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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Addicted to the Duke by Bronwen Evans

Addicted to the Duke (Imperfect Lords, #1)Addicted to the Duke by Bronwen Evans
Release Date: 06/13/17
Series: Imperfect Lords, #1

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC provided to me by Netgalley and the publisher*

4.5 stars

This book opens with Alex, the Duke of Bedford rescuing Lady Hestia Cary. Hestia has been captured by pirates and is about to be handed over to Sultan Murad Bayezid – the very man who captured and enslaved Alex years before.

Fast forward four years – Alex is a recovering opium addict who uses alcohol and sex to quiet his demons. He has been summoned by Hestia on a matter of urgency and as much as he wants to refuse her, he can’t. Hestia is not for him and as much as he wishes that wasn’t the case, he knows that he will never be worthy of her. For the past few years, Alex has avoided Hestia, he knows she has feelings for him, but believes that it is just hero worship and she will eventually move on. Hestia has loved Alex for years, but has come to accept that he is not interested in her. But right now Alex is the only person she can turn to. Her cousin Fredrick is claiming that her father the Earl of Pembroke is dead and that he is the new earl. Hestia knows that her father is not dead but will soon be if she cannot reach him before Fredrick. Alex is the only man familiar enough with both her father and Mediterranean to save him.

When Alex first hears the problem, he feels bound to help, her father is the man that saved him from Murad all those years ago. But when he realizes that he will have to take Hestia with him, he is not sure he can withstand the temptation.

The story that follows is intense, there is action, adventure, steamy love scenes, betrayals, a hero with demons to fight, great secondary characters, pirates and finally a very hard earned HEA.

I thought this book was great, it is a very emotional book and treads more on the dark side than the usual historical romance. I would never consider Alex a lovable hero, he is too fierce and damaged to be lovable, but he is unforgettable, intense, dark and delicious! Hestia is a wonderful heroine, brave, loyal, loving and can hold her own. She is the light to his dark.

I would happily recommend this book and am looking forward to the next installment!

No Perfect Magic By Patricia Rice

No Perfect Magic: Unexpected Magic Book FiveNo Perfect Magic: Unexpected Magic Book Five by Patricia Rice

Barbara Rogers rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Unexpected Magic #6
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Delightfully entertaining and witty with a perfect hero and heroine. Any book that has a beginning paragraph like “Dead meat, lemme, lemme, oh no, heel! Yummy bite, wiggle, flower lady now, please. . .” just has to be a delightful read!

I have loved the entire Unexpected Magic series. Each hero and heroine are perfectly matched to compliment the others ‘powers’. This is another match-up of an Ives male and a Malcom female, so you know sparks fly. It is part of a series but could be read as a stand-alone book. However, I would strongly suggest reading the entire series from beginning to end because it is wonderfully delightful and the characters are so very interesting.

Lady Aurelia is the daughter of a duke. She lives in pampered luxury with lots of love and every material want or desire completely fulfilled. Yet, she is a prisoner in all that luxury. No, she isn’t a physical prisoner but is imprisoned none-the-less. Aurelia has ultra-sensitive hearing and sounds from everywhere bombard her so much that she cannot focus or even carry on a normal conversation. Aurelia stays at their country estate because she cannot tolerate all of the cacophony in London.

William Ives-Madden is the bastard son of a marquess and half-brother to the current marquess. William is quiet, very quiet. He seldom speaks and spends all of his time with the dogs that he trains for others. His dream is to purchase his own property where he could train the dogs rather than traveling all over the country to do it. He also has the lady he plans to marry all picked out. His life is all planned out and set and he’ll have enough money saved to buy the property he wants within the next year. William not only trains the dogs, he ‘communes’ with them. He can read their thoughts and send them commands with his thoughts.

William is training a dog for Aurelia’s father at their country estate when Aurelia comes running out to him just at dusk. She is very upset and says she hears a child crying in great distress and they must hurry to find her. Will hears nothing, but since Aurelia is so distressed, he decides to help her conduct the search. Will sees this as an excellent opportunity to work Argyle (the duke’s dog) further. At first, Argyle cannot pick up the sounds either, but finally, between Argyle and Aurelia, they find a badly injured little girl and her also badly injured pet.

That is how the mystery began – and quite a mystery it is. The search for the little girl is hindered by the fact that she is deaf and mute and very, very frightened. You’ll love the search for her family and what happened to them. It is filled with twists and turns and leaves you guessing right up to the very end!

During the course of their investigations, Aurelia discovers that William has a dampening effect on all of the noise that tortures her life. When Will is around, she can actually focus and carry on a conversation. Will admires Aurelia but knows that there is no chance of him ever being able to marry the daughter of a powerful duke. It would also require him to live in London, which he hates and there wouldn’t be a place to train his dogs. So, what is a girl and guy who have complimentary ‘gifts’ to do? Read the book and you’ll see.

