Tag Archives: Mystery

Still Life

Book Review: Still Life

Author: Dani Pettrey

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of Still Life:

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

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            Dani Pettrey is brilliant at what she does. I loved her previous series set in Alaska, and I’m finding that I like these just as much. Still Life is the second book in the series, and I would definitely recommend reading them in order, it helps to set up some of the relationships and dynamics that happen in this book.

Still Life is…chilling. Reading it at night is not recommended. I rushed through this book in the same break-neck pace that Dani sets, with each ending to the chapter begging me to continue reading. I love how each character has their specialty that they bring to the team, but they don’t have those because they’re just unnaturally good at them, they all have motivation and reasons. The setting is different than her other series, but where the wilds of Alaska and its animals were an issue, abandoned buildings and unstable people are just as dangerous in the Chesapeake Valor series. The mystery, suspense, and adventure are great in this series, but the romance keeps perfect pace with it.

Over all, I really enjoyed Still Life, and would definitely recommend it!

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her web site at www.DaniPettrey.com!

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Book Review: The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Author: Stephanie Morrill

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website of The Lost Girl of Astor Street:

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Anna Godbersen, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.

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            Stephanie’s other books are also written for teen girls, but are contemporary novels and I have enjoyed reading those. But I LOVED the Lost Girl of Astor Street. This book is gritty and real, and deals with emotions, life issues, and tragedy in a genuine, honest way. The twists and turns are many and most I didn’t expect. There’s adventure, suspense, mystery, history, and romance in this book, all skillfully woven together and appropriately done for this audience. I didn’t want to put this one down, not until I discovered with Piper whodunit, and what effect that would have on Piper and her family. I would love to see more from Stephanie revolving around Piper and this era, so here’s hoping!

As many have found, the young adult genre is also a great area for adult readers as well, and this is one of those that both older and younger readers would enjoy.

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Stephanie Morrill is the author of several young adult novels, including the 1920’s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street (February 2017, Blink/HarperCollins). Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids. You can learn more about her on her author site: StephanieMorrill.com

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Lady Unrivaled

LadyUnrivaled_mck.inddBook Review: A Lady Unrivaled

Author: Roseanna M. White

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for A Lady Unrivaled:

Her future–and her heart–hang in the balance.

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won’t wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent on destroying them all?

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            I LOVED this last book in the Ladies of the Manor series. Ella always seemed an interesting character, but getting more to know her and her spunk and flare for life was so much fun. She is definitely one of my favorite heroines I’ve read about recently. Her tenacity, courage, and loyalty make her such a great character, yet not without her faults. I didn’t really like Cayton in the other books, but as I got to know him in this one, I couldn’t help but cheer him on. His inability to let go of his sinful past is something that so many struggle with, yet as he learned to accept God’s love for him, he was able to live in freedom. I also really enjoyed how Roseanna continued to have other character’s viewpoints in the book. Seeing some of their struggles really brought a well-rounded dynamic to the story. The climax of the Fire Eyes mystery kept me turning pages, holding my breath at times and then finally at the end letting out that satisfied sigh. No character is as he, or she, seems, and Roseanna always had a surprise waiting in the next few pages. I would highly recommend this whole series, not only because of the premise and how she carries it out, but because of the level of quality throughout all three books. Roseanna does a fantastic job, and not once was I bored while reading, or tempted to pick up some other book.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of nine novels, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

I was given a review copy of A Lady Unrivaled from the author. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Without Warning

imgresBook Review: Without Warning

Author: Lynette Eason

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell Publisher’s website for Without Warning:

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity.

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard–and a female one at that–is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats–before a would-be killer strikes again.

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            I’ve heard a lot of good things about Lynette Eason’s books, but never felt compelled to try one out for myself. However, I’ve been on a murder mystery kick lately (I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie’s novels), so I thought I’d give Without Warning a try. I was so out of the loop, that I didn’t even realize until halfway through the book that I was reading the second book in the series. Oops. It worked out, though, because this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, though I’m sure reading the books in the series in order would enhance the experience.

