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Leave It To Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Leave It to Cleaver (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Book 6)Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Book 6
Publication Date: June 23, 2017

Delightfully entertaining, well-written, and an interesting and exciting plot. What more could you ask for in a mystery? It literally keeps you guessing right to the end.

For me, this is Jaymie’s ‘coming of age’ story. As I was reading through the book, I kept feeling as if the author was saying goodbye and was tying up loose ends. I even wondered if this might be the last book in the series. However, I think that feeling of goodbye is more a goodbye to the youth and immaturity present in the previous books. I can’t wait to see where our more mature and settled Jaymie takes us. (Yes, there will be more books – I asked.)

Jaymie Layton doesn’t have a regular nine-to-five job. She has many jobs and businesses and even manages to fit volunteer work into her busy schedule. She also seems to manage to fit murder investigations into her schedule as well. That is a good thing because it seems she just keeps finding dead bodies.

Living in the same town (and house) where she was born and grew up is perfect for Jaymie who is an introvert and has trouble being the center of attention. She has no desire to live anywhere else. She also has a diverse set of very good friends and a much wider set of close acquaintances, which makes investigating murders much easier.

Those same good friends are also handling the planning for her upcoming marriage to Jakob. Jamie is so in love with him and his little daughter and can hardly believe her good fortune. She’s had a number of love interests in the past, but none of them were right for her – some were actual jerks. Jakob is a definite keeper.

There are so many things going on in Jaymie’s life that she hardly knows whether she’s coming or going. So, when she and her sister, Becca, discover human remains in a trunk in the basement of an old house they are cleaning out, she is absolutely determined she will not become involved. However, as she learns the identity of the deceased and that it was a high school friend of her sister Becca, she becomes more and more curious. Then, the police chief asks her to see what she can find out about it because she is good friends with many of the people who went to high school with the girl.

Then, there is a second body discovered in the river and the remains are identified as a girl who also disappeared on the same day as the first girl. Undoubtedly their disappearances and deaths are related – but – they weren’t friends and didn’t know each other — or did they?

The investigation takes Jaymie back in time to the 1980’s to learn more about her sister’s high school days. The investigation, reading the diaries of many of those involved, and talking to the friends about those times brings Jaymie and Becca even closer. The investigation takes many twists and turns and you’ll be guessing right up to the end.

One of my favorite parts was the wedding. You could just feel the love in the room and I also felt as if I were in attendance. I loved that the little dog was the ring bearer!

I did wish there was more of Jakob in the book and that he was involved in the investigation – at least a little. While the love between he and Jaymie was plain to see, it almost seemed like they were each doing their separate things and never the twain shall meet. Maybe in future books, he’ll be more involved because then they will be living in the same house.

Another thing I thought was odd and unworkable, especially with a young child, was their intention to live part of the year in Jaymie’s house and part of the year in Jakob’s house. I know they both love their homes and neither wants to give theirs up, but the switching all the time would seem to be unworkable to me.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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Blackthorne’s Bride by Joan Johnston

Blackthorne's Bride (Mail-Order Brides #4)Blackthorne’s Bride by Joan Johnston

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars  (Actually 3.5 Stars)

Series: Mail Order Brides #4
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

My rating would actually be 3.5, but I rounded up to 4 because I really did enjoy the story.

The story follows Marcus Wharton, Duke of Blackthorne and American Josie Wentworth. It has a really exciting beginning with Marcus and his best friend coming upon a Sioux renegade whipping a young woman (Josie) who is tied to a post and stripped to the waist. She’s almost dead and Marcus rescues her. Marcus is fascinated by the girl’s bravery and instead of leaving her in the care of someone in America, he brings her aboard the ship he is taking back to England. However, when he gets there, he turns the arrangements for her care and eventual return to America up to his best friend. Since Marcus is marrying his best friend’s sister as soon as they return to England, he doesn’t want his rescue of the girl to cause any issue with Fanny – his betrothed. Things really go awry from there – Fanny dies, Josie has been virtually imprisoned on one of Marcus’ properties (without his knowledge), Marcus’ estate is bankrupt and he has to marry an heiress. The rest of the story is filled with Marcus and Josie getting together and falling in love. I won’t give you a step-by-step because that will spoil the story for you.

What didn’t I like?

  • The author really needed to do more research. Evidently, she normally writes westerns or contemporary novels and that is probably why this book just doesn’t ‘feel’ right for the time period and the place. A couple of examples of where more research would help.
    • Marcus is NOT a royal duke, but the author mentions that over and over and over in the book. In order to be a ROYAL DUKE he must be the son or grandson of the current reigning monarch and the story doesn’t say anything about that at all.
    • Spencer and Clay are not Lord’s. As children of a second son, they would be plain Spencer and Clay. They do not have an honorific.
  • The regular use of the term ‘mail order bride’. That is a common American term, and I understand that is the name of the series, but it isn’t a normally used term in England and therefore, the Duke wouldn’t think of himself as marrying a mail order bride. He would think in terms of him having a marriage of convenience.
  • I didn’t like Fanny – and maybe I wasn’t supposed to. She is supposed to be this ethereal, sweet, and angelic (too good to be true??) person, but she does some pretty rotten things.
  • The ending/solution just felt rushed to me. I could have done with less of the book on the American part of the family and more on the resolution of the issues between Josie and Marcus.

What did I like?

  • I absolutely LOVED the epilogue – it was a great wrap-up for the story.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

View all my reviews

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