Review: WHISKEY AND GUMDROPS by Jean Oram

Light romance tends to provide my go-to break from all the mysteries and thrillers I read. Whiskey and Gumdrops by Jean Oram is a fun read that provided an enjoyable diversion from my usual fare. It is the first book in the author’s five-book Blueberry Springs Series.

Description

Whiskey and Gumdrops: A Blueberry Springs Sweet Romance by [Oram, Jean]One woman. One case of self-denial. One hunky best friend who wants a lot more.

Watching the man she thought she’d marry tie the knot to someone else spurs small-town waitress, Mandy Mattson, to finally pursue her dreams of opening her own restaurant.

But she can’t do it alone. . .

Mandy’s going to need the help of her sexy, long-time best friend, Frankie Smith. He has everything she needs–and more. She fell for him years ago, but has never allowed their friendship to evolve into something more. After all, he’s “Frankie fall-off-the-tower Smith,” and she has no intention of giving her heart to a dare devil like him. But what happens when Frankie asks Mandy to take the biggest dare of all?

My Review

This romance centers around a well-known dilemma whether you should risk losing your best friend by trying to become more than just friends. Mandy is likeable and can’t imagine what she would do without her best friend and so she closes herself off to the possibility of their ever becoming something more. Frankie is wonderful, always at her side, providing support in every possible way, while Mandy does her utmost to push him away. Sometimes you just want to shake some sense into her. Their antics are entertaining as they circle the elephant in the room their strong, mutual attraction until (as in every good romance) they find their happily ever-after. An enjoyable sweet romance.

You can get your copy on Amazon.

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Review & Giveaway: CLUES IN THE SAND by Terry Ambrose

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I recently read Clues in the Sand by Terry Ambrose.  It’s the second book in his Seaside Cover Bed and Breakfast Mystery series but can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone read.  Besides, who can resist the lovely cover?

Description

Clues_CoverTo Rick Atwood’s dismay, the police find a body on the beach near his Seaside Cove B&B. The dead woman held a pottery shard from an ancient rice bowl, which the cops believe is a clue to her murder.

The chief suspect is Flynn O’Connor, a female archaeologist known for her hatred of treasure thieves. Trouble is, Rick’s daughter Alex sees Flynn as a role model and will not believe her friend is a killer.

Alex pressures her dad as only a ten-year-old can to prove Flynn is innocent. The mayor is also making demands—for Rick to stay out of the investigation. With his daughter and the mayor at odds, Rick sees trouble brewing. He knows too well how much Alex loves sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Especially when there’s murder involved.

My Review

Rick Atwood is a devoted father who only wants the best for his over-inquisitive daughter and that includes keeping her out of trouble and away from murder investigations. Their relationship is heart-warming, and is complemented by the developing ties between them and a woman who works at the B&B, much of which is divulged as Alex writes in her journal.  The mystery itself is an interesting one, touching on issues related to archaeology, real estate, and good old fashioned greed, complete with plot twists leading up to the discovery of the murderer.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of The Clock Flower and a Starbucks gift card from the author.

AmbroseAbout the Author

Terry Ambrose is a former skip tracer who only stole cars when it was legal. He’s long since turned his talents to writing mysteries and thrillers. Several of his books have been award finalists and in 2014 his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He’s currently working on the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.

Purchase Link: Amazon

Review: KILLER TIED by Lesley A. Diehl

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading Killer Tied by Lesley A. Diehl.

Description

Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.

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Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.

As for Eve’s family, are her parents really dead? A woman named Eleanor claims to be Eve’s half-sister, born after her mother faked a boating accident to escape her abusive husband, Eve’s father. Then Eleanor’s father turns up dead in the swamps, stabbed by a Bowie knife belonging to Sammy’s father, Lionel. Strange as Lionel Egret is, Eve knows he had no motive to kill this stranger. In order to clear him, Eve must investigate Eleanor’s claims, and she might not like what digging around in her family’s past uncovers.

