Monday, July 1, 2024

Book Review: The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst


Kiela has always had trouble dealing with people. Thankfully, as a librarian at the Great Library of Alyssium, she and her assistant, Caz—a magically sentient spider plant—have spent the last decade sequestered among the empire’s most precious spellbooks, preserving their magic for the city’s elite.

When a revolution begins and the library goes up in flames, she and Caz flee with all the spellbooks they can carry and head to a remote island Kiela never thought she’d see again: her childhood home. Taking refuge there, Kiela discovers, much to her dismay, a nosy—and very handsome—neighbor who can’t take a hint and keeps showing up day after day to make sure she’s fed and to help fix up her new home.

In need of income, Kiela identifies something that even the bakery in town doesn’t have: jam. With the help of an old recipe book her parents left her and a bit of illegal magic, her cottage garden is soon covered in ripe berries.

But magic can do more than make life a little sweeter, so Kiela risks the consequences of using unsanctioned spells and opens the island’s first-ever and much needed secret spellshop.


From the get go Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst won my heart. Who knew the Cottage Core Aesthetic could overflow into a book, but it has with her magical new book. Also who knew I would read a fantasy and totally enjoy it, certainly not me, but Spellshop made that happen also =0)

This book is beautifully written, it's cozy, yes, seriously. Yo will want to tuck in with a cup of steaming hot tea and have a long read. It is delightful, sweet, slightly romantic , has small town vibes, a plot that will keep you engaged. The fantasy in the book is even magical and cozy..... you will garden in a magical garden, help a mermaid baby, ride seahorses, and that is only the beginning.

Main character Kiela is much like me, she is not fond of people, she works in a library or she did, but she had to escape to her childhood home on an island to escape death. Have you ever lived in a small town? Well her home town is small and of course there are problems, mostly noisy neighbors. There is conflict of course, but it is fun and resolved quickly. Also, there is a good amount of comic relief in the story from Kiela's sidekick, who happens to be a spider plant names Caz.

Please pick this one up, but don't try and take it seriously- it is not meant to be, it is the escape we all well need right now.

Book Review: A Daughter Of Fair Verona by Christina Dodd


Knives Out meets Bridgerton in Fair Verona, as New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd kicks off a frothy, irreverent, witty new series with an irresistible premise—Romeo and Juliet’s daughter as a clever, rebellious, fiercely independent young woman in fair Verona—told from the delightfully engaging point of view of the captivating Rosie Montague herself…


Since I have been a young girl I have loved the story of Romeo and Juliet, call me a hopeless romantic, but I can remember the first time I read it thinking I needed a Romeo in my life, along with crying my eyes out.

Over the years I have read several adaptations of the story, everything from horror to dark romance and I for the most part enjoyed all of them, mostly because I loved seeing how the authors used their imagination to rework the story.

In a Daughter of Fair Verona, Romeo and Juliet survived their usual death and have a daughter named Rosaline ( if you have read Romeo and Juliet you will know who the original Rosaline is ). Rosaline is 20 and unmarried, something that is unheard of at the time, but she has not found a suitor she has felt deserved her.

She evidentially finds herself in trouble when she falls for a wedding crasher of sorts when she meets him at her official betrothal to a suitor her parents finally force upon her. Of course the unsuitable suitor winds up murdered and Rosaline is the prime suspect . She sets out to find the murderer and clear her name.

I really enjoyed the character of Rosaline, she was witty, clever, stubborn and funny. Romeo and Juliet are in the book, but the story mostly centers around Rosalina. I felt the author put a lot of thought into thee story and the characters and loved her take on them. I also think it kept it from being just another cozy mystery.

This book was so much fun and many times I found myself laughing out loud at its wit and charm.

This is also the first book in a new series by the author, and the story does end with a bit of a cliff hanger so I am anxious to see what happens next.

Be sure to pick this one is a most enjoyable read !

