I usually don't bother attempting a Stephen King book but since this was a crime drama I gave it a shot. I read this one pretty slowly over several weI usually don't bother attempting a Stephen King book but since this was a crime drama I gave it a shot. I read this one pretty slowly over several weeks. It had it's moments but just like other reviewers suggested it's filled with plot holes. With that being said, i was still entertained even with the blurb in my head saying this could never happen in real life with the not that bright criminal getting away with things and the supposedly bright detective making some moronic decisions.
Decent read if you're able to suspend belief....more
I tried to immerse myself in this romance story of two damaged men meeting and falling in love inside a mental hospital butReviewed on Hearts on Fire
I tried to immerse myself in this romance story of two damaged men meeting and falling in love inside a mental hospital but nagging questions kept getting in the way. It’s hard to see love when you keep looking at plot holes. Of the two characters,. Hunter is somewhat more fleshed out as we learn about his past involving depression, a past love and drug use . But I felt we were missing significant pieces of Riley’s story.
We learn that Riley Connors as a young child was a kidnapping victim who was subsequently rescued and returned to a mother who apparently didn’t want him. He was then made a ward of the state bouncing from foster home to foster home and in and out of mental health facilities. What we never get is the why of the story.
A kidnapping child victim rescued and still alive would have generated tremendous publicity. There would have been a great deal of outcry if the mother had abandoned him after his ordeal. The public would have demanded to know why. I’m highly skeptical that such a child would have just been thrown into and left to wallow inside the foster care system. Unfortunately we’re never given an explanation for the mother’s behavior or for the aggressive attitude of the mental health professionals.
Riley’s treatment after his rescue was mind-boggling. Psychiatry is now familiar enough with how a child who was kidnapped for years would react. There’s precedent in this area and they wouldn’t have the child isolated and drugged after he had gone through the ordeal of being isolated and drugged by a sociopath.
We’re also never given any explanation for his involuntary commitment to a mental health facility. People who’re suicidal can be held for 24 to 72 hours in most states but not for years. We don’t learn who exactly filed to have him committed or why. It would take tremendous psychosis to hold someone longer and I just didn’t see that in either Riley or Hunter.
The story does meet a lot of the romance points. It’s warm and emotional and you end up wishing for Hunter and Riley’s happily ever after especially after their troubled past. There are some very lovely scenes where Riley and Hunter share a piece of themselves with each other and show care and protectiveness towards one another. But while I was happy they found love, I wasn’t swept away by the story because it lacked a certain amount of depth. Because it’s built upon something as serious as mental illness, I wanted more from it including more accuracy , explanations and better back stories for each of the men.
This is one long journey where the payoff at the end isn't very big or maybe not big enough to justify what it took to get there. Inspector Gamache whThis is one long journey where the payoff at the end isn't very big or maybe not big enough to justify what it took to get there. Inspector Gamache who is now retired in Three Pines and generally at peace, is approached by Clara to find her missing husband Peter. At least that's what she appears to want although she wobbles back and forth between saying she doesn't need any help to then demanding help. THe inspector has the patience of a saint in dealing with this woman. At one point she demands to be put in charge of the missing case because of her so called love for Peter, which is like a divining rod that would lead her directly to him. It's all absurd considering that most of the story she appears to barely like her husband. Also why would the former Chief Inspector allow this amateur to lead the investigation just because of 'feelings'?
Nevertheless Gamache, along with Jean-Guy, Clara and Myrna, leaves his sanctuary at Three Pines to find the missing Peter. Along the way we're treated to long treatise about art, jealousy and the soul. In many ways this is less a mystery and more a philosophy and psychology lesson because some of the things revealed later turn out to be irrelevant to the story.
This is only my third Inspector Gamache story so perhaps I'm missing some critical elements here but this story just meandered too much. I also wasn't that crazy about Clara. In fact, I feel she was responsible for most of the unfortunate outcome. (view spoiler)[ Clara was told to wait by Inspector Gamache as he finally took charge after over 300 pages of Clara doing things her way. But because she didn't listen and had to go off on her own, she put into play the end. (hide spoiler)]
While I still rather like Louise Penny's writing, this was unsatisfying as a mystery. It also makes me wonder where she can take this series in the future as I just don't see how a retired inspector in Three Pines can inspire much more. What next? The case of the missing Rosa the duck and how to save Henri the dog from heartbreak?