My Review

I really liked this book. Eve was true to form likable, spunky and determined. Even more so when her PI apprenticeship forces her to root out the secrets of her own family’s past. Could she be related to a murderer?  In her pursuit of the truth she is helped by a familiar cast of family and friends, including a loving grandmother and an amazingly likeable Mafia mob boss.  Family was very much at the center of this book – from the murder investigation, with suspects on both Sammy and Eve’s family trees, through to loving glimpses into the newlyweds’ experiences in juggling the parenting of three young boys.  Diverse characters and interesting twists made this a very enjoyable read.

Note: Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of this blog tour.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way. 

About the Author

LES-DIEHLLesley is a country gal through and through, from her childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois to college in a cornfield in Iowa, Lesley creates sassy, snoopy protagonists who embrace chasing killers in country settings. Lesley writes several series: the Big Lake Murder mysteries and the Eve Appel mysteries both set in rural Florida; the Laura Murphy mysteries located on a lake in upstate New York; and short stories, some featuring a few of Lesley’s unique relatives from back on the farm (Aunt Nozzie and the Grandmothers). She is inspired by an odd set of literary muses: a ghost named Fred and a coyote as yet unnamed. Killer Tied is the sixth mystery in the Eve Appel Mysteries. To read more about Lesley’s unusual and humorous cozy mysteries, go to www.lesleyadiehl.com.

Author Links

Purchase Link: Amazon

Review & Giveaway: MURDER IS A DIRTY BUSINESS by Tricia L. Sanders

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I recently read Murder is a Dirty Business, the first in a new cozy mystery series by Tricia L. Sanders.  It was a great read – I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the rest of the series.

Description

perf5.000x8.000.inddWhen Cece Cavanaugh’s husband empties their joint bank account, steals her designer luggage, and runs off with a younger woman, Cece must decide whether to ask her manipulative mother-in-law for a handout or get a job. Choosing the easier path, Cece lands a job cleaning a crime scene where a high school coach was murdered. When his wife is implicated—a young woman Cece practically raised—Cece finds herself mopping floors, balancing an empty checkbook, and ferreting out a killer.

Amid all this messy business, Cece bumps heads with a handsome detective. She tries to ignore her growing attraction to the detective, but he gives new meaning to the term “hot flash.”

After she stumbles onto a clue that could vindicate her friend, her elation turns to panic when she haphazardly confronts the killer. Through the danger and romance, Cece discovers self-reliance and inner strength.

And that crime—at least, someone else’s—does pay the bills.

My Review

I really enjoyed getting to know Cece, her family and friends in this light, well-paced mystery.  The story is told from Cece’s point of view in a smooth conversational tone that makes it easy to identify with her.  She is determined to remedy her financial problems with the kind of job most of us could never imagine taking on. She may not have worked for many years, but she is willing to what ever it takes to take care of her family.  And when her daughter’s best friend, Kim, becomes the primary suspect in the murder of her husband, she is determined to root out the truth and prove Kim’s innocence. With  twists and turns befitting a good mystery, and a sprinkling of humor and flirtation, this book is a very impressive start to what promises to be a great series by a new author.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary ARC of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win one of five $5 Amazon Gift Cards.

About the Author

TriciaSandersTricia L. Sanders writes about women with class, sass, and a touch of kickass.  A former instructional designer and corporate trainer, she traded in curriculum writing for novel writing, because she hates bullet points and loves to make stuff up. And fiction is more fun than training guides and lesson plans.

When she isn’t writing, Tricia is busy crossing dreams off her bucket list. With all 50 states checked, she’s concentrating on foreign interests. She’s an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, so don’t get between her and the television when a game is on. Currently, she is working on a mystery series set in the fictional town of Wickford, Missouri. Another project in the works is a women’s fiction road trip adventure.