Wednesday, June 19, 2024



Everyone refers to the St. Cecelia as “the Saint.” If you grew up coming here, you were “a Saint.” If you came from the wrong side of the river, you were “an Ain’t.” Traci Eddings was one of those outsiders whose family wasn’t rich enough or connected enough to vacation here. But she could work here. One fateful summer she did, and married the boss’s son. Now, she’s the widowed owner of the hotel, determined to see it return to its glory days, even as staff shortages and financial troubles threaten to ruin it. Plus, her greedy and unscrupulous brother-in-law wants to make sure she fails. Enlisting a motley crew of recently hired summer help—including the daughter of her estranged best friend—Traci has one summer season to turn it around. But new information about a long-ago drowning at the hotel threatens to come to light, and the tragic death of one of their own brings Traci to the brink of despair.

Traci Eddings has her back against the pink-painted wall of this beloved institution. And it will take all the wits and guts she has to see wrongs put to right, to see guilty parties put in their place, and maybe even to find a new romance along the way. Told with Mary Kay Andrew’s warmth, humor, knack for twists, and eye for delicious detail about human nature, Summers at the Saint is a beach read with depth and heart.


I always look forward to a Mary Kay Andrews book, she has the ability to make me cry or laugh while feeding me a great mystery. Her summer releases are always a favorite. Maybe. I do love a good holiday story and hers are the most merry!

Summers At The Saint, her newest book was once again a winner with me. It was a fantastic beachy summer read, but it also had a bit of heaviness included within it to keep it from being too fluffy.

The St. Cecilia, or the Saint as it is know by the rich clientele that summer there sets on the coast of Georgia. Traci Eddings owns it, inheriting it from her husband when he died. She is struggling trying to keep it a float, but she has a lot that is working against her, mainly her late husbands family. The descriptions of the hotel, from the front receiving area to the kitchens all painted a vibrant picture of where you were.

All the characters in the book, and there were plenty, from the family to the summer workers, were well written and thought out. Traci was not from a rich family, she spent her summers there as a lifeguard at the hotels pool, but ended up marrying the bosses son. There is certainly a class struggler's between her and her dead husbands family.

The mystery has been unsolved for decades, and it has a surprise twist that I will confess I did not figure out. It is a great little who done it that added plenty of intrigue to the family drama.

I read and also listened to this book, which made the 400 plus book go by quickly ( everyone who knows me know I do not like a book that roams over 350 pages ), but I feel like it was a fast paced book either way. The narrator Kathleen McInerney made the listening pleasurable with her smooth and silky voice,

Summer At The Saint is fun and entertaining and it is the perfect summer read for everyone.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Book Review: Klara's Truth by Susan Weissbach Friedman

It is May 2014, and Dr. Klara Lieberman—forty-nine, single, professor of archaeology at a small liberal arts college in Maine, a contained person living a contained life—has just received a letter from her estranged mother, Bessie, that will dramatically change her life. Her father, she learns—the man who has been absent from her life for the last forty-three years, and about whom she has long been desperate for information—is dead. Has been for many years, in fact, which Bessie clearly knew. But now the Polish government is giving financial reparations for land it stole from its Jewish citizens during WWII, and Bessie wants the money. Klara has little interest in the money—but she does want answers about her father. She flies to Warsaw, determined to learn more.

In Poland, Klara begins to piece together her father’s, and her own, story. She also connects with extended family, begins a romantic relationship, and discovers her repairing the hundreds of forgotten, and mostly destroyed, pre-War Jewish cemeteries in Poland. Along the way, she becomes a more integrated, embodied, and interpersonally connected individual—one with the tools to make peace with her past and, for the first time in her life, build purposefully toward a bigger future.


I think most people have some interest in the history of their families, where they originally came from. what our families were like etc... I have done some research on my own family and have found some interesting things, my other family, on my dad's side, I am fully convinced they hatch one day, as I can find NOTHING on them...oh well lol. This, among other things really made Klara's Truth an interesting read for me.

Klara's father disappeared from her life when she was 6 years old, and she spent years wondering what happened to him. As she neared 50, she received two letters in the mail, one from her mother who has known all her life what happened to her father, making their troubled relationship a bit harder. The other was from the Poland government telling her that she has a large amount of property that the Nazi's stole from Jewish citizens during WWII.

