Thursday, December 27, 2018

REVIEW: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

The Stolen Marriage 
by Diane Chamberlain

Publisher: St. Martin's
Page Count: 384
Release Date: Oct 3, 2017
Format: ARC Trade Paperback

How got: GoodReads Giveaway

First attention getter: that gorgeous cover!!!


From GoodReads:

One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever.

It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love—and the life—she was meant to have?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

Note: Book received for free in exchange for an honest review via GoodReads giveaway.

At first I found Stolen Marriage hard to get through. The first third seemed to slog through stereotypical scenarios from a standard gothic mystery novel and a main character that only rarely did anything proactive. However, once the story really hit its stride, I found myself engrossed more and more with Tess. She finally finds her feet in her new life, finding her spine and not letting society or anyone stand in the way of her dreams.

I adored where the story went. From the back description and how the book started, I thought I’d be getting a gothic mystery full of suspenseful twists and chills, with a background and some tidbits on the polio epidemic and hospital. Yet, those parts actually became the main focus, much to my delight. I loved exploring how this small southern town pulled together to create this polio hospital practically overnight, donating time, energy, material support, and medical logistics to the task.

Polio was such a big scare in the mid-20th century. Most people nowadays don’t even think about it. It was fascinating to see that explored in this small town setting, where rumors about the condition spread like wildfire and everyone knows the victims. Where another story could be a bleak portrayal of a small town in crisis, held in the hands of an epidemic, Stolen Marriage gives us a town who pulls it all together to get over this tragedy. I loved how the author portrayed this town.

The polio epidemic also seems to give Tess the kick in the pants to find her own path in life. She starts out trying to please everyone in Hickory, her new husband’s family especially. Quickly, she finds out this is impossible, given she’s the outsider who has stolen the life expected for a local gal. I loved how she shook off this mindset when faced with a bigger crisis. She seems to find herself and mature fast, coming out the other side stronger and with an iron will.

Besides Tess, the reader also gets a great grasp on Chamberlain's secondary characters as well. I grew to love most everyone, even the grumpy mother-in-law. Even her, I came to know why her attitudes were such and why she acted how she did. After I learned of Henry’s story, my sympathy for him rose fast. He’s faced with an impossible situation given the societal mores of the time.

Despite the rocky start with Tess being a bit of a doormat, I learned to love this book as it explored a seldom used historical story and combined it with well-rounded characters. As Tess progressed on her journey, the reader can’t help but be sucked in by her struggles and triumphs. If you’re looking for a great read, give this one a look. The book only gets better the longer you read.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

REVIEW: A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

Publisher: Dutton Books
Page Count: 480
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Format: HardCover

How got: personal buy via Amazon

First attention getter: already loved series


From GoodReads:

Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.

Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.

Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

When I heard that Riggs was writing a new Peregrine trilogy, my anticipation was through the roof. I was ready and willing to dive back into the world of Peculiar-dom with vigor. So as soon as the new book hit Amazon, I put that pre-order in ASAP and got reading as soon as I got it. For the most part, Riggs has hit a home run again. There are a few blips that bugged me, but at the prospect of more Peculiar works, I’m still game.

I adored seeing Peculiar-dom explored in America. In ways it’s a far darker place than Wight/Hollow haunted Europe as it’s Peculiar on Peculiar cruelty. The way history developed in America was FAR different than Europe due to the continuing absence of certain people and the history of racism in 19th century and early 20th America. I was kept enthralled by this history and world building, a specialty that Riggs seems to excel in.

Exploring Abe’s background and getting more details and what he really did in Peculiar America made for fascinating background and plot elements. Rigg’s suspenseful storytelling never lets up as Abe and his cohorts travel north from Florida on new missions and discoveries into Abe’s past. I couldn’t help but be pulled forward chapter by chapter as the story was masterfully told.

I also enjoyed exploring Jacob’s continuing development. Riggs does a great job in showing how Jacob starts to chafe at his status in the European Peculiar world and the continuing restrictions placed by the Ymbryne overseers of that world. He’s finding his footing in his powers and his identity as a Peculiar all while still showing traits true to his true age, that of a teenager. He’s still head strong, impulsive, and at times, childish. However, I can start to see the man he’s going to become.

