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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Review – The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro

14568987I’m subscribed to this service that offers books on demand each month, much like Netflix, and the other day I was browsing through the selections, and came across this book. It sounded interesting enough to start, and well, I only put it down 2 times (and that was due to sleep!). The Art Forger is one of those novels that is ultimately fiction, but bases it upon real life events. Anyone who happens to have a passing interest in art, and/or was alive and kicking in 1990, will probably remember the art heist that occurred at the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston. To date, this robbery is considered America’s biggest ever art heist. Shapiro sets her book 25 years later, when Clair (a struggling artist – yes, I know, very cliche), is offered a large sum of money to produce a copy of a famous Degas painting, one that happened to be among the collection that was stolen from the museum 25 years ago. Clair goes along with this idea, and the book follows her process, whilst presenting a dual narrative with Isabella Gardner.
What I really loved about this book was that it was an easy, entertaining read, and yet, I learnt a lot. I learnt a lot about the art world, museums, art forgery, and the history behind some big name artists. The characters are authentic enough for you to believe in them, but at the same time, you’ll have no trouble putting this book behind you once you finish it.
I believe it really takes a talented author to write a story that has substance and quick entertainment value at the same time. This is one of those books where you get a cup of coffee and Baileys, curl up on the sofa and read the day away. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll also spend hours on Google afterwards, researching all the historical truths presented in the story!
If you want a mix of history, contemporary, art, and mystery, then I highly recommend this book. It might not win any literary awards, but in my view it wins the award of providing solid entertainment and intrigue.

P.S., this book won’t even cost you anything if you are part of the Kindle Unlimited program!

Until next time,

Pegasus.

The Art Forger: A Novel

Review: The Collector by Nora Roberts

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Oh my goodness I have read so many mediocre books the past two weeks that I ended up in a book slump. Thankfully a beautiful friend lifted me out of it when she gifted me The Collector.

This romantic suspense was the perfect combination of sweet, thrilling, corrupt, and amateur sleuthing. Right up my alley.

Writer Lila and artist Ashton befriend each other after a horrific murder. While they work together to solve the mystery and get the bad guy, they fall in love. But Lila is independent, a free spirit. Ashton comes from a large, interdependent family and pushes his “helpfulness” onto Lila.

While the romantic tension puts a cramp in their relationship, it doesn’t stop Lila and Ash from exacting revenge on the murderer. Their perseverance is a little implausible at times, but very exciting!

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was Ash’s bossiness. It came off as mean, even though he really cared about Lila. I ended up not liking Ash at all. And that’s sad for me, because an alpha hero is often the best part of a novel!

All in all, The Collector was a welcome addition to my December reading. Great writing, an exciting plot, luxurious descriptions, and international travel all created the perfect base for this romantic suspense.

-Calliope

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Review: Harbor Island (Sharpe & Donovan) by Carla Neggers

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I don’t know HOW I missed out on this series until now. Where have I been? Living under a rock?

Harbor Island is a complex, witty, gritty, romantic suspense novel. Emma and Colin are FBI agents. Right there, Neggers has me as a fan. They have a quiet, affectionate banter … refreshing, as it’s not the usual shtick I experience in rom coms. (I love rom coms, but this is a nice change of pace.) And they are bent on solving a crime that spans decades and the globe.

While I mostly appreciated the underlying romance, and just ate up all the knowing glances, smooches, and warm embraces, I also really enjoyed the FBI adventure set on an island near Boston, MA. Gunshots, murder, larceny, con men, artists… Neggers made it so exciting that I’m on the edge of my seat just remembering it.

There were a lot of characters in this novel, and it took a bit to keep them all straight. I would have been better off reading books 1-3 in the series before jumping into this one (#4). But it was totally doable and enjoyable. Neggers took me on such a great ride that I can’t wait for book 5. I’m off to read 1-3 … and then maybe book 4 again!

-calliope

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