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Life as a bodyguard and driver for the rich, famous, and powerful is dangerous on a good day, and after sustaining a crippling injury while on duty, Janette's left with few options. Having signed a ‘for life’ contract but unable to work, she uses her skills to disappear.

Her new life as a librarian suits her. Nobody cares she limps and sometimes requires a cane to walk. She’s wanted for her knowledge, not her lethal magic. She’s surrounded by books, a woman’s best friend.

But when her former employer’s best friend is murdered on the steps of her library, old loyalties and secrets might destroy her - or set her free.

Teaming up with her co-workers to find the killer might keep her from being booked for murder, but unless she’s careful, she’ll find out exactly how far her ex-boss will go to reclaim what is rightfully his.

Her. For life.

432 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 18, 2020

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About the author

R.J. Blain

76 books1,127 followers
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 271 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica (Read book. Repeat).
621 reviews13 followers
August 25, 2020
You can find this review and all of my others over at www.readbookrepeat.wordpress.com

I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Tours as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 2.5

Janette was a body guard of the rich and fabulous. When a car accident took that life away from her and she was given barely any hope of waking up, letalone surviving, she beat the odds. She woke up and when she did, she hightailed it out of there to hide in plain sight and live the remainder of her life the best she could with her injuries. Life as a librarian suits her just fine, she has some friends, a cat and she is surrounded by books. No one cares that she limps and they even help her when she lets them. But when her former boss's best friend is murdered on the steps of Janette's library, things take a turn for the interesting. With the help from said former boss, as well as her friends and fellow librarians, they set out on the task of catching the killer, what Janette doesn't count on, is her ex-employer's need to reclaim what belongs to him.

I've read a book from Blain before. It was one of her magical romantic comedies. I was hoping that I would enjoy this book better as it's the beginning of a new series so figured the narrative might have a different voice...it didn't.

The premise for this story was awesome and that synopsis sold me the second that I read it. But unfortunately, the story fell a bit short of my expectations. The synopsis had me thinking that we were going to have a kick arse, strong female lead who is fighting back against her ex-employer who would be a dangerous and powerful man who is willing to do whatever it takes to get Janette back in some form or another. However, what I got was a female lead who is incredibly whiney and childish and a male lead who I can barely even call that, if I'm honest. He was just as whiney as his female counterpart, and he came across as a twelve year old boy who has to do what mummy tells him lest he get yelled at. This was just a real mood killer for me and I found it a struggle to get through the book as I just really didn't like these characters at all. Too much whine for me I think.

Janette has been through a lot and she has an interesting backstory, but I felt like it all took a backseat to her "fluffy Goddess" of a cat, which is called this or some variation of this literally everytime said cat is mentioned. Don't get me wrong, I love cats and understand how demanding and temperamental they can be, but I feel like it was trying too hard to be a quirk that made Janette endearing to the reader, when all it did for me is make me want to throttle her and tell her to grow up a bit. She had an interesting relationship with another character that was touted as a frenemies kinda thing, which is cool, but once again, it was laid on a bit heavy handed and was trying too hard to be a quirk in the story and the characters that it just became annoying. Also the mention and obsession over orange chicken became quite irritating, I believe this was also meant to be a quirk, it just didn't work out that way for me. Bradley, the ex-employer, man I wish he had have turned out how I envisioned in my head when I read this synopsis. Instead he was a simpering man child who was so far under mummy's finger that I'm surprised he could function. I was expecting major dangerous, rich and powerful alpha-hole male and I got a baby who possibly still needs his diaper changed. Sorry, I'm just not a fan of any of these characters at all. The parents pandered to their adult children, the adult children were whiney and my favourite character was the cat.

The story had some fantastic ideas and for the most part were executed fine, though I felt like the engagement contract was just random and out of the blue and just didn't seem to flow with the story at all. There was no questioning it or anything from the characters and it just seemed so out of place in the story. It was explained as to why it was happening, but honestly, a lot of it went over my head. There was so much technical and legal jargon in the story that I feel like I zoned out when imperative stuff was being explained because it was just prattling on and became quite boring. Also, nothing really happens in this book. It's almost a set up for the rest of the series, I was expecting at least a little action to happen, but honestly the whole book is pretty much Bradley finding out Janette is alive and functioning, her parents finding out the same, her co-workers finding out who she really is, and them all setting up this investigator cell so that they can hunt some killers. Nothing happened...I was so confused when I finished it, I almost felt like, where is the rest of the book?

