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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Murder in the Dining Room by Betty Rowlands

After a rocky start, relations with her mother seem to be on an even keel and Melissa is keen for renovations to the extension to be finished soon so that her mother can move in and live with her on a permanent basis. In the meantime, the accommodation at the nearby retirement home is very good and her mother seems to have settled in for this short period.

The apparent murder of a pet dog and then the sudden demise of its owner sets Sylvia off on a tangent, determined that foul play is amiss and Melissa is terrified that with her interference that if there is an actual murderer around, her mother is the one in most danger as she is stirring things up without realizing it.  Initially skeptical, Melissa begins to think that something is amiss in the Home and that its inmates are not exactly what they seem.

Like everyone else, people are hiding secrets. There are skeletons in the closet that no one wants anyone to find and there are those who are determined to keep them hidden.

An old fashioned mystery murder, with slow detective work being laboriously followed up is this story. It does not mean it is boring though. Reminiscent of Miss Marple mysteries this was a good one.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Bookouture. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Murder in Midtown by Liz Freeland

1913 America and though women were beginning to have a place in society there were still strict boundaries and conventions to be followed. Many careers were completely out of bounds and Louise's decision to join the Police Force was something that did not go down well. Fortunately her own Aunt was solidly behind her but even at the Police Station the treatment meted out to her was derogatory and unkind.

Louise was a determined girl - she was very focused on what she wanted to do and how she wanted to get about it. Having helped in solving one murder, the next one that crossed her path she was not going to give up on, despite all the pressure to do so.  When Guy Van Hooten is found charred to death in a fire which is ruled as not accidental, she is on the case immediately. The fact that Guy belonged to one of the upper rich aristocratic families in the city did not deter her and neither the fact that looking into his death brought her into conflict with the mob were minor details where finding the truth was concerned.

A little unusual for her time this story had lots to give optimism for the future and know that the American girl was going the right way!

Humour despite lots of odds kept Louise going all the way.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Kensington Books.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle Griep

Three separate stories. All intriguing. All involving ladies!

The Gentleman Smuggler's Lady

Set on the Cornish coast Helen returns home to look after her father who is dying. She is quite prim and seeing Isaac she cannot quite figure out whether he is a smuggler and an outcast or a respectable member of Irish society.

The Doctor's Woman

This was a woman who set about doing something extraordinary at a time when women were supposed to be quite submissive and work behind the scenes. Acting as a doctor in most circumstances, she took a lot of people by surprise and upset many at the same time. Set in 1862 she was a pioneer! Much to be admired.

A House of Secrets

Set in 1890 Minnesotta, women still are expected to live and behave within strict boundaries. Amanda's attempts to set things right within a section of society comes up against a lot of odds, surprisingly enough her fiancee.  How does one balance love and your beliefs.

All three stories were about strong women who were willing to face social suicide in their attempts to do things their way.

Very good reading.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Barbour Books. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Secrets of Willow House by Susanne O'Leary

Maeve is under doctor's orders to take a rest. A complete change of scene. She is run down and on the brink of having a medical breakdown due to stress and constant work. Luckily for her a bolthole with her aunt in Ireland is just the fix she needs.

Maeve returns to recuperate and do absolutely nothing. Sandy Cove is idyllic and her aunt is very happy for the company. Having lost her husband just a year ago, Phil is also trying to come out of the sadness that has gripped her this past year. She also is worried over the state of the house which is now beginning to show its age. She does not have the money for major repairs but she knows that it has to be done. Phil is also surprised at what she has found on her late husband's computer - there are incomings of money unaccounted for and she is worried whether he was in something illegal.

What Maeve discovers and shares with her Aunt is as surprising as it can get. It also is their saving grace and a way for Phil to go on living at Sandy Cove in the way she always wanted to. Sandy Cove also puts Maeve in a dilemma as to whether she really wants to go back to the fast paced life of an interior designer in London or live in Sandy Cove with someone whom she has strong feelings for.

The pull of career and finance against love is nicely balanced here and it is fortunate that it works out well and easily. Life is not always so fortuitous.

A light family story, extremely descriptive of Ireland (one that makes you want to visit now).

Sent to me by Netgalley, for an unbiased review, courtesy of Bookouture. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Daffodil Affair by Michael Innes

The Daffodil Affair  (Sir John Appleby, #8)

Part of a series, I came to this unexpectedly in the middle at No. 8.

A bit of a far fetched tale. A horse goes missing - this horse is a bit different, good at numbers!
At the same time two young girls go missing, presumably kidnapped, probably human trafficking and the best part is yet to come, during the Blitz a house in Bloomsbury actually goes missing.

Now to put the three strands together - they are connected though not obviously so is the work of our Inspector and his side kick.

This is a quirky read, lots of literary references splattered throughout the book, all adding a piquancy to the read. It is a detective story with a lot of suspense. I like the references to the author himself in the book all adding great interest. Also very descriptive.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased read, courtesy of Ipso.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

There were elements in the book which were difficult to follow, difficult to fathom and also difficult to accept. It did not mean the book was bad, it may be that I could not understand what the author was trying to say.

I liked the stories set in separate chapters - Erin and Shorie's stories particularly. Shorie seemed a particularly well balanced young woman who knew what she wanted. It was just not a college education. I felt for her as she had very good views of her own, she knew what she felt was right but she got conflicting advice from several sides so was a bit thrown. Erin as her mother felt (like most mothers would feel) that a university education was a must and this was the initial conflict.

Starting with Perry's death and the initial sense of grief and loss which continues throughout the story and then segues into a very complicated dark area where we really do not know who are the good guys and who are the bad ones. You suspect every character that gets thrown into the mix from this point on.

The incarceration of Erin depicted in the form of a "rehabilitating spa retreat" is a bit fantastical. From the very beginning it did not seem right, and there were a lot of things that were not in balance and off.

A bit unsettling!

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Hetty's Secret War by Rosie Clarke

WWI and II both fascinate me. The stories thrown up are intense and emotional - always. Survival in the face of hardship, persecution, then the separation sometimes temporary most often permanent from loved ones, the fear of the unknown, the missing. Then you get immense stories of courage of ordinary men and particularly women who took up the challenge at every level. The stories are never dull.

This was another good one.

Three separate people linked by the War. Georgie the only man she loved gone on a secret mission as a spy. Will he ever return? It seems so sad that after waiting so long for happiness that it is snatched away from her. We have Beth on the threshold of being a young woman. In love and marrying in such haste. Her husband in France. Every time the bell goes she is in suspense whether it is for her with the dreaded news. When it does come she has to face it head on with a baby on the way. Then we have Hetty who went away to France impetuously. Fled with a French lover, disillusioned by love and men, now caught in a no mans land with no way to return.

Each story was intense and Hetty's one though more dramatic than the other two all were equally emotional. The losses which each woman faced in turn were really sad. Each waited for happiness, each was given it for a short time, then it was lost. The fact that they continued to live with faith and hope and finally found comfort and love was enlightening.

Beautifully told the three women were individually strong characters who grew with the story. Descriptive of both England and France at the time in 1939 it brought everything alive.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Aria.