I really loved Klara's story, how she discovered not only her family but her heritage. Friedman has written a beautiful debut novel with sensitivity on several touchy subjects. It is an inspiring, emotional and compelling read that any lover of family drama and discovery will really enjoy

Monday, May 27, 2024




Rise and shine. The Evans women have some undead to kill.

It’s 1999 in Southeast Texas and the Evans women, owners of the only funeral parlor in town, are keeping steady with…normal business. The dead die, you bury them. End of story. That’s how Ducey Evans has done it for the last eighty years, and her progeny―Lenore the experimenter and Grace, Lenore’s soft-hearted daughter, have run Evans Funeral Parlor for the last fifteen years without drama. Ever since That Godawful Mess that left two bodies in the ground and Grace raising her infant daughter Luna, alone.

But when town gossip Mina Jean Murphy’s body is brought in for a regular burial and she rises from the dead instead, it’s clear that the Strigoi―the original vampire―are back. And the Evans women are the ones who need to fight back to protect their town.

As more folks in town turn up dead and Deputy Roger Taylor begins asking way too many questions, Ducey, Lenore, Grace, and now Luna, must take up their blades and figure out who is behind the Strigoi’s return. As the saying goes, what rises up, must go back down. But as unspoken secrets and revelations spill from the past into the present, the Evans family must face that sometimes, the dead aren’t the only things you want to keep buried.


I can not tell you when the last time I enjoyed a " horror " book more than I enjoyed Bless Your Heart by Lindy Ryan.

When I sat horror, I say it loosely, sure it has vampires, and murder, and morticians, and all that other creepy stuff, but more importantly, it has laughs, this is a fun horror story and I could not get enough of it.
Being a Southerner I love any book that has a Southern voice. Those voices, many times, are women and Bless Your Heart is no different. It takes place in a small southeast Texas town ( to  be honest, more than half my family live in East Texas, and I read the whole book in their thick accent ) Also, I listened to it part time also, the narrator was a great reader and help make the audio.

The Evan's women Ducey, Lenore, Grace and teenage Luna, own the towns only funeral parlor. Soon people start dying and they realize they are rising, this is where the fun begins.

There is a lot to like about this story besides the vampires . The women in the book are strong and the family is dynamic, the characters are likable and humorous. There are times when I think it could have had more mystery and suspense , but the dark was there, lurking underneath all the fun.

This is so fun, I recommend it to anyone who wants a quick and enjoyable read.

P.S.-- Bless Your Heart is the first of a new series and even me, a non series reader can't wait for the next one!



Louise Manson is the newest student at Highfield Manor, Dublin’s most exclusive private school. Behind its granite walls are high-arched alcoves, an oak-lined library...and the dark secret Lou has come to expose.

Lou’s working-class status makes her the consummate outsider, until she is befriended by some of her beautiful and wealthy classmates. But after Lou attempts to bring the school’s secret to light, her time at Highfield ends with a lifeless body sprawled at her feet.

Thirty years later, Lou gets a shocking phone call. A high-profile lawyer is bringing a lawsuit against the school—and he needs Lou to testify. Lou will have to confront her past and discover, once and for all, what really happened at Highfield. Powerful and compelling, When We Were Silent is a thrilling story of exploitation, privilege, and retribution.


When We Were Silent is Fiona McPhillips debut novel and it is a winner!

I love Dark Academia, and I am always looking for the newest book in the genre to hit the shelf, so finding When We Were Silent was a thrill.

The story is told in two time periods, the past, which takes place at an elite high school in Ireland, and then also in present day. Louise, the main character, is from a normal working class type of family, she is a scholarship student at a high school that is full of privileged and rich students, both the school and the students are full of secrets, for instance, Louise's best friend Tina, who commits suicide after an incident with a teacher.

When you are reading the present timeline, Louise has a family, she is happily married, and struggles with her troubled teenage daughter. Soon Louise is called to testify in an abuse case that happened at the school and she has some hard choses to make.