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would when I first picked this up. This had a couple of things that put me off atReviewed on Hearts On Fire
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would when I first picked this up. This had a couple of things that put me off at first. The writing just appeared to be fussy and overworked even for a Regency era story. I also had trouble keeping track of some of the characters as sometimes they were called by their names and sometimes by their title. But the more I read the smoother the story seemed to get and I stopped noticing those issues and instead became absorbed in the story of Wesley (Wes) and Nathaniel (Nathan)
The story begins in 1907 where we first meet Dr. Wesley Douglas who is stunned to see a mysterious figure around town who looks very similar to his old friend Nathaniel Thredgold. But Wesley doubts his own eyes as Nathaniel supposedly died years ago and this man is severely disfigured. Wes wonders if it’s just wishful thinking on his part.
Who’s also doubtful is the Earl of Ravensworth, Lord Lionel who informs Wes that the stranger indeed has come to him claiming to be his long lost son Nathaniel. Lord Lionel has invited this man to come and state his claim in front of him and his other two sons. He asks Wes to be present as well since he and Nathan were childhood best friends. While Lord Lionel is more than half way to being convinced and moved by Nathan’s story, Nathan gets a different and frostier reception from both Wesley and the Earl’s youngest son, Frederick.
Wes ends up not being convinced that Nathan is who he claims to be. We learn through a series of flashbacks that Wes and Nathan shared more than a childhood friendship and in fact were lovers as well. It’s pretty clear that Wes was in love with Nathan at the time. Now ten years later Wesley is upset because the man claiming to be Nathaniel doesn’t appear to have any recollection of their prior relationship.
It’s not clear to Wes if this man is simply an imposter. He secretly fears that maybe Nathan was never as invested in their relationship and saw Wes as more of sexual outlook. Wesley also is insecure due to the differences in their financial and social status. The little mystery adds a nice edge to the story and it’s rather fun to see the mature town doctor Wesley devolve into sulky peevishness as he works through all this.
The story really picks up steam after that and we’re not kept in suspense overly long. There are other complications like Wesley’s engagement to a very nice woman named Beatrice and the work around each character has to go through to have the relationship they really want. I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy but by the end this turned out to be a delightful and fun story with a great deal of emotional resonance....more
Sweet and enjoyable for the most part and features a very cute little boy named Charlie. This one had some grammatical and editing issues that were diSweet and enjoyable for the most part and features a very cute little boy named Charlie. This one had some grammatical and editing issues that were distracting.There were some sentences that made very little sense and I'd find myself rereading them over again. There were also some inconsistencies with the characters as Karl goes from being an ambitious chef wanna be to someone settled into domestic life as a nanny only cooking for the family. I was expecting more of the driven character that was first introduced. This is also supposed to be an enemies to lovers book but the enemies part got taken care of very quickly. Despite these flaws I do find myself consistently liking this author's stories so I'll be reading the next ones in the series....more
In many ways I can agree with the one star reviews on this book. The writing was a bit too juvenile for me. I've read YA books that had higher level dIn many ways I can agree with the one star reviews on this book. The writing was a bit too juvenile for me. I've read YA books that had higher level dialogue. The actions of the characters were ridiculous in every sense of the world and there was way too much hand wringing going on with neither of them ever doing the right thing. The only other main character not involved in the hit and run mishap, the wife Pam, was also truly annoying and unsympathetic. I couldn't see what Jake loved about her. So while a lot of the book was legitimately awful, after the half way mark I did feel compelled to finish it.
That's something. While the plot twists were ridiculous, I was relieved to have the focus shift. At least there was some action, most of it unbelievable, to keep you interested. That at least deserved an extra stars. Still I wouldn't recommend this story. There's plenty of better written novels out there so why waste your time. (so happy I didn't pay for this book)
Despite the sometimes brilliant prose by the end I was mostly underwhelmed. My expectations may have been too high because of all the glowing reviews.Despite the sometimes brilliant prose by the end I was mostly underwhelmed. My expectations may have been too high because of all the glowing reviews. The structure of the story may have also contributed.
The story swings back and forth in time and between points of view of two children, a blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a German orphan named Werner. The chapters are very short so by the time you're interested in what's happening in Marie'-Laure's storyline, we've switched back to young Werner's and vice versa. I think it contributed to a distancing from the characters even with their tragic stories. The author is very good at capturing the imagery of the times but emotionally something was lacking. It doesn't wreck you like say "The Diary of Anne Frank" does for instance.
There's still an engaging story here highlighting the (extra)ordinary lives of a couple of children of that time period- the light we normally don't see. There's also a little Indiana Jones type mystery dropped into this one involving a blue diamond, with a curse attached of course, and the Nazi soldier who pursues it. It's a very readable story and based on the reviews, many seem to love this one. I'll settle on liking this. ...more
I don't think this story is for everyone, especially people who're nitpicky about certain plot points (like how the police just brushed aside a missinI don't think this story is for everyone, especially people who're nitpicky about certain plot points (like how the police just brushed aside a missing child in a hotel just because the mother declared it was probably a prank) but I found myself having fun reading this.