The one aspect I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of was Jacob’s traveling companions. Not that I didn’t enjoy more of his cadre of Peculiar friends from across the pond but it almost felt kinda random, their inclusion into the story. While elements of the story did hinge on the peculiarities of the specific individuals, I feel like the story could have been told with less individuals to put in an opinion. It almost felt like the author was just trying to keep this new book tied to the first trilogy rather than incorporating those characters into a new story arc.

I felt like the story would have been served better if he’d shed his travel companions faster. By the end, we do have Jacob firmly on his new journey; yet I felt he could have started on that new journey sooner with more exploration given to his new situation and companions. The whole thing with him and Emma just really drove me up a tree. While a part of his growing up and shedding his old identity, it felt like an add on detail that I could have done without.

Despite this little quibble, I felt this was a great new addition to the Peculiar series. With Jacob firmly on his new journey and with more maturity under his belt, I feel like his continuing adventures will keep me entertained for far into the future. I look forward to exploring Peculiar-dom in American in far greater details and can’t wait for book two!

Monday, August 20, 2018

REVIEW: The Romanov Empress by C. W. Gortner

The Romanov Empress
by C W Gortner

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Page Count: 431
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback ARC

How got: LibraryThing giveaway

First attention getter: author


From GoodReads:

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.
Narrated by the mother of Russia's last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia's most compelling women who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage--as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria's eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to his reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie--now called Maria--must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

Her husband's death leaves their son Nicholas as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas's strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

I always know that when I pick up a C. W. Gortner book, I’m in for a great read. This title is no different. An incredible woman’s journey through glittery extravagance, personal tragedy, and the downfall of an era, the reader gets a fantastic tale that stays with the mind far longer after it’s over.

As always, Gortner does a great job in setting his scenes. Maria’s dazzling wedding, endless parties and charities in the early years, rumblings of unrest in bombings galore, and the eventual takeover of Russia by the Bolsheviks suck the reader in by the author’s generous usage of descriptions and sensory details. He strikes a subtle balance between descriptive passages and dialogue that gives the reader a wonderful imaginary world to explore the events portrayed. All this without going overboard and drowning the reader in too many details.

The only exposure I’ve had to Maria’s story is her fictionalized portrayal in the animated movie Anastasia, and I mean come on, can that really count?? So this woman’s incredible life was a complete mystery to me. I loved getting to know her strength of will, her deep love for her children, how she grew to adore her new country, and her adaptability in ever increasing changes in Russia’s political landscape. My heart hurt for her personal tragedies and crowed in triumph when things went well. I was that drawn into her story with Gortner’s great job at building her character.

I also loved how well we got to know the people in Maria’s life: her husband, father-in-law, children, and grandchildren. The lives of Nicholas Romanov, his empress, children, and Rasputin has been built up so much over the years to be almost legendary and mythical nowadays. I loved getting to know their personalities in all their human glory. I loved how human Gortner made everyone, really. From foreign spouses to cousins to grandchildren, everyone is beautifully fleshed out.

I've been reading or interested in reading Russian history lately. So I had great timing in winning it. I loved exploring how the Russian world of tsarism changed to Bolshevik revolutionary fervor in such a landslide time frame. I mean within only a couple generations, Russia went from a autocratic monarchy to what amounted almost to anarchism until Communism took firm hold. Seeing all that bold change through Maria's strong-willed eyes was a treat. She falls in love with Russia when crowned as one of it's royals and mourns to see it's fall into deprivation, anarchy, and death.

Again, Gortner has created a true masterwork of biographical historical fiction. He creates bold, intriguing characters and explores a world rich in detail and change. He's got another work here I'm more than happy to recommend to any reader, but especially if you love Russian history. This is truly a book to get lost in. Thanks again, Mr. Gortner, for another fantastic work!

