Carla Neggers latest Emma Sharpe / Colin Donovan romantic suspense novel "Harbor Island" is typical of her work. There is a fair bit romantic interludCarla Neggers latest Emma Sharpe / Colin Donovan romantic suspense novel "Harbor Island" is typical of her work. There is a fair bit romantic interludes between couples, a tale of unrequited love, a murder, a bare ounce of investigation and then two pages before the end, a big reveal as to who the murderer is.
In other words, these are not books for you if you are a mystery fan. While there are two mysteries in the novel - who killed Rachel Bristol, a movie producer, who was investigating the Sharpe thief and the identity of the fabled Sharpe thief, who has stolen various art from Ireland and other international locations, the main action is instead centered on the relationships between the various couples in the novels. Neggers is adept at creating a suspenseful setting in which her various couples can deal with their relationships, in a romantic but shallow manner.
One couple is the Irish artist Aoife O'Byrne, who had a weekend fling with the Catholic priest Father Bracken, before he became a priest and has been pining for the priest for years now. They are thrown together during the investigation because the Sharpe thief stole art from O'Byrne's father, and there is some thought that O'Byrne might be in danger. This gives Neggers a chance to explore their relationship.
In addition, Neggers also focuses on Yank's relationship with his wife Lucy, and Colin's relationship with Emma, all while they sift the clues as to who murdered Rachel Bristol, and who could be the Sharpe thief.
Fans of Neggers will not be disappointed, but if you are looking for a mystery where there are actual clues instead of a big reveal at the end, this is not the book for you.
In "The House of the Four Winds", a sword and sorcery yarn set on the high seas, one small duchy decides that it will let its daughters make their ownIn "The House of the Four Winds", a sword and sorcery yarn set on the high seas, one small duchy decides that it will let its daughters make their own way. Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, who teamed up in the dynamite "The Obsidian Trilogy" have chosen a lighter tone in this navel fantasy, but it serves them well. More importantly, these two veteran authors know how to pen a believable female character and romance with snappy dialogue and smart character portrayals.
Princess Clarice, who has trained with the best swordsmen in her realm, travels to a major port, to board ship for the New World. Rather than wear a skirt, Clarice, puts on a pair of trousers, and as Clarence Swann seeks a berth as a swordsman. Masquerading as a man is a time honored fiction motif, but it is handled well here. She buys passage on the lucky Captain Sprunt's Asesino. Sprunt has somehow escaped several encounters with pirates. Clarice quickly befriends the guild trained navigator Dominick Moryet and the ship surgeon, Dr. Chapman.
Once the ship is underway, Clarice finds a place at the Captain's Table and meets the rest of the officers and the unmerciful ship's chaplain Reverend Dobb. Lackey and Mallory quickly paint a vivid picture of shipboard life on the seas. And it is not a happy one.
Clarice watches as Sprunt and his first mate start to brutalize the crew in a calculated manner - punishing selective crewmen for minor transgressions. It soon becomes clear that the ship is a powder keg just waiting to erupt. Could there be an ulterior motive for Sprunt's actions?
When the inevitable mutiny occurs, Clarice will prove her skill with her blade and pay a pivotal role in the fight for control of the ship. However, the law of the seas is unfair. Irrespective of Sprunt's brutality, a mutinous crew who seizes control of a ship is tarred as pirates.
After the mutiny, Clarice seizes from the evil Dobbs a pendant that has a hidden map. The ship decides to use the map and finds its way to a secret pirate base, where they meet the lords of the Pirate Fleet, and the powerful sorceress that rules the haven. Clarice soon surmises that there was more to Sprunt's luck than skill. All the answers are at the pirate haven.
But the safety of the pirate haven is an illusion, and Clarice, who is developing feelings for the dashing navigator, and Dominick will be attacked by magic and forced to sail to uncharted waters, where magic, monsters and the very seas will be a boil. While the outcome is never in doubt, the confrontation has some good surprises.
This straight forward ship tale is not complicated, but its never boring. There is plenty of action. Clarice will play a pivotal role in all of the major scenes in this yarn
Moth and Spark" by Anne Leonard is a romantic fantasy with an emphasis on romance, but there is also a terrible war, dragons, spells and magic in theMoth and Spark" by Anne Leonard is a romantic fantasy with an emphasis on romance, but there is also a terrible war, dragons, spells and magic in the mix.