All the action takes place in the aging Bellweather hotel where 15 years earlier a young bride hung herself after shooting her new husband. Now it's the late 90's and the hotel is hosting its annual stateside music festival where high school seniors and brother and sister twins Rabbit (Bert) and Alice are in attendance, (insert your own Alice in Wonderland references) each coming to terms with major issues in their lives . The anniversary of the deaths also hangs over the festivities especially after one of the attendees goes missing. It quickly becomes obvious that there are others in the hotel orchestrating their own agenda.
The storyline involving all the band geeks and aspiring singers really does bring to mind Glee with the sometimes annoying Alice coming across as the resident Rachel. Rabbit is a bassoonist who's a much more sympathetic character than Alice. There's others who've also decided to make the trek for the weekend including Minnie who was a child/witness to the murder suicide, the kid's chaperone Natalie who has demons of her own and a crazy Scottish conductor.
This story is a bit of a mix as the blurb says. There's the mystery portion that begins with the missing student and a bit about kids expectations vs reality and what it means to be a prodigy and of course there's a lot about music.
Was this a YA story, a coming of age novel, a mystery, a drama or a comedy? In the end the story never really commits to any of those and is instead an uneasy mix of all. This seeming flaw though is also part of its main charm. It's a bit theatrical and probably more dramatic than realistic but ultimately I found it a satisfying story....more
Mommy Wars. Those words will either be a warning or an encouragement for some of you. Either way, that thought is inescapable while reading this becauMommy Wars. Those words will either be a warning or an encouragement for some of you. Either way, that thought is inescapable while reading this because while there is some kind of mystery going on, the story focus is on a series of parents and their kindergarteners who're ether geniuses, misfits, bullies, sociopaths, wallflowers etc. depending on which parent is looking at them.
The story initially begins with an incident that happens on the school trivia night fundraiser. We're given a hint that perhaps a person is dead. The novel then flashes back to a period several weeks before the events, where we first meet three of the moms with children attending the school, Madeline, Jane and Celeste.
Madeline has a 5 year old as well as a teen from her first marriage and spends most of the novel navigating these relationships. Celeste is her beautiful friend seemingly living the perfect life with her rich husband and rambunctious twin boys. Jane is the new girl in town who's a much younger mom than the others. As we go on in the novel we also learn the truth behind their lives.
The story is engaging enough and I'm not surprised it's going to be a movie. There's something about the way it's written that had me casting each of the characters . It's also annoying and somewhat disappointing. The author uses this technique where she ends each chapter with a series of random characters from the school telling a piece of gossip to an offside character--the police inspector. Each of these gossipy characters are named but don't bother trying to memorize who's saying what as in the end it's really not that important.
The technique the author uses to maintain the suspense of the story is to not reveal the name of the victim(s) or give enough information so you're kept in the dark about what happened that night. It's the lazy man's way to do a mystery. But in retrospect after finishing the novel, it's really the only way this novel would have any suspense because the big reveal at the end, is exactly what you'd expect based on the story. Very predictable.
I was expecting more. This is on some of the lists (came in 2nd in Goodreads) of the top fiction stories of 2014 after all. Basically this turned out to be more of a domestic drama than a crime fiction story and probably not for everyone (men take a real hit in this story). It has something to say about relationships and children but really nothing I didn't know before. It's a chick lit version of a murder mystery. This was however, fairly witty and entertainingly written even if not one of my best books of the year. ...more
This is the book I read over the Thanksgiving holidays and I found it very compelling. I had a heard vaguely about the Dreyfus affair but this historiThis is the book I read over the Thanksgiving holidays and I found it very compelling. I had a heard vaguely about the Dreyfus affair but this historical novel told through the point of view of Georges Picquart, the new head of the counterspy agency in 1890's France, made it all come to vivid life.
The synopsis pretty much covers the plot about the young Jewish officer who was sentenced to life in prison on Devils Island after being found guilty of spying for Germany in 1894. Picquart is firmly convinced of his guilt and does what he believes is his duty to help in any minor way to make sure he is put away for his crime. It turns out that Dreyfus is a former student of Picquart who confirms all of Picquart's views and negative feelings about Jews. There's also a huge strain of anti semitism and a fear of Germany's power running through France at the time. This confluence of events easily leads to Dreyfus conviction.
