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Excerpt & Spotlight ☆ What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale

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September 25, 2014

Check out the excerpt of Maya Rodale’s upcoming historical, What a Wallflower Wants.


In the third novel in Maya Rodale’s charming Wallflower series, London’s Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position finds temptation in a devilishly handsome stranger . . .

Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton has a secret.

Everyone knows that she’s the only graduate from her finishing school to remain unwed on her fourth season—but no one knows why. With her romantic illusions shattered after being compromised against her will, Prudence accepts a proposal even though her betrothed is not exactly a knight in shining armor. When he cowardly pushes her out of their stagecoach to divert a highwayman, she vows never to trust another man again.

John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is nobody’s hero.

He’s a blue-eyed charmer with a mysterious past and ambitious plans for his future—that do not include a wife. When he finds himself stranded at a country inn with a captivating young woman, a delicate dance of seduction ensues. He knows he should keep his distance. And he definitely shouldn’t start falling in love with her.

When Prudence’s dark past comes back to haunt her, John must protect her—even though he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.


Miss Prudence Merryweather and Viscount Castleton find themselves stranded at a country in…with secrets. There is only one thing to do: he asks her to dance.

“Just one dance…that is all,” Castleton said. “I promise I won’t get any ideas.”

Prudence gazed up at him. Too bad she couldn’t explain why she was so hesitant. She was wasting her life, letting this fear hold her back. There was a handsome man before her, who had shown her nothing but kindness, and all he wanted was a dance. The truth was: she yearned in her heart of hearts to dance with him.

“All right,” she said softly.

The last time she placed her hand in another man’s it was the beginning of the end.

They began to dance.

She did not, as she feared, forget the steps. Hours and hours of her life spent practicing them so when this moment came—waltzing in the arms of a handsome man—she could move in time to the music without counting to three and so she could look into smoldering gaze instead of at her feet.

Prue forced her breath to be even. In. Out. In. Out. She willed her heart to beat in a steady rhythm as she tried to reclaim power over her emotions and fears.

Castleton’s gaze settled on her face. She peered up at him. This time she really looked at him focusing on his mouth, which was firm, sensual and smiling encouragingly.

“Are you having fun yet?” Castleton asked her affectionately.

Her gaze flew up to his. Ah, those eyes. Knowing. Dark.


Review ☆ The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott

September 25, 2014

wolfewidow_tpAs Thanksgiving approaches, Jordan Bingham is grateful for her job researching rare books for Vera Van Alst, the infamous curmudgeon of Harrison Falls, New York. But when an uninvited guest makes an appearance, much more than dinner is disrupted—and Jordan is thankful just to be alive…

Vera Van Alst doesn’t normally receive visitors without appointment, but she agrees to see the imperious Muriel Delgado upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, Jordan is told that her position is being terminated. Evicted from the Van Alst House, Jordan is determined to find out what hold Muriel has over her erstwhile employer.

It seems Muriel has designs on Vera’s money and property—not to mention a particular interest in her collection of Nero Wolfe first editions. When Jordan discovers a deadly connection between Muriel and the Van Alst family, it’s up to her to put the house in order and stop a killer from going back to press.


Jordan Bingham loves her job helping Vera Van Alst manage and add to her collection of rare books. As a perk, she is sometimes locates great deals to add to her own modest book collection. She also has a beautiful, cozy room that she adores in Vera’s home. As part of her job, Jordan is always looking to upgrade Vera’s collection of Nero Wolfe novels and has come to appreciate the characters in these classic mysteries, especially Wolfe’s charming assistant Archie Goodwin. One evening, Vera receives a visitor and to Jordan’s surprise, Vera goes against her own rules and agrees to talk to the unfriendly and intimidating Muriel Delgado, even though she didn’t have an appointment. Vera won’t share any information about the visit, but the next morning Jordan is fired from her dream job and told she must leave Van Alst House immediately. Jordan goes back to her old room at the home of her uncles and is convinced her dismissal has something to do with Muriel’s arrival. Although she is hurt by her dismissal, Jordan decides to investigate Muriel Delgado to find out what her hold is over Vera and protect Vera from danger.

