Review: People in Glass Houses

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: People in Glass HousesPeople in Glass Houses (Ghost Hunters, #16) by Jayne Castle
Series: Ghost Hunters/Harmony #16
Published by Berkley on May 7, 2024
Genres: Paranormal, Futuristic

FINAL DECISION: PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES is a very enjoyable entry in the Ghost Hunters series, offering a well-balanced mix of romance, mystery, and paranormal elements. Castle’s engaging characters, intricate plot, and unique setting make for an enjoyable read that will satisfy fans of the series and attract new readers to the world of Harmony.

THE STORY: Joshua Knight, the disgraced explorer now known as the Tarnished Knight, seeks refuge in a remote, mirror-filled mansion after a disastrous expedition in the Underworld’s Glass House sector. With his psychic senses shattered and memories lost, he is determined to uncover the truth behind his team’s disappearance.

Molly Griffin, a gifted crystal artist, believes Josh holds the key to finding her missing sister, Leona, who was part of the ill-fated expedition. She arrives at the mansion, ready to help Josh regain control of his abilities, but she must abide by his rules: stay away from the basement and leave the draped mirrors undisturbed.

OPINION: Castle’s masterful world-building and skillful storytelling create an immersive experience from the very first page. The author knows the rules of this world well, and thus, it feels as real as her contemporary books. The plot, filled with secrets and supernatural elements, keeps readers engaged and guessing until the end.

One of the greatest strengths of this novel lies in its characters. Molly and Josh are both incredibly likable and relatable, each with their own unique personalities, flaws, and motivations. As they spend nearly the entire book together, Castle allows ample time for their relationship to develop organically. The initial tension between them gradually transforms into a deep, genuine connection that feels both earned and satisfying.

The dynamic between Molly and Josh is electric, their personalities clashing and complementing each other in equal measure. Castle expertly weaves together their individual struggles and shared goals, creating a compelling and emotionally resonant relationship.

The presence of Newton, Molly’s loyal and adorable dust bunny companion, adds a delightful touch of humor and warmth to the story, as dust bunnies always do.

WORTH MENTIONING: Gabriel Jones and Lucy Bell, characters from the previous book GUILD BOSS, make an appearance as Molly works on their wedding celebration. This nice tie-in rewards longtime readers and adds depth to the interconnected world of Harmony.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES is the sixteenth book in the Ghost Hunters/Harmony series. While it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel, starting from earlier books is recommended to provide a richer understanding of the Harmony universe and its inhabitants.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book 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: Hold

Review: HoldHold (Hold, #1) by Claire Kent, Zannie Adams
Series: Hold #1
Published by CreateSpace on January 2, 2023
Genres: Futuristic
Pages: 180

FINAL DECISION: Okay read. Mostly sex that wasn’t very sexy at all. I wanted to know how they resolved the story because the situation was so intriguing. I didn’t really see much about a relationship, though, until a quick resolution in the epilogue so this was an okay one-time read, but clearly not my type of book.

THE STORY: Riana is convicted of a minor crime but sentenced to life on a prison planet. The prison planet is a free for all where only the most dangerous — survive. She is told that her best chance for survival is to find the toughest man and offer herself to him in exchange for protection. Riana immediately decides on Cain, who happens to have a private cell with a bathroom. Any man who could have such accommodations must be tough. So Riana seeks to make a deal with Cain to survive.

OPINION: This novella was a little darker and more brutal than I like in my stories generally. Most of the book is pure sex and mere survival with little to no personal relationship between the main characters. I thought the story felt appropriate for the location, but all the softness is at the end, and that’s not what I like in my stories. For readers who like lots and lots of sex in their stories and don’t particularly care about the softer things, this story is well constructed. It feels appropriate, and I understand the characters’ motivations. This is not a bad story, but perhaps the prison sub-genre is just not for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella-length story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOLD is the first book in the Hold series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.


Review: Sweetwater & the Witch

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: Sweetwater & the WitchSweetwater & the Witch (Ghost Hunters, #15) by Jayne Castle
Series: Ghost Hunters #15
Published by Berkley on September 20, 2022
Genres: Paranormal, Futuristic
Pages: 304

FINAL DECISION: Fun, filled with action and romance, I loved Ravenna and Ethan’s story. I especially like that this book draws from so many other books in the Harmony and Arcane series. Makes me want to read a whole bunch of them again.

