Review: The Lady Has a Past

Review: The Lady Has a PastThe Lady Has a Past (Burning Cove, #5) by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #5
Published by Berkley on May 4, 2021
Pages: 352

FINAL DECISION: This might be my favorite of the series because it felt like it brought the whole series together. I loved that we essentially get two romances in one.

THE STORY: Lyra Brazier (sister of the heroine from CLOSE UP) comes to Burning Cove and takes a job as an investigator for Raina Kirk’s investigative agency (who is seeing one of the town’s mystery men Luther Pell). Lyra’s first day of work is already shocking when Raina disappears. Lyra takes on the job of locating Raina along with Luther Pell’s associate Simon Cage. Simon is an antiquarian book dealer but has other skills useful for an investigation. Lyra and Simon pose as a married couple trying to discover what happened to Raina and fall into a series of dangerous plots.

OPINION: I loved this book. It is definitely Quick’s flavor of romantic suspense which means more suspense than romance, but because we essentially have two different romance stories (Lyra/Simon and Raina/Luther) there is plenty of romance and drama here.

The plot beats of this book were so good here. I gobbled this book quickly to find out all the twists and turns — and there were plenty. Just when the book seems to be resolving the “big mystery” there was a new twist that made the book feel like a rollercoaster (in a good way).

I liked the give and take between Lyra and Simon which really felt like a relationship between equals. The two reminded me of the old “Nick and Nora” movies with witty dialogue and definite chemistry.

For some time I have wanted more about Raina and Luther. I had hoped that the two would get a book of their own, but it seems that their relationship might be part of a continuing story in the series. The two end up in a good place here, but I am still hoping for more.

Many of the characters in the story felt a little too modern at times, but honestly, for someone who reads all three of Jayne Ann Krentz’s nom de plumes, the characters all tend to read the same these days with just some small differences in locations and time periods.

WORTH MENTIONING: Plenty of characters from the series make appearances here. For that reason, I really enjoyed this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE LADY HAS A PAST is the fifth book in the Burning Cove series. I think this book is much better if a reader has already read the other books in the series. The mystery here involves Raina Kirk, who has been a continuing character in the series along with her love interest Luther Pell. While it is not necessary to have read the other books, this story spans other books in the series and this is somewhat of a culmination of that ongoing story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Heiress in Red Silk

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: Heiress in Red SilkHeiress In Red Silk (A Duke's Heiress #2) by Madeline Hunter
Series: A Duke's Heiress #2
Published by Zebra on April 27, 2021
Genres: Historical
Pages: 304


FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable story of two people who are good at their work but not so good at relationships. By the end, I was really rooting for these two but was disappointed by the abbreviated resolution.

THE STORY: The Duke of Hollinburgh has died (perhaps murdered as some suspect) and left fortunes to several women outside the family and unknown to them. This book picks up the story about the second woman, Rosamund Jameson, who has been left money and half of a company. The other half is owned by Kevin Radner who is none too pleased by his new partner.

Rosamund designs hats and has a shop and has no intention of signing away her new business interest as Kevin wants. Instead, she insists on being a true partner which infuriates Kevin and makes him consider marriage to control Rosamund’s interest. But Kevin gets more than he bargained for in approaching Rosamund.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. The characters were often difficult to grapple with which made their romance that much better.

Rosamund is both practical and realistic and yet also innocent and perhaps a little silly about certain things. I enjoyed how many times I saw her as a fully fleshed-out person with strengths and weaknesses. So often in romance these days, the desire to show a practical woman with strength as she practices her trade and goes through life is tied tightly to those same qualities in her personal life. But that is not often how people are in real life. We all have weaknesses and frailties and having weaknesses does not take away Rosamund’s great business sense.

Kevin is also intensely good at what he does but really bad about personal relationships. Another aspect I enjoyed was how he must learn to allow Rosamund into all parts of his life because not only does she make the personal better, but her intelligence and business sense also can complement and enhance his own business.

I particularly enjoy books where both characters grow and change because of the relationship and not a book where the heroine is perfect and stays that way and the story is instead her bringing the hero to heel.

I really ended up loving these characters. My only complaint about this book is that it ended too quickly. After the final resolution of the conflicts in the book, I would have liked more with Rosamund and Kevin just being shown happy for a little while or an epilogue just so I could feel that their lives together have been cemented. I missed that in this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: The hero of this book, Kevin, is at times difficult to understand or even to like. Although there is no specific mention, because of the time period, it is pretty clear that Kevin is on the spectrum. I especially enjoyed that aspect, but he does not act or think like a “stereotypical” historical romance hero, and I’ve noticed that some reviews ding this book for that reason.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEIRESS IN RED SILK is the second book in the A Duke’s Heiress series. The romance here is self-contained and thus it can be read as a standalone although the overarching storyline is much better if this book is read after HEIRESS FOR HIRE.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this 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: A Treacherous Trade

Review: A Treacherous TradeA Treacherous Trade (The Fiona Mahoney Mysteries, #2) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: The Fiona Mahoney Mysteries #2
on March 8, 2022
Genres: Historical, Mystery


FINAL DECISION: Better than the first book in the series, it is more polished and cohesive. I enjoyed the mystery but the middle of the book dragged for me. Definitely reading the next in the series.