All in all, this book had a lot of promise but it just fell a bit short for me. If you're after characters with a bit of sass and lots of issues, and a light, easy read. Give it a go. For me, I think I'm going to have to bow out from this author. I'm in the minority on my feelings about her work, which I'm glad for. I just wish I was able to enjoy it as much as her fans do.
Profile Image for Lauren Allen.
95 reviews2 followers
August 22, 2020
A setup book that goes nowhere

I like this author and when I read the premise of this book it seemed great. However, I am a bit disappointed. While the main character is fleshed out and her best frenemy is as well. Many of the others are weak and two dimensional. The male interest appears strong upon first glance, but then becomes a weak, whiney, mommy's boy who does nothing to romance the lead. We go from library, to we need to set up a investigative group, to you need months of surgery all in the span of chapters. Then instead of actual plot progression the book stalls until 75% through. Where we have a tiny bit of progress on the main plot before the book just ends. With absolutely nothing resolved or actually done. So we have a romance with no romance, a investigative mystery with no investigation and only one actually interesting 3D character. Me thinks the author just phoned this one in.
Profile Image for Gwen.
291 reviews54 followers
August 23, 2020
2020 The Year of the brief Review and ...."Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”
I was really looking forward to this book, it has all the elements I enjoy in a book, great characters, a cat, interesting story line, a cat, really new take on magical powers with a bit of a mystery, a cat, humor, a cat.

So all in all the perfect book..not, so why did it go wrong? For me, I think it was the sheer repetition of
Janette's life story, it was such a pity because I really wanted to love this book.
Despite all this I think I am going to give the next one a go, maybe we can move on with the story.
155 reviews4 followers
August 21, 2020
Could not finish

I own all of RJ Blain’s books & her Susan Copperfield series. One or two of her recently published books have been harder to read than others. Interestingly enough it was because the dialogue got off track too often.
The start of this book was SO promising, action plus dialogue. Then it crumbles into just conversations. I skipped entire sections and could pick up the story and not feel I had missed anything. I kept pushing thinking this has got to get better. (Tear drops) it didn’t, though I might go to the end to see if anything happens.

So many of RJ Blains books are great! Karma is my go to book when I just want to read something to feel good. Ms Blain can I suggest that you go back and look at your early books, Blood Bound and all your Susan C books. You have a chunk of great writing out there. I pre ordered all your books, they seem to be coming fast and furious. Please don’t let them push you into loosing that spark that makes us want to read your books over and over again.
Profile Image for Jeanny.
1,898 reviews153 followers
October 1, 2020
Decent premise.
Minimal effort made towards world building.
Peculiar character interactions.
Next book is scheduled to come out 2021. I’m not sure this series will continue to keep my interest that long.
2.5 stars
September 8, 2020
“You’re a strange woman, Janette.”
“You know what happens when women get a hold of books. We get ideas, and you know there’s nothing more dangerous than a woman with ideas.”

So, I'm straddling the middle line here.

1. I love the magic system. The heroine is a exsanguinator (she can control blood, which is actually an awesome power).
2. I actually like the heroine and her messy sense of humour.
3. I love their posse. I wish the author would do something more with them rather having them as an audience.
4. The initial murder mystery. You got me hooked by that first killing.

1. Poor worldbuilding. Despite elaborate descriptions for EVERYTHING, this book explained almost nothing about the world they're living except for the political machination.
3. The meandering. Talking too much about meaningless stuffs that I kept losing my focus.
4. The whole conspiracy of the murdered people. Which actually involved a lot of political stuffs. Which again, I don't really like in a murder mystery.
6. I wish the author could make it a case for a book, rather than having just one continuous case for the entire of the series.

In the end, there is a huge possibility in this book and I hope the next one coming will fill up all those gaps. It's good enough for me as it is.
Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,340 reviews101 followers
January 31, 2022
Let me begin by saying that I like this author. She is very imaginative. She finds interesting ways to kill off characters and is not afraid to waste whole cities in her stories.
Since this is the first book in the series there is a lot of background. Our main character spends most of the 432 pages overcoming disabilities left over from an accident. We don't get to learn much about the side characters, but we do learn that great riches are very powerful tools.
Good book and I have hope the next in the series will move the story along towards the killers.
Profile Image for Angela (Angel's Book Nook).
1,572 reviews875 followers
January 1, 2021
I’ve got mixed feelings on this one. I really like the cover it’s eye-catching. As for the story not a whole lot happens and I’m a bit confused on the world and the society and its structure as for the mystery that isn’t even solved it’s going to continue into the next book and maybe a book after that I’m not sure how the authors going to do it. I read the whole thing and I enjoyed the banter and the long running commentary but I was quite confused on the Society structure and the relationship she has with her ex boss maybe fiancé I don’t know. Mixed feelings.

Rated: 3 Stars
Profile Image for Janessa Sanio.
22 reviews10 followers
December 30, 2021
I HOPED this book would be different from her others but.. sigh..

