Review: Witness in Death

Review: Witness in DeathWitness in Death (In Death, #10) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #10
Published by Berkley Books on March 6th 2000
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 338
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This one feels like an old fashioned mystery novel with lots of suspects with a motive and the detective having to use physical evidence and interviews to ferret out the killer. One of the better mysteries of the series.

THE STORY: An actor is murdered on stage in full view of all the audience, including Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Now Eve has to figure out who the killer is. Since her husband Roarke owns the theater and other people she knows have connections to the crime, Eve has to work in the spotlight to solve the crime.

OPINION: This is a book where, appropriately, the murder is committed during a performance of Witness for the Prosecution and then the mystery itself feels like an Agatha Christie mystery including the gathering of suspects for the big reveal at the end.

The emphasis in this one is definitely on the mystery although there are some nice scenes between Eve and Roarke. I also enjoyed the continuing character development of Eve’s friends. Both Peabody and Nadine have important roles in this book.

I think the books where Eve has a personal connection to the murders works best and her friends having connections work almost as well. The story also is teasing out Eve’s continuing struggles with her past. Much as been resolved and Eve is happier, but things are still lurking that she struggles with. This book only teases those issues gently, but I like that her past has not been easily resolved and set aside.

WORTH MENTIONING: My favorite part of this book is Eve setting up a romantic dinner for her and Roarke. This is a turning point in their relationship as she begins to do those regular romantic gestures which make a good relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WITNESS IN DEATH is the tenth book in the In Death series. This series has standalone mysteries with continuing character storylines. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Loyalty in Death

Review: Loyalty in DeathLoyalty in Death (In Death, #9) by J.D. Robb
Published by Berkley on October 1st 1999
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 358
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this book because of the great development in the characters and the relationships. The mystery was good and I liked that there was a sense of urgency that moved the story along.

THE STORY: Eve’s newest criminal is a bomber by the name of Cassandra who intends to brag about the crime by sending letters to Eve to engage her. Eve must race the clock to find out the motives of the bomber before those she cares about are the target.

OPINION: The highlight of this book is really the character development that happens. Eve and Roarke are on fire in this one. I prefer when Eve and Roarke are working closely in the stories. Yes, she is a cop and shouldn’t be relying on her husband all the time, but I read these books more for the relationships than the mysteries so I want to see more of Eve and Roarke together as much as possible.

In this book, Peabody is a significant part of the story as her brother comes to visit and gets into some trouble of his own. I liked that the series is branching out and making other characters have significant story lines of their own.

The mystery in this case is a bit strange, but well constructed as things end up fitting together in the end.  This book also has one of the most dramatic endings of a book in the series. A great set piece.

WORTH MENTIONING: Peabody and McNab!

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOYALTY IN DEATH is the ninth book in the In Death series. Each book in this series has a self-contained mystery although there are ongoing character development issues throughout the series. This particular book, however, can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Dearest Ivie

Review: Dearest IvieDearest Ivie (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15.5) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #15.5
Published by Ballantine on March 13th 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 145
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this one. Pretty much self-contained, this is a romance without a doubt. The emphasis is on the couple and despite the short length, it manages to be sexy and sweet and deeply emotional.

THE STORY: Ivie is a vampire and a nurse at Haven’s clinic. She is out at a bar with her cousin when a vampire walks into her life. Silas is immediately attracted to Ivie, but Ivie is reluctant to get involved with the aristocratic Silas. When the two end up spending time together, their attraction and relationship grows. Silas, however, tells Ivie that their relationship can only be temporary as he is returning to the Old Country. Ivie has to decide whether to enjoy the present or protect herself from hurt.

OPINION: I loved the story of Ivie and Silas. The story was sweet and romantic and incredibly emotional at times.

Ivie is a woman who is strong and fierce. I loved her perseverance, her intelligence and her compassion.  I also was quite amused by her family, and I liked that we got to see a different group of vampires in the BDB world. Ivie is the active participant in the story and in fact is the central hub of what happens. She isn’t passive, but rather makes the world change.