But there are some in the community who did not believe in Dreyfus's guilt including the famous writer Emile Zola. The government and the army wants to quiet these men. When Picquart starts uncovering questionable evidence that was used to convict Dreyfus and tries to bring it to light, he runs into all sorts of obstacles that starts to have a negative effect on his life as well.
While the novel starts off a little slow the story is told simply and you easily become involved with all the characters and the life in France in the late 19th and early 20th century before the first world war. With its twists and turns this story reads like a suspenseful spy novel that you have to remind yourself really happened.
This turned out to be the ideal novel for holiday reading.
One thing that did give me pause was reading in the afterwards by the author that he thanked, among others, Roman Polanski for getting him to write this novel. It also turns out that Polanski is planning to make a movie based on this novel. Notwithstanding Polanski's past behavior and reputation, just based on this novel I do think it's a movie that I would love to see. ...more
I enjoyed this one from beginning to the over the top end. It's several stories rolled into one as Inspector Armand Gamache is called in to investigatI enjoyed this one from beginning to the over the top end. It's several stories rolled into one as Inspector Armand Gamache is called in to investigate a missing woman who turned out to be one of a famous set of quintuplets. This leads him to the small quiet town of Three Pines, with it's collection of eccentric and eclectic characters. This part of the story is reminiscent of a Murder She Wrote episode.In the meantime, Gamache is carrying out his own investigation while his department is being destroyed by a powerful enemy. Gamache is seeking the why and the who that are involved while trying to look out for his ex partner.
This is only the second book I've read from Louise Penny and I do enjoy her writing style and how each piece of the story is allowed to slowly unravel. I love the quiet, thoughtful character of Armand and his negotiations through the difficult times he's having. His former second in command , Jean-Guy Beauvoir hangs out on the periphery of the story but plays a pivotal role in the plot. I think in a way, he's the more problematic character as he does several things while he's in the grips of his addiction that I'm not sure would be that forgivable. That's why the ending, while satisfactory, did leave you feeling a little uneasy as it did seem a little too pat. Except for that, this would be a 5 star novel for me. It felt like a completion which makes it curious that the series will continue. This one however, was a fun one that I could not put down until I finished reading it. ...more
This would have been good if it only was just a contemporary story about two guys meeting and falling for each other, even if one of them is pretty deThis would have been good if it only was just a contemporary story about two guys meeting and falling for each other, even if one of them is pretty dense not to realize someone he's been spending significant amounts of time with is a guy and not a girl. Instead there was this paranormal element in it that didn't add anything to the story. This is one of those that ended with everything still up in the air. Apparently there'll be a sequel to this. Sometimes though if you're reading a short story you want things a little more wrapped up. ...more
I liked this story but I do think there were parts of it that didn't add up. For instance the Prince in this story absolutely hates his soldier bodyg I liked this story but I do think there were parts of it that didn't add up. For instance the Prince in this story absolutely hates his soldier bodyguard Volos at first because Volos people killed his brother and he's bitter about it. At least that's what we're told in the beginning. But by the time we get to the end of the story, we're then told that Volos actually secretly wanted Volos all along and that's the reason he was always cruel to Volos. Really? That just made a hell of a lot less sense than the original reason for the Prince's hostility.
The plot also starts with the two antagonists having to travel together because the Prince needs a translator. But the funny thing was by the time the Prince gets to the castle, it turns out the queen and he can communicate very well and Volos is relegated to his room for most of their negotiations. Why did he need a translator again? It just seemed like a forced plot point to get them together. i should also add there was a non-con/rape portion that I think didn't add much to the plot as it's brushed aside fairly easily.
I did like Volos as a character but I found myself rooting for him to get together with the other character, the innkeeper Mato who just seemed a lot more charming and mature than the prince. I take that as a sign that there was something lacking about the romance between Volos and the prince. ...more
I found this slightly paranormal story that takes place in the not too distant future entertaining enough but parts of it didn't really work. Xavier iI found this slightly paranormal story that takes place in the not too distant future entertaining enough but parts of it didn't really work. Xavier is a multi millionaire who has a sister Tam whose health has been damaged. So they decide to do some kind of undercover work by moving into a house together. I couldn't figure out why they would do this except for boredom.
Xavier keeps hearing noises in the house and one night sees a mysterious naked figure in a blue light. Is he some kind of spirit? What we find out about this is interesting and creepy--at least at first. But it did drag as we spent way too long on the subject of astral projection.