McPhillips has put the dark in Dark Academia with When We Were Silent. It is dark, it digs deep into the #metoo movement, along with other difficult subjects like class struggle and mental health, but she does it with dignity and compassion.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Book Review: If Something Happens To Me by Alex Finley


For the past five years, Ryan Richardson has relived that terrible night. The car door ripping open. The crushing blow to the head. The hands yanking him from the vehicle. His girlfriend Ali’s piercing scream as she is taken.

With no trace of Ali or the car, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Ryan. But with no proof and a good lawyer, he’s never charged, though that doesn’t matter to the podcasters and internet trolls. Now, Ryan has changed his last name, and entered law school. He's put his past behind him.

Until, on a summer trip abroad to Italy with his law-school classmates, Ryan gets a call from his father: Ali's car has finally been found, submerged in a lake in his hometown. Inside are two dead men and a cryptic note with five words written on the envelope in Ali’s handwriting: If something happens to me…

Then, halfway around the world, the unthinkable happens: Ryan sees the man who has haunted his dreams since that night.

As Ryan races from the rolling hills of Tuscany, to a rural village in the UK, to the glittering streets of Paris in search of the truth, he has no idea that his salvation may lie with a young sheriff’s deputy in Kansas working her first case, and a mobster in Philadelphia who’s experienced tragedy of his own.


I will always pick up a book by Alex Finley, ever since I first received an advance copy of Every Last Fear, I have been hooked. I know when I pick up a Finley book I am usually in for a great thriller that will keep me reading and on my toes.

If Something Happens to Me, was good, not as good as previous books in my opinion, but it did keep me reading. It was face paced and twisty and I always appreciate that, and I believe Finley can tell a story that is well written, in-depth, and entertaining.

The audio book, which I listened to had three point of views and all three narrators, Paul Dateh, Helen Laser, and John Piralla, did a great job with their parts.

I went into this one blind, which I really enjoy doing on thrillers, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into. There were at times I felt like the plot was a little over the top, but as always Finley has written a heart pounding mafia type thriller that will keep all thriller fans reading until they reach the end.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Book Spotlight: The Marriage Sabbatical by Lian Dolan

Special thanks to William Morrow/HarperCollins for sending this one my way! The concept is definitely intriguing, and I look forward to reading it, hopefully soon!

Publisher Description

What if you could take a vacation from your marriage? A couple decides to give it a shot in this fun, adventurous novel by Lian Dolan, the popular author of The Sweeney Sisters and Lost and Found in Paris.

After twenty-three years of building careers and raising kids together, Jason and Nicole Elswick are ready for a break from their daily lives. Jason has spent years planning his dream sabbatical—ditching work for a nine-month-long motorcycle trip through South America. Problem is, that’s Jason’s dream, not Nicole’s. After years working retail and parenting in Portland, Nicole craves the sun of the Southwest and the artistic community in Santa Fe, where she wants to learn jewelry design.

A chance encounter at a dinner party presents a surprising—and intriguing—way out of their dilemma. Over a little too much wine, Jason and Nicole’s married neighbors sing the praises of the 500 Mile Rule: their policy of enjoying themselves however they wish—and with whomever they wish—when they’re temporarily far apart. It seems like the perfect solution: nine months pursuing their own adventures—with a bit of don’t-ask-don’t-tell—and then a return to their shared lives. It’ll be a sabbatical from their marriage as well as their day jobs.

As Jason bikes his way across a continent and Nicole reclaims the art she’s long neglected, they discover the pleasures and pitfalls of the 500 Mile Rule, confronting temptations of all kinds, uncomfortable truths about themselves, and gaining new perspective on their partnership.

But all sabbaticals come to an end…then what?

Monday, May 6, 2024



In scenic Granite Harbor, life has continued on―quiet and serene―for decades. That is until a local teenager is found brutally murdered in the Settlement, the town’s historic archaeological site. Alex Brangwen, adjusting to life as a single father with a failed career as a novelist, is the town’s sole detective. This is his first murder case and, as both a parent and detective, Alex knows the people of Granite Harbor are looking to him to catch the killer and temper the fear that has descended over the town.

