Friday, February 26, 2016

Book Review: Wedding Cake Murder

Wedding Cake MurderAuthor: Joanne Fluke
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Kensington
Series: Hannah Swensen #19

Everyone in Lake Eden, Minnesota, may have had their doubts, but at long last, Hannah Swensen is getting married! Hannah is thrilled to be marrying Ross Barton, her college crush. And her excitement only grows when she learns he’ll be able to join her on her trip to New York City for the Food Channel’s dessert chef contest. They get a taste of the Big Apple before Hannah wins the Hometown Challenge and the producers bring all the contestants to Lake Eden to tape the remainder of the show. It’s nerve-wracking enough being judged by Alain Duquesne, a celebrity chef with a nasty reputation. But it’s even more chilling to find him stabbed to death in the Lake Eden Inn’s walk-in cooler—before he’s even had a chance to taste Hannah’s Butterscotch Sugar Cookies! Now Hannah has not only lost her advantage, she’ll have to solve a mystery with more layers than a five-tiered wedding cake…

At that moment she knew that she’d go anywhere with him, even into a dangerous situation, as long as he never left her side.

“I love you, too,” Hannah said, and she was smiling as her kitchen timer began to ring and she hurried to take the first two pans of Butterscotch Sugar Cookies out of the oven.

Life was good in Lake Eden, Minnesota…if you didn’t count the latest murder.

There were times when I thought it would never happen, but here we are, preparing for Hannah’s wedding. However, we know from the start that we won’t get this off without a murder to solve. The death in this book is a famous one this time; a celebrity chef to be exact. Hannah has her plate full in this installment because on top of solving a mystery, she has to finish planning her own wedding and hope that it goes off without a hitch. Joanne Fluke gives readers an easy read as always and her descriptive writing will have your mouth watering with the first cookie recipe she writes. You will find yourself asking from the start, will Hannah’s wedding actually take place or will another murder get in the way of her well laid plans?

I have read a few reviews that complained about the excessive use of dialogue, but this is one of the things that I love most about these books. The dialogue is witty and perfect in tight situations. I often find myself skipping over text and shooting straight for dialogue in some books, but that is just not necessary with this series. The action is never-ending and the dialogue is perfectly crafted. The return of so many lovable characters is another reason that this series will forever be one of my favorites. This series has been going on for quite some time now, but honestly I am not ready for it to end even though I know some readers feel that enough is enough. Hannah Swenson has more mysteries to solve!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Kensington in exchange for my honest review***

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: Wicked Sexy Liar

Wicked Sexy Liar (Wild Seasons, #4)Author: Christina Lauren
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Gallery
Series: Wild Seasons #4

When three college besties meet three hot guys in Vegas, anything can—and does—happen. Book Four in the New York Times Wild Seasons series that began with Sweet Filthy Boy (the Romantic Times book of the year that Sylvia Day called “a sexy, sweet treasure of a story”), Dirty Rowdy Thing, and Dark Wild Night.

For two people ambivalent about dating and love, they sure get naked around each other an awful lot . . .

London Hughes is very content to surf daily, tend bar, hang out with her group of friends, and slowly orient herself in the years after college. Everything’s going great and according to the non-plan.

But when a wave knocks her for a loop one morning, then Luke Sutter’s flirtatious smile knocks her for another that evening, she veers slightly off course…and into his path. Sure, he’s a total player, but the Why not—it’s only one night is a persistent voice in her ear.

For his part, Luke’s been on hookup autopilot for so long that he rarely ever pauses to consider what he’s doing. But after an amazing time with London, he realizes that he hasn’t been moving on from a devastating heartbreak so much as he’s been drifting to wherever—and whomever—the current takes him. With London he wants more.

Every relationship involves two people…plus their pasts. And as much as she enjoys her fling with Luke, when London learns about his past—more specifically, who’s in it—everything becomes the brand of complicated she strives to avoid. It’s up to Luke then to change some things in order to try and ensure he’s not something she’ll outright avoid as well.

“Being with him feels a little like letting go of the handlebars and racing down a hill. And it also feels like being wrapped up in the warmest blanket. How can he feel both like an adventure and a comfort?”

“Being near him is a little like slipping into a warm bath.”

“There’s so many ways to love this girl; good God, let me find every one.”

“A predictable life never changed anyone.”