The story just wasn't suspenseful enough and while there was some mysterious bad guy, we never got to see him or to get his motivation. Roman had an interesting background of going from being a soldier to a professor who studies plants but he remained a nebulous character throughout. We don't learn much about Xavier besides being a millionaire. Because of that it was hard to get into their romance. The lack of complete resolution to the mystery didn't help either.
This one was nice enough but more of a miss than a hit.
This felt more like a fantasy since I couldn't figure out the historical context of the storyline and the characters seemed a little too modern. ThisThis felt more like a fantasy since I couldn't figure out the historical context of the storyline and the characters seemed a little too modern. This one went from a high intensity story about trying to save their world to an ending where the two characters decided to basically call it quits and run away together. That seemed like an abrupt transition. There was also some confusion on Hunter's abilities which seemed to be involve compelling animals to do things for him. Was he charming them to get them to do what he wanted or was he forcing his will on them? We needed clarification on it.
All in all though, I wasn't offended as some were by the storyline as it all takes place in a fantastical world anyways. I found this a pleasant enough story. ...more
I think this one followed the prompt exactly but I was hoping for maybe something a little outside the cookie cutter box. A little deviation wouldn'tI think this one followed the prompt exactly but I was hoping for maybe something a little outside the cookie cutter box. A little deviation wouldn't have hurt this one. It's nice if you like super sweet stories but I think the epilogue was maybe too much of a complete happy ending--save that for a longer story. I also agree with some others that the relationship also felt like a rebound one. I think we needed more build up to make it believable. ...more
I'm finally getting to read some Love's Landscapes stories. I enjoyed this one because the author really seems to understand the short story craft. WeI'm finally getting to read some Love's Landscapes stories. I enjoyed this one because the author really seems to understand the short story craft. We quickly get a feel for Theo and his conflicting views of his disability which in the end doesn't stop his determination to get what he wants, Ben the barista. We see Ben through Theo's eyes as this fantasy embodiment of the perfect boyfriend, smart, friendly and kind. It has a happy beginning kind of ending which feels right but It's also a story that could be expanded upon in a longer form. It all works but I could have done with a lot less smoking. ...more
2.75 StarsI think this book was trying for funny or maybe it’s some kind of parody of cowboy books. It certainly had enoughReviewed on Hearts on Fire
2.75 StarsI think this book was trying for funny or maybe it’s some kind of parody of cowboy books. It certainly had enough stereotypes in it to have me practically rolling my eyes out of its socket whether from the hunky, too good to be true looks of its main stars, the formulaic city boy and country boy traits, the attitude of the bridezilla and her predatory bridesmaids, the feuds or the exaggerated accents of all involved. It even had the obligatory barroom brawl in it all set off by a group of mainly unlikable characters. Maybe we should just blame it on Texas. Authors seem to really believe everything does have to be bigger in Texas including its stories.
The main story involves a city slicker named Dean who comes to stay at a Texas ranch because he’s getting married. The woman he’s getting married to–well is pretty much unimportant as he spends most of his time mooning after his future brother in law and black sheep of the family, Leo. Elaine’s father Buck hates Dean on sight and appears to hate his son for other reasons, so he forces them to room together in a run down cabin away from everyone. This provides lots of alone time for the two of them to discover they have the hots for each other.
Well correction, the main story is about cheating. Lots of cheating. Most of it premeditated. Here’s Dean deciding whether he should go for it with Leo or not.
“Technically Leo was only Elaine’s half brother. She rarely spoke his name. They hadn’t seen each other in years and probably never would again after Sunday. Looking at it that way, Leo might as well be a stranger to Elaine.
Sex with a stranger was better than sex with his fiancee’s brother, right?”
And that’s about as deep a thinking as Dean engages in throughout this story. He’s a bit of a nitwit and a coward. There’s absolutely no good reason why he’s engaged to the rather awful Elaine in the first place and there’s no reason he should continue to want to marry her still, especially after he finds this special chemistry with her brother. But then again, if we didn’t have the continued ridiculous engagement, we wouldn’t have the ridiculous bachelor party leading to the ridiculous botched wedding.
I wasn’t too engaged in the romance here involving amoral cheaters. I didn’t like most of the other characters so I ended up not caring what happened to them either. There was no resolution to the thin plot points involving Leo’s father who believed that leo caused a fire that he didn’t (guess who really did it). He also never learns about what really happened to Leo that long ago night. The abuser in the story gets a little Texas justice but is still free to do it to someone else by the end. There’s also no growth of any character. They started stupid and ended that way.