Isabel, a single mother attempting to support her family while healing from her own demons, finds herself in the middle of the case when she begins working at the Settlement. Her son, Ethan, and Alex’s daughter, Sophie, were best friends with the victim. When a second body is found, both parents are terrified that their child may be next. As Alex and Isabel race to find the killer in their midst, the town’s secrets―past and present―begin bubbling to the surface, threatening to unravel the tight-knit community.


Granite Harbor, the new thriller by Peter Nichols was one of those books that I started one night, put it down after just a few pages because I got busy, and then a week later picked it up and was hooked from that moment one.

I am always up for a thriller, it is probably my favorite genre, but when you add in a serial killer, there is no way I will pass it up. Granite Harbor gave me my serial killer, along with some gruesome murders, and a setting of a small town in coastal Maine, which I always seem to imagine being isolated. Personally I don't know this, I have been just over the border into Maine, but in my mind all the coast of Maine is isolated ( yeah I know Kennebunkport is hardly small or isolated, let me have my imagination )

The murder of Shane, a highschooler in Granite harbor shocks the town, and new Detective Alex Branwen is tasked to find the murderer. The murder does take on a bit of a personal note with him, when he finds out his teenage daughter is friends with Shane. 

Alex's personal life is a bit of a side story with his daughter and his ex wife, it breaks up the thriller at times when you might need it.

I absolutely loved the murder, or I should say how the murders were done. It was something I had never heard of before, so for me very original. I am not going to tell you any more about it to keep from spoiling, but it was definitely a first for me and very interesting.

There are quite a few people that have roles in this story, both major and very small parts, and I am usually a bit confused by a lot of characters, my ADHD mind, has a hard time keeping track of them all, however, Granite Harbor was very well written and it was never a problem with me as I read along. Mainly the POV is Alex's but there are several chapters in the book that gives us the killers POV, especially on his past. These chapters give us a look into his mind, yet are written so he or she's identity is not given away. All the characters here were well written and their place in the story was well thought out.

The beginning can come off as a bit slow, but I find a good built story usually is to an extent. Getting to know the characters and the world they live in is important to me, but I will tell you that the end picks up and is more fast paced. I had a hard time putting the book down toward the end.

This book is dark, disturbing, and gruesome. It has a lot of trigger issues, including animal cruelty, so please take note. BUT...its a great read if you can get past those.

Thank you to Celadon Books for this great read.

Thursday, April 25, 2024



After Lucy is found wandering the streets, covered in her best friend Savvy’s blood, everyone thinks she is a murderer. Lucy and Savvy were the golden girls of their small Texas town: pretty, smart, and enviable. Lucy married a dream guy with a big ring and an even bigger new home. Savvy was the social butterfly loved by all, and if you believe the rumors, especially popular with the men in town. It’s been years since that horrible night, a night Lucy can’t remember anything about, and she has since moved to LA and started a new life.

But now the phenomenally huge hit true crime podcast "Listen for the Lie," and its too-good looking host Ben Owens, have decided to investigate Savvy’s murder for the show’s second season. Lucy is forced to return to the place she vowed never to set foot in again to solve her friend’s murder, even if she is the one that did it.


Everyone thinks Lucy murdered her best friend Savvy, but Lucy is completely in the dark about what happened that night.

Listen For The Lie is told by Lucy in first person, which I really enjoyed, I sometimes get tired of thee multi POV trend that is so popular right now, many authors tend to try to push way to many narratives and it gets somewhat confusing trying to keep all the characters straight . Lucy is an unreliable narrator however, due to the head injury she received and her amnesia about the murder. There are chapters between Lucy's that are Ben's podcast LISTEN FOR THE LIE. He was doing research on Savvy's murder. Podcasts in books are very common these days and I am very skeptical about them, but this one worked well in the story and was the perfect addition.

I did love Lucy however, she was funny, sarcastic and best of all snarky, her character alone will keep you reading if nothing else will. I really enjoyed Ben the podcaster, but I think one of my favorite characters in the book is Lucy's grandmother, the narrative between her and Lucy is excellent and well thought out, probably my favorite part of the story.

