Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tidewater Inn - Colleen Coble

I truly doubt I got anything done around the house while "Tidewater Inn" was left unfinished -- which wasn't long!  I recommend waiting to start this novel when you have a day to really sit down and enjoy this romance and mystery of a tiny island off the East coast.
The main character, Libby, hears from her business partner Nicole that she recently inherited a property worth over ten million dollars from a father that she had believed to have died over twenty years ago.  She decides to have a "face to face" meeting with Nicole on a beach with a video cam and sees two thugs grab her friend and carry her away.  Nicole's kidnapping rocks the island, and Libby is the main suspect.  It's up to her and her new friend, Alec, to solve the mystery, because the local law support isn't looking any farther than Libby.
As with all of Colleen Coble's novel, the plot grabs you right from the beginning and holds your attention tightly until the very end.  I recommend every single one of her novels.
My only critique is that there were no clues or hints for the reader to build a case against the villain revealed at the end.  When reading a mystery, I prefer for there to be some details sparingly added to the plot throughout the novel so that the reader has a chance (however slight) to solve the mystery.
This was a complimentary copy given to me by the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Bride Wore Blue - Mona Hodgson

This is the fourth novel in the "Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek" series by Mona Hodgson, and in my opinion it was the very best of her books so far.  I loved the storyline, and the main character made so many poor choices it was easy for me to identify with her!  All of Mona's main characters have a a strong desire to achieve their goals and aren't afraid to take chances.  I love the adventurous spirit reflected throughout the entire book.
The storyline revolved around Vivian, the youngest Sinclair sister, who moves to Cripple Creek with dreams of being a fashion designer.  When those dreams are squashed, followed by the failure of two successive jobs, she resorts to working in a brothel as a hostess for Pearl DeVere.  One day she shockingly finds Pearl dead.  Unfortunately, Pearl's boyfriend assumes that Vivian is the killer and sets out on revenge.  The story only gets better when Vivian's love interest, the deputy of Cripple Creek, rescues her and discovers -- upon his dismay -- where she has been working.
What a beautiful story of redemption and joy!  Mona keeps it light and fun the entire way through.  My favorite quote of the book came from Miss Hattie when she said, "It's what we do in our future, dear, that decides how important our past truly was."
Currently, this novel retails on Amazon for $11.40, or you can purchase the Kindle edition for only $9.99.  Don't forget to order books 1, 2, and 3, though.  They are all very good.
This book was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heiress - Susan May Warren

"Heiress" is Book 1 in the "Daughters of Fortune" series by Susan May Warren.  This was my first experience reading a novel by Susan May Warren, and I am definitely hooked for life.  Clearly, this author is not only talented but an experienced writer as well.  The plot was detailed, moved quickly, and the characters were well-written.  The historical information was accurate and researched thoroughly.  I felt completely transported to the pre-war Gilded Age of New York society.
It's difficult to summarize the story, because there is so much to it.  Esme, the older sister, fights her birthright, while, Jinx, the younger sister is eager to embrace their family's way of life.  These leads to failed relationships and tragedies.  The author managed to work in scandal, sabotage, deception, jealousy, arson, adultery, and even an element of organized crime.
I have seen several Susan May Warren books available in previous years, but the title and cover of this particular novel really grabbed my attention.  In the future, every time I see her name I'll snatch it up.  This lengthy novel was read in two days flat.
I was dismayed when I read another review claiming that this did not have a strong enough Christian message.  That is absolutely untrue.  Most women read Christian fiction for enjoyment that is also positive and edifying.  It is not designed to replace quiet time.  I found the novel very encouraging, and felt that it laid out the path to salvation in a clear cut manner while remaining non-offensive.  My opinion is that the novel very much held a Christian slant, and as such was realistic regarding common temptations of people everywhere.
"Baroness" is Book 2 in the "Daughters of Fortune" series, and I can't wait to dig in.  Susan May Warren, let's do it!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bees in the Butterfly Garden - Maureen Lang

I recently read "Whisper on the Wind," the second novel in the Great War series by Maureen Lang.  When I saw the opportunity to read "Bees in the Butterfly Garden," I leapt at the chance.  Since the plot and setting is completely different, I was interested to compare this book to the first one I read.
"Whisper on the Wind" was a somber, slow-moving book set in the middle of the World War.  There was a transparent plot with a very limited amount of romance.  "Bees in the Butterfly Garden" was as far from that as possible.
The book is about Meg Davenport, a lifelong student at Madame Marisse's ladies school.  As such a student, she is welcomed into the inner circles of New York's elite.  When she discovers her father has died, she journeys to his funeral and meets his surrogate son, Ian Maguire, who seems to have taken her place as rightful child.  Not understanding why her father would send her away for her lifetime, and then nearly adopt Ian as his own, she has some issues initially to work through.  Once she arrives, she learns that her father -- highly esteemed by Madame Marisse -- was a professional thief and swindler.  
Ian was her father's partner in crime, and Meg decides that she will show her deceased father what a mistake he made in replacing her with Ian by partnering with Ian in a heist to rob a prominent 5th Avenue family.  She successfully garners an invitation to visit the Pemberton home for the summer, and works with Ian to formulate a plan to burglarize the home for the famous Pemberton gold.
Within a few pages the author hooked my attention.  The plot for "Bees in the Butterfly Garden" is compelling and fast-moving.  This book was interesting and enjoyable to read from start to finish.  I loved the plot.  I commend the author for creating fallible, believable characters.  The twist at the end was genius.  All around, this was a much more enjoyable book to read than "Whisper on the Wind."  
My critique is aimed at the romance in the book.  I would have been more excited to see a romantic dilemma.  I was disappointed in the end, because I felt that the main character, Meg, chose the wrong man.  The plot could have been enhanced by giving one of the other characters (George or Nelson) more of a spotlight starting about midway through the book, then gradually building to a point at the end at which she must decide which man holds her heart.  It is common in romance to introduce the winning man right at the start, so my expectation was that Ian would win her heart.  However, about 75% into the book I began to question whether the author was playing with me, and a more worthy opponent would win Meg (namely George, given his role in the book from the beginning, but I was silently hoping the author would write Nelson in at the end as the final romantic interest).  If memory serves, this was well done by Julie Klassen in her novel, "The Apothecary's Daughter."
Maureen Lang is an author unafraid to take risks.  I again commend her on the plot.  Involving the main character in an illegal heist was one of the most fun, exciting, and risky plots I've seen in Christian fiction so far.
To the author... please keep writing risky plots.  If you will, I will be among your most loyal readers.
This book was a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an objective review.