A delightful read that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

“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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The King and His Queen by Donna Fletcher

The King & His Queen (Pict King Series Book 3)The King & His Queen by Donna Fletcher
Release Date: 2/23/17
Series: The Pict King, #3

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great end to this series!

Talon is the Pict King, he is a fair and fearsome warrior who has done the impossible by uniting the Pict tribes, but to secure his position he must marry and sire an heir. He has married twice and neither wife conceived with him, nor have any of the women he frequently beds. His former wives have been remarried and are both pregnant by their new husbands, leading his people to believe that Talon is not able to father children.

Hemera is the sister of Verity (the heroine in The King’s Warrior), she was introduced to us in the previous book and portrayed as a little slow-witted. But in reality, she is anything but slow – she is incredibility observant and sees more than she lets on. She knows people think she is slow, but she uses that to her advantage. She annoys Talon more than any woman he has ever met, she does not obey him, she challenges him constantly and is more alluring to him than she should be.

While awaiting the arrival of his new bride, Talon becomes aware of a traitor in his midst and he is shocked to find that Hemera is aware of the plot and is actively trying to find out who is involved. Slowly, Talon begins to see the real Hemera and his desire for her grows.

They begin a secret affair and the more time they spend together, the more they want. But with so many things working against them and the misconceptions people have about Hemera, it doesn’t seem possible for them to be together.

The book completely wraps up the series and ties up all the loose ends from the previous books, but it could easily be a stand alone title. The writing is wonderful and the story flows at a good pace, there are steamy love scenes, a few graphic fight scenes, some shocking secrets, some lovely surprises and enough twists and turns to keep you reading and on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to see what Ms. Fletcher comes up with next!

Once Upon A Spine By Kate Carlisle

Once Upon a Spine (Bibliophile Mystery #11)Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Bibliophile Mystery
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

ONCE UPON A SPINE is the eleventh book in the Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle. I seem to enjoy this series more and more with each new book. Brooklyn grows and matures more with each book and her relationship with the handsome, debonair Derek is heading toward the next level with their upcoming wedding. I can hardly wait!

I love books – and this is a book (and series) about books – what could be more perfect. Brooklyn is a book binder and antiquarian and each book in the series centers around a rare edition. This one features rare, first edition copies of ‘Alice In Wonderland’.

Brooklyn and Derek love their neighborhood and certainly don’t want it to change and become urbanized, so when the lovely group of businesses across from their apartment are vandalized and then a murder happens they simply MUST investigate. The businesses have been tagged by graffiti and nobody can catch the culprit. Then, when the cobbler is murdered things really heat up.

To add to the stress and confusion, Derek’s parents are visiting from England. This is the first time Brooklyn has met her future in-laws and she has been stressing out over it. Her main stressor isn’t meeting them, it is worrying about their reaction to her whacky, flower-child mother. She expects them to be very nice, but stuffy, dignified and very proper English parents. Boy does she get a surprise.

There are suspects aplenty for the murder and Brooklyn, Derek and both sets of parents are knee deep in investigating. Who in the world would have wanted to murder the very nice, sweet cobbler? Was the cobbler the real target of the murderer? Is someone trying to scare the business owners into closing their businesses so real estate developers can take over? Where did these extremely rare copies of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ come from and who really owns them? So many things to investigate and so little time to do it.

The only thing I didn’t care as much for in this book is that Brooklyn’s mom wasn’t her normal wacky self. She only did one ‘spell of protection’ and that was done very calmly with none of the weird stuff she usually does along with it. She’s usually way over the top for my taste, but this time she was too subdued. I know – no pleasing me.

This is a delightful addition to the series and I recommend it if you enjoy mysteries and romance.

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Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

Someone to Love (Westcott, #1)Someone to Love by Mary Balogh
Release Date: 11/08/16
Series: Westcott, #1

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was hands down one of the best Mary Balogh books I have ever read. I loved it and I didn’t want it to end.

Anna Snow is an orphan, but it was not until the death of her father that she learned that she was not who she always thought she was. She has lived almost her entire life at an orphanage in Bath – never knowing who her family was or how she came to be there. All she knows is that she has a benefactor who has been paying to support her and will continue to do so, until she leaves the orphanage. Her life changes the day she receives a letter with a summons to London.

The Earl of Riverdale has died and Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby has been named guardian of Harry Westcott, the new earl until he reaches his majority. The old earl left no will, but all seems in order, so Avery is a bit surprised when the Countess of Riverdale asks him to meet with her and the solicitor without the new earl. Turns out the Countess would like the solicitor to find her late husband’s illegitimate daughter and settle a sum of money on her as long as she agrees to never contact the family or make any future claims. She is adamant that she does not want anyone especially her two daughters, Lady Camille, Lady Abigail or her son Harry, the Earl of Riverdale to know about the girl and wants to know nothing about her herself. She asks Avery to oversee this and he reluctantly agrees.