Along with reading the book, I also listened to the audio, which I highly recommend, the narrators on it were perfection and this as of now is my favorite audio book because of them.

Listen For The Lie is a fast paced read, it is also, suspenseful, exciting, and funny. It is one of those book that will keep you guessing until the end, and even better, it has short chapters, which is always a plus for me! 

A great book for any mystery/thriller reader

Tuesday, April 2, 2024




 Retired caterer Valerie Corbin and her wife Kristen have come to the Big Island of Hawaii to treat themselves to a well-earned tropical vacation. After the recent loss of her brother, Valerie is in sore need of a distraction from her troubles and is looking forward to enjoying the delicious food and vibrant culture the state has to offer.Early one morning, the couple and their friend - tattooed local boy, Isaac - set out to see an active lava flow, and Valerie is mesmerized by the shape-shifting mass of orange and red creeping over the field of black rock. Spying a boot in the distance, she strides off alone, pondering how it could have gotten there, only to realize to her horror that the boot is still attached to a leg - a leg which is slowly being engulfed by the hot lava. Valerie's convinced a murder has been committed - but as she's the only witness to the now-vanished corpse, who's going to believe her?Determined to prove what she saw, and get justice for the unknown victim, Valerie launches her own investigation. But, thrown into a Hawaiian culture far from the luaus and tiki bars of glossy tourist magazines, she soon begins to fear she may be the next one to end up entombed in shiny black rock . 


Valerie and her wife Kristen are spending their holiday in Hawaii to help Valerie heal from the death of her brother.

One of the first things they do is visit an active volcano where Valerie sees a body almost covered in lava before quickly disappearing. Despite no one really believing her she decides to investigate .

The plot of the story is the body in the lava, the star of the book is Hawaii itself. The scenery, the language, the food and the culture is all expertly described and written, the entire time I read I could practically feel the sand between my ties and the soothing sea breezes in my hair.

When I was growing up, my father was in a Navy, for five of those years he was stationed in Hawaii and I have also since visited with my husband, so reading Molten Death was such a treat for me, bringing back memories of the Pidgin and the places, and had me instantly wanting to make another trip over. 

For people who may not understand the Pidgin and Hawaiian terms in the story, and there are a lot of this in the book, because it is the way the islanders speak, Karst has provided a very helpful glossary at the end of the book that I know will be very helpful to many readers. Oh, and also she included recipes of the wonderful food in the book. I think this is the perfect read to plan you a little luau this summer in your back yard!

Oh yeah, there is also a mystery in this book, two actually, one with the volcano and another about some missing avocados. It is a very cozy mystery that includes some low key investigating and small bits of action. The characters in the book are plentiful and some are rather shady, but I also found most are likable to at least a point. Every thing wraps up nice and tidy at the end and sets the stage for the couple to move to the island and possibly find a few more mysteries, after all it is the first in a new series by the author.

Molten Death is a fast read, and it is a fun read, so grab it find a hammock and dream of the warm summer ahead...then go ahead and plan a trip, this book will have you wanting to visit Hawaii!

Monday, February 26, 2024



A gorgeous debut, laced through with magic, following four generations of women as they seek to chart their own futures. Evangeline Hussey’s husband is dead―lost at sea―and she has only managed to hold on to his Nantucket inn by employing a curious gift to glimpse and re-form the recent memories of those around her. One night, an idealistic sailor appears on her doorstep asking her to call him Ishmael, and her careful illusion begins to fracture. He soon sails away with Ahab to hunt an infamous white whale, and Evangeline is left to forge a life from the pieces that remain.

Her choices ripple through generations, across continents, and into the depths of the sea, in a narrative that follows Evangeline and her descendants from mid-nineteenth century Nantucket to Boston, Brazil, Florence, and Idaho.


I am one of those people who read Moby Dick without having too. That is right, I picked it up on my own, without a teacher telling me I HAD to read it. I also really enjoyed it. So when I read the description of Tara Karr Roberts Wild and Distant Sea, it caught my attention instantly and I knew I needed to read it.