The Book Collector series by Victoria Abbott, a pen name for Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter Victoria Maffini, has become one of my favorite cozy mystery series. Jordan is an intelligent, likable character. Her best friend Tiff is MIA for most of this book, but is usually a great supporting character. As far as romance, whenever Jordan is around Lance, which again isn’t often in this installment, there is plenty of chemistry. However, things may be progressing more with Officer Tyler “Smiley” Dekker. Only time and future installments will tell!

This series is unique, in part because of Jordan’s uncles. They are not the typical cozy characters and are quirky enough to be interesting and entertaining, but not so exaggerated as to become ridiculous. Her three uncles are known to skate the law and the law-abiding Jordan is the “white sheep” of the family. Jordan’s uncles have their faults, but they are always there for their beloved niece and can be count on to do the unexpected!

The book-collecting theme plays an important role in the case and the tie-in to the classic series in the title is handled in an extremely clever way. Jordan explains the parallels between Vera and Nero Wolfe and herself and her literary crush, Archie Goodwin. This is clever and fun and Wolfe fans especially will be entertained by the comparisons. With Archie as her muse, Jordan does whatever it takes to protect Vera and hopefully get her job back, from talking tough to donning disguises. I was intrigued by the case from start to finish and was sad to see another installment of this excellent series come to an end. However, I was delighted by the surprising and satisfying conclusion. Readers who read the prior two books in the series won’t be disappointed and fans of Erika Chase, Ellery Adams, or Rex Stout will want to put The Wolfe Widow on this fall’s reading list.

Reviewed by Christine



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Review ☆ A Little Night Murder by Nancy Martin

September 24, 2014

alittlenightmurder_tpMurder under the stars…

Nora Blackbird—pregnant at last!—is spending summer afternoons wallowing in the Bucks County pool of her best friend, Lexie Paine, who has just been released from prison. At night, Nora is covering Philadelphia’s high-society events for the local newspaper. And this time she doesn’t have to look far for a good story.

Next door, a Broadway show is in rehearsal at the estate of Toodles Tuttle, the long-deceased but ever-legendary composer. Reigning over the estate is Toodles’s diva widow, Boom Boom. The demanding old broad still rules with an iron fist, and considering the chorus line of enemies she’s racked up over the years, her death has been a hotly anticipated event. So imagine everyone’s dismay when it’s her beloved daughter, Jenny, who drops dead—from a cause that is anything but natural—just as the lights are set to go on for the lucrative new Toodles musical.

Yet murder is only an overture to the drama to come….

Nora’s sister Libby, a soon-to-be-grandmother, has gotten herself into a sticky situation, wooed by both a lowly bug exterminator and a cheesecake-loving Broadway impresario. Edgy sister Emma has a dangerous new boyfriend who may jeopardize her show-jumping exploits. And the love of Nora’s life, Mick Abruzzo, has been desperate to prevent Nora from meeting the most notorious member of his mobbed-up family—his mother.

Now Nora has to deal with the bump-and-grind of her personal life, and also bring the curtain down on a daring killer—before he forces her to exit stage left, permanently.


For fans of: Rhys Bowen

Nora Blackbird couldn’t be happier. She’s got a job she loves, her best friend Lexie Paine is out of prison, and she’s finally decided to marry love-of-her-life Michael Abruzzo – Blackbird family curse be damned. She spends her days helping Lexie duck the paparazzi, her evenings covering high-profile parties for the paper, and her nights planning the future with her fiancé.

Then Lexie’s neighbor, Jenny Tuttle (daughter of legendary Broadway composer Toodles Tuttle), is poisoned, and everything goes to hell. The press descends. Lexie’s hiding place is discovered. Desperate to increase circulation, Nora’s boss starts hounding her to either dish about her friend or dig up dirt on the deceased. And the police start sniffing around Nora’s nearest and dearest. Nora knows the only way to put an end to the madness is to solve Jenny’s murder, but that’s easier said than done – especially given the fact that Nora’s seven months pregnant.

A Little Night Murder is the tenth of Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters Mysteries – a superb series that’s only getting better with each new installment. The book’s pacing is perfect; Martin knows precisely when (and how) to lighten the mood and when to let a dramatic moment stand. Martin’s prose is graceful and intelligent without calling too much attention to itself. Her dialogue is a joy to read. And the book’s whodunit is clever, fun, and satisfying (if a tad far-fetched).