However, I can’t really criticize the writing too much. I just didn’t care for the story. If you find it funny, you’ll probably enjoy this for its silliness and almost slapstick humor. But it wasn’t ha ha funny for me until the very end. I found it just an OK story with a good punch line that almost makes you forget the bad parts. Though the fact this is so different than the author’s other book, “Falling in Love with Crazy” shows the author has some range and versatility so there’s that. ...more
The characters and their relationship with each other stands out in this murder mystery. Alan Baxter is an ex addict who’sReviewed on Hearts on Fire
The characters and their relationship with each other stands out in this murder mystery. Alan Baxter is an ex addict who’s recently lost his fortune to a crooked accountant and is barely making ends meet as a Detroit DJ. He’s got expenses he can’t cover and bad luck in the romance department.
His friend Gus, who’s a drag queen at the club where Alan works, offers him a moonlighting gig. Things start to go wrong when Alan discovers that the vehicle he’s repossessing belongs to his ex drug dealing boyfriend who he may still be attracted to and turns worse when he, and the police, find a body in the trunk.
Alan spends most of the rest of the book attracting all of the wrong kinds of attention from the wrong kinds of people and getting into one goofy scrape after another. Despite all the criminal activities, the book is lighthearted and humorous even if occasionally crude. We get some discussion on gross pimples and what’s inside Alan’s cat Baxter’s litter box. All that aside, the humor is warm and bittersweet with a touch of slapstick.
It’s clear Alan’s friends care for him. Besides his friend Gus, he also has a bouncy auburn haired friend named Sabrina. We’re also introduced to Alan’s sweet if rather ineffective father. There’s no overt romance in this story although Alan enjoys a mild flirtation with a hunky bartender in the club.
The mystery itself depends on a series of coincidences and bad luck. It’s fun. It’s aim seems to be doing for car repossession what Stephanie Plum did for bondswomen. This is not quite as hilarious even if they do share some similarities. They both have bad luck with cars anyways.
I enjoyed the characters and the light mystery and think there’s more stories to tell here including finding out if Alan can ever move beyond the flirting stage....more
It's pretty easy for these romances with kids in them to become too kid and family focused so I was impressed this one managed to avoid that problem.It's pretty easy for these romances with kids in them to become too kid and family focused so I was impressed this one managed to avoid that problem. Cary has a very cute child named Gus but he was in it for just enough time that I still found him endearing by the end. I also really liked the romance between Cary and Heath and the way they worked things out between them. I'm looking forward to the sequel as well. Good Read!...more
Finally read this. It's basically a story of two guys having a friendship and then the story suddenly turning into a gay romance without any explanatiFinally read this. It's basically a story of two guys having a friendship and then the story suddenly turning into a gay romance without any explanation or transition whatsoever. ...more
This is a nice mystery with good pacing even if I felt the author was trying too hard at times and the private detective Jack Darvelle may have had onThis is a nice mystery with good pacing even if I felt the author was trying too hard at times and the private detective Jack Darvelle may have had one too many quirks. He's a smart detective that has loads of connections and we spend a lot of time with Darville going off track to let us know the reason for the connections.
I'm assuming this will probably lead to other stories featuring Darvelle and I don't see that technique holding up through several books. There's only so many new people that'll need that kind of introduction before it becomes tiresome.
But back to this particular book in which you just need to know this is a pretty straight forward mystery with a slight twist at the end that you'll probably see coming before it gets there. Darvelle tends to go off on tangents which might irritate some people. Other than that, he wears well and is enough of a good guy to root for. The book had a natural end but then decided to tack on an extra chapter that felt totally unnecessary. Up to that point though, it all holds together well.
This one is a nice but not all that compelling story that seemed to have some trouble finding the balance between a contempReviewed on Hearts on Fire
This one is a nice but not all that compelling story that seemed to have some trouble finding the balance between a contemporary story of family estrangement and the paranormal love story it was trying to tell.
Paul is completely estranged from his family . At the beginning his father has just died but Paul is not going anywhere near the funeral. His brother though, unexpectedly reaches out to him and hands him an envelope that his dad has been keeping from Paul for two years. In it contains the news that Paul’s uncle, the only family member who ever accepted him and who practically raised him, had died two years ago.
There’s a lot of disconnect with this because we’re told that Paul was extremely close with this uncle, yet he hadn’t spoken to him in over two years so was completely unaware he had died. We get a flimsy explanation for this but Paul is portrayed as devastated by this news.
Paul flies out to Malta to deal with the will left by his uncle. He’s left his uncle’s property which includes several paintings. He discovers amongst his uncle’s paintings a painting that seems to be in the style of the Italian artist Caravaggio. But Paul becomes more obsessed with the subject of the painting, a very handsome young man, than with whether this is an old masterpiece. When he runs into a man who looks identical to the pictures, he’s immediately sidetracked by his attraction to him. .