Note: Book received for free from LibraryThing giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

REVIEW: The Tudor Legacy Trilogy by Laura Andersen

THE TUDOR LEGACY TRILOGY (Virgin's Daughter, Virgin's Spy, & Virgin's War)
by Laura Andersen

Page Count: Combined - 1,104
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: 2015-2016
Format: Trade Paperbacks

How got: personal buy via Amazon

First attention getter: alt history genre and enjoyed the 1st tril enough to try the 2nd


Usually I'd put GR's synopsis here as they're usually straight from the book/publisher/Amazon/what have you. But since I'm doing three books in one review, if you really want to know synopsis', please head to their respective GR pages.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

I enjoyed this trilogy FAR better than the first. The author keeps her fantastic skills in alternate historical, suspenseful storytelling. She also corrected the issues I had with the first trilogy in the areas of characters and melodrama. While there was a whiff of that last in this trilogy, it in no way stood out.

I loved exploring the “what-ifs” explored here. The different dynamics of Elizabeth I actually marrying and producing a child with Phillip of Spain, Mary Queen of Scots having a different path in life, and far different power dynamics when it came to the Spanish Armada all made for a powerful read. I loved how in-depth the author got with the very human side to her story as well. The horrors of English occupation of Ireland and the human cost of war all kept me emotionally engaged.

I loved her characters this time round. While I was initially disappointed that we had such a time jump skipping over Elizabeth’s actual marriage with Phillip (was especially looking forward to exploring that relationship), I still found myself loving everybody. All characters are three-dimensionally portrayed, with virtues and foibles in everybody.

What little bit I did get of Elizabeth’s and Phillips relationship, I enjoyed immensely. These two great minds and monarchs would have been true matches for each other, if religion hadn’t played a divisive roll. Besides being a political advantageous matched, there also seemed to be mutual respect and attraction between them. I’ve even read that this was historically the case as well. Maybe it’s just me, but I almost think they could have been another Ferdinand and Isabella.

Characterization was where the first trilogy came into problems. The main couple there read as too perfect. At least here, our main characters, the children of Dominic, Minette, and Elizabeth have their downfalls. From too much stubborn pride to initial immaturity to overconfidence, each character is very well rounded. We see real growth in both maturity levels and personalities as war looms on the horizon and loss is felt. I saw this greatest in Kit’s case. I loved watching his growth as he gets an unexpected boost in life prospects, and he grows to fit into that new roll.

The melodrama was toned down A LOT. Will’s personality and story arc, combined with Minette’s and Dominic’s perfection, was the main culprit for the first trilogy. Will being absent and the diminished roles of the other two this time round helped matters. While there were occasional whiffs, thinking Pippa’s continual mysteriousness, this trilogy was refreshingly safe from that pitfall.

I went into this trilogy wanting more Elizabeth. Though I didn’t get what I originally wanted, I still got a great story, well-rounded characters, and a well-done exploration of an alternate historical path. You’d probably have to read trilogy one to get all the nuances of this one. But I fell that’s worth it to get into this great follow-up series. I loved all three books this time!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

REVIEW: Who Is To Blame? by Jane Marlow

Who Is To Blame?: A Russian Riddle
by Jane Marlow

Publisher: River Grove Books
Page Count: 301
Release Date: Oct 18, 2016
Format: Trade Paperback


From GoodReads:

Who is to Blame? is a historical saga of two families—one born of noble heritage and the other bound as serfs to the noble’s household. Set during the mid-1800s in the vast grainfields of Russia, Who Is to Blame? follows the lives of two star-crossed serfs, Elizaveta and Feodor, torn apart by their own families and the Church while simultaneously trapped in the inhumane life of poverty to which they were born.

At the other end of the spectrum, Count Maximov and his family struggle to maintain harmony amidst a tapestry of deception and debauchery woven by the Count’s son. The plot twists further when the Tsar emancipates twenty million serfs from bondage as the rural gentry’s life of privilege and carelessness takes its final bow, and much of Russia’s nobility faces possible financial ruin.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

The author gets a real feel for the times. This era of history, 1860s rural Russia, is a complete mystery to me so exploring its diametrically opposed lifestyles was a shock to me. The reader senses how bleak it was as a peasant in serfdom-era Russia and how plush it was as an aristocrat. Serving as small kingdom tyrants in essence, landowners could even dictate things as personal as marriages for their people.