Martin’s character work is superb. Nora’s a fabulously compelling protagonist; gracious, generous, and loyal to a fault, she’s absolutely the person you want in your corner when the chips are down. Nora’s sister Libby is marvelous comic relief; her very presence in a scene guarantees a laugh, and even when she’s offstage, the ridiculous maternity t-shirts Nora sports throughout the book (courtesy of Libby) are always good for a chuckle. Youngest sister Emma continues to beguile and intrigue; full of spit, vinegar, and bad decisions, she’s by far the most entertaining of the Blackbirds, and you can’t help but root for her to find happiness. And the relationships that bind the Blackbird siblings are about as realistic as they come – nuanced, complicated, and ever-evolving.

Martin packs a ton of emotional content and interpersonal drama into A Little Night Murder, causing you to feel the tale in your head, your heart, and your gut. Be forewarned, though – Martin’s a talented storyteller playing a long game. Chances are good you’ll tear through the book, desperate to reach the end, only to have your heart sink when you realize you’re out of pages and must wait until book eleven to find out what happens next.

If you’ve never read a Blackbird Sisters Mystery, I highly recommend picking up the debut, How to Murder a Millionaire, and working forward from there. If you’re already a Blackbird fan, though, you’re in for a treat with A Little Night Murder.

Reviewed by Kat



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Review ☆ What a Lady Most Desires by Lecia Cornwall

September 24, 2014


True desire always finds a way . . .

On the night before the final battle against Napoleon, Lady Delphine St. James finds herself dancing with the one man she has always wanted, Major Lord Stephen Ives. He makes it clear he has no time for a lady he sees as flirtatious and silly, but as the call to arms sounds, she bids him farewell with a kiss that stirs them both. When he returns gravely injured, she is intent on caring for him, even if his surly behavior tests her patience.

After the battle, Stephen is not only wounded and blind, but falsely accused of cowardice and theft. The only light in his dark world is Delphine, the one woman he never imagined he could desire. But she deserves more than he can give her.

As their feelings deepen and hidden enemies conspire to force them to part forever, can their love survive the cruelest test of all?



Confession time: I don’t typically read Historicals based around the Napoleonic Wars.

I’ve never been a fan, but Cornwall changed my mind. It started with How to Deceive a Duke, I was instantly mesmerized by the hero and heroine. Then they got caught up in the final battle of the war, and the resolutions didn’t happen too smoothly, but overall I wanted to read more from this time period.

Lucky for me Cornwall wrote two more books in the same series, and this is the latest. This book is less about the war though and more about the aftermath. Including a hero who’s injured and doesn’t believe he’s worth anything, until the heroine, Delphine comes along determined to heal him.

Stephen, our injured war veteran believes his would-be savior to be selfish, spoiled, and the exact opposite of what he’s looking for. Too bad he can’t get her off his mind. Too bad she’s so smitten with him she’ll break every rule of etiquette to be close to him, which leads to scorching tension and few too unbelievable moments. I’ll admit I kept expecting them to get caught.

Delphine is the carefully raised debutante who wants more from life then to be a trophy on someone’s arm. I loved her. She’s determined to be her own woman, and the intelligence she displays is marvelous. I also enjoyed her character because she doesn’t play anyone false. Blunt and practical is her way of dealing with people.

As to the details, Cornwall does a marvelous job with details. I’ll say this is probably one of the most error free ARC I’ve read in a long while. The pacing and plot move along at a fine pace and though our hero likes to assume things. A lot. I found myself able to look past it and chalk his actions up to insecurities— he lost the last woman he was in love with to a jewel thief.

Another great bit is this book has a true villain. He’s downright dastardly and I’m thankful for the heart pounding pages where I really thought he’d get away with everything.

Overall, if you enjoyed stories of soldiers, injured men in need of healing, and women who are tough then this might be good one to pick up. Also, fans of Cornwall will enjoy see the main characters from How to Deceive a Duke. I love me some Nicholas Temberley.

Reviewed by Landra
Heat Level: Hot



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Review ☆ Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath

September 23, 2014


They are England’s most eligible bachelors, with the most scandalous reputations. But for the right woman, even an unrepentant rogue may mend his ways . . .