Set in a familiar medieval world where woman are treated as wanting little more than marrying the best man, the story sometimes trundles along because of the romance. However, the love affair of a commoner and the Prince is handled well, the female protagonist is no snivelling milquetoast having helped her doctor father out in his surgery, and in the end, magic and dragons are front and center. It’s a good read, but the cover promised more.
Prince Corin is the heir to the Caithan throne, when he meets a dragon rider on the road, who enspells him with a mysterious drink and an order that he is destined to free the dragons, who are servants to the Emperor. The spell does not take effect right away, and Corin does not remember the encounter.
Meanwhile, its Summer Court and Tam, a beautiful commoner and incipient seer is at the Court. Tam is no mouse having spent time traveling with her father, a noted doctor. She is quick witted. While visiting the royal library, she bumps into Corin while reading a book about an enemy of the realm and he is quickly smitten and starts to court her. The romantic part of the novel is off and running. As he wines and dines her, the romance progresses. There are dances, intrigue among the other single women, discussions of wine, dinner and other elements of romantic fiction.
War also quickly develops. The Emperor, who mysteriously controls the dragons, does not want to lose his power over them. He allows another country to invade Caithan. He will stop at nothing to prevent Corin from learning how to free the dragons. Caithan will have to fight.
Corin and Tam will both have to use magic to try to thwart the Emperor’s plans.
That fantasy elements of dragons, war and magic are all present, however the magical fantasy part of the story are fairly simple and could have been condensed into a small story. Leonard's emphasis on romance provides a solid middle to the story and Tam plays an essential role, so without the romantic angle that forms the center and core of the novel, the story would have been too short for a novel. So if you like romance with a touch of magic and war, then this is a good book for you....more
"Don't Even Think About It" is a light breezy read about a bunch of high school students who suddenly find themselves with telepathy. Sarah Mlynowski"Don't Even Think About It" is a light breezy read about a bunch of high school students who suddenly find themselves with telepathy. Sarah Mlynowski knows about teen issues. Her characters, both the girls and boys - almost evenly divided, have to cope with suddenly finding out everyone's innermost thoughts. While there are ways to block the thoughts from intruding, the teens find out secrets about their parents, the nurse and everyone they come in contact with that they do not really want to know. But they also cannot escape their fellow Espies prying minds.
Everyone in their group suddenly has no privacy. They hear every little comment about their weight, their friends, their dates, their hopes, their desires, the boys they are dating or want to date, the girls they are dating, what people think about their weight, their breasts, their muscles, how good a kisser they are, how their clothes fit and every bad secret in their lives. Plus they learn all the dirty secrets their parents are trying to hide. Mlynowski focuses mainly on the various romantic relationships between the girls and boys -- from the beautiful Mackensie, who cheated on her boyfriend Cooper with another boy, to Tess, who likes Teddy, who, however, likes Sadie, who is dating another boy. Then there is BJ, who claims that he wants to help her Tess win over Teddy, but maybe is really enamored with Tess. Telepathy adds another layer to the typical high schooler's issues.
Other kids, however are using their new found powers to scheme. Pi, a leader of the Espies, and the second smartest kid in school, listens in on another student while taking a test but does not like it when other students cheat on her. Other students, use their talents to win games, play better baseball or to to finesse a relationship with a boy or girl because they know all of their date's likes. Mlynowski barely touches on the morality of the teens using their talents in this way. We barely hear any mention of why listening in is wrong or using your powers to hit better in baseball is wrong. Both Cooper and another character learn enough about people to make some hard decisions about their relationships.
This is a book for teens who want to read about other teens who gain the power of listening in on their friends, but learn it's no panacea to solve their relationship issues. It is just another issue to confront and overcome.
The big issue for the Espies is are they willing to give up their powers when a solution is offered.
Read the book to find out what they do.
This book has a fair bit of romantic talk, kissing descriptions and minor sexual discussions. Its aimed more for teens than tweens....more
In Declan's Cross, the latest Sharpe Donovan novel, Carla Neggers increases the mystery element of this romantic suspense series, when Lindsey HargreaIn Declan's Cross, the latest Sharpe Donovan novel, Carla Neggers increases the mystery element of this romantic suspense series, when Lindsey Hargreaves, a marine biologist, disappears in this idyllic Ireland village.
Julianne Maroney has journeyed to Ireland to meet with Hargreaves and join her marine biology project and also to escape her latest misadventure in love with Colin Donovan's brother. But Hargreaves has disappeared.