Welcome to the R.J. Blaine/Susan Copperfield drinking game. Take a shot if:

- the book is set in a world where you have magic and magic is rated on a scale and there is prejudice depending on how how much magic you have
- the h/H has a medical problem/injury
- the h/H has a cat/gets a cat
- the h/H works in medical field/security/public service/running of the country
- the h/H has a horse/gets a horse
- the h/H has insane magic talent that they downplay
- the h/H has magic talent that is misrated lower than average
- the h/H has overprotective parental figures that are childish and has "babysitters" to keep them in line
- the h/H has a crazy cast of family members
- there are doctor/s that are magically skilled in whatever medical problem/injury the h/H has
- the h/H gets kidnapped
- the h/H gets shot at/hit on the head
- the h/H does an amazing magical feat
- the h/H ends up at the hospital, extra shot if its after the amazing magical feat
- the h/H magic talent grows / develops new talent
- the h/H is living modestly and the SO is wealthy and connected and said wealth and connections solves all of h/H's problems in life
- there are sports cars
- the phrase, "you're/that's mean"
- the phrase, "you're/that's evil"
- the phrase, "you're/that's cruel"
- the phrase, "cruel and unusual punishment"
- a side characters that has the magical talent to help h/H out of a situation
- a side character that has a job position to help character to deal with legal/administrative stuff
- a side character with non-magical skill that can help h/H deal with situation/legal/administrative stuff
- doing paperwork
- signing of contracts
- a side plot/plot that is about changing unfair legislations/laws
- repeated conversation about h/H's medical problem/injury
- repeated conversation about the unfair law/legislation and what is being done
- repeated introduction of h/H's pet to every character that h/H meets
- civil war/rebellion to overthrow goverment
- abuse of people with no or low magic talent
- someone knows how to fly a plane
- h/H has to put in time at a firing range

There's more but I'm pretty sure you're gonna be drunk by the time you're through.

Also feel free to add on to the list
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
352 reviews35 followers
October 1, 2021
5 star read.

Highly recommend.

The cover with cat, books, funky glasses and the hint of magic pulled me in first. Then the series title, "Vigilante Magical Librarians." Finally the blurb as I suspected that the heroine and hero had different definitions and expectations of a "for life" contract.

Knowing it was a new series by Blain I rushed home after work and started reading, expecting suspense, magic, some humor, some puns, maybe a romance. And the book delivered more than I hoped for.

If you've never read an RJ Blain story this is a good starting point as it's a new series, with a new world that has different magic and society rules than the Magical Rom Com and the Royal States series. If you're a fan of Blain stories, this one doesn't disappoint.

Loved the spunk and independence of the heroine, the sneaky attachment of the hero, all the positive friend and family relationships. And the cat of course.

This is the book that sets up the chessboard and some of the players for the series, so questions will be asked but not answered here. But the characters are a delight so don't wait until the next book is released, read this one now.

I wish I didn't have to be up before dawn tomorrow or I'd start re-reading tonight.

cross posted amazon, goodreads, book bub.
Profile Image for Lyndi W..
2,045 reviews193 followers
October 2, 2020
I have never read a book like this, so I'm not really sure how to review it. I'm not even sure I liked it. I'm just really confused, okay?

The book takes place over just a few days and it's happening in real time. Oh, that scene took you an hour to read? That's because the characters were talking for an hour. Every word. Every look. Every thought of the MC. It's all on the page. Interesting conversations, to be sure, but dear god make something happen already. I'd swear at least 75% of this book is just a couple scenes of the characters talking in the MC's apartment.

This book, at 430 some odd pages, reads more like a prequel novella in introducing the conflict. This was the set up. Every single moment of the set up.

But it's interesting? Certainly on the nose a few times with American current events and lacking any real action, but this insanely long winded way of telling the story also has its charm somehow. Eventually I realized I should just view it as the longest prequel story ever and there would not be any sort of satisfactory ending. It was easier to enjoy after that.

So I liked it, but it was also not what I expected and a unique way of storytelling is not always a better way. I'll read the rest of the series, but I dunno if I'd recommend it yet.

Profile Image for Hailee (haibooklovers).
498 reviews91 followers
October 7, 2020
This one was ...odd but enjoyable?

The best analogy that I can think of is one of those rides at the county fair.

Assembled under questionable supervision.
When you ride it you’re not sure quite where you’re going.
End up with a little bit of whiplash.

Through the whole thing you’re laughing and having a grand ole time. You get off the ride and wonder why you put yourself through it, but know you’d do it again.
Profile Image for Alex(Books-In-A-Storm).
1,717 reviews40 followers
January 12, 2022
Holy Crap!
What did I just read? It was amazing!
I loved this one. A bodyguard turned librarian. She's so cool and kick ass.
I laughed my head of and smile a lot.
I loved this one and I can't wait to read the next book.
Profile Image for Jamie Pauline.
86 reviews7 followers
November 28, 2021
Usually my worst reads originate from places where the books are cheap or free, since lower prices make me more willing to take the risk. Booked for Murder is not one such book. I spent a whole $15 Libro credit on it. Do I regret it? Yes. But is that loss mitigated by my chance to vent on this blog? Absolutely.

