A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3) by Deanna Rabourn

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3)A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Treacherous Curse
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #3
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 16, 2018

Summary:

Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy’s curse in a thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

Review:

I have yet to read a Deanna Raybourn book that I did not like. I might not like particular plot points, but I liked, okay loved, all the books. I have to say though, the Veronica Speedwell books are my favorite.

Veronica is a woman after my own heart. I just wished I had her strength of character. She does as she believes is right, regardless of what others might think. I don’t know how realistic this is for the Regency time period or any time period, but I love her anyway.

She doesn’t have much use for most men and even Stoker is subject to her managing ways. Most of all, she is funny. A lot of the humor is found within her thoughts rather than what she actually says or does, but it is quoteworthy nonetheless.

He proceeded to lecture me for the next quarter of an hour, about what I cannot say, for I turned my attention to the contents of the packing crate. I had long since discovered upon my travels that men are largely the same no matter where one encounters them. And if one is prepared to let them discourse on their pet topics of conversation, one can generally get on with things quite handily without any interference.

As for managing Stoker, she knows him, and herself, well.

I pressed my lips together, holding back the question that rose to them. Whatever had caused him to react so strongly, he had no wish to share it and I had no wish to pry.

(I have pledged myself to honesty in these pages, gentle reader, so I will admit that in point of fact I had a rather ferocious wish to pry, but I had learnt through painful experience that Stoker responded far better to the oblique approach than to more direct methods . . .)

And just a general touch of humor:

I turned to the post, sorting the various envelopes into pigeonholes. BILLS TO PAY. BILLS TO PRETEND I HAVE NOT RECEIVED. LETTERS TO ANSWER. LETTERS TO IGNORE. LETTERS FROM TEDIOUS PEOPLE.

Been there, done that. Haven’t you?

I just realized that I haven’t said a word about the plot. The entire thing turns around a archaeological find in Egypt. There is a missing team member, a missing (or was it stolen) diadem belonging to an Egyptian princess. And to just stir things up, a woman from Stoker’s past. Just how does Stoker feel about her after all these years?

If I have any criticism of this book, it is the use of words that I have never heard before. Just as an example: eclose, froideur, exsolutus, and vulneraverunt. The silver lining is that my vocabulary is definitely increasing. Thank goodness for my Kindle. It was able to define most of these for me.

Having said all that, my initial thought when I reached the last chapter was “when is the next book coming out?” As I said earlier, I love the Veronica Speedwell books and I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Blogger Shame

Okay, I said I was going to write twelve way past due reviews last year and I may have written two.  I promise myself that I will do better this year.  I have just posted my first one for Hot Secrets that I should have reviewed four, maybe five years ago.  I know what I have to do is create a schedule with reminders because it is way too easy to “forget” to do the things I don’t want to do in the first place.

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Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark, and Deadly, #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark & Deadly #1)Hot Secrets by Lisa Renee Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Hot Secrets
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Tall, Dark, & Deadly; #1
Pages: 197
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Date: January 23, 2012

Summary:

The Walker Brothers…

Tall, dark, and deadly, these three brothers run Walker security. Each brother is unique in his methods and skills, but all share key similarities. They are passionate about those they love, relentless when fighting for a cause they believe in, and all believe that no case is too hard, no danger too dark. Dedication is what they deliver, results are their reward.

Book 1 HOT SECRETS:

Royce Walker, a former FBI Agent, who’s opened a private security firm with his brothers, has always had the hots for the prim, proper Assistant District Attorney, but considered her hand’s off because of a family connection. However, when danger threatens Lauren, he isn’t willing to stand by and watch her get hurt. Now the passion for survival is only rivaled by the passion burning between them. And that passion, might just be the death of them both.

Review:

I really hoped to like this book. The premise, hot, sexy bodyguard and prosecuting attorney being threatened, is a good one. And I did . . . like it. And that’s the best I can say about the book. I can’t even say what my problem was with it. The writing is decent, and as I said, the plot is interesting.

I just couldn’t make myself care about the characters. I did want to know who the bad guy was and the book kept me guessing.

I actually found myself more interested in the two brothers. I would like to know their stories, but not enough to spend any time reading the other books.

This title has 3.5 stars on Goodreads and is free on Kindle Unlimited right now. If it sounds like something you might like, give it a try. I know Lisa Renee Jones is a very popular author. It just didn’t do it for me.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6) by Deanna Raybourn

Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6)Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Twelfth Night
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Lady Julia Grey
Pages: 51
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date: June 1, 2014

Summary:

To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed (and eccentric) March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George. What’s more, their only lead is the local legend of a haunted cottage and its ghastly inhabitant—who seems to have returned.

Once again, Lady Julia and Nicholas take up the challenge to investigate, and when the source of the mystery is revealed, they’ll be faced with an impossible choice—one that will alter the course of their lives…forever.

Review:

I should have reviewed this book when it was first released. I certainly was anxious to read it at the time. Unfortunately, I procrastinated and then forgot to write the review. The silver lining to that is that it forced me to re-read the book in order to finally review it. I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Twelfth Night is a short story, not a novella, in the Lady Julia Grey universe. If you are not familiar with these books, you have a treat in store for you. You don’t want to start with this one because it is full of spoilers from the previous novels.