Meanwhile, Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are in Ireland to try to re-kindle their relationship, which was strained in Heron's Cove. When Sharpe learns that Maroney is in Declan's Cross, the site of a mysterious art theft, she persuades Donovan to go with her to meet Maroney. What first seems like a chance to re-visit the site of a famous art theft and comfort a Donovan family friend soon turns into a murder investigation when the body of Hargreaves turns up.
Who would have killed the young marine biologist and why? Was it the thief from the prior art theft at Kitty O'Byrnes hotel who has returned to Declan's Cross to steal again? Was it Kitty O'Byrne's young son, who had a crush on Hargreaves? Or was it Hargreaves disengaged father, who refused to provide Hargreaves any more money for her marine biology project. There are other suspects that come up as well.
So while Sharpe and Donovan poke their way into the Irish investigation of Hargreaves death, Sharpe also investigates the past art theft at Kitty O' Byrnes hotel.
And not to leave out the romance, Maroney and Donovan do not seem through with each other. Sean Murphy, an Irish cop, who is on leave after suffering injuries in the line of duty, still hopes to find romance in his old flame, Kitty O'Byrne and Sharpe and Donovan have more than enough heat themselves.
Neggers keeps all of the investigations running apace, makes Julianne Murphy's struggles with her heart seem real, and keeps the Sharpe Donovan relationship at the romantic center. Their are red herrings a plenty, and the real villian is not so clear until the very last chapter....more
This is a light entertaining contemporary romance novel about a woman who has to get onto her two feet and rejoin the world after her husband leaves hThis is a light entertaining contemporary romance novel about a woman who has to get onto her two feet and rejoin the world after her husband leaves her for another woman.
Molly Hagen has been left in a lurch. Her slimeball husband Hugh left her and her young son for a younger woman. But to make matters worse, Hugh now claims that he lost his job and has no money for support. Molly calls on her Mom for help, but the Mom has lost a mint day trading, and actually has to come live with Molly, as well. The world is collapsing.
Molly, forty something and not in the work force for years could have folded the tent then and there, but John, an old college friend, who owns an advertising agency, wants her to come in and do some copy editing for him. It seems he has a new client, a high end bakery, and he knows Molly’s ability and thinks she can work with his new partner Natalie to design an ad campaign for the bakery.
Molly meets with Simon the baker and Nick, his business partner and goes to the site of the bakery –across from the famous lions of the New York Public Library and comes up with the cutesy idea of naming the bakery and its products after books. Thus we get little chapter headings about proposed ads for food products at the bakery. "The Catcher in the Rye Bread", "The Bun also Rises", Gravity's Rainbow Cookies". I have to say I was enchanted by some of these little vignettes about the baked goods. They were way too cute, but funny in a foodie and literary way.
The story was fun and cute too. Molly has a good home network of friends, Lissa the beautiful babysitter for her son who is dating Tony, a seemingly stuck up guy, Keisha, her friend in California, who has fallen in love with a guy she did not want to date, but who is always trying to get Molly to do more with her life, and her therapist, who keeps pushing Molly to do more. Then there is Molly herself unsure of herself, tiptoeing back into life, work and love because of course there are two men in her life now.
Should she choose Simon, the gorgeous wealthy baker or Nick his very handsome business partner. Molly starts out with Simon, but soon is more attracted to Nick. It helps that Nick likes Molly's son Aiden as well.
This book was everything you would want in a change of pace from a harder diet of thrillers and mysteries. The characters had depth, and although light and entertaining, the getting back into the real world of work and life story is very timely in this world of lost jobs and unemployment.
Plus the novel’s conceit of food and literature was fun. ...more
Janet Evanovich is the reining champ in the humorous popular fiction category. Her original Stephanie Plum novels are a hoot. Its hard to imagine notJanet Evanovich is the reining champ in the humorous popular fiction category. Her original Stephanie Plum novels are a hoot. Its hard to imagine not laughing out loud at the antics of Grandma Mazur and Stephanie Plum's trials as New Jersey's worst bounty hunter. Imagining a similar experience, I read Happily Ever Madder: Misadventures of a Mad Fat Girl. But the comparison's are not warranted.
Happily ever Madder, Stephanie McAfee's second chick lit book in her Mad Fat Girl series made me mad, mad that I chose to read it. Although the author is clearly adept at painting a picture of busybody old ladies in housing communities who snoop into other people's lives, the novel, overall, is not very funny, is too full of reality, endless amounts of walking the protagonist's dog and has a bunch of plot points that fall off the mountain. Plus most of the male characters are either slimeballs or fools. Ms. Evanovich this is not.
