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review 2020-01-17 03:48
The Forgotten Rom
The Forgotten Room: A Novel - Beatriz Williams,Lauren Willig,Karen White
There are three actual stories in this book but they all have one common thread. That common subject lies in a building, which has had many purposes over the years, if only the walls of that building could talk.
I liked the idea of how this huge building served many purposes over the years. The history that this building contained and how it served others was fascinating. To think, how many people walked and in-and-out of its doors intrigued me. Then, to read how the three women in this novel were also connected to this building, just added more significance to the structure. I had to wonder if there were any standing building today that have these same traits. Hum?
Anyways, back to the book. Following a trio of women, we crisscross over three different time periods (1892, 1920, and 1944) which I found confusing at times as I couldn’t keep everyone straight. These women are all from the same family, just years apart, which made it more confusing to me. I finally wrote everyone’s name down on a piece of paper and drew arrows to keep individuals separated as the romance in this novel adds even more complications.
Somehow over the years, these three women find their way back to New York, to this same building yet they’re there for different reasons. As the novel comes together, you’ll find out what ties them all together.
It’s a mystery that covers many generations. With strong-minded women and a terrific setting this book provided for me an interesting read. 3.5 stars


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review 2019-12-22 04:12
The Wicked Redhead
The Wicked Redhead - Beatriz Williams
In 1924, after a daring escape from her stepfather, Gin Kelley and Anson Marshall make their way to Cocoa Beach with Gin's little sister Patsy.  Gin and Anson believe they are outlaws and need time to heal, however Anson is reinstated as a Prohibition Agent once again and put on assignment up north.  Anson wants Gin to stay put in Florida, but as soon as an opportunity arises to leave for New York, Gin takes it.  However, the opportunity is double sided.  Anson's mother wants Gin to return to New York with her in order to help Anson's brother, Billy recover from the injuries sustained by Gin's father with the catch that Billy now believes that he and Gin are engaged.  
Meanwhile, in 1998 Ella Dommerich is on the hunt for the red haired woman who graces the card she found in her new apartment.  Ella would much rather focus on the mystery woman than trying to figure out how to move on with her life after she found her husband cheating,  quit her lucrative career and found a refuge in a Greenwich Village apartment building and it's handyman, Hector.  Even after life altering news, Ella would rather focus on discovering Gin's secrets, although Gin might have a lesson for Ella if she chooses to listen.
The Wicked Redhead continues the story of Gin and Ella from The Wicked City.  There are also characters thrown in from several of Beatriz Williams' other books, so I would highly recommend reading The Wicked City first. The Wicked Redhead jumps right back into the action with Ella making a tough decision and Gin and Anson on the lam. I still absolutely adored Gin's feisty, strong, witty and unapologetic character even though she seems to have less control over everything.  Ella's character takes a few lessons from Gin and begins to take control and make more decisions in her life.  As with the first book, I did feel a stronger pull towards Gin's story line, however as the story went on and their decisions collided, I could see the parallels better and was racing to read between each point of view in order to know what each woman did next.  Beatriz Williams' writing flows well between each time period giving each woman a distinct voice and captured the spirit of the different decades.  With plenty of romance, action, mystery, danger and suspense, The Wicked Redhead continues to weave together the lives of two woman living decades apart, yet facing many of the same challenges in life.  I can't wait to see what both women will do with their lives next.  
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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review 2019-10-13 02:01
More of a romance than a mystery. Good for the beach.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant - Beatriz Williams

The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Beatriz Williams, author; Kathleen McInerny, narrator

Vivian Schuyler, a young Manhattan socialite, is a working girl, albeit against the wishes of her family. Although she wants to be more than a gopher at the magazine where she works, she will have to work her way up from the bottom. Women did not have much opportunity in the mid 1960’s, when the book begins. Mostly, they were employed as teachers or secretaries or assistants of some kind.

When Vivian receives a notice about a package waiting for her at the post office, she rushes over just before closing time. The line moves very slowly and as she nears the counter, the post office closes. Fortuitously, a handsome young man offers to help her, He tells the clerk that he made a mistake; she was ahead of him on line. He gives her his place, but not before Vivian makes a bit of a scene demanding service.

When she gets her package, he finds himself drawn to her and he helps her lug it home. It is heavy and bulky since it is a suitcase. She could not have done it alone. Vivian has no idea who has sent this suitcase to her, and she finds there is no key to open it. When the young man suggests she break into it, she refuses. When they examine it, they see that the name on it has been crossed out and her name has been added. She and the young man decide that it was intended for Violet Schuyler, the name that was scratched out, and not Vivian.

This young man enchants Vivian. She discovers that he is a doctor and is exhausted. He promptly falls asleep in her apartment, and she happily lets him remain there. They find they are drawn to each other, and they spend the next day together as compatibly as if they had known each other for years as they are comfortable bantering back and forth with each other. However, she will soon find out that, like the suitcase, this budding doctor has many secrets.

When Vivian tells her parents about the suitcase and asks if they know anyone named Violet Schuyler, they react with shock and dismay. Her mother forbids her to look into Violet’s life because it would embarrass them. She learns that there was once an Aunt named Violet who had moved to Europe to study science and had been banished by the family when she married her professor and remained there. She had also been accused of murdering her husband. No one had heard from her for decades, and no one knew much about her or cared to find out anything about what had happened to her. Vivian decided, unlike them, she wanted to find out about all of Violet’s secrets, regardless of her mother’s wishes.   