I must say, my expectations were high. Did I mention I was reading from the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie? This book blew me away, though (for those of you who’ve read it, there’s a pun for you. Cheesy, I know.). This novel was action-packed, with suspense riding high. I found myself reading it any chance I got, just to try to figure out who-dun-it, and what they would do next! At one point, I was reading in my room and someone knocked on my door, and I had to take a few seconds to keep from grabbing the nearest pillow to use as a defense against the ‘intruder’. I really was gripped by this story!

I liked the idea of a body guard service made up of a group of women, a different take from what’s been done before by most authors (one of the exceptions being Becky Wade’s Her One and Only). The different viewpoints in the story, particularly Riley’s, were enjoyable to read. This book also tackles the issue of PTSD. Lynette treats it realistically, giving Without Warning more depth. The romance in this book was fun too, but wasn’t really the focus. Trust was a real issue in this book, trusting the people around them, and also trusting God, even when He allows things that don’t make sense.

So this book wasn’t quite Agatha Christie, but I did get sucked in by the adventure. I’ll definitely be taking another look at Lynette’s novels, but not when I’m home alone. At night. With creepy night noises. 😉

About the Author

Biography from Revell Publisher’s website: Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching and Without Warning in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of an ACFW Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

I was given a review copy of Without Warning from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Mistress of Tall Acre

9780800720445Book Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre

Author: Laura Frantz

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Revell’s website description of The Mistress of Tall Acre:

There can be only one mistress of Tall Acre . . .

The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

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As usual, Laura Frantz pulled me into this story with her signature talent for bringing to life a world long passed. I felt as if I were truly living during the tumultuous time that followed the Revolutionary War. The Mistress of Tall Acre was set farther East than some of Laura’s novels, but that didn’t mean that the adventure in the story was diminished. Instead, the adventures and trials that these characters faced were just as dangerous and threatening, just of a different kind.

I enjoyed Sophie’s character. She was lively and spirited, yet when faced with mishaps, she wasn’t eternally (and sometimes unrealistically) strong as some heroines are portrayed to be. A little more down-to-earth, which I enjoyed. I honestly thought that the marriage was going to happen a lot sooner in the story, but anticipating that event actually compelled me to continue reading, as if I needed any encouragement. Lily Cate was a character I absolutely loved, and one I wouldn’t mind reading about in later books (please?). Seamus was a grand hero, though he does have his own share of flaws. The struggle and fight in this story to reach that happy ending was long and grueling at times, a true battle of Revolutionary War proportions for the characters. The twist at the end was unexpected and left me dreading that the story wouldn’t turn out right, which of course it still did. I loved how as Sophie and Seamus faced different difficulties they were pointed to God and His ability to help them, in realistic and natural ways. Sophie’s spiritual journey, and her need to cling to God alone, and leave Seamus in his hands, was moving to read.

The Mistress of Tall Acre had a feel that made me think of Jane Eyre, to a point, which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but wasn’t a bad thing. I was glad that this novel didn’t have quite such a bittersweet ending as Jane Eyre. If you’ve enjoyed Laura’s other novels, you’ll enjoy this as well. It’s a little different, what with the story set in civilized society, not the Frontier. But the rich settings, vivid characters, and sweeping stories that’s she’s known for carry through to The Mistress of Tall Acre.

About the Author

Biography from Revell: Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel’s Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons. Learn more at http://laurafrantz.net/

I was given a review copy of The Mistress of Tall Acre from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Noble Masquerade

51nPbaqFk8L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review: A Noble Masquerade

Author: Kristi Ann Hunter

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of A Noble Masquerade:

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she’s never actually met the man she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother’s mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.

Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family’s estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

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When I first heard about A Noble Masquerade, I thought the story had a lot of promise. Oh my, did Kristi meet my expectations and more! A Noble Masquerade has secrets similar to that of Not By Sight, yet contains the humor and quirky heroines reminiscent of Jen Turano’s novels. Which means I absolutely adored this book.