The main problem here is this book tries to do too much with the character. Ace Jones is a fat girl but a true one, who wears her heart on her sleeve and is not afraid to speak her mind. But here, she is trying to be good and not be her own person, too afraid to annoy her boyfriend. The author shackles her into an annoying relationship with her dream boyfriend and in the interest of being “good” makes her boring.
While McAfee does put Jones in some funny situations – her run in with the honking driver at the burger drive in, a funny annecdote about a man with a big sex organ, or when she and her friends are almost arrested with a sex toy in plain view, or her plot to embarrass the local social doyenne who has made Ace’s life hell, the novel is too realistic and boring. Or maybe is just too repetitive.
Ace Jones has left her home in Bugtussle, Mississippi to live in Pelican Cove, Florida with Mason, her lawyer boyfriend, that she has loved since she was a little girl. But reality is much worse than dreams. Ace has opened gallery to sell her art, but somehow has gotten on the side of the nasty old social biddies that run Pelican Cove. As the novel opens, the chief annoyer, Lenore Kennashaw, accosts Ace, but Ace sucks it up because she wants to fit in. Kennashaw even asks for some art for her local charity which Ace gives to Kennashaw.
But the days are long for Ace and for the reader because nothing sells at the gallery. Its never clear if this because of a plot of Kennashaw, because the town looks down on Ace or because her art is ugly. What it means, however, is that Ace has too much time to kill, and the reader almost dies too. How many times do we have to hear about her chiweenie and his little walks. Another bummer for Ace is her boring romance with Mason. Mason is stuck in a big case and although he sometimes has time to spend with Ace, he works incredible hours and practically disregards his girlfriend’s life merely inviting her to eat with him in his conference room at night. Is there some romance, yes, but its very reduced. Ace is all alone. Since her art is not selling, Ace loses a lot of self esteem. I found his lack of empathy particularly realistic, but bad for the story.
Her feud with Kennashaw is never adequately explained. Why does Kennashaw steal her art? Why does Ace never see it put up at the auction? Why did Ace not tell Mason about how Kennashaw blocked her application for the local art festival? Its never clear. What does happen is Ace tries to take on Kennashaw herself.
It almost seems like the whole purpose of the novel is to show how Ace is going to fail at her attempt to fit in in Pelican Grove so she can go back and entertain us in Bugtussle.
Realistic depiction of life in South Florida. Yes. Fun and funny book to read. No. ...more
According to Wikipedia, the first story of men turning into wolves were written hundreds of years ago. In the Satyricon, written about 60 C.E. by GaiuAccording to Wikipedia, the first story of men turning into wolves were written hundreds of years ago. In the Satyricon, written about 60 C.E. by Gaius Petronius Arbiter, a character transformed into a wolf.
Europe has many legends of the were-wolf while North American Indians had tales of shape-shifters. The fear of werewolves and the evil they do is a fairly well known part of the legend. It is commonly thought that were-wolves have super human strength and speed, being only harmed by special "silver" bullets, and were able to heal themselves of injury. The were-wolf is thought to be most vulnerable as a human than as a wolf.
Sharon Shinn's Still Life with Shape-Shifter comes at the story of were-wolf's from a completely different angle. Her shape-shifters, are almost all old before their time, scrawny, malnourished and die by 50 if they are lucky. Although some are cute little dogs when children, they eventually are almost uniformly abandoned by their families, who either cannot accept a werewolf or cannot live with one. They cannot control their transformation and so live troubled lives. Cannot go to school if you turn into a wolf every two weeks. How do you hold down a job. Its hard to meet others of their kind. But most importantly, Shinn imagines that the process of becoming a werewolf puts tremendous stress on the body. Although the actual transformation is magical and glowing, the were-wolves's organs are affected by the sheer fact that the body is transformed from small to large size. And if this story was more about were-wolves and the problems they face it might have held more interest.
But that's just a subtext.
Instead this is really a story about the power of love and fear-both the love of a woman for a man and the love of a woman for her child, and how the fear of dealing with our love's lives can transform all of us -- sometimes in good ways, and sometimes in bad ways.
Melanie Landon is hiding from life in a small town called Dagmar. She lives in an old beat up house with a huge lot right in the middle of two big housing projects. She refuses to sell her house for big bucks because she is afraid for her half sister Ann, a shapeshifter -- who is "her whole life". Melanie raised Ann and cares for her like a parent, but lives in perpetual fear that Ann will be hurt or killed in her other shape or that the secret will come out. Melanie is paralyzed. But when Ann returns to Melanie its like the dawn of a new day. Grumpy Melanie's life is transformed into happy unscared Melanie.