Yet, given the era this book takes place in, we get a sense of the balance of power shifting. As the tsar contemplates freeing the serfs from land bondage, the aristocrats start to feel the pinch of their fortunes slipping away. The peasants also start to feel their bargaining power as they contemplate a future of choice and uncertainty. As they’re freed from the continuing cycle of farming and the seasons, they start to wonder what will happen to them and what their choices are.

In amongst all that, we get an intimate view into these two worlds as well. Stepan’s world of wealth and landowner responsibility contrasts sharply with Elizaveta’s miserable world. We do get a sense of how much Stepan feels that responsibility as it contrasts sharply with his son, Anton, whom shows no interest in manor management nor anything else but vodka, easy money, peasant girl molestation, and gambling.

In the later half, we do show some growth for Anton. He feels his age as the years go on, shows some responsibility towards an illegitimate daughter, and vague interest in land management later in life. Anton’s journey is actually probably one of my favorite parts of the book. I started out really hating him, especially after that first molestation scene. Yet, towards the end, I could see a maturity and sense of wanting to right past wrongs in him. I started to like him as the book closed.

Elizaveta’s journey was just the opposite. She started out young and full of hope, in love with a childhood friend and certain their future together could be arranged despite religious and societal strictures against it. However, in steps Stepan and his dictates which throws Elizaveta’s dreams and life down the drain. Once her downward spiral starts, there’s no end in sight.

Once Elizaveta's life takes that dark turn, it stays dark all the way to the end. While she does get some resolution and victory over one odious antagonist, there's still no HAE here. So bear that in mind when reading her story, as there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Only a bitter satisfaction over one minor dark victory with a lifetime still ahead full of hardship and mistrust.

So ultimately, the author shows her true skills in these two individual's journeys. We get a look into their minds and hearts as they grow and change with the times. While happiness and life goal achievements aren't in the cards, the reader is still taken on an incredible journey of character change and growth with the advancement of time.

The one area of this book that didn't flow as well as the pacing. I felt like the author was trying to force too many years into too few pages. Within less than 300 pages, 25 years of events and complex Russian history is crammed along with examinations on how they affect the various characters involved. Add that to exploring three different character story arcs and you've got too much information squeezed into too little a space. I felt like there were times I didn't get to know Stepan, Anton, and Elizaveta as much as I wanted to.

With that in mind, though, I still feel this is a book worth checking out. Exploring a historical time period not often played in and great character arcs make this a historical fiction tale worth the read. The author isn't afraid to explore the bleakness that came with difficult life circumstances, giving the reader a real sense of the harshness of life at times. Not every author would be brave enough to do this, so kudos for that. I would definitely recommend this tale to lovers of historical fiction, especially for those who enjoy the more obscure of history.

Note: Book received for free from author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

REVIEW: The Year of Counting Souls by Michael Wallace

The Year of Counting Souls
by Michael Wallace

Publisher: Lake Union
Page Count: 332
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Format: E-Book ARC

How got: GoodReads giveaway

First attention getter: subject matter


From GoodReads:

As Japanese forces attack the Philippines in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, US army nurse Louise Harrison waits to be evacuated from Manila. But with the enemy closing in, Louise is forced to flee with a handful of wounded soldiers to a field hospital deep in the mountains.

Isolated in an unfamiliar country amid desperate conditions, Louise strikes up a friendship with Sammy Mori, an injured Japanese soldier with a secret. Deemed a traitor for reporting on the atrocities in Nanking, Sammy is being hunted by his brother, Yoshiko, a member of the feared Japanese military secret police.

When Yoshiko discovers the hospital camp, Louise and her patients find themselves in even greater danger. Caught between new loyalties and old, Louise and Sammy must trust their unlikely bond to sustain them through deprivation and chaos. It’s a bond that inspires unexpected acts of courage and sacrifice—a light of hope shining through the darkness of war.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

I’ve read other books from this time frame, even a few set in this general location, but this one seemed to stand out as a very well rounded look at the material. It’s this historical material that made me take notice of the book to begin with. I had high expectations and they were all met.

