Review: Midnight in Death

Review: Midnight in DeathMidnight in Death (In Death #7.5) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #7.5
Published by Berkley on September 27th 2005
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 90

“It didn’t look as though the last days of December 2058 were going to be much of a party.”

FINAL DECISION: A quick and dirty crime investigation centered primarily on the personal aspect of Eve’s job. The compressed nature of this story ratcheted up tension in this story and the emphasis on the personal rather than the crime details makes this a really good story.

THE STORY: It’s Christmas and a killer has a naughty list of targets. Newly escaped from prison, the killer is out to get revenge against those who put him behind bars. He is taking, torturing and leaving the bodies in public view. Eve in in a race to stop him from killing more especially with both Dr. Mira and Eve are on the list so.

OPINION: This is an enjoyable novella and one that I recommend to people who just want to try out the In Death series without committing to a full novel. The crimes and investigation are compressed with a lot of pressure on Eve. Yet all the elements that make the series successful: the personal connection Eve has, the love between her and Rourke, the friendships that Eve has, and the humor and drama are all present in this story.

Things are clearer and more blunt in many ways because of the short story but I enjoyed that this book continues and expands all the important parts of the ongoing story in the series.

For readers of the series, this offers some drama and developments in Eve’s relationship with Dr. Mira.

The novella also allows some intense moments with Eve and Rourke that I enjoyed a great deal.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book follows immediately from the events of HOLIDAY IN DEATH and also serves as an epilogue to that book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MIDNIGHT IN DEATH is a novella in the In Death series and is book 7.5 of that series. This novella fits right in for readers of the series, but is a nice little crime mystery for those who haven’t dipped into the series yet.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Holiday in Death

Review: Holiday in DeathHoliday in Death (In Death, #7) by J.D. Robb
Published by Berkley on June 1st 1998
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 308

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the holiday mysteries. This one is a good crime mystery. Creepy and strange and what is better than a murderous Santa?

THE STORY: It’s almost Christmas time and Eve is struggling with getting gifts for all the people in her life and wonders if it was better when she was alone. At the same time a murderer has decided to make victims of people searching for true love. Taking inspiration from the song the Twelve Days of Christmas, the killer is hunting for a true love, killing them and leaving them decorated for Christmas with tokens of love. Eve has to work fast because this killer is quickly working through twelve loves.

OPINION: This is one of my go-to holiday reads. The story is really creepy and sinister in its crimes but it is nicely balanced by the innocence of Eve getting Christmas gifts. Although she has a hard shell, she is quite sweet when trying to do her holiday shopping.

I also enjoyed this one because the sexual violence brings more development of Eve’s personal story. She is growing and changing and healing from the horror of what happened to her as a child. While violent and horrible as crimes, this is a very intriguing and intense crime. The days are going quickly and the pace of the killers crime is especially draining for Eve who is fighting her personal demons along with trying to solve the crimes and stop anyone else from dying.

There is also quite a bit of chemistry between Peabody and McNabb as they are circling one another.

For me, I really enjoy the iconic characters involved in this case. The characters and the crimes are one that are memorable and the situations and solutions feel important and high in tension.

WORTH MENTIONING: The novella MIDNIGHT IN DEATH is a companion to this because it also occurs during this same holiday season and is closely related to this book as it deals with the aftermath.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOLIDAY IN DEATH is the seventh book in the In Death series. The mystery is entirely separate and can be read as a standalone. Because there are overarching character story lines, I think it is better to read these in order, but this is one in the series that works on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Vengeance in Death

Review: Vengeance in DeathVengeance in Death (In Death, #6) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #6
Published by Berkley on March 3rd 2007
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 388

“Revenge was always personal.”

FINAL DECISION: One of the best of the series. This one perfectly blends the personal story of Eve and Rourke with the mystery. This book gives readers more background on Rourke and the mystery is especially strong.

THE STORY: When Eve is called by a murdered who gives riddles to the scenes of crimes, she finds that her life and that of her husband are more closely involved in this case than she would like. With a clever murderer who is out for revenge, Eve must use every resource at her disposal to find the murderer before he reaches his ultimate goal — which might be her husband Rourke.