Then Brody Westerbrook appears. An ex-reporter, who witnessed the transformation of a wolf into a man, he wants to write a book about shape-shifters and believes that Ann is a shifter. Handsome, articulate and smart, Brody starts to win over Melanie's heart, while her brain and her fear for her sister try to keep him away. Its a battle for Melanie's soul. Melanie and Brody are good characters and have their moments, and Brody promises to stay away from the story of Ann. Meanwhile Ann has found a fellow shape-shifter who has noticed that Ann seems to be ill.
But before we can explore these issues, boom, Shinn shifts to another story set in the novel -- a story we learn that runs parallel temporarily to this story. Its the story of Janet and Cooper. Janet, who lives with trying parents befriends Cooper, a young shape-shifter artist and learns to love him. Cooper would like to be human all the time, but cannot, and soon also feels the affects of his shape shifting process.
Meanwhile in the Brody, Melanie, Ann triangle, Melanie must learn to let go of her Ann and live.
I found myself skipping pages. The Janet - Cooper story was boring in parts, and so was the Ann, Melanie, Brody story. If Brody was so gung ho to write a story - why did his life seize up and stop as well. Besides the exploration of what it means to be a werewolf the story was really about what it means to be in a relationshp with one. In Melanie's case her life was a still life. Her sister was her whole world, and in Janet's case, she was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice merely to spend a few short months with her lover.
I wanted a grittier urban fantasy. I got something else. And it was disappointing.
The sputtering romantic mystery novel, the latest is Carla Neggers Sharpe and Donovan series, features an odd romance between two FBI agents and a barThe sputtering romantic mystery novel, the latest is Carla Neggers Sharpe and Donovan series, features an odd romance between two FBI agents and a barely there mystery involving a failed FBI sting against a gun runner and the theft of Russian art.
Colin Donovan is an FBI undercover agent who is investigating Pete Horner, a pilot, who is now involved in the arms trade. As the novel opens, Donovan is a prisoner, but escapes from Horner's clutches, with the help of a tip from Emma Sharpe's source.
Emma Sharpe is also an FBI agent, but was formerly almost a Nun, who is romantically involved with Donovan. She lives in Heron's Cove, Maine where her family has extensive ties to the art world as the family business is an art investigative service.
Donovan's brothers live in a nearby town, and seem to be a surly lot, treating Emma as an interloper in their male dominated world, but when their brother is missing, trying to obtain information about his job. Mike Donovan is particularly nasty to her.
When Colin finally arrives at Heron's Cove, he immediately renews his relationship with Emma, but seems very uncomfortable with her family business ties to the art world and Russians because the arms dealer he is investigating is Russian, which makes no sense because he has no proof that Sharpe's Russian friends are involved in arms smuggling. He is untrusting of her former life as a member of her family business or her aptitude as an agent and is constantly questioning her ties to her former life, her family business life and her sources. The real mystery is why Sharpe even stays with him. He basically states she has to choose between her family and life and him.
Meanwhile the ostensible mystery of the novel involves the Russian art collection of a former client of the Sharpes. Dmitri Rusakov found a Russan art collection in a wall of his villa in Russia. The art collection subsequently disappeared, and Emma, who investigated the theft for her Grandfather, the head of her family business, believed it was the work of Rusakov's then wife, who was divorcing him. The ex-wife has now died, and Natalie Warren, her daughter has inherited the priceless collection from her mother. When she shows up in Heron's Cove and Rusakov shows up also, they begin negotiating the return of the collection.
But Tatiana Pavlov, a young Russian art designer from England, who is also visiting Heron's Cove, cryptically warns Emma that someone is going to steal the collection. Emma dispatches her brother Lucas to find out Tatiana's background, and he locates a picture in her studio that leads Emma to an important clue as to Tatiana's family. The mystery is who is going to steal the collection and why. Is it Tatiana?. What are her ties to Rusakov?. Who is Ivan, Rusakov's right hand man and what are his ties to Emma? Who is the bad egg in Heron's Cove that is following other characters.
When someone tries to slip poisoned apple cider to various members of the Donovan family, Rusakov and Emma, the mystery is solved neatly in a bow.
The novel is a fast read and Emma Sharpe seems to be a good character, but her relationship with Colin Donovan, his odd family and his jealousy and behavior unduly complicates the story line.
Next time, we should have more mystery and less romantic clutter.