Review: A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant

Aaahh, Rome! Kate moves there from London with high hopes of getting a great job and living happily ever after. But boyfriend Alessandro’s family and coworkers throw a wrench into Kate’s plan. Of course Kate rallies… but at what expense? 

This book gave me a wonderful taste of Rome, from the quick bites to eat to walking the stone streets to Nonna’s cooking to coffee in the square. I lived in Rome for a little bit with Kate, felt her independence, her struggle to “make it” as a seamstress and real estate agent, and her frustration at not being accepted fully into Alessandro’s family.  

Kate’s a cute character, realistic and relatable. Tennant could’ve written Alessandro a little deeper, though. He was sort of on the periphery, even more so than his ex girlfriend and his family. I love a good romance, but half the romance is the guy! 

If you like all things Italian, pick this up – if only for the fast drives to the countryside, the pasta, and Kate’s attempts to ingratiate herself with Nonna! 

-calliope

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Review: Death of a Liar by M.C. Beaton

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This 31st book in the Hamish Macbeth series begins the way I like a mystery to begin: with a murder. This isn’t just any murder, though. It’s the first of many. Sergeant Macbeth thinks they’re all related, and he’s determined to solve the case.

While Hamish is busy investigating, we watch him navigate his sort of pitiful love life, his friendship with his sidekick Dick, and his relationships with his police superiors.

I liked seeing Hamish’s whole life and how he prioritized work, women, and friends. Beaton succeeds in making him a three-dimensional character that way. I was grateful, because this is the first Hamish Macbeth book I’ve read, and I understood the character in the first few chapters.

Beaton wrote some fun criminals, too. I laughed at their antics and raised my eyebrows quite a few times. The recurring secondary characters were a little flat, though. I didn’t feel like I knew Dick or Jimmy or Blair or any of the other police officers. As a matter of fact, they all got jumbled up for me. I kept going back to earlier chapters to sort them out in my mind. And that doesn’t make for fun reading.

The writing was good for the most part. Sentence structure was perfect, descriptions and word choice were on point. The Scottish bits were terrific! The dialogue was a little weak, though, with some stilted conversation. I also noticed quite a bit of telling-instead-of-showing. Combined, it made the book plod along for me.

And just a little subjectivity: what in the world was the point of Anka? She was sent to the forefront so often that I really thought she would end up with a bigger part than she had. Maybe it’s a tease for books to come?

So in the end, I liked the actual mystery, and I could appreciate the main character, but the rest of the book just didn’t do it for me. But if you’re a mystery buff and a fan of a largely male cast, you might enjoy Death of a Liar. Check it out.

-calliope

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Review: Hazardous Duty (Squeaky Clean Mysteries #1) by Christy Barritt

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Since I’m on a mystery roll, I scoured my early kindle purchases for a fun cozy mystery title. Hazardous Duty fit the bill. It reminds me of Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum books – but subtler, cleaner, and with a smidge of God talk in there.

Gabby is a crime scene cleaner, so she runs into murders and mayhem all the time. Difference is, usually no one tries to kill her! Gabby tries to help a friend and solve a crime while maneuvering around politics and a dirty politician. Between trying to save her own life, spending time in her apartment house of quirky friends, and trying not to fall in love with a man anything like her loser dad, Gabby is a little bit scattered and a lot scared!

Thanks to two new friends who happen to be male, good-looking, and on the right side of the law, Gabby makes it to the end of the book alive. On her way, a little seed of faith is planted, and I can’t wait to see where it takes her in Book 2.

This is a deal at 99¢, and so good that I gladly paid $10 for book 2. 🙂 Yes. I did.

-Calliope

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Review: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron) by Kristan Higgins

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Aaahhh, the Blue Heron series. Wine, good-looking vintners, smart and sassy women, and swoon-worthy heroes.

So Emmaline has a crush on Jack, but so does half the town. He married and quickly divorced a hot ticket from Savannah, saved four stupid teenagers from drowning, and offers his friendship to any of his sisters’ friends who need a convenient date to a wedding.

What I absolutely adore about Jack is that he’s pretty realistic. Higgins precisely got into the mind of a man … focused on his own stuff, not purposely being a jerk but obliviously doing so, aware of his charm and hotness — and willing to use it for his own benefit.

Emmaline proves to be one of the most awesome female protagonists in a romance. She’s great at her job, insecure with men, not a skinny-minny, loving to her sister, annoyed with her mother, and just trying to get through life unscathed any more than she already is. Very realistic. And she has a smart-mouth on her, that Emmaline.

Higgins writes Emmaline in that little place of insecurity – in love with a man but not willing to tell him because she knows it’s going to blow up in her face. And you know what, it does blow up in her face.

And then Jack saves the day. And they live happily ever after. Because that’s how the Blue Heron men roll.

–Calliope

$5 for kindle!
buy IN YOUR DREAMS