THE STORY: Ravenna Chastain becomes a matchmaker when she is almost killed by a cult while doing an investigation. But matchmaking has its own troubles. Ravenna’s major problem is Ethan Sweetwater, who Ravenna can’t match even after nine failed dates. When Ravenna tries to get rid of Ethan, he threatens to cause problems unless she accompanies him to a business event. In exchange, he will accompany her to a family function where she needs a date. In the process, there are failed dates that appear obsessed with stalking Ravenna and goons who come to attack Ethan. As Ravenna and Ethan investigate, they also grow closer.

OPINION: I think the Harmony books are my favorite of Krentz/Castle/Quick these days. There is such humor in them, and combined with the action and the surprise of the various talents that the characters possess, I always look forward to reading them. Plus, there are the dust bunnies, who are just hilarious.

Ravenna is in danger, but she isn’t a damsel in distress. Instead, she is perfectly capable of taking care of her own problems. But I liked that she was willing to ask for help. She is competent and able to remake herself when something goes wrong. That is something that many of Castle’s heroines have in common on Harmony. They often have faced losses that require them to reconfigure their lives — to reinvent themselves. I’ve always admired that quality in her heroines.

Ethan is a bit less successful as a character, although I really liked his focus on Ravenna and his determination to do whatever he needs to do to prove there is something special between them. He is thoughtful and yet also manages to focus on solving problems — in this case the danger that seems to surround both him and Ravenna.

I thought that the mystery/suspense in the story was well constructed with plenty of twists and turns to keep the action moving. But I read these books for the connection between the characters; this one does not disappoint. Ethan and Ravenna have some witty banter between them. Dialogue is one of the author’s strengths. Often the book seems to call back to the clever banter of the 1940s movies — but with a paranormal twist.

Fans will not be disappointed because this book fits nicely in the series with some fun twists.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved that this book intensely focused on the mythology of previous Harmony/Ghost Hunter books and even the Arcane books. However, I wonder if new readers are confused by the villain’s motivations.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SWEETWATER & THE WITCH is the fifteenth book in the Harmony/Ghost Hunters series. It is also connected with the Arcane series. The following books are noted at the end as being connected: GUILD BOSS (Castle), OBSIDIAN PREY (Castle), and ALL THE COLORS OF THE NIGHT (Krentz).

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley which I used 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: Connections in Death

Review: Connections in DeathConnections in Death (In Death, #48) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #48
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 5, 2019
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: A solid entry in the series. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Eve and Roarke in this one as the two have become comfortable with one another in their marriage.

THE STORY: Eve and Roarke are working on their new school and youth center intended for children like they were growing up. When the brother of the new head psychologist is found dead, it at first seems that his troubles with addiction have resulted in his death, but Eve soon recognizes it as a disguised murder.

OPINION: I’m a big fan of this series. Most of the books are really good and a few are middling. This one is a solid entry. It has some of the aspects that I enjoy most about this series: a personal connection for Eve, a lot of interaction between Eve and Roarke, and appearances by Eve’s friends and coworkers.

I also admit that I am always more interested in these relationships than the mystery. There isn’t a tremendous amount of mystery here as the crime is quickly solved, but Eve has to put the evidence together to get the criminals. That worked well here. This book was more like a crime procedural than a mystery.

What I enjoyed the most was the continued maturing of Eve and Roarke’s relationship. Readers who have followed the entire breadth of the series will see a deepening and the two dealing with one another in a positive manner. I love watching these characters move beyond their painful pasts.

There is also a nice smattering of the other people in Eve’s life. She has a whole menagerie of people in her life now and we get a glimpse of many of them. I enjoy seeing Eve connect with others. Her growth has been amazing from the woman who was so alone in the first book in this series to someone who knows how to ask for and receive help from others.

This is a good entry in the series. Not one of the most compelling, but quite enjoyable.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although there have been 48 books in this series, just about 3 years have passed in the series itself so a lot has happened in those years.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CONNECTIONS IN DEATH is the forty-eighth book in the In Death series. This one can be read pretty much as a standalone although I think a casual reader misses a lot of character development.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: Nightchaser

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: NightchaserNightchaser (Endeavor, #1) by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Endeavor #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 1, 2019
Genres: Futuristic
Pages: 416

FINAL DECISION: A good start to a new series. I liked that this is a sci-fi romance story. I especially liked that Tess is a very capable, strong and determined woman. Although there is a lot of setup in this book, the story was intriguing enough to keep me interested to the end.

