Review: Liar’s Key by Carla Neggers

FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are at it again – solving international crimes even as they navigate their personal relationship with each other (wedding planning… yippeeeeee!!!!) and their friends in the art world. 

This time, con artist Oliver York is so good at secrets that sometimes not even he himself can figure out the whys and wherefores of his globe trotting. The shores of Maine bring York together with retired FBI agent Gordy Wheelock and some art collectors, each of whom hold secrets that rival York’s.  I was a little frustrated that Sharpe and Donovan couldn’t get Gordy to talk! But that’s part of the fun of this caper – loved being on the edge of my seat thinking about who holds the key… and who’s lying. 

-calliope

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Review: Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

The top of this book cover says “A feel good read to make you smile.” Well, it’s quite more than that. Yes, Emmy’s optimism and hard work make for a cheery read. Her support of guesthouse-owner Rupert will endear any reader to her, as will her deference and friendly respect for the very French guesthouse-keeper. Accountant Alain’s adoration of Emmy is the cutest thing ever. And the Thompson clan spending the week at the guesthouse brings all the joy and camaraderie you’d expect from a family celebration. 

So, yeah, it’s a feel good read. 

But here’s the “more” —

Return to the Little French Guesthouse is full of love. Real, deep, abiding love. Love for friends and family. Love for one’s country. Love for neighbors and those in need. Love for the cute gardener. Love for one’s spouse. Old love. New love. Without being syrupy or contrived, this book uplifts and fulfills the reader with an authentic look at relationships and the choices we make that weaken or strengthen them. 

I finished this book feeling full of hope for humanity, knowing it all starts with just a little love. 

-calliope

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Review: Wicked Summer by Roma Brooks


I LOVE books about summer. And the beach. And food. And sisters. AND the east coast (USA). So I should have loved Wicked Summer. And actually, I did love the plot and most of the characters. I mean, three sisters meet at a B&B for their mom’s birthday… Family dynamics, old secrets, and marital drama ensue… What’s not to love?! The inn owners cook food fit for a king and in quantities enough for an army. There’s the smell of the ocean and a town fair. There’s fashion and trunks of vintage clothes. So so so much that should have been so so good. 

But the writing was awful. The dialogue was contrived at every turn. I cringed as early as page two because I just couldn’t believe the dialogue. Completely inauthentic. In addition, Brooks tried too hard to differentiate the characters, and it made them unbelievable as well. I didn’t need to be beat over the head with Hyacinth’s eating habits or Iris’ sourpuss attitude. I really didn’t need to be pushed into believing that the teenagers were disrespectful brats. Subtly is key, but it wasn’t applied in this book. And that’s too bad, because I loved the storyline so much. My solution was to try to overlook the amateurish writing and just enjoy the plot. Maybe you can too. 

If you’re not a stickler for excellent writing, Wicked Summer will entertain you seaside for only 99 cents. 🙂 

2 stars for writing; 4 stars for plot

-calliope

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Review: Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant


Millie and Dylan. Jasmine and Rich. Spencer and Tori. The future in-laws, the cousin, the pub owners…  

Book Two in the Honeybourne series takes a look at three couples and the ever changing dynamics of their lives. This book engaged me more than the first in the series, and I liked Millie and Dylan even more. Spencer and Tori illustrated the ups and downs of wedding planning, and Jasmine and Rich the ups and downs of an established marriage. With all that’s going on in Honeybourne, sticking with the one you love requires lots of talking, alone-together time, and Millie’s special baked goods. 

I always like a bit of British chick-lit, and this one hit the spot. The happily ever afters were right on. Maybe it was Jasmine’s lightheartedness, maybe it was Spencer’s romantic side, or maybe it was just Millie’s magic! ❤

-calliope

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Review: Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber


Though it’s the last in the Rose Harbor series, Sweet Tomorrows read as beautifully as a standalone novel to me. 

Jo Marie and her inn work their magic on handyman Mark… until he pours out his heart and then lays down some surprising news. Lucky for her, newcomer Emily arrives, offering distraction as well as a helping hand. 

Emily needs healing of her own, but finds more complications when she sees a possible future home in the renovated house down the street. 

I loved the comforting tone of this story. Macomber wrote the inn as a respite, and it certainly came across as warm and inviting.  Jo Marie’s and Emily’s journeys were gradual and authentic, their feelings believable, and their resolutions satisfying. After reading Sweet Tomorrows I wished I had read the whole series! 

-calliope

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Review: Santorini Sunsets by Anita Hughes


Brigit is preparing for her dream wedding … to a dream guy. Blake may have come from modest beginnings but he’s rich and famous now. And he gets along well with Brigit’s family (but maybe too well).  

As Brigit, Blake and their families wrap up the last weeks of planning in picturesque Santorini, Greece, Brigit’s broody ex-husband shows up. 

Nathaniel still loves Brigit, but she’s pretty focused on Blake. I liked that Brigit stayed true to herself the whole time. She didn’t sell out or lie or betray. And neither did Blake and Nathaniel. Hughes wrote some terrific characters that didn’t compromise their own values. Each man and woman acted authentically, and the chips fell where they may.  

As always with Hughes’ exotically set novels, she richly describes landscape, sea, people, food, and clothing.  Reading Santorini was luxurious and satisfying, right up through the happily ever after. 

-calliope

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Review: Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel


Here we have Rosalie who has the grand opening of her long-sought-after cafe. And what happens? Friend Doris stumbles in all agog that her sister is being accused of murder! Rosalie is no stranger to crime investigation, so she gets right on that, much to the sheriff’s chagrin. 

While Rosalie tries to find the real murderer, she’s also managing employees, keeping track of her health, being a mom, hanging out with the farmer who leases her land, and keeping a bad guy out of her hair! 

This is a cute cozy mystery that also includes romance and family secrets. It’s second in a series, and I didn’t read the first one… so it was hard to feel engaged with all the characters right off the bat. However, I did love the cafe setting, Rosalie’s daughter, the farmer, and the lovely cook! 

-calliope

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