Avery comes across as an indolent, selfish fop – but he is anything but. He seems disinterested and uncaring, but he isn’t – he is unknown and unknowable – or is he?

Anna comes to London and is given the shock of her life – she is not alone – she has a large family that she never knew and never knew of her. She is also the sole legitimate child of the late earl. It seems the late earl married Anna’s mother and when her mother got ill and return with Anna to her parent’s home – the earl returned to his former life and remarried, but the problem is he remarried 4 months before his first wife died! Suddenly the table have turned and the bastard child is the lady and has inherited the family fortune! But she loses what she wants most – the brother and sisters that she always wanted.

Anna tries to make peace with her siblings, but they want nothing to do with her and refuse to take anything from her. Her extended family of Aunts and cousins, step in and begin the transformation of Anna from orphan to Lady Anastasia Westcott. Avery watches from the sidelines and steps in to rescue Anna more than once when she seems overwhelmed.

Avery’s reaction to Anna mystifies him – she is nothing like any woman he has ever met and he is sure that he cannot be attracted to her. But attracted he is and when Anna’s family suggests she marry Alexander, the new earl – Avery steps in and tells her she could marry him.

For her part, Anna is just as confused about her feelings toward Avery as he is to her. But with Avery she feels safe and she agrees to marry him. Once they marry, he takes her to find her maternal grandparents and then back to Bath to visit her sisters and the orphanage. They seem like they are off to a great start and very happy – but all that changes when they return to London.

Once back in London, they start to drift apart and they both long to recapture the closeness they had on their honeymoon, but neither really knows how. It isn’t until Avery is ready to open up and let Anna know him that they find their HEA.

This book was well written, flows nicely, has a bit of drama, a lot of laughter, some mild love scenes and an absolutely beautiful declaration scene. The book does set up the series, but I never felt like Anna and Avery got lost in the process. I would happily recommend this book and am eagerly awaiting the rest of the series!

Forbidden Knight by Diana Cosby

Forbidden Knight (Forbidden #2)Forbidden Knight by Diana Cosby
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release Date 06/06/17
Series: Forbidden, #2

I really liked this book. It is an emotionally charged book that is centered more on the hero than the heroine. It is a little light in the romance department, but it is a beautiful story nonetheless.

Alesone is a woman on the run, she is trying to escape her father, Lord Comyn, who plans to use her as a pawn to over throw King Robert. Alesone is loyal to Robert and wants nothing to do with Lord Comyn.

Sir Thomas is a displaced Templar Knight, who is on his way to join King Robert, when he comes across Alesone, who shoots an arrow at him, narrowly missing his heart. She claims to be the king’s healer but Thomas doesn’t believe her. He thinks she is a spy assassin and thinks she is just bluffing about her relationship with the king.

When the plot Alesone’s father has concocted is revealed, the king charges Thomas with seeing Alesone to safety. Thomas is not pleased about this turn of events, but does as the king bids. When he is injured, Alesone saves him and finds them shelter. When Thomas wakes, he recognizes the owner of the cottage they are in and discovers he is near his childhood home.

Sir John, the owner of the cottage, has Thomas and Alesone taken to the nearby monastery for further help. Once there Thomas’ past comes rushing back and he is confronted with old friends, family and heartache that he has spent years running from.

Thomas’ father comes to claim his son and Thomas is reluctant to go home, but knowing that Alesone’s safety is paramount, he agrees. Alesone has tended Thomas and they have grown close, she doesn’t expect anything will come from their time together, but she is beginning to fall in love with him and wants to help him heal, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Alesone has been alone most of her life and has recently lost the only person she had ever considered family. She blames herself for Grisel’s death and can understand Thomas’ grief – but she can’t understand his refusal to rejoin his family.

Alesone is a beautiful person, both inside and out and my heart broke for her, she has lost so much and when she begins to open herself up to Thomas, he repeatedly shuts her out. I understood his reasons, but he was really awful to her, maybe not on purpose, but he hurts her again and again. The healing of Thomas takes time and he doesn’t make it easy – he has judged himself unworthy of forgiveness or of love and no matter what anyone says, he won’t change his mind. Alesone along with his friends and his father really have their work cut out for them convincing Thomas to accept their love.

I thought the book was well written, but it did drag a little bit in the middle and Thomas’ reasons for not acknowledging his feelings for Alesone started to get old and tired. But once he begins to forgive himself and accept that he deserves happiness, the story picks up. I enjoyed his bumbling attempts to explain himself to Alesone. The heat factor in this book is rather low, there are some love scenes and they are well done, but not steamy. There are a few battle scenes, but nothing horrifically violent or gory. There is also a twist at the end, that I never saw coming, but was delighted by on Alesone’s behalf.

In the end, I really liked this book and I would be happy to recommend it. It is the second book in the Forbidden Series, but it could be read as a stand alone title with no problems.

* I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC provided to me by Netgalley and the publisher*

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