I think the story stumbles along in the beginning and picked up a bit of steam when we meet Angelo. The romance comes to the forefront and the story takes a paranormal turn as we eventually get an explanation about Angelo and his resemblance to the painting. Other than that, there’s not much going on as Paul quits his job and he’s not speaking to his relatives.
I found the mystery a bit thin here and I don’t think any of the characters ever really rose above cardboard cutouts for me. All of Paul’s family just seemed to blindly hate him just for being gay with no nuance whatsoever. We hear that father was the real villain in this but since he’s dead at the start of the story there’s nothing to go on there.
Then later in the story Paul’s brother returns and does some real evil that everyone seems to brush off instead of having him carted off to a jail cell. There’s another villain Nico but I found the explanation for why he was pursuing trouble with Angelo and Paul seriously lacking.
The other character that was too cardboard for me unfortunately, was the main love interest, Angelo. Angelo was just too perfect and even with the reason given for it, to me it just made the character and the story a bit boring. I’m not all that enamored with bad boys but I think I’d prefer reading about that than about falling in love with a perfect angel. I think though, if you like these sweet kinds of characters you could find something to enjoy here....more
Surprisingly, a story about a middle aged man dealing with cancer isn't all that hilarious. Crazy right. But the description in the blurb does call thSurprisingly, a story about a middle aged man dealing with cancer isn't all that hilarious. Crazy right. But the description in the blurb does call this a warm, funny novel. I think a lot of the humor must have been lost in translations somewhere as this is a very Irish novel and I don't think I got whatever jokes were there. By the way this is a lot of dialog writing and the main character says grand a whole lot. I think more narrative and reducing the dialog would have probably helped this story as a lot of times someone's conversations aren't all that interesting, especially when it's constantly peppered with filler words (like grand).
Nevertheless, this had a nice, gentle and drowsy quality that made it ideal for late night just about to go to bed reading. In the middle though, Jimmy our main character inexplicably starts an affair despite having a most loving, understanding supporting wife. Jimmy never feels any guilt over this and it never becomes an issue as he never reveals it to his wife so it served very little purpose to the story except to reduce what little charm it had. I get really bored with men doing the expected when going through their midlife crisis. Ho Hum.
But I got this book because of its music storyline with Jimmy being some kind of music promoter (of old acts) and when that was center stage, especially at the end when Jimmy and his buddies and his reunited brother become the old men at a rock music festival, the book was at its best. The problem is we had to slog through a whole lot of stuff to get to that point and there wasn't enough of it. It's all a bit meh and I'm kind of amazed I read the entire thing. ...more
Wade Boehme is back in familiar territory here as he revisits the theme of an older formerly married man falling foReviewed on Hearts on Fire
Wade Boehme is back in familiar territory here as he revisits the theme of an older formerly married man falling for his son’s best friend that he first explored in “Wide Awake.” This one has the addition of co author Piper Vaugn helping to smooth out the rough edges. For the most part it works here. The two authors blend well, so much so that I couldn’t really tell where one began and the other ended..
The story itself was a nice diversion. Aaron is a hunky contractor whose plans for the summer to remodel his parent’s lake house runs into a snag when his helper injures himself. As an alternative, Aaron asks his son Julian to work for him over the summer as a way to reconnect. Their relationship had been strained ever since Aaron divorced Julian’s mom. Aaron is secretly pleased when Julian asks to also bring along his roommate Malachi as Aaron has had a crush on him from when they first met.
Things really click for Aaron & Malachi. Aaron is impressed by Malachi’s carpentry skills and his maturity and Malachi finds himself very attracted to the older man. However, the summer also brings strain as Aaron starts having a difficult time juggling the secrets he’s keeping from Julian, namely the fact that he’s gay and dating his best friend.
But the closer Aaron & Malachi become the more bratty and annoying Julian behaves. He starts to neglect his job and disappear for long periods of time. Aaron is way too soft with Julian and pretty much lets him get away with all kinds of things for most of the story.
I never did quite get Julian’s issues. It’s obvious he’s jealous of Malachi but there’s other things going on as well as there’s some mention of a problem with a girl though the issue is never really explored. Aaron’s inability to confront Julian and also to come clean about his sexuality was also a bit annoying as he’s supposed to be the adult in this story.
He has a great relationship with his ex wife and no one anywhere seems to have a problem with his sexuality. I had to assume it all boiled down to fear of the unknown and not wanting to do anything to mess up his relationship with Julian which means he gave in to him at every turn.