In case you haven’t surmised from the title, Booked for Murder is about a magical murder – the murder of a senator, to be specific. Should be at least a little bit interesting, right? Oh, if only. There are too many things wrong with this book for it to be even remotely considered passable.

So where do I even start?

The first problem is Janette herself, which is doubly unfortunate since she narrates the book in first-person. Blain tries to depict Janette as this perfect person who is amazing at everything; both in spite of and because of this, Janette is unlikable. I tired quickly of everyone, including Janette herself, rambling about how amazing she is – about how magically talented she is, how clever she is, how sweet she is. Like, congratulations, you figured out via testing on cattle that you can shoot blood a million feet or whatever. Are you proud of your animal cruelty? Janette is so powerful that in order to hide from her boss (whom she obnoxiously calls her “ex-boss” throughout the book even well after readers discover that she is on a first-name basis with the guy), she had to fake having a low magical capacity because her real one is so phenomenally high.

It's normal to admire someone for their gifts and qualities, but everyone’s appreciation of Janette’s talents errs egregiously into the territory of abject fawning. What exacerbates my irritation, though, is that for as much as everyone effusively gushes over Janette, that lionization doesn’t seem earned to me. Supposedly Janette is so smart that she can hack into police files in just a few minutes and leave almost no trace, but she’s not clever enough to realize that hiding in the same city as Bradley, changing her last name, and wearing glasses like some Perry the Platypus knockoff bullshit will not ultimately conceal her effectively. The author attempts to portray Janette as jocular, but her jokes are awkward and often carried on to the point where a listener questions whether she’s serious. (I kid you not, she spends a whole minute joking about setting politicians – the people she and her group are ostensibly trying to save – on fire, even after it’s become clear that the joke has exhausted its welcome.) But congratulations, bitch, because being a talented store-brand bloodbender who can shoot bovine blood a gajillion meters away apparently compensates for your insipid personality. The only things I can appreciate about Janette are her love for her cat (whom she rescued as a kitten) and her love of books, but that’s not enough to outweigh everything I can’t stand about her.

Really, almost every character is either annoying, straight-up bizarre, or both. Like, the head librarian of the New York Library is randomly and conveniently also mortician or some shit. Bradley’s mom is almost as imperious as her son is, and she thinks it’s cool to “take in” a Black girl as a child and then employ her as a maid, and then adopt her after she’s become an adult. (Author lady, if Jezabela is supposed to be your Black rep, maybe don’t make your only explicitly Black character be a fucking maid.) Janette’s dad is weirdly, creepily obsessed with punishing her with the switch. He rambles about it for minutes at a time. And after not seeing or hearing from Janette for three years, her parents see fit to remark that her cat is an acceptable temporary substitute for grandchildren. Can you imagine being reunited with your child after three years and grousing about how bummed you are that they haven’t popped out grandchildren, let alone shacked up with somebody? Yeah, me neither.

And then there’s Bradley. We the readers are supposed to root for Janette and Bradley to at last admit their feelings for one another and bang it out, but few love interests who are unworthier than this entitled little scum nugget come to mind. This scuzzball thinks he owns the damn world and can do whatever the fuck he wants because he has money and (supposedly) is hot. He is possessive even for a guy who holds a woman’s indentured servitude contract (yeah, we’ll get to that later). He insists on doing everything for Janette, an importunity that breaches the threshold of pesky to lodge itself firmly into creepy territory. Bradley might not make all of Janette’s decisions for her, but he certainly seems that he’d like to. Various controlling behaviors of Bradley’s are excused under the pretense of pampering or doting on Janette. Clearly he has no reservations about telling HIPPA to go fuck itself, snooping through her medical records, or making appointments for her, because that’s exactly what he does. I don’t care if that’s normal for the world they live in; it’s still eerie. These aren’t the only instances of blatant overreach on Bradley’s part; there are so many that I can’t pick many more off the top of my head. What I can tell you is that like half of my notes consist of comments like “What a shithead” and “You fucking pompous iguana,” and you can bet that those are all about Bradley. I know I just spent a gigantic chunk of this review complaining about how simultaneously boring and weird Janette is, but even I think she deserves better than this self-absorbed, toxic-masculinity-riddled asshole. Get the hell out of here, Bradley, you’re not fooling me with your “I’m friends with a eugenicist but I disagree with him” claptrap.