OPINION: This is one of the tent pole books in the series. This book is fantastic both in the mystery which is filled with drama and creepy and it is totally personal. Eve is completely dedicated to this case and it shows in her anxiety and her laser focus on what is going on.

This book is remarkable for its emphasis on Rourke’s story. Six books in and this is the first opportunity for readers to get a better idea of what Rourke’s past looks like. In the book there is both revelations about what Rourke was doing and also the very personal look at his relationships. This book gives Rourke a chance to revisit and reconcile some of his past.

Both the darkness and the contrast with current life makes this book intense and essential to the series.

Someone is out for revenge against Rourke and the personal insult and fear that possesses Eve makes this book work on various levels. Both Eve and Rourke are completely engaged which makes for a stellar entry. Although the two are married, this book allows more development in their relationship.

The mystery is also very dramatic and interesting in a race against time.

If I had to boil the series down to five books, this would be one of the ones I would pick.

WORTH MENTIONING: The first appearance of Ian McNab.

CONNECTED BOOKS: VENGEANCE IN DEATH is the sixth book in the In Death series. The mysteries in these books are standalones. However, there are overarching storylines about the characters. This book is connected to information learned in prior books and I think this book is much better being read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.



Review: Ceremony in Death

Review: Ceremony in DeathCeremony In Death (In Death, #5) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #5
Published by Berkley on April 11th 2007
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 336

“Murder had come into her life before and would again. But someone would pay for bringing it into her home.”

FINAL DECISION: Not as tight or interesting as the prior books in the series, I enjoyed this one more for the relationship side of the story than the mystery itself which seemed a bit unreal and less grounded than others in the series.  Still a good book.

THE STORY: Eve is tasked with investigating the death of a police officer. There is some suspicion that Feeney might have been involved in a coverup of drug abuse by the officer, so Eve not only has to do an investigation, but also hide it from her mentor and substitute father. Eve’s investigation takes her into a group of Satanists.

OPINION: Personally I was only marginally interested in the mystery in this book, but I really loved how the book pushes forward the relationship of Eve and Feeney. He is her mentor and her father in many ways, but here she is ordered to engage in an investigation keeping him in the dark (as he is a possible target). This causes Eve to have to acknowledge the importance of their relationship. For me, the scenes with Feeney are the highlight of the book.

The underlying theme in this book is family and the book raises issues that Eve and Rourke have to confront time and time again.

Wiccans make several appearances in Robb’s romance books and therefore it is not surprising that Robb makes a point of separating the practicing witches from the Satanist cult members who are involved in the murders.

The feeling of this book slides more magical. At times it threatens to disrupt the grounded and realistic tone of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The introduction of the character of Jamie.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CEREMONY IN DEATH is the fifth book in the In Death series. While each book is a standalone in terms of the mystery involved, there are continuing character stories throughout the series.  I believe the books are better read in order, but this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Rapture in Death

Review: Rapture in DeathRapture in Death (In Death, #4) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #4
Published by Berkley on March 3rd 2007
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 417

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable combination of relationship and crime mystery, RAPTURE IN DEATH deals with the early days of Eve and Roarke’s marriage along with a series of “suicides” among people who seem to have no reason to want to die.

THE STORY: A series of suicides where each person dies with a mocking smile on his or her face doesn’t sit well with Eve. She seems to find some brain abnormalities but no one can find a cause or whether or not someone is orchestrating these deaths. Just back from her honeymoon, Eve and Roarke settle down into their marriage while Eve (with Roarke’s help) tries to figure out who is targeting high profile New Yorkers.

OPINION: This is one of the early books in the series that made this a superlative series. I believe that the best books in the series (and this is one of them) have a great balance between the personal issues of Eve (here she is adjusting to her new marriage) and a rousing crime that Eve solves (and the best books have her working directly with Roarke as much as possible).

This book still feels fresh after I’ve read it at least a dozen times over the years. Eve and Roarke are vibrant characters and the crime had a double twisty resolution. There are a lot of things going on, plenty of significant appearances by the secondary characters and just a great centering on Eve and Roarke.