Silas is a gentleman. His manner and his personality is kind. (But he’s definitely no wimpy hero, but he needs Ivie’s persistence). I enjoyed the essential kindness and goodness of these characters.

There was something I really enjoyed about this story because while there are some dark moments (a few that made me shed tears) I thought the story as a whole was lighter and more positive and focused on the romance than many of the BDB books.

While I love many of the BDB books, they are dense and complicated and edged in darkness. This book, while it has its dark moments, is lightened by characters who are brighter and less dark than many of the BDB characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a few appearances by BDB characters (enough to show that this story takes place in that universe), but the emphasis here is on the personal story between Ivie and Silas.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEAREST IVIE is a novella which is book 15.5 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This book can be read apart from the series with just some basic knowledge about vampires, however, it falls nicely in the series for fans.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Hold Back the Dark

Review: Hold Back the DarkHold Back the Dark by Kay Hooper
Series: Bishop/Special Crimes Unit #18
Published by Berkley Books on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 352
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I ended up tremendously disappointed in this book which began as an amazing story with a whole bunch of characters I was interested in, but ended up being resolved (mostly offscreen) in the space of only a couple of pages. In fact, the book felt like a half book with the author’s synopsis at the end. I’m hoping there will be more with this group in the future.

THE STORY: Something is happening in the town of Prosperity. A call has gone out from a mysterious source calling psychics from all over to the town. A series of vicious murders with unlikely killers takes over the town. The SCU along with a rag tag group of people who have rejected joining the SCU must join together to keep the evil contained in Prosperity and find the source before the evil expands.

OPINION: Until the last chapter of this book, I really loved it. It might have been a 5 star book, but definitely a 4 star one. Then the entire book just abruptly ended with a summary resolution that read more like a synopsis than an actual ending for the book.

This book was disappointing and perhaps one of the worst of the series because it completely abandoned the actual storytelling of the paranormal events. The book felt like it should have had another 100 pages instead of just ending the entire plot in a couple of pages with events that were told in a summary fashion.

I was let down because I believed that the beginning of this book showed incredible promise. The book introduces a whole new cast of characters that are intriguing and their interactions show great possibilities. I loved the return of Galen who is now a more reflective, damaged and dark character. And I loved seeing Hollis and Reese (though disappointed that significant events have occurred offstage once again). All the new possibilities raised my interest in the story and I expected that after all the introductions that there would be some real exploration of what is happening in Prosperity. But this book really feels like it is missing its third act. Instead of the well thought out and plotted ending, we only get a cursory explanation of events without any drama or suspense.

This book might be a gateway to more stories (I hope so because I loved the characters), but this book as a whole was a letdown.

WORTH MENTIONING: The blurb of this book is misleading as it focuses on Katie Cole who is merely a bit character and doesn’t really have much to do with the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOLD BACK THE DARK is the eighteenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. I don’t believe these books can operate as standalones because there are numerous overlapping characters, references to prior cases and (especially in this case) some overarching storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: My Lady’s Choosing

Review: My Lady’s ChoosingMy Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran, Larissa Zageris
on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Goodreads
four-stars

MY LADY’S CHOOSING is a novelty book where the reader gets to make choices as the story goes on changing the outcomes of the story depending on the choices.

In the early 1980s, Choose Your Own Adventure stories were a popular series with children. This book updates that concept for today’s romance books. The book is a novelty so a reader should not approach the book expecting amazing stories. Instead, the stories are funny and a loving parody of the romance genre. The book takes a series of romance book tropes and characters (the brooding aristocrat, the sexy Scotsman, the governess, supernatural characters, sexy garden times, exotic locations) and gives the reader a choice of what to do at critical and not so critical times.

I found the book amusing and tried several variations by coming back to a juncture and trying different options. The stories were lovingly amusing. They didn’t mock the romance genre, but rather made the reader part of an inside joke.

I really enjoyed this book, but a reader must approach it with a sense of humor and a willingness to participate in the fun.

I want to note that I thought it was especially nice that the heroine (the reader) is active in the story and one of the options includes a ff romance which was and unexpected and welcome option.