Her essays have appeared in Sasee, ByLine, The Cuivre River Anthology and Great American Outhouse Stories; The Whole Truth and Nothing Butt. She is a proud member of The Lit Ladies, six women writing their truths into fiction.

Author Links

Purchase Link:  Amazon

Review & Giveaway: MURDER OF A GOOD MAN by Teresa Trent

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading  Murder of a Good Man, A Piney Woods Mystery by Teresa Trent.

Description

murder_good_man300_WebWhen Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.

My Review

In this enjoyable mystery, Nora travels to a quaint Texas town where she is soon entangled in a murder investigation and uncovers an abundance of secrets about her mother’s past and the past of the town’s favorite man and benefactor.  With the help of local B&B owners and the hotel owner, Nora draws on her inner strength to cope with the challenges she faces.  Her interactions with Tuck add a potential romantic interest to her life, which I suspect will be a thread in future books in the series.  Some aspects of the plot were somewhat predicable, though there were a few unexpected twists.  Overall, an interesting and well-paced start to a new cozy mystery series.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected  the content of my review. 

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win an e-copy of Murder of a Good Man  by Teresa Trent plus a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author

TTrent

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

Author Links

Purchase Links
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Review: A CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT by S. M. Spencer

Change of pace today –  a romance instead of a mystery.  I downloaded “A Chance to Get It Right” a while back,  but hadn’t found the time to read it before now.  Glad I finally did.

Description

512bg0cktlnlKatrina Jacobs knows something is missing from her life–even though most would say she has it all. But when she pays a visit to her sister in the sleepy rural town of Willows, she discovers what’s been missing.

Richard Jensen has the looks, the money and the career–now all he needs is the perfect wife. He’s convinced Katrina’s the one; he just needs to make it happen.

Terry Winters doesn’t mind the whispers going on in town–after all, he moved to Willows for his horses, and they don’t listen to rumours.

As Katrina grows fond of Willows, she finds herself caught in a battle between substance and form, learning that having it all isn’t the same as getting it right.

But is it just the town she’s enamoured with?

A Chance to Get it Right is the second instalment in the Copperhead Creek Australian Romance series, and while this is a stand-alone story with respect to the main characters, some of the characters from the first book, A Chance to Come True, make appearances as life continues in the rural town of Willows.

My Review

A sweet and lovely romance about a young woman trying to decide what she wants from her life and who she really wants to spend it with. The personalities of the two contenders are as different as could be. Their characters are well drawn, with Richard is as easy to dislike as Terry is to like. The story also provided an interesting  glimpse into small town life in Australia.  All in all, an enjoyable read with a happily ever after conclusion. I’ll be on the lookout for more books from this author.

You can get your copy on Amazon.

Review: DOUBTFUL by Ann Warner

Sometimes we do judge (select) a book by its cover. Its lovely cover was what first drew my attention to Doubtful – a romantic suspense novel  by Ann Warner.

51oi7gmbndlSynopsis (from Amazon)

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand
For Dr. Van Peters, Doubtful is a retreat after a false accusation all but ends her scientific career. For journalist David Christianson, it is a place of respite after a personal tragedy is followed by an unwelcome notoriety. Neither is looking for love or even friendship. Both want only to make it through another day. But when violence comes to Doubtful, Van and David’s only chance of survival will be each other.

My Review

Doubtful is a well written story centering around David and Van, who take an instantaneous dislike to one another.  They are both nursing emotional wounds from the past, and are thrown together by circumstances beyond their control.  The story alternates between their perspectives, highlighting each character and deepening the reader’s understanding of them as individuals as the story progresses.  I was sorry to see that the mystery elements were not as well developed as the romantic ones, especially as regards resolution of the criminal aspects of the story. It was a good read that I expect fans of romantic suspense will enjoy.

BTW, New Zealand was already on my bucket list…   based on the author’s descriptions, I think it just moved up a few spots.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review & Giveaway: THE TULIP SHIRT MURDERS by Heather Weidner

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  today’s post introduces  The Tulip Shirt Murders , the second Delanie Fitzgerald mystery by Heather Weidner.

