‘Crowned and Dangerous’ by Rhys Bowen

cad-rbSTORY: Nothing is simple when you’re thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, least of all marriage. But with love on their side, and plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O’Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules…

With Darcy driving me out of London in a borrowed motor car, I soon discover that he isn’t planning to introduce me to the pleasures of sinning in secret—as I had hoped—but to make me his wife!

Of course, there are some quibbles to be dealt with, such as my needing special permission from the King to marry a Roman Catholic and the question of where we might live after the honeymoon. Though he will inherit a title, Darcy is as broke as I am. Even his family’s Irish castle has been sold to a rich American who now employs Darcy’s father as a hired hand.

Throwing these cares to the wind, nothing could deter us from our mission—except perhaps the news that my future father-in-law has just been arrested. It seems the rich American was murdered and Darcy’s father had more than enough motive to do the deed. With the elopement postponed, we head for Ireland where he insists he’s innocent, and it’s up to us to prove it—for better or worse.

REVIEW: November 1934

Lady Georgina (Georgie) Rannock and the Honorable Darcy O’Mara are in a motor car heading north from London having just attended the wedding of Princess Marina to the Duke of Kent. Now, Georgie and Darcy are headed to Gretna Green to be married.

When a snowstorm stops them followed by news that Darcy’s father has been charged with murder, once again Georgie and Darcy must go their separate ways.

Back in London, Georgie receives a phone call from Darcy who breaks off their engagement. As she is 35th in line to the British crown, Darcy does not want to risk her reputation by having her involved with him. Georgie refuses to accept this and travels to Darcy’s family home, Kilkenny Castle, in Ireland.

Darcy’s father had been overwhelmed with financial problems and agreed to sell the family Castle to a wealthy American while Mr. Darcy remained the head of the stables with an excellent line of horses. After the death of a horse from doping before a race, the American fired Mr. Darcy. Shortly after, the American was found clubbed to death and the club had Mr. Darcy’s fingerprints on it.

Now, it is up to Darcy, Georgie, other family members and friends to try and find the true killer. Thus, we begin yet another adventure in Ireland and the countryside.

I have followed this series for a long time and have read most of the author’s Royal Spyness Mystery series. These are great characters and the story is always a good mystery. I highly recommend the entire series.

Connie for b2b

‘The Couple Next Door’ by Shari Lapena

tcnd-slSTORY: You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?  

REVIEW: Anne and Marco Conti live next to Cynthia and Graham. Cynthia is flirting heavily with Marco at a dinner party. Anne has drunk more than she should – as all of them have. But Anne can’t help but wonder if Marco and Cynthia are having an affair. Mother of a 6-month-old baby girl, Cora, Anne is fighting postpartum depression. Since their neighbors have no children, they asked Anne and Marco to leave the baby at home. Since the baby sitter cancelled at the last minute, they reluctantly leave the baby in her crib and take the monitor returning to check on her every half hour. But when they return home at the end of the night, they find the front door unlocked and the crib empty.

Detective Rasback is working the case and knows that in many instances like this, the parents are guilty. Anne’s parents are wealthy and she wonders if someone took the baby for a ransom.

As we delve further into the story, facts slowly emerge – each one bringing a new shock. What really happened to baby Cora? Where is she and who is guilty?

This is a wonderful mystery that keeps the reader glued to the book turning pages. I loved how the author created this story and cannot wait to read more books by her.

Connie for b2b

’39 Bayshore’ by Donna Grisanti

39b-djgSTORY: Carolyn Reynolds’s health problems force her to sell her wildly successful company to avoid scandal if the truth comes out. Her mother’s tragic hit-and-run death plus day-to-day business pressures have overwhelmed her. Her aunts’ solution to relieve Carolyn’s maladies only make matters worse. The dilapidated fixer-upper mansion, Cass, Muriel, and Bee, gift her only comes with more stress-filled problems.

First, two scared teenager vagrants with a baby with nowhere else to go add to meeting the other two lot owners: an ex-con contractor trying to get the job to rebuild Bayshore and a pastor trying to lessen Carolyn’s problems. Despite initial reservations, Carolyn comes to care about them all, as her own past comes back to haunt her. Her search for her mother’s killer has led someone to renew a dangerous interest in Carolyn’s life.

The two other Bayshore tenants have their own problems. Contractor Shealds Jackson hopes to prove he’s really a good man after a stint in prison tarred his name. Pastor Peter Allred aims to move on from a violent incident in his past. Both men will grow closer to Carolyn as murder and mayhem threaten to destroy, not rebuild, their lives.

REVIEW: The story opens with Attorney Lucas Crandall enjoying a dinner left for him by his housekeeper. He hears a noise and the next day he is found shot to death. He had been ready to crack a cold case.

