlantic. Now Witherspoon and his staff must determine who on their lengthy list of suspects put Mundy in the red.


My Review:
Mrs. Jeffries Rights a Wrong is a historical mystery set in England in the late 1800's. It's the thirty-fifth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunit of previous books.

It's a clue-based puzzle mystery. There were plenty of clues, and plenty of people who hated the man and could have done it. We even see the murder happen (though no name or gender clues were dropped), so the reader knows some things that the main characters don't. I was pretty certain of whodunit by a little after halfway through.

I liked that Inspector Witherspoon collected a fair number of clues rather than getting practically nowhere on his own. After 35 cases, I'd hope he was becoming fairly competent, too! It seems like everyone except Witherspoon knows that he has help, but I guess the author is kind of stuck with that premise.

The story had enough historical detail to provide a historical feel. There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.