Wild and Distant Seas takes on a different search then Moby Dick, it is the search for the famous Ishmael of the original story, not the legendary white whale, and the search is conducted by his females decedents. If you have read Moby Dick will might recognize Evangeline Hussey as the Inn Keeper. Wild and Distant Seas begins with her and Ishmael and travels with a bit of magical realism through his and hers female line.

Roberts has written and impressive debut with this one. It is choked full of rich historic detail and beautiful characters that are woven flawlessly throughout the generations. This alone will keep you reading and turning those pages to learn the characters unforgettable stories.

This was a fantastic story, I can not stress that enough, and it was a joy to get lost in . The writing will transport you to the locations and time periods and you will live in them. If you like Historical Fiction, literary fiction, or just take offs of stories you have read in the past, pick up the Wild and Distant Seas. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024



Georgiana Milford may be a wealthy heiress without title, but even she has her limits. It’s vexing enough to be courted by every fortune-hunting noble during the Season—goodness, you’d think she was hiding a gold mine beneath her skirts! But this is not to be condoned. Because during a merry two-week party at a lord’s country home, she’s forced to endure her father’s greatest enemy and the most wretched duke in all of England: the Duke of Despots.

Theo St. Clair has hardly been the Seventh Duke of Desborough long enough to straighten his cravat, yet the ton are already nipping at his bootstraps. Starting with the Milford family who are convinced he’s exactly like his blaggard of a father. Unfortunately, nothing tempts the scoundrel in him more than the prospect of kissing the prim-and-proper-ness right off Georgiana Milford’s lovely lips...

Now they’re trapped together, forced to wear polite smiles while they trade acidic barbs and pretend to ignore the growing tension charging the air between them. But while there is danger in ruin, it’s the devastating secret her family has been hiding that will shatter Georgiana’s world…


I can still remember the first Historical Romance book I read, it was Kathleen Woodiwiss's Shanna. Anyone remember her? Back in the day of the ripped notice covers? Showing my age I am sure! I worked in Washington DC at the time and rode the train, the line ( orange ) that I rode seemed to have readers on it and many times when they finished a book they would leave it on the seat for the next reader to pick up ...that is where I found Shanna. I thought what a great way to pass the time while I set there. I found that I enjoyed a bit of romance mixed in with my thrillers and I began sprinkling it into my reading...when I needed a break from what I was reading or I just needed something different. They were, and still are fun, and entertaining, and for the most part light.

How ( Not ) To Hate A Duke, the newest book by Jennifer Haymore was my recovering from surgery book. I wanted something that would keep me entertained, but also something that would not tax my steroid and pain meds brain. I didn't want to have to think about what was going on, or try to figure out a puzzle, and this book was absolutely perfection for that.

The Milford's and The St. Clairs live on adjoining estates, Daughter Georgina ( Milford ) and the new Duke Desborough have grown up hating each other due to a feud between the family. They are thrown together at a country house get away, where they get a chance to know each other. 

I loved the characters in How ( Not ) To Hate A Duke, Georgina was sweet but she was also a strong woman. I loved the way that Haymore made her progressive, not a weak whiny lady of the time. Theo was of course a swoon worthy Duke, he was moody and had a quiet demeanor  that could come off as aloof or even at times, sad. Haymore knew how to make the sparks fly between the two, you often felt the tension between them, but you could also feel the thaw as it unfolded.

The story was well written and entertaining. It was easy to read and quick paced. It also had everything I needed and want in a Historical Romance ...enemies to lovers, probably one of my favorite romance tropes. The men in waistcoats, tight britches, and tall riding boots, women in fanciful gowns, parlor games...oh could they get steamy, and of course family secrets and drama.

Was How ( Not ) To Hate A Duke predictable? Yep, most, if not all romance books are. I think it is why I love them, they give me some sense of comfort, 90 percent of them give me a happy ending and the rest will rip the soul and heart out of my chest. Even at that, I love them.