The rest of this book is… I just hate it. Everything is too similar to the real world, and none of the things that set the book’s universe apart from the real world are charming or enchanting or even interesting. The magic system is horrendously bland. I’m also disturbed by how casually the so-called “for-life contracts” are treated. It’s one thing to write your character as accepting of obviously morally reprehensible practices for the sake of the story. But usually when an author crafts a world with a patent injustice baked into it, the voice typically expresses some kind of condemnation for that injustice, even if the characters endorse the abhorrent behavior. I did not pick up that vibe in this book. I’m not saying that the author is pro-slavery/-indenture, just that the narration doesn’t seem to hold the expected tacit remonstrance. Maybe I just wasn’t paying sufficient attention to pick that up, but the notion that my attention might have strayed so seriously is another testament to how good this book isn’t. But how could I possibly be interested when the dialogue frequently runs off on tangents such as how the tax structure of the investigative cell works. (By the way, dear book characters, if your investigative cell has tax laws it needs to follow, it’s probably sanctioned by law; therefore, you are not vigilantes.)
Aside from the presence of a cat, the other thing this book has going for it is physically disabled character representation via the main character, but let’s be honest: You can find solid disabled character representation and lovable characters, an entertaining plot, and an interesting world in the Aurora Cycle. Don’t waste your time with this book.
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,511 reviews32 followers
August 19, 2020
Nothing really new from this author. Bodyguard MC specialist, hospital visits, food obsessions, animal love and a ton of murder theory, as well as political chaos. It was alright, the characters were fun but I got lost in all the bill jargon and info dumps. Five book series so no murders solved. Judging by the title the next one is gonna be kidnapping so think I’ll skip this series for now.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lelia Taylor.
872 reviews17 followers
August 20, 2020
3.5 stars

A mashup of mystery and urban fantasy is one of my favorite reads so I looked forward to this one with great glee but, while I enjoyed many aspects of it, the overall result was not quite as good as I hoped.

The concept of a woman who’s a bodyguard in the top echelons of society, exposed to all kinds of dangers and *stuff* that we can’t quite identify with because this is an alternate universe of sorts, is really appealing. It gets even better, in my opinion, when she decides to take advantage of a dire injury to reinvent the wheel, i.e., herself and what better way to hide out than to become a librarian? Of course, as you might expect, all does not go well for the long run and Janette soon finds herself tangled up with her former boss, Bradley, in a murder investigation. My kind of story!

So why am I not 100% in love with this book? The first hiccup for me is that I didn’t really like some of the characters but, in itself, that wouldn’t be a complete turnoff; I actually think an unappealing character or two makes for a more natural tale. However, the second issue was pacing that dragged in places, largely due to overdumping of info. Sure, the first book in a series needs to have more worldbuilding than later books but this just seemed to take up too much word space.

Bottomline, while this didn’t give me the wow factor, it’s a promising beginning to what I understand is going to be a five-book series and I do want to find out what happens next, particularly since the murder is not solved in this one. Like some other mystery series, Booked for Murder apparently is going to carry that storyarc over at least one more book, perhaps all, so I’ll be watching out for number 2.
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 23 books423 followers
September 4, 2021
I like satire about vigilante magical librarians who are overinvested in their cats as much at the next person, but when something is this long (about 450ish pages) and also satirical, the humor of the satire starts to wear thin and the author runs out of things to make fun of and slowly, gradually, subtly, you're tricked into reading an actual book about all the things you were promised you would be seeing satirized that also can't really stand as it's own compelling narrative outside of "isn't this an insane idea?"

I loved the first bit of this and would have adored it were it shorter, but I feel like I was tricked into reading a joke book that wasn't a joke at all.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
2,037 reviews108 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
November 16, 2022
DNF at 27%. This author is super hit or miss for me. This book was a lot of fun for the first quarter but it’s devolving quickly.

It’s getting repetitive and manic, and the story and characters are starting to make no sense.

She has a lot of potential as an author but I lose patience quickly with the manic nature of her writing.

It’s sad, because the start to the story was so good.
Profile Image for N.
372 reviews51 followers
April 4, 2022
DNF @ 23%

Subpar writing and questionable character development made me put this down. Although, I didn't really enjoy where the plot was going with this either.

Profile Image for Diane.
1,102 reviews56 followers
August 22, 2020
Some entertaining interaction, but the "investigating" goes round in talky circles w/NO RESOLUTION!

This isn't a cliffhanger per se, but the multiple-political-assassinations investigation goes practically nowhere. When the book ends (over yet another group gathering, with food) they're still debating all the same angles and permutations of which factions have which motives (either directly or as a framing misdirection) for killing the sponsors of a bad-news-except-for-a-privileged-few bill, as when they first came together in enlightened self-interest, seeking to take matters into their own hands. "Vigilante" is meant more as humor, btw, than an accurate description of their PI-ish role, since the protagonists (Janette, Bradley, plus assorted librarians, parents, and a couple others) all reluctantly concede that even greedy, bigoted architects of would-be social disaster and tyranny should not be murdered.

