The Request

The Request by David Bell

Published:  June 30, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Ryan Francis has it all—great job, wonderful wife, beautiful child—and he loves posting photos of his perfect life on social media. Until the night his friend Blake asks him to break into a woman’s home to retrieve incriminating items that implicate Blake in an affair. Ryan refuses to help, but when Blake threatens to reveal Ryan’s darkest secret—which could jeopardize everything in Ryan’s life—Ryan has no choice but to honor Blake’s request.

When he arrives at the woman’s home, Ryan is shocked to find her dead—and just as shocked to realize he knows her. Then his phone chimes, revealing a Facebook friend request from the woman. With police sirens rapidly approaching, Ryan flees, wondering why his friend was setting him up for murder.
 
Determined to keep his life intact and to clear his name, Ryan must find the real murderer—but solving the crime may lead him closer to home than he ever could have imagined. (publisher)

My take:  The Request is a story of what happens when the past doesn’t stay in the past. In these days of social media the past is only a click away. Ryan thought his friend Blake was one of those people you’re friends with during a certain time of your life. They were roommates in college and share a secret from those days. With a wife and new baby, life is good for Ryan – until Blake contacts him with a specific request. It’s a request Ryan can’t refuse if he wants things to stay the way they are. Ryan’s life might look perfect on Facebook but it could easily get very messy.

This was a twisty mystery! I loved the short chapters that kept me reading “just one more” until I finished (in one day). The Request is the first of David Bell’s books I’ve read and I look forward to checking out his backlist.


 

How The Penguins Saved Veronica

How The Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior

Published:  June 16, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Eighty-five-year-old Veronica McCreedy is estranged from her family and wants to find a worthwhile cause to leave her fortune to. When she sees a documentary about penguins being studied in Antarctica, she tells the scientists she’s coming to visit—and won’t take no for an answer. Shortly after arriving, she convinces the reluctant team to rescue an orphaned baby penguin. He becomes part of life at the base, and Veronica’s closed heart starts to open. 

Her grandson, Patrick, comes to Antarctica to make one last attempt to get to know his grandmother. Together, Veronica, Patrick, and even the scientists learn what family, love, and connection are all about. (publisher)

My take:  How the Penguins Saved Veronica is a lovely story about Veronica McCreedy. She’s on a mission to see penguins up close after watching a television documentary. No one can tell the octogenarian no because once she’s made up her mind there will be no argument. Veronica also wants to meet and get to know her grandson – someone she’s only recently discovered. The two will learn about each other’s past and could possibly grow to be close. This is a delightfully quirky story that had me laughing much of the time. There are also some deeply emotional scenes that gave depth to Veronica and Patrick. I enjoyed it all and loved the message spoken to Veronica by her father when she was a young girl: “There are three types of people in this world, Very. There are those who make the world worse, those who make no difference and those who make the world better. Be one who makes the world better, Very, if you can.”


 

Always The Last To Know

Always The Last To Know by Kristan Higgins

Published:  June 9, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb and John, married almost fifty years, are testy and bored with each other…who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters– Barb’s favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; and John’s darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn’t be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down.

Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher and struggling artist in New York on hold to come back and care for her beloved dad–and face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, and who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, and her two perfect daughters, she’s spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks.

And now Barb and John will finally have to face what’s been going on in their marriage all along.  (publisher)

My take:  Always the Last to Know is the story of the Frost family. Parents Barb and John are unhappy and not thinking about celebrating their upcoming 50th anniversary. Older daughter Juliet lives what most would consider a perfect life so what’s with the frequent panic attacks? Younger daughter Sadie chases her dream of being an artist but pays the bills by teaching art at a grade school and taking orders for sofa paintings. She’s committed to living in New York for her art and that has impacted her personal life more than once. When John suffers a stroke the family is forced to decide what is truly important in their lives. I didn’t think this family seemed typical at all. Most of the time I was annoyed and frustrated by the Frosts and the other characters. It could be where I am in my life – who knows. I’ve enjoyed many of Higgins’ books but something seemed missing in this one.