Born to the street but raised within the aristocracy, Drake Darling can’t escape his sordid beginnings. Not when Lady Ophelia Lyttleton snubs him at every turn, a constant reminder he’s not truly one of them. But after rescuing her from a mysterious drowning, he realizes she doesn’t remember who she is. With plans to bring her to heel, he insists she’s his housekeeper—never expecting to fall for the charming beauty.

While Ophelia might not recall her life before Drake, she has little doubt she belongs with him. The desire she feels for her dark, brooding employer can’t be denied, regardless of consequences. So when Ophelia’s memory returns, she is devastated by the depth of his betrayal. Now Drake must risk everything to prove she can trust this rogue with her heart once more.

Other series in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series:



When you despise a heroine right from page one, that’s hard to overcome. Our story opens with Lady Ophelia Lyttleton calling Drake Darling “Boy,” and ordering him to bring her a glass of champagne at a ball. Drake is not a noble, but he is the adopted son of a duke, and has not done one thing to deserve Ophelia’s spitefulness. Yet, he takes her abuse, because he has his own issues of self worth. Later that evening, he rescues a mud covered lady from near drowning, and takes her to his home to recover. To his amazement, underneath the mud is Lady Ophelia, and she appears to have lost her memory. All of her slights of him come to his mind, and he decides it’s time for a little payback. For one day, he’ll make her believe she’s his servant, then he’ll take her home.

Ophelia accepts without question that she’s Drake’s servant. Without her haughty heiress attitude, she’s a different person. To Drake’s amazement, she’s pleasant, humble, and a hard worker. The circumstances of her accident are somewhat hazy, so Drake begins investigating, and has a hunch she may be in danger. He delays taking her home, telling himself that he’s protecting her. With each day, they grow closer and soon begin an affair. Without her prejudices blinding her, Ophelia (now called “Phee”) sees the real man Drake is. She’s a different person, that is, until her memory comes back.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. I initially loved Drake, and I actually couldn’t fault him for wanting to get a little of his own back. But I couldn’t justify his keeping Ophelia in the dark about who she was. And while Ophelia seemed changed, with her returning memory, came her old witchy persona.  Despite what happened to her in the past, I can’t forgive her for her awful public disrespect of Drake. A lot of comparisons have been made between this book and the movie “Overboard,” and I confess, that this is what immediately came to my mind when reading it. There are many good things to say about this book – the mysteries of Ophelia’s accident, and what happened to make her the nasty person she was. I love that this series of books is about the children of the characters from The Scoundrels of St. James, Lorraine Heath’s previous series. There is one wonderful scene at the end between Drake and his adopted father that brought tears to my eyes. If you enjoy stories of redemption and self-forgiveness, this one may be just right for you.

Reviewed by Rose
Heat Level: Sensual



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Review ☆ The Accidental Abduction by Darcie Wilde

September 22, 2014

accidentalabductionHarold Rayburn is about to be taken for the ride of his life…

After having his proposal rejected by a beautiful but flighty woman, Harry vows he is done with unpredictable and impetuous women for good. Until beautiful and fierce Leannah Wakefield barrels into his life, inadvertently kidnapping him while on a wild carriage ride and leaving him all too eager to get back in the saddle…

Leannah would sacrifice everything to protect her family. So upon hearing of her sister’s intended elopement, she races across London to stop the ill-advised ceremony before it can happen. However, when her mad journey picks her up an unlikely stowaway, one who ignites her desire beyond all reason, she’s the one who ends up hastily wedding a handsome and secretive stranger.

But as Leannah and Harry immediately encounter opposition, jealousy, and suspicion of their hurried nuptials, they begin to doubt that their unquenchable passion can truly lead to a happy marriage—especially when both the bride and groom have devastating secrets to hide…


I loved the book until I hit the halfway point!

One of my biggest peeves is the lack of communication between the main H/h. If that’s the predominant reason for conflict you can count me out. Wilde sets me up to fall in love with these characters.

We have Harry Rayburn, our hero, who’s been spurned from a potential fiancée. He’s no well-to-do lord. I liked him. He’s got an inherent sense of honor and does a fine job of standing up for what’s right and the woman he’s falling love with. So, why in the hell did he let circumstantial assumption derail all his good intentions? I don’t know, but I didn’t like it.