I loved Miranda. She stood out to me as a character since she is so different from a lot of ladies written about during the Regency period. She’s quirky, clumsy, insecure, and completely endearing. The hero (what do I even call him?!) was also wonderful. I loved getting into his head. He was confident, and sometimes a little arrogant, but I loved him. And I felt for him, the poor man, what with everything in his past. The secondary characters were so well done, with each as unique and intriguing as the main characters. Oh, and Miranda’s sister Georgina, argh, she made me so frustrated sometimes!

The plot kept the story moving forward at a fast pace, so much so that I could hardly wait to get back into the story and continue reading. I also appreciated reading about Miranda’s struggle to trust God with her future and His plans for it, since that is something very relatable in all of life.

A Noble Masquerade was so much fun to read, and I loved every moment of the story. You should definitely try it out too. If you enjoy the humor of Jen Turano’s books, yet also like that mystery element of Not By Sight, you do NOT want to pass up A Noble Masquerade.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House: Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She is a founding member and the coordinator of the Regency Reflections blog and lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at http://www.kristiannhunter.com.

I was given a review copy of A Noble Masquerade from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Heart’s Pursuit

 

_225_350_Book.1213.coverBook Review: The Heart’s Pursuit

Author: Robin Lee Hatcher

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from the Goodreads description of The Heart’s Pursuit:

A jilted bride desperate to save her family from ruin.
A bounty hunter seeking vengeance for a ravaged past.
An arduous trek toward justice—or redemption.

Silver Matlock and Jared Newman know traveling together is a bad idea. Bad for Silver’s already tarnished reputation in her small Colorado town. Bad for bounty hunter Jared’s secret, single-minded mission for revenge. But Silver is determined to track down the rogue who left her at the altar and stole the last remnant of her father’s fortune. And Jared’s in a hurry to hunt down the murderer who destroyed his family—even if Silver is too distractingly beautiful for comfort.

The pair takes off over mountain and desert, past bleak homesteads and raw mining towns, hot on the trail of the two villains who took what wasn’t theirs to take. Soon supplies dwindle, secrets emerge, and suspicion leave Silver and Jared at odds when they need each other most. To confront an enemy deadlier than desert rattlesnakes and rocky cliffs, Silver and Jared must learn to forgive and trust and face the question they haven’t dared voice: What happens next?

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I’m sure I’ll be given strange looks when I say I believe this is the first book I’ve read and finished by Robin Lee Hatcher. I know, I know, what rock have I been hiding under all this time? I believe I started one or two of her novels, but didn’t finish them. Probably more from lack of time than lack of interest. I can’t remember. Anyhow, The Heart’s Pursuit was a good book to fully introduce me to this best-selling author.

What I liked:

The romance that develops between Silver and Jared is clearly meant to be. It’s very sweet and fun to read.

Silver was my favorite character. I liked how she was willing to go after her former fiance to try to save her family. Which brings me to the mystery element of this book. I wasn’t expecting a mystery, but I really enjoyed what Robin did to connect Jared and Silver’s quests. The tidbit about the Rainbow Saloon was really interesting and I wish Robin had elaborated on it more, though if she had, it may have taken away from the story. The Heart’s Pursuit had great pacing to the very end, and I had no problem holding interest in this book.

What I didn’t like:

While I liked Silver and Jared’s romance, it seemed that at the end the theme was more “we have each other and that’s all we need,” than God’s love being a prevailing factor. I understand, this is a romance, but I also thought the spiritual threads woven in throughout the novel would be emphasized at the end.

There was one point where Silver’s actions seemed abrupt and out of character.

About the Author

Biography from Robin’s website: Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She discovered her vocation after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. After fifteen years writing for the general fiction market and a change in her own heart, Robin began to write stories that included her Christian faith and values. Winner of the Christy, the RITA, the Carol, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and many other awards, she is also a recipient of the prestigious RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin is the author of over 70 novels and novellas. ~ To learn more about Robin visit her web page: http://www.robinleehatcher.com/

I was given a review copy of The Heart’s Pursuit from the publisher via their book review bloggers program in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.