THE STORY: Captain Tess Bailey and her motley space crew are on the run for their lives. With her ship damaged and needing repairs, they land on a planet where Tess meets Shade Ganavan. Shade and Tess have an immediate attraction but he also gets on Tess’s nerves. As to two spend time together, the secrets that each is keeping might get them killed.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book. I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi romance and this one has a Star Wars feel to it but with some dystopian Hunger Games thrown in. The reader arrives in the middle of the action and the first part of the book is exciting.

The center portion of the book is centered on the romance. Honestly, however, the characters felt younger than their ages. This book definitely had a young adult feel to it despite the ages of the characters. In fact, Tess felt too naive and innocent for her experience and that bothered me somewhat. For someone on the run who is hiding, she seems to tell a lot of people her secrets — except, of course, Shade.

The action picks up in the last third of the book and its like all the tension and mysteries are sprung for the reader. I enjoyed this portion the best because it felt like there were payoffs.

I did enjoy the mysteries and the secrets and that kept me wondering what was happening in the book. That was the highlight of this story combined with the chemistry between Shade and Tess. They have an interesting relationship that challenge their expectations and plans.

I didn’t feel that this book was a home run like the first book in the Kingmaker Chronicles series. This book felt more uneven and fans looking for sci-fi may be challenged by the entire center of the book that is about building Shade and Tess’s relationship.

I’m going to admit to be wary of this series. I loved the beginning of the Kingmaker Chronicles and was really disappointed by the final book in the trilogy. So I’m going to be careful about being excited about this series until I see how it turns out. I worry that the great promises of these stories will ultimately not be as good as the expectations.

WORTH MENTIONING: While this book doesn’t have a cliffhanger, it is clear that there is more to the overarching storyline to be continued in future books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NIGHTCHASER is the first book in the Endeavor series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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


Review: Leverage in Death

Review: Leverage in DeathLeverage in Death (In Death, #47) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #47
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 4, 2018
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 385

FINAL DECISION: Eve is surrounded by her supporting cast and this one really worked for me. Books where Eve and Roarke get to work together are always better in my opinion. This one is really about Eve and those around her with an intriguing mystery.

THE STORY: A man walks into a conference room wearing a suicide vest and kills his colleagues. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to the scene and soon discovers that there is more than a disgruntled employee involved. Someone held his wife and child hostage to compel is actions. To discover who and what was the motive, Eve gets some help from her husband Roarke.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. Honestly, the “mystery” wasn’t as intense as others in the series, but this book really sold the relationships in the series well. There is good stuff with Eve and Roarke, Eve and Peabody, Eve and Nadine. The book also closes off some of the lingering storylines in the series.

I did like the mystery even though it felt less important to this book than in others. The crimes were pretty dramatic and the motives and methods intriguing and murky. That I really enjoyed.

But my favorite part of this book is that we get to see Eve and Roarke working together. I read these books because I love seeing these two together and I liked this book so much more because the two of them spent most of the story interacting with one another.

WORTH MENTIONING: Sometimes I am shocked into thinking of how little time has passed in the In Death world. The Oscars where the Icove movie is nominated is just happening.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LEVERAGE IN DEATH is the forty-seventh book in the In Death series. The mystery here is self-contained but a reader is tossed immediately into the characters with no re-introduction for new readers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Interlude in Death

Review: Interlude in DeathInterlude in Death (In Death, #12.5) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #12.5
Published by Berkley on August 29, 2006
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 88

FINAL DECISION: This is a nice novella in the In Death world. The novella manages to pack in many of the same elements of the novels including the humor, romance, the large cast of characters, and an intriguing mystery.

THE STORY: Eve has one of the challenges of her career when she is supposed to give a speech (of all things) at a police convention at Roarke’s off-planet Olympus resort. When one of the attendees ends up murdered, Eve is on the case. The case is complicated by Eve having an altercation with the victim and his boss’s obsession with bringing down Roarke.