Description

TulipShirtPrivate investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.

The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.

My Review

I enjoyed this book. Delanie Fitzgerald is a strong and likeable young woman with good instincts and an adventurous spirit.  And, like many fictional sleuths, she sometimes puts herself in a bit more danger than necessary. Her detective work has her engaged in a variety of investigations, ranging from small stuff to murder.  The murder investigation drives the well-paced plot, with a not-so predictable resolution that made sense to me.  Although her friend and computer hacking sidekick, Duncan, and his four-legged sidekick, add a more personal dimension to her character, I’d have liked to see a bit more depth in her interactions with others. Maybe I can get to know Delanie better when the next book comes out.  A book likely to be enjoyed by cozy mystery fans.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected  the content of my honest review. 

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Purchase Links 

About the Author

TulipAuthorHeather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is her second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Lethal Ladies and Pens, Paws, and Claws.

Author Links

Review & Giveaway: TWOFER MURDER by Lauren Carr

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by iRead Book Tours, today’s post features the latest release by  Lauren Carr – Twofer Murder.

Description

twofer-murder_3Twofer murder? What’s a twofer murder?

Twofer Murder is a treat for fans of best-selling author Lauren Carr’s fast-paced mysteries! Lauren’s latest novel contains the main characters from her three successful series: Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. The guys go away for a fishing weekend only to get caught up in the murder of a journalist investigating fraud at a timber company. Meanwhile, the ladies are spending the weekend in the presidential suite at a posh resort where Jessica Faraday is to accept a lifetime achievement award for her late grandmother at a murder mystery writers conference. But before they have time to get their facials, they get wrapped up in their own real mystery when an up and coming author ends up dead! 

Watch the trailer:
Buy the Book:  Amazon,  Add to Goodreads

My Review

As its title implies, Twofer Murder is a double-feature – two distinct mysteries within the same novel.  Both have complex and interesting plots with plenty of twists and turns.  I loved the scenes with the animals, especially Gnarly, and his antics on the guys’ fishing trip.  Lots of good two-legged characters, too.  Perhaps a few too many for readers (like me) who have not read all of her previous series. I also think it would have been less confusing if the two stories had been told in separate books.  Although I expected to be more drawn to the ladies’ mystery,  I found the guys’ mystery more realistic and engaging. Overall, an enjoyable read for cozy mystery lovers and fans of Lauren Carr.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected  the content of my honest review. 

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card (open internationally where Amazon.com delivers gift cards) (ends Jan 27).

Review: SUMMIT LAKE by Charlie Donlea

I picked up this edgy mystery/thriller on NetGalley a while back.  It was somewhat different from my usual reading fare, but a good book.

Description (from Amazon)

51-foo2bpsrl“No suspects.  No persons of interest.  Just a girl who was alive one day and dead the next.”

Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place, with charming stilt houses dotted along the pristine water. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student, was brutally murdered in one of those houses. The daughter of a powerful attorney, Becca was hard-working, accomplished, and ambitious. Now, while the town reels with grief and shocked residents gather to share their theories, the police are baffled.

At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the determined efforts to keep the case quiet, all hint at something far more than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper, pushing on despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life—and the secrets she was keeping—the more convinced she becomes that learning the truth about Becca could be the key to overcoming her own dark past…

My Review

This was a steady-paced and suspenseful mystery/thriller and a pleasant read. Kelsey is a strong woman who is doing her best to bounce back from a traumatic event and throws herself into finding out what happened to Becca. The narrative skillfully alternates between flashbacks to the victim’s life and Kelsey’s ongoing investigation.  Nonetheless, some aspects of the story didn’t quite gel for me and the vivid descriptions of Summit Lake were somewhat repetitive. And, odd as this may sound, the identify of the murderer was at the same time predictable and a surprise.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley without obligation and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review.