Speaking of the social structure, it shares certain elements (though not all) with Ms. Blain's Royal States romantic UFs written under the nom-de-plume Susan Copperfield, and with Ilona Andrews' "Hidden Legacy" series: highly-magical adepts with wealth and influence, some lower-status individuals in sworn/contracted service, and others lacking access to even necessary resources. Easily-predicted love-interest-to-be Bradley Hampton and his parents (despite the emotional distance presented in Janette's initial embittered-PoV musings), prove to follow the pattern of Copperfield protagonist Royals: surprisingly egalitarian and socially aware. There is a tinge of preachiness here and there in the narrative, such as re. unfortunate attitudes toward the handicapped (including how the presumed temporary nature of the cast/medical boot on Janette's foot lessens the ~stigma~).

Until I hit the (lack of) conclusion which decided me firmly in the negative, I had been pondering whether I could stretch to generously rounding up, in optimistic hopes for the future trajectory of this lightly entertaining bunch of characters. It already objectively didn't deserve a Goodreads 4/5, given its repetitious use of various speculations, a number of slightly flat/strained humorous motifs (for example, Janette loves so-spicy-it's-incendiary takeout Chinese; "orange chicken" appears 44 times!), and Janette's frustration with her physical limitations (I didn't have Search count how many times she said or thought "This sucks"). There is some drama and action, and some clever and fairly original use of magic, but not a large percentage of the total page time. As for the romance, it's mainly a matter of teasing from friends, low-key recognition of attraction and concern, and parental plans — not so much as a kiss happens here in book 1.

Also, even considering the book's length, about a dozen highlights is too many to have due to issues of iffy, confusing, or outright wrong syntax, grammar, spelling, etc. *specific examples inside the "spoiler" tags*

I do seem to wind up saying these sorts of things about Ms. Brain's books repeatedly, don't I? But I can't resist her intriguing premises, like this one: fun fantasy murder mystery with a bodyguard-turned-librarian sounds 100% up my reading alley. I probably will read the rest of this series someday... assuming I can find the later volumes on sale or in KU. $6 was too much to have paid for the amount of gripping story progression I found in this one.

P.S. I hope I fully recreated all the points I'd drafted before trying to type this review in the dinky Kindle for Android "Before You Go" one-paragraph-visible interface (with this stinkin' arrow-key-less virtual keyboard) made me lose a whole chunk out of the middle with an inadvertent selection action. There isn't even any Undo I could've used if I'd realized immediately what had happened. *sigh*
Profile Image for Heather Gilbert.
1,491 reviews65 followers
August 26, 2020
I really enjoy narratives penned by R.J. Blain - they are inventive, complex and often hysterical. This is the introduction of a new series, and while it has the same flavor as the more popular 'Romantic Comedy with a Body Count' collection, it does not appear to be set in the same world. The rules are far different, with a class system that seems an odd blend of Democracy, Aristocracy and Feudalism.... though I'm still unsure of the Democracy part.

Here, in this world, Adepts of a certain magical percentage, are more highly valued than their less talented brethren, though 'Mundanes' - who lack magical talent, are also highly prized if they are 'pure', though not for power or position, but breeding potential due to quirky DNA that might produce a high percentage offspring. It's complicated on every front, and when politics get involved (when doesn't politics get involved?) it becomes even MORE complicated... and deadly.

Fast, woven and witty, this was an enjoyable ride I am eager to continue. I am still trying to understand the system they work in and under, and why 'for life' contracts seem so acceptable to so many... when they appear more like slavery on first inspection. The information is juggled throughout the plot, dropped here and there in rain drops of knowledge, but by the time Book 1 came to a close, I still did not have a full grasp of the hows and whys of this complicated and often nefarious, world. I'm looking forward to seeing how Book 2 expands and explains.

~ Funny. Very, very funny.
~ Magical talents are as diverse as the people that own them.
~ Librarians. What is not to love about that?

~ R.J. Blain is talented... and repetitive. It feels like almost every character in every one of the novels, no matter the series, share the same sarcastic wit, creating conversations that follow the same format in every world. That is not to say those conversations are not entertaining, for they surely are, but they quickly become familiar. Snark, wit and humor, while desired, usually doesn't apply to every person you meet.

First Person, Single POV

Ending Type
Mild Cliff

R, for violence.

