Book Review: Death Plays a Part by Vivian Conroy

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

DEATH PLAYS A PART (Cornish Castle Mystery Book 1) by Vivian Conroy is the first of a new cozy mystery series featuring Guinevere Evans and her adorable dachshund, Dolly. It is a clever locked room cozy set in an old castle on a tidal island off the coast of Cornwall.

Guinevere is a costume designer for a London theater that has to close for renovations over the summer. She receives an offer to work and live at Cornisea castle cataloguing their library. She is excited to have a summer of island adventures with Dolly to tell all of her theater family about in the fall.

When she arrives on Cornisea, she is immediately thrown into the mix of players that are producing a reenactment of the medieval trial of Branok the Cold-hearted. Arthur Haydock is playing Branok and is locked in a cell in the dungeon for the rehearsal and found stabbed to death by the cast. Only Lord Bolingbrooke has a key to the cell, but he swears he is innocent even though he and Haydock were at odds. Guinevere and Dolly, with the help of Oliver, Lord Bolingbrooke’s son who has returned after traveling the world, work to uncover all of the players’ secrets and motives for wanting Haydock dead.

I enjoyed every aspect of this story. The plot was tightly woven and had me guessing until the end, even though I suspected who was responsible, I could not figure out the “How”. The pacing is steady and as you read the story, you are always given some new piece of the puzzle that makes you want to continue on. The setting of the castle and village on the tidal island was vividly described and a unique setting.

Guinevere is a main character that I am looking forward to reading more about. We gets peeks into her past, but some things are still unclear. She is mature and steady even though she is only 24 years old, which could come from being raised by her grandmother and/or being on her own. One thing is certain, she and Dolly are a great pair. Oliver, Lord Bolingbrooke’s son, makes an interesting co-sleuth and possibly more in future books? Ms. Conroy portrays the islanders vs. the main landers mentality realistically and shows how it effects the characters’ moods and actions.

I am looking forward to more Cornisea adventures with Guinevere and Dolly.

**Please visit all of the Death Plays A Part Blog Tour stops and check out all of the great blogs/reviews for this new book!

Book Review: Prossers Bay Boxed Set (Books 1-4) by Cheryl Phipps

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

I really enjoy getting to know characters and towns over a book series.  PROSSERS BAY BOXED SET (Books 1-4) by Cheryl Phipps consists of one short story and three contemporary romances set in the small town of Prossers Bay, New Zealand. The romances revolve around a group of three girlfriends with the short story being an introduction to the series’ main characters. These romances are all entertaining in their own right and are fast and easy reads.

Book 1 is the short story ‘Doc’s Town’ and is an introduction to Doc Morris, the town doctor. All the characters watch out for Doc now that he is a widower and his only son is away working on his own career. The main female characters of the three romances in books 2-4 are introduced as well as someone who wants more than friendship with Doc and that is basically all this short story involves.

Book 2 ‘Finding Liam’ is Abby and Max’s story. Abby owns her own cleaning service. Megan and Stephanie work for her and are also her best friends who have helped her through her several miscarriages and depression. As Abby and Max try to find their way back to a physical and loving relationship that has dissolved during Abby’s depression, Abby finds a child left alone in one of the beach homes she is cleaning. Liam’s story will break your heart and have you reading until the end to make sure this little boy finds his happily ever after as well as Abby and Max. (I have to say this was my favorite of the three full length romances.)

Book 3 ‘Seducing Megan’ takes us into struggling, single mom, Megan’s life with twin girls, Mia and Cody. John Lambert owns and runs the upscale resort just outside of town and he wants Megan to work for him. He makes Megan an offer that she just cannot refuse monetarily, but what he does not know is that Megan has been burned before by a rich man and no matter how attracted she may be to John, she refuses to make the same mistake again. Megan is sassy and talented, but John knows she is a mom first and he has never considered being a dad.

Book 4 ‘Saving Stephanie’ has Doc’s son, Jamie, and Stephanie’s old boyfriend returning to Prossers Bay to care for his dad after a minor heart attack. The flame is still there, but so are the problems that separated them. Both have dreams they want to fulfill and unless a compromise can be found they will both be going their separate ways once again.

The three contemporary romances are all entertaining and all are different types of stories that are not repetitive. They can easily be read as standalone books, but when read in order or in this box set, they build on each other and make you feel as if you are a part of the Prossers Bay community. This is a good box set for an enjoyable and easy summer read.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: Strike Zone by Beth Rhodes

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Once again, Beth Rhodes and her Hawk Elite Security series had me reading well into the wee hours to finish her latest fast-paced romantic suspense addition! STRIKE ZONE (Hawk Elite Security #3) hit all the right buttons for me; a great hero and heroine, action, adventure, a plot with surprises and a romance that was intense with not one sex scene.