So for my romance readers out there..pick up How ( Not ) To Hate A Duke, it is a fun, heartfelt, lightly steamy read, and if you are not a romance reader, it would make a great palette cleanser between your regular reads if needed. I can't wait to go on a search for more Jennifer Haymore books!

Friday, February 2, 2024

Book Review: One Big Happy Family By Jamie Day


The Precipice is a legendary, family-owned hotel on the rocky coast of Maine. With the recent passing of their father, the Bishop sisters--Iris, Vicki, and Faith--have come for the weekend to claim it. But with a hurricane looming and each of the Bishop sisters harboring dangerous secrets, there's murder in the air-- and not everyone who checks into the Precipice will be checking out.  

Each sister wants what is rightfully hers, and in the mix is the Precipe's nineteen-year-old chambermaid Charley Kelley: smart, resilient, older than her years, and in desperate straits.

The arrival of the Bishop sisters could spell disaster for Charley. Will they close the hotel? Fire her? Discover her habit of pilfering from guests? Or even worse, learn that she's using a guest room to hide a woman on the run. 


Charley is a maid at a historic Maine hotel named Precipe, one that has been in the same family for years. She lives on the grounds in a small almost closet like room to save money and pay for her grandmothers nursing care. When the owner, George dies, his three daughters and their families defend upon the hotel for the reading of the will, during a hurricane no less.  Charley is worried about her job, will they fire her if they find out her secret, worse yet will they find the local girl that Charley has hiding in the hotel rent free, and also will she be able to pay for her grandmothers care if she loses her job, should the sisters decide to shut down the hotel.

This book started out very strong for me. I enjoy a good lock room mystery/suspence, especially if you throw in some morally gray characters, and this book had plenty of those. The setting was great, an old hotel on the rocky shores of Maine. It was moody, mysterious, and with the hurricane baring down on them, it felt dangerous.

However, I really liked none of the characters in the story. The sisters especially, were just vile and unlikable, even main character Charley had several things I found I really unliked about her, especially her obsession with peoples looks that seems to occupy most pages in the book. Bree, the girl that Charley was hiding in the hotel , to quote Taylor Swift “ I knew you were trouble when you walked in“

The book was divided into four parts, and the parts each had short chapters, which is always a plus in my book, mostly because I have a hard time closing a book in the middle of a chapter. I will say, I thought the book went on longer than it needed and I got bored with it near the half way mark. There were a lot of family in the book, with a lot of backstories, much I felt was not always necessary to the story.

There was a few good twists in the book, but I felt the ending was predictable  and ended rather quickly.

One Big Happy Family had all the trappings  of a great mystery, but to me it missed the mark, however if you are a fan of a lock room mysteries, don’t overlook this one, it might just be the summer read you are wanting.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Book Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner


Goodreads Overview:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

Jacque's Review:

I selected this book because it was a 2020 Goodreads choice nominee for best historical fiction and best debut novel, but primarily because I needed a book that started with J for last year's A-Z reading challenge. I read a couple of Jane Austen's books when I was in high school, but I can't say that I am a huge fan. Not because I didn't enjoy her books, I just haven't read any recently and don't remember much of the content. 

The story takes place in a small town in England where Austen lived and wrote her famous novels. A few locals plus an American actress, who is a huge Jane Austen fan, decide to establish a society and museum to help preserve her home and legacy. I really enjoyed seeing how they bonded over their shared love of Austen's novels. This diverse group of characters were able to help each other through some challenging times. This never would have happened if they hadn't stumbled across each other due to their shared love of Jane Austen. It really shows the importance of connecting with others in some way versus trying to deal with life's struggles on your own. Each was coping ineffectively with their struggles but was able to come out on top thanks to the help of these new friendships. 

There were a number of quotes and references to her works, which I couldn't fully appreciate since it has been so long since I have read her novels. That, however, did not diminish my appreciation of this story. If anything, it encouraged me to read some of her books in the future. I'm sure Jane Austen fans will love this story, but you certainly do not have to be a fan to appreciate the message. There are references to the famous author's life and works, but it is more about survival and overcoming adversity.