While I love Melody Carlson’s ability to create fresh plots with believable yet quirky characters, this particular novella required me to suspend my disbelief just a little too much.
Christmas in Maine is cozy – and it was fun to see Wendy and her son set up their little home and become part of the town. But the romance seemed contrived and totally out of character for a worrier like Wendy. And it happened way too fast! A couple of weeks might be enough time for a young single person to let their guard down and fall in love with someone they’re spending 24/7 with… but Wendy didn’t spend all that much time getting to know Caleb, and I thought she’d be a little less trusting due to her nature and just the fact that she’s a mom.
I’ve enjoyed other Carlson books in the past – Christmassy ones too. You can find the link to those reviews below.
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.
Dr. Nora returns home to Scupper Island, Maine for a while for some rest and recuperation. She decided to leave behind her old life in Boston for a while – well, her old “reinvented in medical school” life, the one where she lost weight and gained confidence.
Higgins wrote a fascinating mother daughter relationship between Nora and her mom, and then put icing on the cake adding Nora’s wayward sister into the mix. Very well done. The family dynamics sucked me in without being too over the top. And Nora’s niece … aw, man, I was endeared to her from the start!
Best thing ever: The houseboat Nora rents. Second best thing ever: reading Nora’s emotions when she hears a certain someone walking up the dock. Oh and don’t miss the dinner party of all dinner parties – thank goodness for supportive friends, slightly eligible bachelors, and a mom who doesn’t stand for any nonsense.
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. 🙂
I love a good love story that includes food and baking and New England locales, but this one didn’t make the grade. The main character leaves her fast paced NYC lifestyle to deliver a letter from the past for her late grandmother. That plot line worked, but not so much the romance (in one week when she spent the first three days annoyed) or the baking (I waited so very long for the bakeshop to make an appearance). I’m not from Maine, but I could think of a dozen ways to get more blueberries into a book with blueberries in the title and on the cover. I wanted to want to root for the main character but she wasn’t likeable enough. Would’ve loved more of Roy and his family, though!
Full of beauty and sorrow at the same time. Heartbreaking but also uplifting. A tale of despair yet also one of hope. All of these things together make this an unforgettable story.
Hope and Jack have a great life. They have three beautiful daughters, a nice home, a successful business. Happiness. But then tragedy strikes. And they are left with just two daughters. Each family member copes, or doesn’t, in their own way.
A year later, they are at a standstill. Time has put distance between them and their grief, but they haven’t really moved on. Jack loses himself in his lobster fishing. Hope loses herself in the memories of her lost daughter. And the younger girls just go on being kids.
Everything comes to a head when a forgotten part of Jack’s past shows up at their door. High school rivalries are reignited, this time with adult consequences. Through it all Hope and Jack struggle to move past their grief and save their family.
Tragedies happen, families have to find ways to deal with them. Told from alternating perspectives, this book takes us deep inside one family’s grief and their attempts to overcome it. Each family member is dealing with their own struggles along with the collective struggle of the family. It’s beautifully written, almost poetically so. A story I won’t soon forget!
Frankie and Matt are so fun! Frankie is anti-commitment… and Matt’s a little bit in love. Watching them work together and live in the same building is pure entertainment. And Matt is my favorite kind of alpha male – he’s buff, brainy, and full of tender loving care for the women in his life. Frankie appreciates the attention but can’t imagine she deserves it… until her best friends give her a reality check.
I just love the boy chases girl, boy gets girl storyline. Sarah Morgan surpasses expectations of a predictable romance by developing Frankie’s friendships and family ties, as well as having her come to terms with her past. I also enjoyed the wedding, the Maine seascape, and the welcoming islanders. Oh, and the walks in Central Park!!
I loved this book about young newlyweds struggling to prioritize their marriage, children, employment, roots, and friendships. Dottie and Florine have a close, sisterly relationship based on honesty and support. Bud and Glen base theirs more on beer than honesty, and Morgan Callan Rogers outstandingly illustrates their desire to balance machismo and independence with responsibility and growth. I enjoyed seeing the men develop and regress, and then finally take the steps forward to become better men.
The women change, too. Through the grace and lovingkindness of her mother in law, Florine discovers the best way to demonstrate love to Bud… without compromising her values. Dottie grows in confidence and is able to be her authentic self — and a happier person.
I adored this study on the ebb and flow of relationships, set in “local” down Maine. I liked the intertwined mystery, the ever-presence of Florine’s late mother, and the constance of children’s joy and a mother’s wisdom.
What a well-written Christmas novella! I enjoyed this story even more than my last few Christmas reads, because the characters’ behaviors were consistent, the dialogue was realistic, and the tension was so real I felt my own shoulders tightening up. Alward impressed me with a tightly written plot and just the right balance of sweet versus strong. Most importantly, Evergreen Inn was Christmassy. The hot chocolate, tree ornaments, and snowstorms helped Todd heal Lainey’s broken heart, and certainly warmed mine.
Emma and Colin are at it again – solving crimes and saving lives – but this time they’re not really doing it together. Emma is supposed to be visiting the sisters at her old convent to get some closure before her wedding. But she gets drawn in to a dangerous situation when Colin’s brother Mike has some ex military contacts visiting. Colin vacillates between rushing in to save the day and keeping his emotions in check and doing a deliberate investigation first.
I miss the banter Emma and Colin had in book 4 of this series (Read the review here), but I did like their display of trust and protectiveness for each other. Just like in book 4, I was a little confused with the numerous characters. They didn’t all come clear to me until the end, and by that time I think I missed something.
I always enjoy a good FBI story, and Keeper’s Reach gets extra points for being set in New England and the Cotswalds. I also loved that Neggers continued the stories of art thief Oliver York and secondary character Father Finian. A possible rekindled romance for Mike and Naomi held my interest, too.
I wish Neggers focused more on action — while maintaining the awesome descriptions of locale that she does so well — instead of describing characters. I get that the ex military pals were supposed to be central, but it’s hard to develop a bunch of new characters for one mystery in one book.
I hope to see more Sharpe & Donovan capers in the future!