Romantic Dynamic

Character Age Range

My Final Verdict on Booked for Murder

A new world with an intricate political system and complex plot, this is another hit for the talented R.J. Blain. Smirk inducing and cringe worthy, it's a bloody ride that goes all the way to the top. Mild Romance.
October 24, 2020
I.... couldn't actually finish this book. It started out really interesting and then the characters just stop making sense.
The main character, Janette is initially this secret badass, who's become pretty independent after leaving behind her job body guarding this rich guy after getting seriously injured and potentially disabled for life. Except, y'know as soon as the rich guy is introduced he's actually kinda nice, albeit a little controlling and entitled. In the synopsis, her ex-boss, Bradley is made out to be a hardass who is upset that Janette up and disappeared, and then he turns out to have really questionable friends, and is also pushed around by both Janette and his mom and also everyone else. Janette also gets pushed around a lot? When I started reading, I was super intrigued by her past and then a series of things happened. 1. Everything got revealed very early- Janette is put in a position where she has to reveal her past, her shady hacking skills, why she left, etc. 2. The main 2 characters don't really have a spine- Bradley gets pushed around, Janette gets pushed around, neither one actually really argues against this weird engagement side-plot which I think was supposed to be like a "they both secretly want it" even though they haven't actually seen each other in years. 3. Very political very quickly- I like political side plots most of the time, but this was just... not well executed. 4. None of Janette's decisions are really respected- everyone from her former life is like "oh why did you leave your very nice job, how could you do that, I'm so disappointed in you", she is moved out of her apartment, her stuff gets replaced, people just do stuff without warning her. 5. this feels a little bit like inspiration porn- yes it was amazing to have a book with representation but she is constantly saying "i beat the odds because i'm so special and strong" and I did Not vibe with that.

Long story short, this book could have been amazing, but our characters were never really given a personality and are instead under the direction of others almost constantly. There wasn't a lot of emotional depth either- Janette disappearing and her reasoning could have been written much better, as could Bradley's feelings about it.
Profile Image for Dew.
685 reviews55 followers
October 10, 2020
Not worth the time or money

The book ends on a cliffhanger and makes no progress whatsoever on the central mystery that starts the book. A sitting U.S. Senator is murdered as the inciting incident for the story and the remainder of the book is expository filler to justify a multi-part series. The author might maybe get around to the mystery at some later date or not at all, stay tuned for the next 5 years to see what the author decides. The author takes great pains to draw parallels to the current political landscape, which is intensely annoying to read.

In terms of character development, which consumes approximately 90% of the book’s content, all of the characters have the same tone and use the same terminology for everything, including slang. Janette has 2 surgeries on her foot, decides to open a part-time pro-bono private investigative service with all of her work colleagues from the library, and goes to the gun range once. The author spends more time discussing Janette’s footwear than progressing on the underlying mystery, the AU that the characters inhabit, or the different paranormal skills and abilities of the AU. At one point a character discusses an entirely different, historical crime and suddenly all of the characters simultaneously and without discussion start operating as if the current crime is being committed exactly like the historical crime.

From a technical standpoint, there are grammatical and syntax errors that make certain aspects of the book unintentionally confusing. For example, at one point, the author forgets that the name of the Hampton family is Hampton and refers to them as the Bradley family.
Profile Image for Sandra.
1,305 reviews85 followers
January 10, 2021
Loved this new series.

She's a scary, dangerous magic user, who loves being a Librarian! What's not to love.

Janette signed a "for life" contract, but being a teenager (19 or so) didn't realise just what that entailed. Oh sure, she's prepared to give her life as a bodyguard, but practically no time off, no pets, no 'me time' is very tiring. So, when she's injured on the job, protecting "her body" and he says don't come back till you're in prime condition, she takes the smart way out, and disappears, as she doesn't think she'll ever be back in prime condition.

The only thing I don't like about this book is that I have to wait 12-18mths for the next one! How am I supposed to wait that long?
Profile Image for Wende.
1,092 reviews7 followers
February 13, 2022
It is a great start to a new series. Unfortunately I have to wait to late next year or even into 2022 for the next book. Is it worth the wait? I hope so as I loved this first book.💕💕
Profile Image for Rukaiya Mustafa.
25 reviews4 followers
August 19, 2020
It took me a while to understand the story. The initial chapters has a lot of background which is needed as the new magical world is difficult to understand. I couldn’t understand between adepts, mundanes and the magical rating at first but once you start reading the book, it sucks you right in.

What intrigued me the most is the dual personality that the protagonist lives in, Janette from the present and the Janette from the past. In the past, we see Janette as a strong bodyguard who drives the fastest cars with precision and is loyal to her boss. The present Janette is colourfully dressed librarian with funky glasses and a cane with a cat.

Nobody can recognize her, and that’s what she wants. This new life was solely created so that she can live away from a for-life contract between her ex-boss and her parents. But what I loved is the clash of Janette’s two worlds.

When her boss shows up at the steps of the library she works at, investigating his friends murder, Janette doesn’t know what to do. In order to not be found, she tries her best to stay hidden under the stairs but soon her boss Bradley finds her. They both in different ways start investigating the case all the while arguing with each other.

I also loved the dynamo that Janette has with the various characters. The author has done well in merging the personalities of Janette and given us a new Janette to look at. The most fascinating things among all is the magical percentage that allows different people to use magic differently. This is one of the first books that I’ve read with this plot and it’s brilliant.