OPINION: This is a nice “interlude” in the series. It has all the elements in the full length novels, but manages to compact everything into less than 100 pages. I especially enjoyed that the story gives Eve and Roarke a significant amount of time together and yet there is plenty of time for action, for interaction with important characters in the series (pretty much all Eve’s colleagues), nuggets about Eve and Roarke’s pasts, and some sexy moments as well.

The story happens quickly and if there is any complaint it is that the mystery is not deep, but one cannot expect much more of a short novella. I did like that Eve is given a bump in the road by having a local cop to deal with.

The solution seemed pretty obvious to me at first, but I liked the twists even if it wasn’t really possible to reason out that solution, but regardless I liked the journey to get there.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has an interesting moment when it is discussed why Eve is seemingly being passed over for promotion.

CONNECTED BOOKS: INTERLUDE IN DEATH is book 12.5 in the In Death series. This is a novella that gives a taste of the series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



Review: Betrayal in Death

Review: Betrayal in DeathBetrayal in Death (In Death, #12) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #12
Published by Berkley Books on March 1, 2001
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 355

FINAL DECISION: More a thriller than a mystery, this one tests Eve’s skills as she hunts a professional killer who has Roarke in his sights. I loved the pacing of this one and the exploration of Roarke’s past.

THE STORY: The rape and murder of a hotel maid in one of Roarke’s hotels brings Eve on the case of a professional killer who seems to be targeting those who work for Roarke. Eve fears that Roake is the final target. But because the killer is a hired gun, Eve also has to figure out who is the hidden figure behind these crimes. The solution might rest in Roarke’s shady past.

OPINION: This is a page turner from beginning to end as Eve races against time to find the killer. The book is focused and exciting and has plenty of emotional heft between Eve and Roarke as she is the caretaker this time. This story shakes Roarke and Eve is the one who not only has to solve the crime but also manage the emotions of Roarke.

This book demonstrates how well this series does crime combined with serious character development. Eve and Roarke center this story. While the crimes are salacious and over the top at times, the emotional heart of the series is the relationship between these two and how they are opening up to one another and building a relationship.

The killer in this case is a professional who has some interesting quirks which make him memorable and particularly vicious. It is a particularly nasty episode, but the twist at the end gives this some good emotional connection.

WORTH MENTIONING: A cute part of the book is Eve and Roarke ending up giving relationship advice to Peabody and McNab.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BETRAYAL IN DEATH is the twelfth book in the In Death series. This book has an independent and stand alone mystery with continuing personal story lines.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.



Review: Judgment in Death

Review: Judgment in DeathJudgment in Death (In Death, #11) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #11
Published by Berkley Books on September 1st 2000
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 356

FINAL DECISION: This is a great character book. The mystery was okay, but I loved how the mystery brings out some conflicts with characters and also gives the opportunity to delve more into Eve and Roarke’s pasts.

THE STORY: When a cop is found beaten to death in one of Roake’s clubs, Eve has to wonder what the motive is. When things about the cop are revealed, it appears that someone it targeting dirty cops. Both Eve and Roarke also find that people from their pasts are mixed up in the case as well which makes their own relationship a little bumpy for a while.

OPINION: This book is an example of what I enjoy about this series. I read the books as the character story of Eve with the mysteries and crimes as the excuse to delve into her world. Honestly, I find the crimes interesting, but I don’t generally analyze them. I want to know more about these characters and how they react to the crises before them.

This book is a good example of that. For me, the central conflict in this story is between Eve and Roarke when their pasts come back against to haunt them in this case. In comparison to the relative happiness in the prior book, this book reignites some of the conflicts between Eve and Roarke. While this is the eleventh book in the series, the two have been together for just over a year. They still have much to work through in their relationship and as things from the past pop out to disturb their happiness, Eve and Roarke have to navigate their relationship.

This book has some significant events especially about Eve’s past. There are lingering questions about Eve’s past and this book brings new information to light that will continue to be teased out in future books.

My favorite scenes in this book involve Webster. He becomes a catalyst in this book and I like the mess he stirs up.

The crime works well to carry the character moments for a purpose, but otherwise I didn’t find it one of the memorable ones.

WORTH MENTIONING: Man fight! This book also is the introduction of Max Richter.

CONNECTED BOOKS: JUDGMENT IN DEATH is the eleventh book in the In Death series. This series has mysteries in each book that operate as standalones but overarching character storylines. I think it is better to read the series in order to get the full impact, but this book can be read as a mystery standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


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

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.