THE STORY: The second book in the series where Fiona is continuing her search for Jack the Ripper. Again prostitutes are ending up dead, but is it Jack or someone else preying upon the women? Fiona continues to interact with the men who were introduced in the first book. This is not a romance, but there are romantic elements.

OPINION: Fiona’s investigation is less bloody and more traditional detective in this book — although she doesn’t really figure out the villain until the villain is basically revealed to the reader. That being said, I enjoyed this book more than the first. What I did miss were more relationships. Instead, we got a slew of new characters to interact with which made the ending somewhat too mysterious.

The storyline here was certainly intriguing. I enjoy that Fiona goes to the less savory areas of London appropriate for someone whose obsession is a murderer who hunts prostitutes and whose job is cleaning up after death.

The book started well and ended well this time, but the middle was a bit bloated and dragged. However, I enjoyed the book as a whole and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book ends on a personal cliffhanger for Fiona.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A TREACHEROUS TRADE is the second book in the Fiona Mahoney Mystery series. The books are connected and should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.



Review: The Devil in Her Bed

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 Devil in Her BedThe Devil in Her Bed (Devil You Know, #3) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Devil You Know #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 9, 2021
Genres: Historical
Pages: 357


FINAL DECISION: This book was almost a great book. Unfortunately, the ending when the final secret was revealed with completely unsatisfying. The amazing journey was not ended well. But there is much to love about this book.

THE STORY: Countess Francesca Cavendish is not who she appears. The survivor from a massacre that left her alone in the world, she assumed a new identity to hunt those responsible. In her search, she crosses paths with the Devil of Dorset, mysterious and solitary, he has his own agenda. But the two of them are connected in ways that neither expected. As each pursues their goals, the question is whether either can trust the other when so many lies and secrets are between them.

OPINION: This was almost my favorite of the series — for 90 percent of the book that was true. Then the ending came and the resolution of the final secret between these characters was poorly handled. Instead of drama and resolution, the author went simplistic and trite. Definitely unfortunate and it left me questioning the long happily ever after. Just not enough resolution for me.

The rest of the book was magical. The two characters are so well matched. The lies and secrets between them seemed reciprocal and thus there was no shame in each deceiving the other — rather than betrayal, there was respect. These two are in the mold of spies that are both doing their job on opposite sides. There is nothing personal about the deception. Thus, the great competition between them was deeply satisfying. As they both reveal themselves to the other, the intimacy of knowledge and being themselves worked so well.

Francesca is a great heroine. Strong and determined and independent. She doesn’t put up with the hero’s bull, but at the same time, the connection between the two felt genuine and deep.

Perhaps that is why the ending upset me. The final secret between these two was serious and needed real resolution. The work was not done in this book rather it was rushed and unconvincing. But the book is still a good story…I’ll just have to imagine my own resolution.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book involves characters who are often lying to one another and concealing secrets.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DEVIL IN HER BED is the third book in the Devil You Know series. The series has some overlapping storylines, but the individual romances mean that each book can be read on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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



Review: The Business of Blood

Review: The Business of BloodThe Business of Blood (Fiona Mahoney Mysteries, #1) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Fiona Mahoney Mysteries #1
Published by Oliver Heber on November 8, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 308


FINAL DECISION: This is not a romance! It is a mystery but it is dark and very bloody for a historical mystery. The book doesn’t fit well within any genre, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t really intrigued by it. The book doesn’t always work, but I see something really fresh and interesting struggling to be revealed — and Fiona is compelling. I would definitely keep reading this series.

THE STORY: Fiona Mahoney makes her way in life by — literally — cleaning up after violence and death. Haunted by the Jack the Ripper murders, Fiona continues to search for the killer. Her activities in London bring her in contact with men of various stations of life who have their own secrets. When murders that appear connected with the Ripper murders occur, Fiona’s own life appears threatened.

OPINION: I really wanted to love this book. Victorian mystery around the Jack the Ripper murders — definitely catnip for me. But this book was so uneven. Perhaps because the author is breaking out from her own typical book and crossing genres, the book doesn’t really know what it wants to be.

The mystery was meh. The reveal was shocking which isn’t always good because it felt like a bit of a cheat. The best mysteries surprise but are obvious upon reflection — this book didn’t work like that. It felt more like a thriller at that point. Also, the exposition of the book dragged the story — for me, it needed more drama and tension.

The resolution of the story was amazing well done — tension, drama, emotion, and perfect pitch. I just wish more of the book was that well done. But I did like the book overall and am definitely willing to read more of the series to see if the author finds a true voice for the story.

I really did like the character of Fiona which along with the end of the book was a highlight for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: Jack the Ripper, need I say more?

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BUSINESS OF BLOOD is the first book in the Fiona Mahoney Mysteries series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.