There are parts in the book that are a bit too draggy but overall, its a great book that I enjoyed reading. Lots of investigative questions are asked and the answers are yet to come. I cannot wait to read the next book that answers all my questions! This book is perfect for those who want to escape from reality and join in Janette’s magical world that is full of mystery.
Profile Image for Beth.
463 reviews18 followers
August 26, 2020
R.J. Blain is an auto purchase for me and I have read her pseudonyms as well. I enjoy her stories and her characters....
That said I have some issues. Not only with this book, but with all of them. Please don't take this to mean I hate her books or anything like that. It has just been bugging me for awhile now and I decided to articulate how I feel.

My main issue is that the characters are so similar in personality and how they speak that they blend together in my mind. The only real differences are names and abilities, this is across all of the books, not specific to the Blain novels.

The romance.....for the most part I never really feel the heat between the characters, you are told by another character that the he really likes her and has been panicking whenever she does X. The main love interests very rarely actually discuss what they feel towards each other, Bailey and Quinn eventually get there, but again it was side characters that set them straight. Matchmaking mothers and mother substitute characters are frequently in on forcing them to be together before they have even said hmm I like you.

We are told in very long conversations what has been happening. This is frequently a long convo between heroine and side character after she is injured or does something crazy and/or stupid. She (and the reader) doesn't learn the important information about the world or mystery as the story moves along. It is dumped on us all in a convo with someone that is only partially involved in her quest.

Booked for Murder:
I liked Janette, Bradley and the cast of characters. Why wouldn't I, they are all very similar personality wise to other books I enjoyed *shrug*. The main difference with Janette is that she was in a severe accident and has been dealing with the major life changes that came with that, specifically her foot. She is no longer able to do what she loved or have the same job. I am still a little unsure on why she ran and hid. There were a lot of other options, but I do understand that she had gone through a traumatic experience and wasn't thinking clearly. I didn't really notice any particular lust or love between the 2 main characters. Janette occasionally thinks of he's hot and he brings her things, but that's about it. There were so many lost opportunities for dramatic scenes between them. Janette also has flashbacks about the accident and new memories, she's not sure if they are real or not and wants to ask him and it just never comes up again! Those memories and the resulting convo could have really shown the depth of their true feelings, hence a lost opportunity.

As the first book in a 5 books series, this was mostly setting up the rest of the series. There was no movement towards solving the main mystery. The only real move forward that happened is in her personal relationships, mending the past broken ones and healing herself mentally and physically. It felt kind of like a filler book that is used to set up a shift from one story line to the next main story line, I am thinking of the Rachel Caine Stillhouse Lake series specifically. I can view this as a shift in story from the magical humor with a body count series to vigilante Librarians and let it go. I like the idea of a bunch of librarians running around and solving crimes that have the cops stumped. Love it. I really hope the 2nd book moves the mystery forward and we find out more information about this group of assassins, political extremists.
347 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2021

This is the second R. J. Blain first of series I've read this week, and also the second that has no sequel, yet. This is immensely frustrating. (The other was https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5..., which I will also be writing about)

Why oh why are you working on so many series at the same time? And why do you have to end with cliff hangers?

Ok, now that I have that out of the way... I'm really liking Blain's darker stories. I'm also liking the fact that there will, probably, be continuity. Don't get me wrong, I like paranormal romance, but when there's a strong enough story line, I want to go with it, keep following the characters.

Blain does snarky dialogue really well, which takes some of the edge off the darkness, and make her books fun despite the death and destruction running rampant.

This is a different universe, in which some humans have magical powers in various strengths, no two of them, apparently, identical. We've got corrupt politicians with various agendas, some of whom are being knocked off. We've got magical librarians (plus allies) trying to find and stop the murderer(s), even though it appears that the world is better off without the murdered politicians.

I love the main characters, I love their parents and friends. I have to say, though, that alcohol (even pop) works as well, if not better, than milk for neutralizing spicy, and if you're lactose intolerant, you should know this.
Profile Image for Heather.
450 reviews39 followers
October 20, 2020
2.5 stars While I really liked the family and friends dynamics, and I liked the magic system I really didn't need to have so much build up for what was a very minor amount of action. I get that this is going to be a multiple book series(5), but it should be more than we've got research to do. We've got to practice shooting. If you (main heroine) don't qualify we'll have to use one of the side characters for the shooting. Yeah, I get it. Why did you feel you needed to state that in the book 10 times?!? I'm reading UF for pleasure not because I have reading comprehension issues. Also, the "chemistry " between our 2 main characters is pretty non existent. Hopefully, we'll get a better love interest down the line or better yet just keep them as really close friends. No reason to force a romantic relationship. We really don't need another Bones or Castle situation.
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