I am glad I re-read it at this time because it is definitely a Christmas holiday book, although it does not take place exactly at Christmas. It is a family book as is appropriate for the holidays with family members we love and those we only tolerate, as well as one or two that we would rather avoid altogether.

The best thing about re-reading this book now is that I am once again excited about the Lady Julia Grey books. I see a re-read of the entire series in my near future. If you are new to the series, the author appears to have finished writing them, so you will be able to read them as quickly as you can without having to wait for the next book to be published. I assure you it was hard to wait. They are so good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1) by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1)Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Death Below Stairs
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Kat Holloway, #1 (also called A Below Stairs Mystery)
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Review:

First, read the prequel to this book – A Soupcon of Poison. It’s less than a hundred pages, but really sets up the background for Death Below Stairs. The prequel is wonderful and I was anxious for the first actual novel in the series. What do you mean I have to wait two years before it is published?!?

Guess what? Not only did I score an early reviewer’s copy, I got it almost five months before the publication date. And this book was so worth the wait.

Jennifer Ashley is a wonderful author. Some authors write really well in one genre, but lose me when they write something different. She is definitely not one of those authors. I discovered her years ago as a science fiction/romance author writing as Allyson James. I don’t know if I found her historical or paranormal books next, but it doesn’t matter. I love them both. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie will always be one of my favorite books in any genre.

Anyway, Death Below Stairs is set in Victorian London and focuses on a cook for the upper classes name Kat Holloway. She is an excellent cook and has little trouble obtaining a new position when it becomes necessary. She also has the unfortunate habit of finding dead bodies.

And that is the true focus of this series.

These are historical novels. Yes, there is a developing romance, but it is strictly a subplot. The heart of these books is a mystery. It’s not necessarily just one mystery either. There is a murder, of course, but the why is just as interesting as the who.

Speaking of interesting, to me, it is not the mystery or the romance that makes these books so engrossing. It is the details. Kat talks about the dishes she prepares for the family in the house as well as the servants. It’s not tedious at all. It adds flavor (and yes, that pun is intentional) to the story. And while the family is integral to the plot, it is the characters below stairs and their lives that I find fascinating.

I am not normally a fan of historicals, but the author makes the events so compelling that I am tempted to delve into a little nonfiction reading just to get more of the background. It’s not needed, but my interest has been piqued. Just who were the finnegans?

I highly recommend anything by Jennifer Ashley, but if your taste runs to historicals, you will love this book.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2) by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to TellPromise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Promise Not to Tell
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2
Pages: 304
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she leaves her secrets behind . . .

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

Review:

This is the second book in what will be a trilogy about three brothers who survived an early childhood in a cult. The first, When All the Girls Have gone, came out in 2016 and was wonderful. Of course, all of Jayne Ann Krentz’ books are wonderful.

In my opinion, these two books are a little darker than her earlier works. The focus is on the suspense rather than the romance. Make no mistake, the romance is there. It is just not the focus. As with all of her books, there is a strong, alpha male and a strong female that takes no guff from him. And, in my opinion, that’s where the humor comes into this book.

There is one scene where Cabot is upset with his family. He accuses Virginia of taking their side. She tells him:

“I’m not taking sides. I’m offering advice.”

“I don’t need advice.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you some. Don’t worry, it’s free.”

In an earlier scene, Virginia is “having words” with her grandmother and Cabot proves his intelligence.

He kept his mouth shut. A smart man did not step between two quarreling lionesses.

It is these moments of lightness that I consider a trademark of a JAK book right along with her alpha males and strong females.

Although this is the second book in a trilogy, it could be read without the first. I don’t recommend it, but you could. -grin- The mystery in this book is resolved, but there is an overarching plot which is not. It all goes back to the cult.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Tale of Two Kitties (Magical Cats, #9) by Sofie Kelly

A Tale of Two Kitties (A Magical Cats Mystery #9)A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Tale of Two Kitties
Author: Sofie Kelly
Series: Magical Cats, #9
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkeley
Date: September 5, 2017

Summary:

With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town’s history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don’t work for free…

Review:

Hercules and Owen! I love Hercules and Owen! I would hate to have to pick between the two of them for a favorite because they have such distinct personalities. For some reason, Hercules seems to be the more well read of the two while Owen is the one who “gets things done!”

Oh, did I mention they are cats . . . with special powers. Hercules can walk through walls — literally, while Owen can disappear — also literally. And no, after reading these books that doesn’t seem odd at all.

And yes, there are humans in these books that get into all kinds of trouble and have to have the cats help them out.

Hercules and Owen live with Kathleen who is the town librarian. I realize that is a cliche: cats and librarians. However, as I said the cats have special powers and although Kathleen is only human, she is smart enough to let them help her solve the many murders she seems to get involved in.

This book even starts with a dead body.

You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body — missing its head, no surprise — was damp.

With cat slobber.

And I’m going to leave that right there. You can see why I enjoy these books so much.

A Tale of Two Kitties is number nine in the Magical Cats series. I have loved everyone of the books. There is an extensive cast of recurring characters, so you really want to read them in order. Actually, you don’t want to miss a one of them because they are just that good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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