 

Rough Creek

Rough Creek by Kaki Warner

Expected publication:  July 7, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

After serving eighteen months in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Dalton Cardwell is looking for a fresh start. What better place than Whitcomb Four Star Ranch? He doesn’t regret the decisions of his past–he’d choose the same roads again. But now all Dalton wants is to keep his head down and focus on the horses–and on Raney Whitcomb.

Raney is outraged when she learns her mother hired an ex-con. Raney has worked hard for the ranch, sacrificing her personal life for the dream of building on her family’s legacy. But as Dalton breaks down every misconception and even wins the good opinion of her sisters, Raney is forced to rethink her stance–and finally free herself to explore the heart-pounding tension that simmers between them. (publisher)

My take:  I’m always happy to get in at the start of a series so I didn’t hesitate to read Rough Creek – book one in Kaki Warner’s Brides of Rough Creek series. It’s a contemporary series about a Texas family who own a ranch that specializes in breeding horses. 60 year-old matriarch Coralee Whitcomb decides its time to travel and see the world. Daughter Raney is in charge of running the ranch but before Coralee leaves for a cruise she hires a new horse trainer, Dalton Cardwell. Dalton is fresh out of prison after serving eighteen months for a crime he didn’t commit but chose not to challenge when charged. Raney is appalled at her mom’s decision to hire him but decides to give him a chance. Both Raney and Dalton notice an attraction almost from the start so it was  amusing to watch that situation play out as Raney tried to deny it. Dalton was easy to cheer on – such an honorable man. And Raney was just as honorable if a bit more stubborn. I enjoyed their story and the setting. There’s a lot of horse competition detail so readers who love horses will find that aspect interesting. I’ll be on the watch for book two! 


 

Spotlight: Belladonna by Anbara Salam

Belladonna by Anbara Salam

Berkley Hardcover; June 9, 2020

Spotlight content courtesy of the publisher 

Description:


About the author:

Anbara Salam is half-Palestinian and half-Scottish, and grew up in London. She has a PhD in Theology and now lives in Oxford.

The Closer You Get

The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher; NetGalley

Description:

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love—but they’re married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start a new life together. Ruby has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, so she tells him she’s leaving and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby has lost everything. Harry won’t answer her calls, and she’s fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she’s hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen—someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night—and she is going to have to fight for her survival. (publisher)

My take:  I like a domestic suspense from time to time and thought The Closer You Get sounded like a good one. There are Ruby and Tom. She’s become a bit of a doormat and he’s emotionally abusive. It was easy to see why Ruby would find Harry a reason to leave her marriage. There are Harry and Emma. They’ve been married for years and things have grown stale. He’s quite taken with Ruby when she comes to work at his company. They have a plan to be together but somehow things go wrong and Ruby ends up alone. The novel moves between Ruby and Emma’s POV. I liked that just when I thought I knew how things would play out the author threw a curve ball and the story went down a new path. I appreciated the nod to Gaslight – a film I now want to see again after many decades. All told, The Closer You Get is a fast paced, suspenseful novel that I read in a couple of days. I’ll definitely look for Mary Torjussen’s previous books.


 

Spotlight: Master Class

Master Class by Christina Dalcher

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

Publisher’s Description:

It’s impossible to know what you will do…

Every child’s potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it’s off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

When your child is taken from you.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena’s perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.

And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.


About the author:

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in more than one hundred journals worldwide. Recognition includes first place for the Bath Flash Award, nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband.

 

Photo credit: Laurens Arenas

Buy links:

 


Early Praise for Master Class:

“The book’s examination of the way people will accept more and more small social changes until the system becomes something unrecognizable and horrific feels timely and urgent…top notch and keeps the reader guessing. An engaging parable of dangerous social change.”⁠—Kirkus Reviews

“Dalcher combines the pace and tension of a standout thriller with thought-provoking projections of the possible end result of ranking children based on test scores. Admirers of The Handmaid’s Tale will be appropriately unsettled.”⁠—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Dalcher’s novel reads like an expanded episode of Black Mirror; it is terrifying, haunting, and cautionary.”Booklist


 

Review/US Giveaway: The Big Finish

The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey

Published:  April 14, 2020 – Berkley

Book courtesy of Berkley

Description:

Meet Duffy, an old curmudgeon who lives in an assisted living home.