Carolyn Reynolds is flying to see a home her three aunts have purchased for her with stock settlement money from her firm that has just force-sold. Already a very wealthy woman, she truly does not need this home.

Carolyn’s mission has been to try and track down the driver who killed her mother in a hit-and-run five years ago. Her aunts have been her protectors since she lost her mother. Now, they are going with her to help renovate the place they bought for her.

At age 35, Carolyn knows she should concentrate on finding a husband and starting a family, but her all-consuming need is to solve the cold case and find her mother’s killer. In addition to her excessive worry over her mother, she has health problems.

The aunts broke the property into three parts and sold one to a group of three ex-convicts who have a construction business and the other to a minister/psychologist with a “past.”

As these new neighbors come together, but how will they all get along?

When the book first starts, it appears that it might be interesting, but the addition of more and more layers of characters and plots, left me somewhat confused. Too many characters in a book is one of my pet peeves and that is why I gave the book a lower rating.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Arrowood’ by Laura McHugh

a lmchSTORY: A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds

Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.

Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.

REVIEW: At age 8, Arden Arrowood was there the day her twin sisters, Violet and Tabitha, just under 2 years of age, vanished. Arden said they were kidnapped by a man in a gold car. At the time, her family was living at Arrowood. Now at age 25, after the death of her father, Arden finds that she has inherited Arrowood, the huge family home built many years ago and located on a bluff on the Mississippi River in the town of Keokuk. Once a very prosperous town with large mansions, it has lost many businesses and become rather rundown. No one has lived in Arrowood since the family moved away not long after the disappearance of the twins. After an exhaustive search, the authorities were never able to find the girls.

Moving back to the home reopens many memories of Arden’s childhood there and makes her even more determined to find out what happened to her sisters. She meets Josh whose goal in life is to solve cold cases. The information he shares reopens old wounds but also makes her question more things. Her childhood friend and next door neighbor, Ben, still lives in town as does his mother. As the Arrowood family has been a part of the town for well over 100 years, they are well known and there is a lot of history here.

We meet people from the past and wonder if they know anything about the disappearance of the girls. The house itself is rather spooky but Arden is not afraid to live there. As more clues come to light, we think we know who was responsible.

I suspected the truth at one time but other clues seemed to knock that out. Do come and read this enthralling story and see if you can solve the mystery. It will truly keep you guessing right up to the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope other readers will as well.

Connie for b2b

 

‘Most Wanted’ by Lisa Scottoline

mw lsSTORY: When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well.

Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor – the biological father of the child she is carrying.

Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth.

REVIEW: Christine Nilsson has been a teacher at Nutmeg Hill Elementary School for 8 years and is preparing to leave her job. Now that she is finally pregnant, she wants to be a full-time Mom. She and her husband, Marcus, have tried for 3 years for this to happen. An architectural engineer, he owns his own firm. Finding out that he is infertile and after counseling and lots of thought, they decide to go with a sperm donor with physical traits matching their own. The insemination works and Christine immediately gets pregnant. When selecting a donor, they see his current picture and read some answers to questions that were posed to him. He is known only to them as Donor 3319. But when on a newsflash, she recognizes a newly captured serial killer of nurses as her future baby’s father, she is shocked.

It turns out that sperm donors are not given psychological testing like egg donors are so Christine and Marcus fear that their baby could carry the donor father’s genes with a tendency toward mental health issues. While Marcus sympathizes with Christine, she does not feel he totally understands her worry and so she sets out on a venture to meet the accused killer and see if he actually is Donor 3319.

We follow her and she and her friend, Lauren, travel to the prison where he is being held and by saying they are free-lance writers, get to visit with him. She is convinced he is innocent and then undertakes to prove his innocence.

The story becomes quite involved with all of the people with direct knowledge of the nurse killed. The author has obviously researched this situation in great depth the information she passes along in the novel is fascinating.

I enjoyed the story and especially liked Lauren. She is what one truly calls a best friend. My second favorite character is Griff. What a lovable teddy bear.

I not only enjoyed a great novel that kept me on the edge of my seat right through to the end, but I also learned a lot as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘A Royal Pain’ by Rhys Bowen

arp rbSTORY: The Queen of England has concocted a plan in which Georgie is to entertain a Bavarian princess? and conveniently place her in the playboy Prince’s path, in the hopes that he might finally marry.

But queens never take money into account. Georgie has very little, which is why she moonlights as a maid-in-disguise. She must draw up plans: clean house to make it look like a palace; have Granddad and her neighbor pretend to be the domestic staff; un-teach Princess Hanni the English she’s culled from American gangster movies; cure said Princess of her embarrassing shoplifting habit; and keep an eye on her at parties.