Wallace has a real skill with giving us a balanced, three dimensional look at both sides to this conflict. He makes his characters extremely human, showing us the faces of each side in a dark/light way. We get to see the murderous in Frankie, the poetic in Sammy, the resilient in Louise, and the fanatical in Yoshi. I appreciated the fact that one side wasn’t “good” and the other “bad”. There was cruelty/betrayal and compassion on both sides of the divide.

I felt a real connection with our lead heroine, Louise. She’s a gutsy gal with a ton of common sense and a dedication to her patients that any nurse can appreciate. She never lets her situation, no matter how bleak or scary it might get, deter her from her goals or her boys. I also appreciated the fact that the author didn’t make her the focus of a love interest either. While I could see some hints here and there, the main focus was always on Louise’s struggle for survival and her growth through her ordeal.

I also appreciate the time frame explored here. I’ve read a couple works of WWII in this area, one even with captive nurses in the Philippines, the other in Japanese occupied Singapore. I really liked this one, though, as it explored a bit the guerilla activites of the Filipinos during this timeframe and the way in which some American servicemen who were left behind helped them. The reader gets a real sense of the danger of the times as told through Louise’s eyes.

I enjoyed Louise’s journey through the rough landscape of Japanese controlled Philippines. Her, and her men’s, struggle to survive kept me spellbound. The author did an incredible job in the characterizing and story departments. He also took the time to get the historical setting and details as well. An author whom takes the time to get all these areas right is an author to check out. Highly recommended for lovers of WWII fiction or gritty survival stories with great characters.

Note: Book received for free from publisher in exchange for an honest review via GoodReads Giveaway.

Friday, June 22, 2018

REVIEW: The Trust by Ronald H. Balson

The Trust
by Ronald H. Balson

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page Count: 368
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Format: E-Book ARC Via NetGalley

How got: ARC from publisher via NetGalley

First attention getter: dealing with N Ireland drama


From GoodReads:

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. 

Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

When I found out this book was the fourth in a series I’d previously had bad luck with, I was regretting my agreement to read/review. That previous encounter had to be dropped due to a massive info dump in the beginning that made continuing further impossible for me. Once my discovery was made, I braced myself for a similar experience. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. This particular work was written organically and well, giving us a fleshing out of one of our leads and some fascinating modern history of the Northern Ireland dilemma.

I think the problem with my first try with this series was the info dump plus being thrust into the story with characters I didn’t know. A common problem with trying to start a series mid-point, this volume, however, didn’t suffer from that. The central mystery has to do with Liam’s family history in Ireland so serves as an “introduction” to him as a character.

I felt like I got to know Liam very well. His loyalty to family, iron sense of right vs wrong, and dedication to his crime-solving craft shine through strongly. He’s a main character I could get behind and believe in. And though Catherine only played a peripheral part in this volume, being an ocean away for most of it, I still got a sense for her practical approach to problems and perfect common sense. She was a great foil to Liam’s passion for family, crime-solving, and protecting others.

I felt the crime-solving aspects were pretty well done. The story is chock full of red herrings and twisty turns that make any mystery a joy to read. The final whodunit was a surprise to me with a nail-biting journey to that final reveal. I liked that the author didn’t shy away from giving us some tragedy and emotion as well along the way. They gave the voyage to justice a perfect weight to the dry aspects of crime-solving.

There were times where the author felt repetitive in various aspects of storytelling. The constant amount of times that Liam went jogging, I’m surprised he’s not built like a quarterback on steroids. It also felt like some characters kept falling back to the same character traits again and again, Connor and his repetitive tries to oust Liam come to mind. Maybe the author was just making a point that Connor was a douche and putting him forward as a likely suspect, making his attempts as proof of his trying to kill Liam and company. However, it felt to me like he was just pounding this point too much with the proverbial two by four.

Despite that one flaw, and admittedly that one is a very personal quibble, I felt this was a solid book. Great character work and a mystery plot that wasn’t predictable nor stale make this a very enjoyable read. It even served as a great introduction to Liam and Catherine, in lieu of book one. I think I might need to look into books 1 and 3 now as well as re-thinking book 2. Highly recommended for mystery lovers everywhere.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.