I don’t read these books as crime dramas or mysteries because I think that overall they are only just above average on those aspects because there is no real way to solve these mysteries on the clues given.  I read them as character driven stories about Eve and her life. This book does a great job of expanding on the characters in the series and thus is one of the better books in the series.


CONNECTED BOOKS: RAPTURE IN DEATH is the fourth book in the In Death series. While the mystery in the book is self-contained, there are continuing relationship and personal journey stories that span the series and thus I recommend reading the books in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: A Treacherous Curse

Review: A Treacherous CurseA Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #3
Published by Berkley on January 16th 2018
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 352

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable entry into the series. The highlights were the Egyptology aspects and the reveal about Stoker’s past. The characters are further developed and their relationship moves forward in small but significant ways.

THE STORY: The utterly unique Veronica Speedwell and Stoker, her partner in museum organization and crime solving, become entwined in the disappearance of Stoker’s former expedition partner and ex-friend. He also happens to be the man who married Stoker’s ex-wife. The man disappeared under suspicious circumstances along with a priceless artifact from an Egyptian expedition but Stoker is a prime suspect. Ancient curses and appearances of the Egyptian god Anubis abound as Veronica and Stoker attempt to locate his ex-partner and clear Stoker’s reputation.

OPINION: Historical mystery and romance, this book continues the series of crimes that butterfly collector Veronica and naturalist Stoker get involved in solving. Here there is a personal aspect as Stoker might become the prime suspect if the disappearance is not solved.

Once again the highlight of this book is the interaction between Veronica and Stoker. While the two are not engaged in a romance in the traditional sense, they are certainly involved in a relationship — it’s just the seriously slow burn type. As the two investigate, the truth about Stoker’s relationship with his ex-wife is revealed.

This series is a fun read as Veronica and Stoker make an unusual couple with lots of witty repartee between them. These are unusual people who obviously fit so well together even as they argue and fight and at times hurt one another. While the series is content with the intensely slow burn of their romance, there is no reason to rush along as these two people develop a partnership, a friendship and a even a “romance” unlike any other they have experienced.

The mystery in this book was intriguing as the story exposes the Egyptian craze of the Victorian era. There are plenty of suspects and motivations for the disappearance and the solution (while not one that is “solvable” by the reader) works as a dramatic story.

I enjoyed this book because of its unique characters and voice. What keeps me coming back to this series, however, is the promise of the relationship between Veronica and Stoker.  And on that this book did not disappoint.

WORTH MENTIONING: Veronica and Stoker are such an amusing pair.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A TREACHEROUS CURSE is the third book in the Veronica Speedwell series. The book has a self-contained mystery and could be read on its own for that reason. However, a big part of the attraction of this series to me is the relationship between Veronica and Stoker and for that reason I recommend reading the books in order as their relationship develops.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Glory in Death

Review: Glory in DeathGlory in Death (In Death, #2) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #2
Published by Berkley on December 28th 1995
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 296

“Their fates had intertwined, personally, professionally. It was murder that had brought them together, and murder that would continue to poke fingers into their lives. The woman beside him defended the dead.”

FINAL DECISION: Wonderful followup to the amazing NAKED IN DEATH. In this book, Eve has another murder to solve that becomes connected to her personally as her relationship with the mysterious Roarke deepens.

THE STORY: Months after the events of NAKED IN DEATH, Eve has become more visible as a murder cop. When a well-known prosecutor is murdered by having her throat slashed, Eve is asked by her commander to take the case. When the next murder of a high profile woman occurs, Eve can’t find a connection between these two highly visible women — except that both has a connection to her lover Roarke. While Eve doesn’t believe that Roarke is involved, she is feeling stress because their relationship is getting too intense and close and this case only puts more pressure on Eve.

OPINION: I loved this book and even knowing the answer to the mystery, I can read it again and again with enjoyment. The combination of a mystery that matter to Eve along with the drama of the developing relationship between Eve and Roarke makes this a book worth reading.

In this series, the best books have three elements (1) a mystery that is personal to Eve in some manner; (2) Eve’s personal demons; and (3) some wonderful relationship moments with Eve and Roarke.

This book is one of the templates of that formula that works for dozens of these books. Eve is investigating the murder of someone she knows and whose murder touches on those around Eve. Even more, there is some parallel with Eve herself as she is feeling out her relationship with Roarke in the murder victim’s relationship with her lover. In this book, Eve’s personal demons are beginning to reveal themselves in stronger and more serious ways. Finally, this book sets up a conflict between Roarke and Eve as she has to deal with how serious the relationship has become and whether she is willing to take that next step of vulnerability.

While the first book in the series is a classic, this one feels more like the others in the series. Eve’s character is more defined and her relationship with Roarke is more important.

This one also has a good mystery that actually has some possibility of being figured out rather than the solution just being sprung on the reader. Enjoyable the whole way through.

WORTH MENTIONING: The introduction of Peabody.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GLORY IN DEATH is the second book in the In Death series. While the mysteries in each book are standalones, there are continuing and overarching storylines (these early book are mostly about Eve’s background and her relationship with Roarke) that continue book to book. I recommend reading the series in order although it is not strictly necessary.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Promise Not to Tell

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: Promise Not to TellPromise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: ,
Published by Berkley on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304

FINAL DECISION: A solid suspense story but I enjoyed most the relationship between these two damaged and vulnerable people.

THE STORY: Virginia Troy has struggled with the after effects of her childhood in a cult where the members deaths were orchestrated by the cult leader (who is presumed dead, but might not be). When a former cult member ends up dead under mysterious circumstances, Virginia turns to a private investigator to help learn the truth. Cabot Sutter also was a child in the cult and he also is still haunted by the events. When the investigation draws them closer together, Virginia and Cabot need to figure out who is murdering people and also whether they can overcome their pasts to build a relationship together.

OPINION: I liked this book because there was a renewed focus on the characters over the suspense plot. Not that there isn’t an interesting plot, but I read these books for the relationship and so I enjoyed seeing these characters maneuver around one another.

Cabot and Virginia are both haunted by their past and in one another they find acceptance and understanding. I liked that their relationship is based upon their mutual problems that have separated them from other lovers in the past. However, that is really the only tension between them. Besides the suspense story, there is little drama in the relationship.

I liked the focus on the created family and how these survivors have dealt with a past that could have destroyed them all.

The suspense story has many twists and turns and just when it seems that the story is resolved, things go off in a different direction. Things fit together but there are many layers which was enjoyable.

I was especially excited by the ending of the book which previews the drama that is going to be present in the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book also sets up the scenario for the next book in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PROMISE NOT TO TELL is the second book in an apparent trilogy about three brothers. I say apparent because the publisher has chosen to not promote the fact that these books are connected (probably to not turn off casual readers who don’t want to start with book 2). Goodreads has indicated these books as being the Cutler, Sutter and Salinas series so I will go with that. This book can be read as a standalone, but there are definite continuing storylines and overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 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.


Review: Born in Ice

Review: Born in IceBorn in Ice (Born In Trilogy, #2) by Nora Roberts
Series: Born in Trilogy #2
Published by Berkley on November 1st 1996
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book of the trilogy, BORN IN ICE has two characters whose past has kept them from moving forward with their lives. I loved how Brianna wins over the wandering Gray with a quiet simplicity.

THE STORY: Brianna Concannon has made a life for herself after converting her family home into a bed and breakfast inn. The younger sister, the dutiful daughter and the one always seeking to make peace in her family, Brianna is looking forward to a quieter winter with only one scheduled guest. Grayson Thane is a famous mystery writer who has come to Ireland seeking peace and quiet and inspiration for his next novel. Gray enjoys his gypsy life traveling from place to place working on his writing. Attracted to Brianna, he wants her but knows that things will end and he will move on.

OPINION: This is my favorite book in the series because I loved both the hero and the heroine in this book from the start.

Brianna is the peacemaker in the family. She has always tried to smooth over the difficulties in her family and yet this book shows how she has been effected by the discord between her parents and the resulting familial difficulties. Despite or perhaps because of this, Brianna has sought to make a peaceful domestic atmosphere that she has translated into her small business of her inn. I loved how Brianna uses the domestic arts to make a “home” for travelers. She is the “ice” in the story because of her place in her family and also because of her quiet personality. This book reveals secrets in her past which result her re-evaluating her life. Into that disruption comes Gray who pushes Brianna from her safe space.