Meet Josie, a desperate young woman who climbs through his window.

Together, they’re going to learn it’s never too late—or too early—to change your ways.

For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home…or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy.

In a funny, insightful, and life-affirming debut, Brooke Fossey delivers an unflinching look at growing old, living large, and loving big, as told by a wise-cracking man who didn’t see any of it coming. (publisher)

My take: This is the story of a group of octogenarians at an assisted-living residence. They are under the constant threat of being sent to the full-care nursing home where they know they will wither and die. I fell in love with these colorful characters, especially after a young woman climbed through the window of Carl and Duffy’s room bringing all kinds of trouble with her. I’m a firm believer that God places people in our life when we most need them – the task is to see them and either help them or allow them to help us. It’s a life-affirming process and Brooke Fossey’s novel drove that point home. I loved the ending even though it left me in tears (mostly happy).


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Who Rescued Who

Who Rescued Who by Victoria Schade

Published:  March 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The plan was simple: Elizabeth would ignore the fact that she was unjustly fired from her dream job, fly across the pond to settle an unexpected inheritance in her father’s home country and quickly return to reclaim her position among the Silicon Valley elite.

But when Elizabeth stumbles upon an abandoned puppy, she’s shocked to realize that her brief trip to England might turn into an extended stay. Her strict itinerary is upended completely by the pup’s dogged devotion, and soon the loveable puppy helps her to connect with a tight-knit community of new friends on two legs and four, from the aunt and uncle she didn’t know existed, to a grumpy coffee shop owner to two very opinionated sheep. Along the way Elizabeth is confronted by long-kept family secrets, hard truths about her former life and a new romance that might lead her to question everything she knows about love. Because sometimes rescue magic happens on both ends of the leash. (publisher)

My take:  I loved it! At first I wasn’t sure I would because it opened with a scene that had me doing an eye roll but I kept thinking of the dog on the cover and hoped it would be worth sticking with it. I’m so glad I did.

It’s about finding family, friends, a new life when you least expect it. It’s about realizing what’s important, becoming the person you were meant to be. And it’s about becoming a dog’s person. I loved it all.


 

Spotlight: Safe House

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Published:  March 2020 – Berkley

Description:

She’s paid the price for giving her ex a false alibi, and now she’s moved to a seaside village to escape her past–but more than her lie follows her there in this chilling and twisty psychological thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Exes’ Revenge.

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty–or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears. (publisher)


About the author (from the author’s website)

Jo was the winner of the prestigious Friday Night Live competition at York Festival of Writing. Her debut Psychological Thriller was published in the UK as Sticks and Stones by Harvill Secker (Penguin Random House) and as The Exes’ Revenge in the USA and Canada. It was shortlisted for the Best Revenge thriller of the year at the Dead Good Reader Awards. Her second thriller SAFE HOUSE is due October 31,

2019 in the UK and Spring 2020 in America and Canada.

http://www.jojakeman.com

“Jo Jakeman’s assured debut is a revenge thriller…a cracking pace, plenty of twists and some well-judged dark humour.”–The Guardian (UK)


Spotlight: A Murderous Relation

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn

Pub. Date:  March 10, 2020 – Berkley Hardcover

Description:

A royal scandal’s connection to a brutal serial killer threatens London in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from New York Times bestselling and Edgar® Award–nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Autumn 1888. Veronica Speedwell and her colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to stop a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, and the proprietress, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve it from the club before scandal can break. 

Worse yet, London is being terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper—and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.
Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Auroreʼs high-class brothel, where a body soon turns up. Secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family—and it is up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it is too late for all of them. (publisher)

About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Deanna Raybourn is a 6th generation native Texan with a degree in English and history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her novels have been nominated for numerous awards including the Edgar, two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards, the Agatha, two Dilys Winns, and a Last Laugh. She launched a new Victorian mystery series featuring intrepid butterfly hunter and amateur sleuth, Veronica Speedwell, in 2015.


 

The Antidote For Everything by Kimmery Martin

The Antidote For Everything by Kimmery Martin

Published:  February 18, 2020 – Berkley

Digital review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked men, but her romantic prospects have fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina and who has become as close as family to her.

Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah shares startling news. The hospital is instructing doctors to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. Stunned by the predicament of her closest friend, Georgia’s natural instinct is to fight alongside him. But when her attempts to address the situation result in incalculable harm, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers. (publisher)

My take:  Georgia and Jonah are best friends and physicians at a for-profit hospital that has decided to no longer treat transgender patients. Jonah is devastated and Georgia is beyond offended and angry for their patients, for Jonah, and herself.  Kimmery Martin takes her characters on an often convoluted path as they seek to right the wrong decision. I loved Jonah and Georgia and their determination. I cheered them on but found the story kind of clumsy in a few areas. I was unsure why some scenes (in Amsterdam, for example) were included at the time I read them and even more after finishing. They seemed unnecessary. That could be on me because there are a lot of high ratings on various sites so if the publisher’s description sounds good to you I suggest you give it a try. I enjoyed Martin’s first novel (The Queen of Hearts) and will be interested in what she writes next.


 

The Girl In White Gloves

The Girl In White Gloves by Kerri Maher

Expected publication:  February 25, 2020 – Berkley

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real.

Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks—her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back. (publisher)

My take:  Kerri Maher has a knack for taking an historical figure and telling her imagined story. She did it for Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy in The Kennedy Debutante and now gives readers her take on Grace Kelly’s story. From Grace’s strict Catholic upbringing to her years in Hollywood playing opposite some of the biggest stars of the day to becoming Princess Grace of Monaco, Maher’s story is a touching and thought-provoking portrait of a woman who seemed to have it all. Of course, appearances are one thing and reality is another. I found myself often searching online for photos of different aspects of Kelly’s life and I have a list of her movies I want to watch. I think fans of Grace Kelly and books about the days of old Hollywood will enjoy The Girl in White Gloves.


About the author:

Kerri Maher is the author of The Kennedy Debutante, which People magazine described as “a riveting reimagining of a true tale of forbidden love,” and This Is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World under the name Kerri Majors. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and founded YARN, an award-winning literary journal of short-form YA writing. A writing professor for many years, she now writes full time and lives with her daughter and dog in a leafy suburb west of Boston, Massachusetts.

Praise for The Girl In White Gloves:

“With royal families once again in the gossip columns, this will be a good choice for readers curious of the inner life of a royal family. It’s an absorbing take on a complicated life.” —Library Journal

“There is much to relish about this well-researched, riveting tale.” —Booklist

“The stunning and very human story of a beloved icon…. Full of nuance and poignancy—this novel is gorgeous.”— Allison PatakiNew York Times bestselling author of The Queen’s Fortune

“[A] fascinating, deeply researched novel of the extraordinary Grace Kelly … establishes Maher as a true force in biographical fiction.”—Beatriz WilliamsNew York Times bestselling author of The Golden Hour


 

The Vineyards of Champagne; US Giveaway

The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell

Published:  January 21, 2020 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Deep within the labyrinth of caves that lies below the lush, rolling vineyards of the Champagne region, an underground city of women and children hums with life. Forced to take shelter from the unrelenting onslaught of German shellfire above, the bravest and most defiant women venture out to pluck sweet grapes for the harvest. But wine is not the only secret preserved in the cool, dark cellars…

In present day, Rosalyn Acosta travels to Champagne to select vintages for her Napa-based employer. Rosalyn doesn’t much care for champagne–or France, for that matter. Since the untimely death of her young husband, Rosalyn finds it a challenge to enjoy anything at all. But as she reads through a precious cache of WWI letters and retraces the lives lived in the limestone tunnels, Rosalyn will unravel a mystery hidden for decades…and find a way to savor her own life again. (publisher)

My take:  The Vineyards of Champagne is Juliet Blackwell’s story of Rosalyn, a young woman adjusting to life as a widow. The wine seller she works for in Napa sends her to Champagne to obtain new wines from small vineyards. On the flight to France she meets Emma, an Australian woman who shares a remarkable story of the brave people of France during WWI. She asks Rosalyn if she’d like to help solve a mystery that involves the area of Champagne and letters between a soldier, a young woman, and an Australian marraine de guerre (war godmother). This is a story of learning to move forward through grief when it would be so easy not to let go of it. My heart broke for what the French people endured during the war years and yet they continued to bring in the harvest and make the wine. The ability to put one foot in front of the other was inspiring. The Vineyards of Champagne touched my heart and I recommend it to fans of Juliet Blackwell and Historical Fiction.