Emily Rogers is one of the best sharpshooters in the agency and is on an assignment in Brussels. Because she is so busy up until her best friend’s wedding, her best friend and fiancé come to Brussels to visit and finalize wedding plans. Tragedy strikes in the form of a terrorist bombing at their hotel and Emily vows revenge.

One year later, Emily is on the verge of getting her revenge. Ahmed Hassan is in Qatar and she has received the ‘kill order’. Just as Emily takes the shot, a child jumps into Hassan’s arms and is killed rather than her target. This emotionally destroys Emily and she walks away from her job and profession.

Two years pass and John Vega has been sent by Hawkins to find and recruit Emily as a sharpshooter for Hawk Security. John knows Emily’s history because he was there in Qatar after the failed mission and he saw her devastation in her eyes from across a room before she left to go back to the states. He has never forgotten her and he is determined to get her to join the Hawk Security family and get to know her and work with her personally.

The chemistry between these two is so hot! John comes from a large Catholic family and does not believe in sleeping with someone before a serious commitment. Emily respects his beliefs, but is not ready to let down her walls and allow someone in. The back and forth dance of emotions is realistic and intense. Real romance with no sex scenes as they work out their differences. The plot has everything. Fast-paced action from the beginning that never lets up. Adventures in the U.S. and Middle East. Traitors, revenge and a plot twist that makes this more than a formula revenge story.

This is a great addition to the series and I will be looking for many more to come!

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: Dare to Rock by Carly Phillips

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

DARE TO ROCK (Dare To Love, #5) by Carly Phillips is the seventh book in this series of contemporary romances. Each book can be easily read as a standalone. The characters and books are tied together by one father with two families which are made public by the illness of one of the daughters.

Avery Dare is the youngest in the first family and was most affected by her father’s scandal and desertion. She has become successful blogging online, which allows her to be in control of her surroundings and avoid stressful interactions and anxiety attacks. She receives an invitation to a concert from her famous high school ex-boyfriend, Grey Kingston.

Grey Kingston took off after high school to find fame and fortune as a rock star not caring about leaving behind his family or Avery. Now he is back home to stay, has quit the band and touring to set things right with his family and reclaim Avery, who is the only woman he has ever really loved.

Avery and Grey were perfect for each other. The personal issues that needed resolved by both were handled so well and with a lot of heart. Their sexual relationship was hot and steamy and not gratuitous. External plot problems of a crazy groupie and a sleazy manager were intertwined through the story and added just the right amount of suspense. This was a very satisfying installment in this series.

Book Review: A Country Love Song by Sinclair Jayne

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

A COUNTRY LOVE SONG (Smoky Mountain Knights, #1) by Sinclair Jayne is a sweet, second chance contemporary love story. This is the first in a proposed series featuring the Knight sisters from Sweet Tea, Tennessee.

Sutter Knight has finally returned to her hometown after ten years of working hard in Nashville to break into the country music scene. Sutter feels the need to return to her roots and recharge after performing on an awards show and breaking into the top ten on the country music chart. What she discovers is that her beloved theater, where her love of music was born, is about to be demolished for a boutique hotel and the whole youth music program is in jeopardy. The second shock is discovering that the boy she shared her music with and let her go is the architect in charge of the project.

Dawson Yates went north to college after high school to prove to himself and Sweat Tea that he wasn’t like all the Yates men before him. He came back to his hometown, established his business, put locals to work, and looks after his younger brother, mother and aunt. What Dawson doesn’t expect is for the whirlwind of Sutter Knight to be back in town and ready to fight for the theater. Dawson is willing to work with Sutter and the investors to alter their project, but he is not willing to open his heart only to lose Sutter all over again.

This is a fast paced romance that will keep you turning the pages. The interactions between Sutter and Dawson were so perfect and so aggravating at the same time. These two had their love story interrupted and were set on separate paths after high school, but forgiveness, love and understanding are woven throughout this romance ten years later to right a wrong, or maybe not, from the past. This romance is full of emotions and feelings with no sex involved.

A solid and enjoyable all around sweet contemporary romance. I am looking forward to more of these sisters’ stories.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: Only the Lucky by Linda Castillo

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

ONLY THE LUCKY (Kate Burkholder, #8.5) by Linda Castillo is a novella that lets you return to Painters Mill for a short period of time between full length novels and reconnect with the characters you love in this series.

It is Friday the 13th in Painters Mill and even though Chief of Police Kate Burkholder does not believe in superstitions the problems just keep on coming. Kate learns of a huge outdoor ‘rager’ on an abandoned farm, the town is having a complete power outage until morning and the department receives a 911 call about an unresponsive Amish teen found by her boyfriend in the barn at the party.

This novella is only 56 pages long. It is an entertaining story that assumes you are already familiar with the main series characters. The crime was easily solved, but still a good read. I will always pick up a novella or book by this author in this series to check out how my favorite characters are doing.