Rating: 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Hellion

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The HellionThe Hellion (Wicked Wallflowers, #1) by Christi Caldwell
Series: Wicked Wallflowers #1
Published by Montlake on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 295
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This story was serviceable and solid, but I wanted more from the romance. There could have been more angst or more sexy romance. Instead, I just ended up wanting more from a decent book.

THE STORY: Cleopatra Killoran has agreed to sacrifice herself to a marriage to a man of the ton in order to protect her family. She has even agreed to be sponsored by her family’s enemies in order to find a husband who is willing to accept a woman of questionable background who can bring only a fortune. Adair Thorne doesn’t trust this woman who is one of his family’s enemies. He intends to watch her closely while she is embedded with his family. But soon her finds himself watching this complicated woman for other reasons, but a reason for which might bring betrayal down on his family.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable read, but lacked something in its drama and intensity based on the way the story developed. I liked the book, but wanted more.

Adair is a hero that I wanted to know more about. Although we get his story recited, I never felt connected with him on a emotional basis. His inner life remains a mystery in this story and thus I felt the story lacked some of the intense connection between him and Cleo that the story really wanted.

I loved the setup. I loved that Cleo is a woman who was raised on the streets and has become strong and a dangerous character in her own right. Too much of the book, however, explains rather than engaging the reader in the deep emotions between these characters. This might have been an extraordinary book rather than just a good read.

What is here, however, is good. I enjoyed the story and the potential of this story was immense. The characters are interesting in concept and the story has some great possibilities from the beginning.

It is a compliment to the potential of this book that I wanted more intensity and emotion from the story than I got. I enjoyed the book and it is an essential part of the Sinful Brides world.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book sets up the series which now focuses on the Killoran family.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE HELLION is the first book in the Wicked Wallflowers series. This series is, however, connected with the Sinful Brides series. There are overlapping characters, especially in this book which operates as a bridge between the two series as both these characters appeared in the Sinful Brides series. I think this book fits better as part of the prior series in order that all the relationships can be understood.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

three-half-stars

Review: Chesapeake Blue

Review: Chesapeake BlueChesapeake Blue (Chesapeake Bay Saga, #4) by Nora Roberts
Published by Berkley on January 1st 2002
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 357
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable read if somewhat forgettable in the end. The story works fine as I was reading it, but there is nothing lasting or intense in the story to make it a keeper.

THE STORY: Eighteen years since Seth Quinn came was rescued from his negligent and abusive mother to come live with the Quinns, Seth has returned home after a stint in Europe where he honed his skills as an artist. When he returns, he meets Dru Whitcomb Banks, who has shed her rich family to open a florist shop. As Dru and Seth get to know one another, Seth’s past won’t stay hidden as he has to deal with problems that arise while coaxing a woman who has been betrayed and finds it hard to trust and make connections.

OPINION: This book was difficult for me to rate. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, I really liked seeing the Quinn siblings and their families. I even liked Seth and Dru as a couple as they discussed their issues. But ultimately while I enjoyed this book, I don’t think it stands up against other books that I have read. The storyline works, but isn’t compelling enough and the characters aren’t interesting enough for this to be a book that calls for me to re-read it.

Seth is a little too good, perhaps. (Except for his blind spot for which he is rather wrongheaded). I thought he and Dru were a nice match and I really liked her character. But nothing in this case really goes deep. The characters drama and hurts just don’t feel intense. I did think their sexy encounters when Seth was painting Dru were the best part of the book. That felt emotional and intense.

I also really enjoyed the relationships between the brothers. That was a highlight of the entire series and repeated here with even more emotional resonance.

I think readers of the series should definitely read this one as it adds to the series in a nice way. I just walked away wanting more emotional connection and intensity.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve always wished that this book either resolved Aubrey’s story as well or that Roberts had written her story. She ended up being a really interesting character.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHESAPEAKE BLUE is the fourth and final book in the Chesapeake Bay Saga. This book was a coda to the original trilogy and thus really depends upon the knowledge in the first three books in the series. I don’t think the plot works well without knowledge of those books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars