Review: Close Up

Review: Close UpClose Up (Burning Cove #4) by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #4
Published by Berkley on May 5, 2020
Genres: Historical, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304


FINAL DECISION: This is one of the best of the series. I loved the paranormal elements that have crept back into the Krentz/Quick books. Vivian and Nick are a good couple and their relationship works well here combined with the mystery.

THE STORY: Vivian Brazier gave up a cushy life with a wealthy family when she refused to marry her parent’s handpicked man and instead left to make her way as an art photographer. To pay her bills, however, Vivian moonlights as a crime scene photographer selling photos to newspapers. When she becomes a target for a killer, Nick Sundridge is sent to warn and protect her.

OPINION: This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I have really enjoyed the setting both in time and place for this series. The 1930’s California setting feels fresh and intriguing. Vivian, like many women of the era, is inventing herself and new roles for women. She has rejected the role that her family has chosen for her and instead struck off on her own. In her job and in her relationship with Nick, she is inventing herself.

Nick is a man struggling with his psychic talent which he often sees as a curse. He has a bad history with women in danger. His special talents make him just the guy to protect Vivian, but she is also a reminder of his previous failures.

These two are great together. I loved their work in investigating the threat against Vivian which also leads to the reason why she is being targeted which is another mystery they must solve together.

The two also have chemistry that sparkles on the page.  This is my favorite of the series so far because these two just feel well rounded, fun, sexy and full of conflicts and I just wanted to find out the resolution of their story.

WORTH MENTIONING: I am happy that Krentz is again including psychic paranormal elements in her books. Most of my favorite books of hers have at least some paranormal elements. There are also small references to the Arcane Society for those who read that series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CLOSE UP is the fourth book in the Burning Cove series. However, the romance here is self-contained and it can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.



Review: Tightrope

Review: TightropeTightrope (Burning Cove, #3) by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #3
Published by Berkley on May 7, 2019
Genres: Historical, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 320

FINAL DECISION: This one was great. I enjoyed the setting, the conflict and the suspense story which was well done with multiple stories coming together in unexpected ways. I also loved the hero and the heroine was a good match for him. I wanted a bit more romance, but this one was better balanced than I expected.

THE STORY: Trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn escapes a killer and ends up owning a hotel in Burning Cove. Then she finds out her hotel is infamous. When a inventor guest is murdered by his own robot, she fears that the confirmation of her hotel’s dubious history of death will destroy her second chance. When she meets Matthias Jones who is investigating the murder, the two form a partnership to solve the crime and thus save Amalie’s business.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. Both the suspense/mystery and romance worked for me here. I do wish there was more time spent on the romance, but I understand that Krentz/Quick has chosen to focus more on the suspense aspects rather than the romance in her more recent works. (One reason why I generally like her older works better.)

This book has so many interesting elements that I was entertained throughout. I am still really enjoying the unusual time period (1930s) and the California setting. These elements always make the stories feel fresh and interesting since there are new and intriguing elements involved. (Post WWI and the impending WWII events). I also enjoyed the foray into circuses, gangsters, and early Hollywood horror films.

I really enjoyed the appearance of Matthias and I’m so glad that Quick has returned to a bit of her paranormal elements. The Arcane series is one of my favorite by her and I was saddened when she abandoned those books.

Matthias and Amalie have a good partnership and there are some really nice moments between them. Their relationship feels like a combination of the formality of relationships with some loosening of restrictions. These elements felt true to the time period and I enjoyed their interactions.

After a bit of a miss in the prior book in this series, I really enjoyed this one.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Krentz/Castle/Quick’s Arcane series will recognize the hero as a member of the Jones family.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TIGHTROPE is the third book in the Burning Cove series. This book can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters. The romance here is self-contained. There is a bit of an continuing story especially at the end of this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC from First to Read. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: The Other Lady Vanishes

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 Other Lady VanishesThe Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Burning Cove #2
Published by Berkley on May 8, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368

“He knew that Adelaide was not telling him everything but he also sensed that she was not lying to him. Fair enough. She had a right to her secrets. He was keeping a few from her.”

FINAL DECISION: More mystery than romance, I liked the story but I really wish we got to know the characters more than on a surface level.

THE STORY: In 1930s California, Adelaide Blake escapes from a private sanitarium and arrives in Burning Cove with a new identity. Burning Cove is the trendy escape for the rich and famous of Hollywood and Los Angeles. Working as a waitress in a tea shop, Adelaide meet Jake Truett, a widowed businessman who has come to Burning Cove to recover after his wife’s untimely death. The two end up mixed up with a murder and must work together while the secrets each is keeping threaten them.

OPINION: This is a book focused more on plot than the characters. We know some about Adelaide and Jake, but I finished the book still not feeling like I know the internal life of these characters. The characters felt just too generic and lacked personality and interest to me. I certainly understood their attraction, but I didn’t get the mad passion which would make these two declare love for one another after such a short period of time. The book ended up feeling like the beginning of a story rather than sustaining the entire resolution. I thought the characters were okay, but I wish that there was more depth and interest to the characters.

The story was good and I really like the time period and setting. The story might have been better with a couple less twists and more character development of the villains. This was a good, but not great read and was not as interesting as last year’s entry in this series.

That being said, there were some period moments that I really liked. I really enjoyed the interaction between Adelaide and Jake as they navigated people’s assumptions about their relationship. The episode in the auto court was like a period movie and I really enjoyed the time focused on their relationship. I just wish there was more.

WORTH MENTIONING: I miss the old Amanda Quick books which were primarily romances with some suspense and mystery tossed in. The newer books focus almost exclusively on the mystery and suspense elements and add the romance as an after thought. The books are okay, but not memorable or ones that demand to be re-read by me.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE OTHER LADY VANISHES is the second book in the Burning Cove series. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

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


Review: The Girl Who Knew Too Much

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 Girl Who Knew Too MuchThe Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #1
Published by Berkley Books on May 9th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352

“You must not trust anyone — not the police, not the F.B.I.  Above all, never trust a lover.”

FINAL DECISION:  My favorite Amanda Quick book in a long time.  The move to 1930s California has given new energy and freshness to what is often a familiar romantic suspense storyline.  I hope we will be reading more in this time period.

THE STORY:  1930s California is a place where people can reinvent themselves.  Irene Glasson has come here on the run from the murder of her prior employer.  Irene (and that is also a new name) is now a reporter for a small gossip paper when she becomes involved in yet another murder.  The murder of an actress takes place at the hotel of Oliver Ward.  Oliver is also starting his life over again.  Previously a famous magician whose career ended in blood during a performance, Oliver is determined to protect his hotel from scandal when he discovers that Irene didn’t seem to exist prior to four months ago.

OPINION:  I’ve been reading Amanda Quick books since the first ones in the 1990s.  In the intervening years there have been books I have absolutely loved (RAVISHED and THE PERFECT POISON) and ones that I found completely forgettable. The most recent books have been adequate but have lacked the energy and vibrancy of the best books.

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH moves to a new time period.  I was wary of the change because the 1930s is not a time period often used in romance novels and I did not know how the Quick books would translate into that time period.  I’m happy to report that I loved the time period move to the 20th century.  In taking place in an era that has not been done ad nauseum, the book is allowed to investigate different morals, complications and motivations than the Regency or Victorian eras.

These characters feel fresh and new and the entire book has a vibrancy and drew my interest in an entirely new manner.

Irene is a career woman who is caring for herself.  She arrives in California at a time when she can completely reinvent herself (without pesky complications such as social security numbers and needing government identification). She’s tough and clever and determined. I love smart heroines and Irene is no exception.  She just keeps picking herself up after her disappointments.  She is independent and thus her willingness to trust Oliver is a major point in their relationship.

Oliver is adorable.  Sexy and wounded and oh so willing to engage in witty verbal combat with Irene.  He’s a man who cares for his own. Like Irene, he is also a man who has reinvented himself (for different reasons).  Being a survivor and adapting is a strong theme in this book with these two characters.  They live in a time and place of reinvention and they both are living out that possibility.

Along with a romance there is a peppy suspense story that keeps the pace humming along. The suspense works very well with the romance here and doesn’t overpower the relationship between Oliver and Irene.  Instead, the two work together hand in hand to undercover who is killing the women the Irene keeps discovering. I found the mystery and the solution satisfying and the adventure served to bring the characters closer.

This book was a real winner for me and I hope that there are more books in this time period (and I think there is possibility right in this book).

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is the first Amanda Quick novel to take place outside of the 19th century.


STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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


Review: ‘Til Death Do Us Part

Review: ‘Til Death Do Us Part'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick
Published by Berkley on April 19th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352

“She belonged to him.”

FINAL DECISION: This book was good in many ways but didn’t live up to my expectations for an Amanda Quick book.  The mystery so central to the story was just meh and I found to romance good, but not one that I’d want to reread.

THE STORY: Calista Langley owns a Victorian matching agency where she introduces men and women looking for companionship.  A stalker begins sending her gifts that creep her out because they are mourning gifts personalized for her.  When Trent Hastings, author of a series of detective stories comes to her to complain about Calista involving his sister in her matching agency, the two strike sparks off one another and soon seem to be meeting all the time.  Calista seeks Trent’s help in discovering who is stalking her.

OPINION:  This book had the setup to be a really good story with Trent’s initial mistrust of Calista and a creepy mystery.  For me, however, everything about this story sort of petered out and by the end I was only mildly interested in the romance and the mystery.

I thought the conflict between Trent and Calista was resolved so quickly that it eliminated most of the tension between the characters and made their romance nice but not particularly compelling or memorable.

Instead, the story rested on the mystery of who was stalking Calista.  Unfortunately, that story was not good enough to rest the entirety of the book on.  I quickly figured out the villain and thus there was no surprise reveal in the book for me.  Because there was more emphasis in the book on the mystery than the romance, I needed a better, scarier, more compelling mystery.  This one did not engage me enough.

WORTH MENTIONING: I would classify this book as historical suspense with a dash of romance.


STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.