Review: Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery

This series just keeps going strong! Built of standalone books centered around a family of brothers and a town known for wedding weekends, I thought I’d never see the day when Susan Mallery would write the adventures of brooding brother Ronan. But she did. And from the mudslide to the hidden room to Ronan’s sensitive and generous heart, she wrote a winner. There is no better match for Ronan than Natalie… and I don’t know how Mallery imagined such a perfect foil/love interest for Ronan, but she did.

And though the romance was central to the story, there were a few other fun threads happening at the same time, including friendships, family reconciliations, professional successes, and of course the requisite Happily Inc weddings. A fun and worthwhile read.

-calliope

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Review: Imposter’s Lure by Carla Neggers

I’ve adored FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan since I began this series. Later I came to appreciate the whole Sharpe clan with their art expertise, and all of those Donovan brothers showing up at just the right time. And while Oliver York was thought to be a criminal art thief for several books, he’s now helping the Sharpes and lovely Henrietta solve crimes.

That’s the backstory of Neggers’ well-developed characters and the intricate relationships among them.

Enter Imposter’s Lure. Same characters – plus some – but a bunch of contrived details that seemed like they were backfilled into a pre-written ending. This book needs paring down and re-writing just so I can understand all the complexities. After whittling away some of the convoluted family and friend relationships that don’t move the plot forward, then maybe I could enjoy the New England chahhhm, the English countryside, and the Irish lowlands as a backdrop to a sinister plot to make money off of art forgeries … and destroy the evidence.

-calliope

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Read the review for Book 4 in the Sharpe and Donovan series – one of my faves!

Review: The Man in the Black Suit by Sylvain Reynard


“I’m no longer the prey. I’m the predator.”

For those who’ve heard of Sylvain Reynard books but didn’t want to feel obligated to read a trilogy, this book is perfect for you. The Man in the Black Suit was pure SR. Romance and intrigue galore. I can’t explain it, but there’s just something about SR’s writing that instantly connects me. I am never bored, nor do I skim. I read slowly to absorb every beautiful word. Perhaps it’s the scenery or even the romantic words? Perhaps it’s all the art? I’m not sure. I don’t even know who or what they’re discussing, but the passion that’s shown is what keeps me engaged.

In this story, Acacia and Nicholas start out on the wrong foot. I mean, he seemed like such a stuck up jerk. I wasn’t sure how she was going to get past his outer snottiness. But it was going to be so much fun watching these two clash. Their chemistry is off the charts. Acacia tries to maintain a work relationship with Nicholas but soon admits defeat and finds herself on a road she never thought possible.

“Acacia, there’s so much corruption in my world. Lies, betrayel, viciousness. You don’t know how lovely it is to be in the presence of someone truthful and honorable.”

From the very first page I was completely sucked in. The intrigue and suspense had me at the edge of my seat. And as I was reading, I felt like I was seeing all the beautiful art and people around me. It was like I was living in this book. That is what SR does to me.

Thank you, SR, for sharing your beautiful words with us. I know when I open up one of your books, I’m going to be immediately transported into a world filled with beauty and I’m not sure I ever want to leave.

~Melpomene

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Review: Thief’s Mark by Carla Neggers 

Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan finally get some alone time … and what happens? Their FBI duties call, and in a big way. Their pal Oliver York finds himself in some hot water, and he might not be able to get out of it himself. 

This adventure was full of good nuggets… Irish history, family secrets, betrayal, art, and the sanctity of Catholic confession. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get as much of the Emma-Colin banter I’m used to. These newlyweds had to put up more of a united front in this book… and good thing for Oliver that they did! 

To add to the “more mystery, less romance” tack, Neggers wrote some quirky characters that threw me off my Sharpe&Donovan game.  I expected the usual one or two odd ducks, but Neggers painted quirkiness over pretty much a whole family. It’s a great character study for sure. 

This is a terrific series if you’re a fan of romantic suspense, Ireland, New England, and the FBI. Start with the first book, because you don’t want to miss the fun tension. 🙂 

-calliope 

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Review: You Say It First by Susan Mallery

Happily Inc sounds like a pretty cute place to live – especially if you’re Pallas, the owner of a wedding planning company. Brides from all over go to Happy Inc to get married – and I bet some of them will want to stay. Even Nick the sculptor, son of a famous artist, walked into town, got a job, and felt the pull… or maybe it was the pull of Pallas and her love for her work. 

I liked Nick’s touchy family dynamics, especially because Mallery referenced Fool’s Gold characters I was familiar with. Pallas had some strong family interactions as well – that tends to happen with an overbearing mother and a strong willed daughter. 

In the end, everyone figured out what was best for themselves. For some, that meant some sacrifice. For others, it meant swallowing some pride. Either way, I got a view of real love in all its messy forms. 

-calliope

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Review: The Art of Us by Teri Wilson


Harper Higgins (what a great name!) is a reserved art history professor looking for tenure, until she literally bumps into soldier/dog-walker/artist Tom Stone and realizes she’s really looking for something more. 

Oooooh I just loved that Tom Stone. Talk about the perfect alpha … he’s an ex-soldier, doesn’t take crap from anyone, lives on a boat, doesn’t talk about his feelings but he HAS feelings, and shows his sensitive side when he’s supposed to. 

Harper is a pain in the neck who won’t get out of her head or out of her own way. But between her friends, her part time job teaching social art classes, and that handsome Tom Stone… well, Harper figures out a couple things that might do her some good. 

I liked the art discussions — I learned some fun facts! — as well as Frank’s flowers, the art classes (it’s a big thing where I live – go as a group to paint a picture while having a glass of wine), and the chemistry between Harper and Tom. The writing was fun and funny, even when addressing some serious issues. 

I even liked the villain, in that he tried to be tricky but really wasn’t smart enough to pull it off. As my teenager might say, “Oooh Lars, you just got burned.”

The Art of Us is totally entertaining on many levels… 

-calliope

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Review: Salem’s Cipher by Jess Lourey

From San Francisco to Salem, Massachusetts, childhood friends Bel and Salem find themselves running away from psychopaths and toward hiding places for clues to a mystery they don’t even understand. In their quest to save their mothers, the presidential candidate, and the world, the women pick up more clues than they bargained for… and they find themselves. 

I’ve long admired Jess Lourey for her cozy mysteries (Murder by Month series, similar to Stephanie Plum books). So when Lourey came out with a gritty, suspenseful thriller I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m a happily-ever-after girl and I cover my eyes when a bad guy appears on the page! I took a chance and WOW am I glad I did. Salem’s Cipher is rich with art, history, geography, secret societies, conspiracy theories, federal agents, and cracking codes. I enjoyed the authentic friendship between the women, their mad MacGyver skills, and the sweet Mercy child. 

Even if this isn’t your usual genre, I urge you to take a few trips cross-country with this crew. It’s a little scary, a little bloody, and a lot fun!

-calliope 

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