Our heroine, Leannah Wakefield, is a tough, strong heroine. Bless Wilde, for giving me one of those. She’s used to handling things herself, used to losing more often than winning. Out of the two I loved Leannah, up until she chose to remain silent about certain things over communicating.

Now, I will say Wilde has two points in her favor. She creates characters, good and bad, you want to hug or bash in the head. I was thoroughly engaged, even with a small secondary plot working against them. Unlike other books I’ve read, Wilde creates a secondary plot that doesn’t overshadow the leads but plays a direct role in their relationship. Also, Wilde gave me a pretty radical ending to a historical romance. Sure H/h finally get through everything end up together, but the process in which they arrive there isn’t typical.

Now when we pass the midway point of the story things began to unravel for me. People withholding information, absence of communication, and in general characters allowing fear to stop them from speaking their minds. In short, I began to see some issues and was waiting for resolutions, at least a few, to take place. Instead the resolution is literally not based on any time of change by the characters, no arc, but by a situation.

So, not only do we have two people who end up together because of an accidental abduction they don’t fully arc in my opinion to become more then what they were in the beginning of the book.

Overall, I’m interested in seeing more from this author. I like the unconventional way she writes a story, but I want to see more growth from the characters.

Reviewed by Landra
Heat Level: Hot



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Review & Giveaway ☆ The Devil in Denim by Melanie Scott

September 22, 2014

Comment to enter to win a print copy of The Devil in Denim!
*U.S. residents only


As the team-owner’s daughter, Maggie Jameson grew up in the New York Saints’ stadium—glove, cap, hot dogs, and all. Baseball’s in her blood, and she’s always dreamed of the day when she would lead the Saints to victory herself. That was before her dad had to sell the team to Alex Winters. The fast-talking, fiercely attractive businessman has a baseball pedigree that’s distinctly minor league. Maggie wants to hate him but his skills of seduction, however, are off the charts.


Alex could never have imagined how much this team means to Maggie. He needs her to help show the players that they’re still a family…even if he and Maggie are at the verge of exchanging blows. But her fiery determination and gorgeous looks prove irresistible to Alex. And much as he wants to relegate their relationship to the playing field—and get the Saints back in the game—Alex just can’t help himself: What he wants to win most is Maggie’s heart…in The Devil in Denim by Melanie Scott.


Maggie Jameson is dealing with the biggest shock of her life. Her father just sold the New York Saints to Alex Winters. Her lifelong dream of running the team with her father is instantly crushed as the news washes over her. The betrayal and bitter sting is a hard pill to swallow but Alex’s next step is even worst.

Alex and his partners think buying the Saints is a good move. They are corporate sharks and if anyone can save the money losing team, it is them. However, getting the team to go in the direction that they want is another story. The one person who can help smooth the way is Maggie or Saint Maggie as the world dubs her. The problem is that she sees him as the devil. He needs to convince her to work for him. The days are getting longer and the nights are starting to heat up when the two come together.

The pacing of the story at times is a bit slow and I struggle to get through some of it. At first, there is nothing happening except for the fact that Maggie struggles with her attraction for Alex despite hating the fact that he snatches her dreams of taking over the team. She eventually caves in but starts the inner fight of her decision for dating someone she works with. I have a hard time with this at that point because I wanted Maggie to get out of her own way.

I love Alex. He is a quiet Alpha at the core. He is strong and assertive. He gently pushes Maggie in the direction that he wanted. I love that is not forceful but he gets the point across because she is feisty and tries to fight him every step of the way.

The story picks up as they find their way through their attraction for one another. I enjoy Alex’s no-nonsense dialogue and his gentle prodding. Maggie learns to trust him and that he is a man of his word. He has the best intentions for her despite her own misgivings.

Another bid for the team comes in and Alex makes sure she knows that she can trust him to keep the team going. Though I’m not a big sports fan, which is why I don’t always gravitate towards sports romance, this book kept me interested. It was more about the administrative/background areas of the sports world.

I look forward to reading the next book. All of the team owners are hot and I can’t wait to meet the other two leading ladies.

Reviewed by Samantha
Heat Level: Hot



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Review ☆ Harvest at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth

1 Comment
September 21, 2014


When former lovers reunite at Mustang Ridge, old feelings run wild….