Instead of seeing a reconciliation between father and son, what we end up with most of the time is Julian somewhat one dimensionally playing the dark cloud hanging over Aaron and Malachi’s romance. Julian’s running and frequent absences does allow Aaron and Malachi to find the time to become closer, especially sexually. While those scenes start off hot, it sometimes felt too long and detailed instead of focused on the raw emotions. There was good humor and chemistry between the two that helped to offset that.
The 16 year age difference between the two men while large, never felt excessive. That’s probably because a lot of times Malachi acted older and Aaron younger than his age. The two get together fairly quickly but we do have a lot of ‘we shouldn’t have’ guilt accompanying it. I liked that we got dualing points of views which is terrific for romance stories. There’s one wrinkle, (Julian) that temporarily tears them apart but it gets resolved nicely.
Julian was a problematic element especially as he does a totally unexplained attitude turnaround at the end. Despite that, while I wasn’t blown away, I did end up liking most of the story and would recommend it, especially for lovers of May/December romances....more
4.5 Stars In this delightful mystery the suspense is all tied to our main character who’s an agoraphobic apartment dwellerReviewed on Hearts on Fire
4.5 Stars In this delightful mystery the suspense is all tied to our main character who’s an agoraphobic apartment dweller who spends his time spying on his neighbors and ends up witnessing something that he wasn’t supposed to see. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window with some modern twists. While our hero is not physically handicapped, he’s incapacitated nonetheless from fear as he finds himself petrified to leave his living quarters. The other twist is that though the story starts off with a break up with a woman, the person who ignites a spark in him is the male police officer who knocks on his door as he’s investigating a case of a missing neighbor in the apartment building.
Our nameless narrator finds himself slowly being seduced by the mystery and by the charming Sergeant Marzoli, all while trying to fight off his demons which start to have a life of their own after he receives some bad news from his past. The book becomes an engrossing read as we hang on to learn the mysteries of the past and the more prominent current one.
Initially, the main character is a little off putting and the writing not always accessible. It’s a first person narrative that can feel a little claustrophobic as we only get the point of view of the unnamed voyeur in the story. There’s also a continuous switch from present to past that takes some getting used to. But after a while I found the rhythm of the story and really started enjoying the journey.
I liked the narrator’s often biting and politically incorrect humor, especially in connection with the ridiculous nicknames he assigns each apartment dweller & how he deals with his new and surprising attraction to the very male detective who’s dropped into his life. He & Marzoli have a nice chemistry that builds as the story goes along. He also finds himself slowly letting go of the paralysis that had taken over his life.
Attempting to solve the mystery brings he & Marzoli more & more together. The fact that the two of them spark against each other is an added bonus. .
The main protagonist hides behind a lot of defenses and is more cynical than nice most of the time. He watches his neighbors with a mixture of disdain, and pity at first although his thinking about them evolves as the story progresses. While his issues become obvious fairly quickly, we also eventually learn that Marzoli is not all what he seems as well.
This is the kind of story that holds your interest and leaves you wanting more. There’s an erotically charged noir like quality to the story that I don’t often find in most M/M novels. I like that it’s a little different while still staying true to the romance. I’m partial to mysteries and particularly enjoyed the little psychological drama that played out in this one. This is one suspenseful read that I’m happy to recommend...more
A lot of this at first was just so joyless and grim that I had a hard time plowing through after the 25 % mark. Jack Carber is a con man who ends up iA lot of this at first was just so joyless and grim that I had a hard time plowing through after the 25 % mark. Jack Carber is a con man who ends up in prison after being betrayed by his lover. I had some hopes early on that maybe we wouldn't be subjected to the normal evils of prison life but nope, it's just what you've been led to believe, lots of rape and violence. There's no relief in sight for Jack, not only from inmates who seem to have it in for him & a closeted priest who expects Jack to fulfill his fantasy, but especially from his mute, violent natured roommate Adder.
The book is about Jack finding a way to navigate his way through his prison sentence and to find a way to get Adder to see him as a human being. Jack finds himself succeeding only too well as he starts developing feelings for him. I had a hard time seeing that as anything other than Stockholm syndrome. Still the eventual change in the relationship does serve to lighten up the story so I ended up being grateful it was there.
Books about falling for your rapist/tormenter especially when they're written in realistic, contemporary settings and aren't fantasy stories, aren't usually on the top of my must read booklist. What helps here is the writer doesn't overplay the scenes and keeps things almost matter of fact as Jack's just a very practical person. I did end up rooting for the happy ending for this ridiculous relationship even though I felt I was little bit conned into it.