Christina Lauren has done it again. And not only is she a great writer, but she is personable too (I get a Christmas card every year in the mail). She is talented and really gives her readers something to hold onto. Just when I ask myself where the series could go from here, she releases a new book and rocks my world! I personally think any of these books could be read as standalone novels, but I have loved following this series and would recommend it to any and all who love a good, steamy romance. This fun, fabulous new fourth book in the series follows London and Luke, both loveable characters that you will fall head over heels in love with. I must say that Luke beat out London as my favorite character of the book, however. Luke is sweet and caring and I always found myself waiting for more from his point of view.

Their story sent me for a loop; I mean the sexual tension between these two was completely unreal. London has been burned and is not interested in any kind of romantic relationship. Luke is known to be a bit of a player and is definitely a charmer, but neither one is ready for the type of head over heels feeling they get from the other. I loved that London was so genuine. Some may see her as boring because she preferred to be alone, but I felt very connected to her because she chose to keep it real with anyone who wanted to enter her life. I loved following Luke’s thought processes; his thoughts are not filtered at all. He says exactly what he feels and most of the time it will make your eyes pop out of your head! This was the perfect read for my Valentine’s Day weekend!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review***

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: The Secrets of Lizzie Borden

The Secrets of Lizzie BordenAuthor: Brandy Purdy
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Kensington

In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime. Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters. Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes… Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.

The blood and the memories so intricately bound they could never be divided.

No wonder I was so eager to leave, to spread my wings and fly far, far away!

Returning to Fall River and reentering my father’s house felt just like being found guilty of a terrible crime and being sentenced to live out the rest of my life in a dreary prison with no amenities to make life pleasant or even bearable.

I have always been fascinated with the story of Lizzie Borden and I just learned two days ago about the new TV show starring Christina Ricci. This book hit phenomenal levels with me, mainly because I got to read it from Lizzie’s point of view. This tale is weaved with fact and fiction. I know enough about Lizzie to be able to tell the difference, but I must say I was shocked with how full of misery the house of Andrew Borden was. I truly despised her father; he was strict and their mother did not do much to make life easier for the girls. Her father’s issues strictly dictated how she lived her life. They were forced to be outcasts. Although they were a very wealthy family, they did not live as such. Lizzie grew up differently from other girls her own age, and even though she is a murderer, I was still able to connect with her and a lot of the emotions she experienced.

What I loved most about this book was finding out what the author felt led Lizzie to commit such a heinous crime. Purdy has a way of writing of Borden that does not make her out to be a cruel murderer. Lizzie’s living conditions were honestly what put me on her side more than anything. Andrew Borden had the money to afford so much more, but when you find out how they lived you will be utterly disgusted. The book gets pretty graphic in at least two places that I can think of. They were gory enough for me to squint my eyes…and then reread them! I have always wondered why Lizzie committed this crime, and after reading this book I felt entertained and educated! This was such a great read and one that I am sure I will go back to.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Kensington in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Review: Duke Of My Heart

Duke of My Heart (Season for Scandal, #1)Author: Kelly Bowen
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Series: Season For Scandal # 1

Scandal can be handled...

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he's returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl—quite inconveniently deceased—tied to his missing sister's bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he's at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals. 

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she's somehow...flawless. It's just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected—yet absolutely true.

“I’m trusting you, Miss Moore.” He dropped her hand. “Don’t make me regret it.”

Ivory left her study, locking the door behind her. One could never be too careful with secrets.

The silk was the color of sin. Wrapped around the limbs of a dead earl, however, it was a problem.
This new series is going to be such a treat! I knew I was going to love this book right from the start, when I walked into a room with a corpse left tied to the bed and a young women trying to hide the body. Miss Ivory Moore works for a company called Chegarre & Associates. They are a group of individuals that the ritzy, hoity people of the ton call on when they have a situation on their hands that they are not able to “get rid of” on their own. Ivory is working to get rid of a dead body that was found tied to a bed, while a young unwed girl has runaway and may be the only one who knows what truly happened. It is in the midst of all of this that Captain Maximus Harcourt, the brother to the young girl who has taken a sudden departure, walks in and finds some of his family members as well as Miss Moore trying to dispose of a dead body and keep the house full of guests unaware. The tension between Ivory and Max is apparent right from the start!

The romance is exciting and steamy, the idea of Chegarre & Associates is fascinating, and Ivory is a fabulous heroine. Ivory defies everything that a woman in this time should be; she is not phased at all by this brusque, arrogant Captain who demands that she leave at once. Not only will readers enjoy a wonderful romance, but they will also get the taste of a fun and unpredictable murder mystery. Readers are left wondering where Beatrice, Max’s sister, got off to while waiting to see what happens romantically between Ivory and Max. I am beyond excited to see where this series will go next. I have already been checking Goodreads, anxiously waiting for the next book update!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Forever in exchange for my honest review***