With guest season about to start at the ranch, Krista Skye needs to track down a new head wrangler fast. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the last person Krista wants to see—Wyatt Webb, the college sweetheart who left her behind. Wyatt has major reservations about working with Krista as well, but he has his own reasons for wanting to stay in town.

Although Krista and Wyatt are all business at first, sparks fly as they work side by side, preparing for an upcoming country fair. Even though rekindling their relationship brings up painful memories, they’re not the same people they used to be—and neither can deny that there’s still something special between them. They have one last opportunity to save a good thing before it’s too late, but one of them will have to find the courage to take a chance on love….


Krista has taken on her family’s ranch with determination and steel force. She steps in and gets the job done. When her ranch hand is hurt, she calls on Wyatt, the man who left her heartbroken years ago. She is determined to stay away from him and not risk her heart.

Wyatt is back home for the summer. He helps Krista during her time of need but is unsure of their relationship. Years ago, he left town, and abandoned their relationship. Time and distance has not diminished his feels for her but can he convince her that what he feels for her is the real deal?

Okay so part of my reasons for not loving this book the way that I could have is because I didn’t read the previous books. I felt as though I was missing a part of the story with the other characters (they were previously introduced).

What I did enjoy about the characters were the heartfelt interactions between them all. There was so much family drama and misunderstandings that got sorted out but it took some time. I have to go back to read the other stories in the series but I look forward to it.

I immediately liked Krista. She is hard working and loyal. She put everyone else’s needs before her own. She is constantly in family and friend mode. It is nice to see Wyatt help her throughout the summer and re-connect. Krista is one of those heroines that romance readers want to have a good love story and she got her second chance with Wyatt.

Reviewed by Samantha
Heat Level: Hot



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Review ☆ Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams

September 21, 2014



Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving.

But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up…


For fans of: Mary Daheim

When Walter Egerton Steward decided to dismantle Storyton Hall, ship it across the Atlantic, and reassemble it in a remote part of western Virginia, he dreamed of turning the place into a resort that was an “oasis for book lovers.” Steward’s dream eventually became reality, and 85 years later, the majestic estate is still considered a “reader’s paradise.” Unfortunately, though, it’s a paradise in desperate need of repair, which is why current manager Jane Steward is so hopeful the crime-fiction-themed Murder and Mayhem Week Storyton’s hosting will help replenish the resort’s coffers.

At first, the week seems destined for success. The Hall is booked to capacity and all the guests are enthusiastic about the activities Jane’s planned. But when one of the guests is found dead in his room, Jane’s forced to wonder if someone at Storyton’s taken the murder and mayhem theme a bit too far. Can she solve the crime in time to salvage the remainder of the festivities, or will the event designed to save Storyton Hall instead prove its undoing?

Ellery Adams swings for the fences with Murder in the Mystery Suite, the first of her new Book Retreat Mysteries. I actually like the premise of this series quite a lot; I’m a sucker for secret histories, ancient orders, and manor house mysteries, and Adams’ latest tries to combine all three. Unfortunately, though, while Adams’ goals may be laudable, her efforts are unsuccessful, and the result is a somewhat unsatisfying read.

Murder in the Mystery Suite would be a much better book if every single aspect weren’t completely overwritten. The prose is florid. The action, drama, and dialogue are overwrought. The scenes between Jane and her potential love interest are so swoony and syrupy they could have been lifted from a teen romance novel. The cast is so large that it’s impossible to keep track of who’s who (it doesn’t help that nearly everybody’s name starts with an S), and very few of the characters are developed past the cardboard cutout stage. The plot hatched by Adams’ villain is convoluted, the final showdown is so silly it borders on farce, and there are way too many pages between said final showdown and the actual end of the book. Add to all that some dreadfully uneven pacing, and you have a book that probably should have gone through another round of edits.

That said, this series has potential. Adams is usually a pretty captivating storyteller (I’m a big fan of her Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries), so I think a lot of the problems I had with Murder in the Mystery Suite stem from the fact that she tried to accomplish too much in a book that’s only 277 pages long. Her series premise is fairly complex, and as a consequence, there’s an awful lot of mythmaking and worldbuilding going on for a tale that also includes a fledgling romance and a murder mystery. Hopefully, though, now that the stage is set and the heavy lifting is done, Adams will use her second Book Retreat Mystery to realize that potential and dazzle her audience once more.

Reviewed by Kat



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