Gray is a man who is so scarred by his past that he has built a great life, but one of a nomad with few personal connections. He sees this as a kind of freedom, but he is challenged by Brianna and the town where she lives. A man who insists that he will not stay when he starts an affair might seem callous, but Gray is so open and honest and caring that I understood him as a character rather than thinking he was a jerk. This book also delves deep into the writing process (something the author certainly understands) and I loved the depictions of how Gray works as an artist.

When I think of this series, I always think about the characters sense of place in Ireland and also how they all connect to the artistic process. There is such an expansive understanding of artistry in this book. Gray is the obvious artist because of his writing, but Brianna is an artist in her own right as she cooks and knits and gardens. The appreciation for these arts is something that I appreciate in this book because such great talent is something that is often overlooked.

This book has a small subplot of mystery which fits the story because of Gray’s profession, but this book is really focused on the relationship between Brianna and Gray. The subplots only serve the purpose of the romance which is exactly how I like my romance books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of the first book in the series will get a nice update on Maggie and Rogan.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BORN IN ICE is the second book in the Born in Trilogy. While the romance here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone, this series is meant to be read together as there are overlaps in characters and an overarching storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Someone to Wed

Review: Someone to WedSomeone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #3
Published by Berkley on November 7th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“I am twenty-nine years old, very nearly thirty, and I would like . . . someone to wed. In my own person I am not marriageable, but I do have money. And you do not.”

FINAL DECISION: Absolutely lovely story. This is my favorite of the series so far as the heroine and hero have such a wonderfully adult relationship. Wren is a woman who has been damaged by her past and Alex recognizes and eventually comes to embrace and finally help her free herself.

THE STORY: Alexander Westcott unexpectedly becomes the Earl of Riverdale when his cousins are found to be illegitimate, but while he gets the title and the entailed estates, he doesn’t inherit any money needed to maintain the properties. As such, he finds himself needing to marry an heiress. Wren Heyden has been a recluse for most of her life, but upon the death of her aunt and uncle wants marriage and children no matter how unlikely. Knowing that she can never hope to obtain a husband in the usual manner, she decides the buy a husband. Propositioning Alex, Wren is surprised that Alex will not agree unless there is something more than money between them. Getting to know and build at least respect and care between them challenges them both.

OPINION: Sometimes there are books that I just fall into. As I read, everything just acts to pull me into the story and I am surprised when the book ends. This was one of those books. There was nothing particularly dramatic, but word by word, page by page, I became absorbed in Alex and Wren’s story.

The story asks for a commitment from the reader as the romance between these two isn’t love at first site, but rather a slow building of the connections and emotions and eventually great love between these two. This book is the example of how two strangers fall deeply in love.

Alex is a wonderful hero. While surprise inheritance of the title is something that most people would be rejoicing, Alex keenly feels the family pain which caused his inheritance but also the new responsibilities that he has acquired. He is a man who cares and while he knows that his marital choices are limited because he must marry a a fortune, he is unwilling to be mercenary and just be concerned about money. I also greatly admire that he is unwilling to lie to Wren. He is compassionate but also he it truthful about her issues.

Wren is a heroine that I loved. Despite the great pain in her past and her conviction that her appearance makes her unworthy of having a “normal” life, she has managed to be successful and build a life for herself. Her interactions with Alex begin to break her out of her protective shell. Alex recognizes almost immediately that she is walled off in pain when they first meet and that repels him. But her willingness to take chances both brings her closer to Alex and also her dreams.

One other thing I really liked about this story is the “deep secret” from Wren’s childhood is not what is commonly used in romance novels. Both more heartbreaking and also something different.

There was nothing I didn’t like about this book except that it ended. I feel more and more in love with this story as it developed. This is a book I look forward to reading again.

WORTH MENTIONING: I can’t wait until the next book because Balogh is fabulous at mature adult romances.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SOMEONE TO WED is the third book in the Westcott series. This book has overlapping characters, but this book can be read on its own. I think it is better to read the other books first, but this story is really self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.