Then there’s the worrying matter of the body in the bookshop and Hanni’s unwitting involvement with the Communist Party. It’s enough to drive a girl crazy…

REVIEW: Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch is the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a cousin to His Majesty, the current King.  While that sounds quite glamorous, unfortunately, Georgie has very little money and is always trying to keep up appearances and be at the beck and call of the Queen.  So, when she is summoned to Buckingham Palace for tea with the Queen, she knows she has a job for her.

Bavarian Princess Maria Theresa Hannelore Wilhelmina Mathilda (Hanni) has just come out of a convent where she has been schooled.  The Queen has invited her to England in hopes of pairing her up with her son, Prince David, and getting him away from Wallis Simpson.  The Queen has asked Georgie to take Hanni under her wing and show her around London.  As one can never say no to the Queen, Georgie agrees and then almost panics when she wonders where she will find the money to do all of this.  Ah, but Georgie is a very smart gal and she comes up with a plan.  She gets her brother to let her use Rannoch House in London along with some funds to run it.  Then, she enlists her grandfather’s and his friend’s help to act as butler and cook.

When Hanni arrives, Georgie is taken aback by the vocabulary she has learned by watching American gangster movies.  Hanni wants to cut loose by going to parties and enjoying wonderful restaurants.  But Hanni’s companion poses problems as well with her constant complaining about the food and accommodations.

Georgie takes Hanni to some parties where there is a lot of drinking and then to a house and garden party outside of London.  During this time, Hanni meets a young man who is advocating the Communist party which is not good at all.  When people start dying, things turn frightening so Georgie dons her sleuth hat to try to find the murderer.

This is the second of Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series.  I’ve read several books in the series and each of them is wonderful.  I hope to complete reading all of the series.

Connie for b2b

‘Malice at the Palace’ by Rhys Bowen

matp rbSTORY: Lady Georgiana Rannoch won’t deny that being thirty-fifth in line for the British throne has its advantages. Unfortunately, money isn’t one of them. And sometimes making ends meet requires her to investigate a little royal wrongdoing.

While my beau Darcy is off on a mysterious mission, I am once again caught between my high birth and empty purse. I am therefore relieved to receive a new assignment from the Queen—especially one that includes lodging. The King’s youngest son, George, is to wed Princess Marina of Greece, and I shall be her companion at the supposedly haunted Kensington Palace.

My duties are simple: help Marina acclimate to English life, show her the best of London and, above all, dispel any rumors about George’s libertine history. Perhaps that last bit isn’t so simple.

George is known for his many affairs with women as well as men—including the great songwriter Noel Coward. But things truly get complicated when I search the Palace for a supposed ghost only to encounter an actual dead person: a society beauty said to have been one of Prince George’s mistresses.

Nothing spoils a royal wedding more than murder, and the Queen wants the whole matter hushed. But as the investigation unfolds—and Darcy, as always, turns up in the most unlikely of places—the investigation brings us precariously close to the prince himself.

REVIEW: London – 1934

Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch is the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a cousin to His Majesty, the current King.  Her life sounds quite glamorous, but actually not so much.  Too often, she finds herself without funds and reduced to existing on eating beans on toast.  Ah, but things are looking up for her when she is summoned by Queen Mary to come for tea.  There, she was asked to move into Kensington Palace for a time to be a friend to Princess Marina who is to be arriving in London soon to prepare for her wedding to Prince George.  Georgie happily agrees and knows she will enjoy showing her around London.

As it turns out, the area of the Palace where she will stay is a bit small and somewhat shabby.

She has also brought her maid, Queenie, with her.  Poor Queenie tries but she is much too lazy and sassy.  However, Georgie would feel bad if she fired her.  In addition, she gets away with paying her the minimum which is all she can afford.  The Palace is known for its ghosts which don’t frighten Georgie but terrifies Queenie.

Georgie quickly settles in and is delighted with the sweet and lovely Princess Marina and together they enjoy shopping, lunches at nice places and soirees with famous people such as Noel Coward.  But when Georgie finds a woman’s body just outside the Palace doors, she gets involved with the police in trying to find the killer.  Georgie has a lot of experience with this because as it happens, this is not the first time she has encountered murder.

Life gets quite busy for her trying to hide the incident from upsetting the Princess and other royals while trying to solve the mystery herself.  She wishes that her boyfriend, the Honorable Darcy O’Mara, the son of Lord Kilhenny, was here.  A handsome man, they have been in a relationship for sometime now and Darcy keeps saying that soon they will be able to get married.  But his covert background is so hush-hush that finding time to even be together for a short time is difficult.  But Georgie remains patient.

As time for the wedding nears, things get a bit tense when it seems that Prince George himself could be a suspect!

I absolutely love the author’s Royal Spyness Mystery Series.  This is the eighth book in the series.  The name dropping and humor always leave me snorting in laughter!  I hope others will discover these books and enjoy them as well.

Connie for b2b