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Meg and Jo by Virginia Kantra

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

Published:  Dec. 3, 2019 – Berkley

Digital galley courtesy of Berkley and NetGalley

Description: The timeless classic Little Women inspired this heartwarming modern tale of four sisters from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.

The March sisters—reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth—have grown up to pursue their separate dreams. When Jo followed her ambitions to New York City, she never thought her career in journalism would come crashing down, leaving her struggling to stay afloat in a gig economy as a prep cook and secret food blogger.

Meg appears to have the life she always planned—the handsome husband, the adorable toddlers, the house in a charming subdivision. But sometimes getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When their mother’s illness forces the sisters home to North Carolina for the holidays, they’ll rediscover what really matters.

One thing’s for sure—they’ll need the strength of family and the power of sisterhood to remake their lives and reimagine their dreams.  (publisher)

My take: Meg and Jo is inspired by Little Women and not a retelling. That increased my enjoyment of the novel. Honestly, I read and loved Little Women when I was a ‘tween back in the 1960s but I haven’t revisited in the decades since. Virginia Kantra’s story centers around older siblings Meg and Jo. Meg is married with twin toddlers. Jo lives in NYC, writes a food blog and works in a restaurant. Both sisters are trying to stay in control of the moving parts of their lives. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes not so much. Life will change for both when their mother has a health crisis and needs them to take over the running of the farm until she is well again. This is a family story full of the usual dynamics and challenges. When all the siblings come home they fall back into the rolls they had as young girls. There’s a lot of truth in that – at least I could relate. There are twists and turns and things fall into place perhaps a bit too easily but I liked Meg and Jo and look forward to reading Amy and Beth’s story.


 

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas

Published:  October 15, 2019 – Berkley

Digital galley courtesy of Berkley and NetGalley

Description: Charlotte Holmes, Lady Sherlock, is back solving new cases in the Victorian-set mystery series from the USA Today bestselling author of The Hollow of Fear.

As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
 
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
 
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia’s admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake… (publisher)

My take:  Since Sherlock Holmes is always indisposed, his sister Charlotte fills in for him – much to prospective clients’ chagrin. Soon they find the confidence to hire Charlotte to solve their problems.

In a world that adheres to strict social rules life isn’t easy for a young woman on the fringes of society. In The Art of Theft we get to know more about Charlotte’s sister Olivia. She’s a writer and is hoping to finish a Sherlock Holmes mystery. She’s also worried about turning thirty years old with no prospects.

This novel takes Charlotte and her ‘team’ of friends to France in search of a painting and other assorted items that pose a threat to an important client. Sherry Thomas uses subtle humor and great pacing to advance the plot culminating in an exciting event that placed me in the middle of the scene. I loved that! The epilogue foreshadows the next book which made me happy and anticipating where Charlotte and her friends’ next task will take them. Recommended to fans of Sherry Thomas, historical mysteries, and a good story.


 

US Giveaway: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Berkley Hardcover; September 10, 2019

Description:

From the international bestselling author of The Gilded Hour comes Sara Donati’s enthralling epic about two trailblazing female doctors in nineteenth-century New York
 
Obstetrician Dr. Sophie Savard returns home to the achingly familiar rhythms of Manhattan in the early spring of 1884 to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. With the help of Dr. Anna Savard, her dearest friend, cousin, and fellow physician she plans to continue her work aiding the disadvantaged women society would rather forget.
 
As Sophie sets out to construct a new life for herself, Anna’s husband, Detective-Sergeant Jack Mezzanotte calls on them both to consult on two new cases: the wife of a prominent banker has disappeared into thin air, and the corpse of a young woman is found with baffling wounds that suggest a killer is on the loose.  In New York it seems that the advancement of women has brought out the worst in some men. Unable to ignore the plight of New York’s less fortunate, these intrepid cousins draw on all resources to protect their patients. (publisher)


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