Thus begins a novel that is very amusing and easy to read in some ways, but difficult in others because it is filled with crude language and overt descriptions of sexual encounters which often feel contrived as the story dwells on many romantic relationships centered around the explicit sex. Still, as the mystery takes the reader to Europe as it descends into World War I, it gets more interesting. The ending, if not quite believable, is an unexpected surprise as all the secrets are exposed and most of the threads are knitted together.

The story goes off on too many tangents, and often the dialogue requires the suspension of disbelief as it begins to feel like a fairytale with some silly themes as Vivian goes from a strict sense of morality when it comes to friendship to stretching the envelope when it comes to romantic relationships. Instead of being about the secret life of Violet, it seemed to be about the sexual escapades of the various characters. Vivian seemed to go from being flighty to being resolute, depending on the moment, and I never quite figured out what kind of a person she really was and never did like her very much.

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review 2019-10-12 22:49
Very humorous, but a bit contrived, mystery about a missing relative once accused of murder.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant - Beatriz Williams

The Jump Artist, Austin Ratner This is the story of Phillip Halsmann, a Latvian Jew who, in 1929, was condemned falsely for the murder of his father while on a hiking trip in the Tyrolean Alps, in Western Austria. Convicted by a Kangaroo Court of liars and anti-Semites, not once, but twice, when they presented false evidence and hid pertinent facts, he was finally pardoned and released after two years in prison, at the behest of several influential, famous personages, Jews who had some influence and knew, like the Dreyfus Affair, the Halsmann Affair was another example of injustice spawned by ignorance and hatred of the Jews. It was a harbinger of the horrors to soon come, however, as Germany would soon attempt to conquer Europe and create an Aryan Nation under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Before prison, Phillip was a student studying to be an engineer. He was falling in love and his life was before him. After his staged trials and his treatment in prison, he was often angry and unable to love properly. Although he tried to return to school to study engineering, he soon left. He abandoned his girlfriend Ruth who had loved and stood by him. He began to sink into a depression. He would admire strange women and imagine them naked. Filled with guilt, he pleasured himself, repenting by visiting various images of The Pieta. Soon, Phillip was allowing those who hated him to define him with all sorts of heinous descriptions. Eventually, in an effort to ignore his Latvian heritage and become more French, he changed his name to Phillipe Halsman. Soon, he found love again. Quickly, though, he learned that he would always be a Latvian Jew under Hitler’s regime. When he and his family finally escaped to America, he truly began to define himself and regain his self respect. Although he became a successful photographer, rather than the lawyer or doctor his father had hoped he would become, his family was proud of what he had achieved. Soon, he also earned the respect of many famous people who sought his services like, Marilyn Monroe, Andre Gide, Albert Einstein and others. However, his early career was defined by photos of barely dressed females he found in his travels. He wanted to photograph beautiful women whom he posed in various stages of undress. He was able to capture them in their best possible vantage point. Somehow his keen eye knew how to adjust light and position to capture the person’s true self. He was helped by his mother and sister who had remained devoted and loyal to him throughout his ordeal, and they had weathered the changes he made in his life alongside him, helping him as they were able. This book is an intuitive description of the degradation and disintegration of what once was a normal man, full of hope, devoted to his family, with a bright future ahead of him. Because of the false conviction of the terrible crime of patricide, the corrupt system almost destroyed him. If nothing else, this book should be a lesson to all those who are so quick to judge the current President of the United States without allowing him the right to defend himself bolstered by a press that constantly maligns him, often falsely.

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review 2019-10-01 20:19
The Glass Ocean
The Glass Ocean - Beatriz Williams,Lauren Willig,Karen White
Sarah Blake is a best selling author who needs a new idea for a book.  Her finances are in dire need after spending the money from her first book on care for her mother, who has early-onset Alzheimer's.  Sarah decides to look into her own family history for inspiration, a chest of belongings from her great-grandfather, Patrick Houlihan a porter aboard the Lusitania.  Patrick's effect lead to another passenger, Robert Langford and a conspiracy that might change history.  Sarah sets off to find Robert's great-grandson, John Langford.  Finding John is an easy task since he is currently a disgraced politician being hounded by the press.  Sarah tries her luck with asking John about his family and finds more than she bargained for with John and his family.
In 1915, aboard the Lusitania with Patrick and Robert are Mr. and Mrs. Hochstetter.  Caroline Hochstetter is the owner of an unknown Strauss Waltz that her husband, Gilbert has found a buyer for.  Caroline is reluctant to sell the beautiful piece of music, but trusts her husband, even though he is being secretive and distant lately.  Also aboard, are Ginny and Tess, sisters and con-artists who are there to make a copy of the Waltz and sell it abroad. Tess wants out of the con game and decides to trust Robert with her secret.  Upon doing so, Tess and Caroline find out that nobody is truly who she thought and everyone is hiding something.  Before anyone can confront anyone else, the Lusitania sinks and the secrets are taken into the ocean.
The Glass Ocean is an exciting and intriguing historical mystery that pulled me in with interesting characters, an intense plot and fascinating setting.  Written by three authors and told from three different points of view, this dual-time story meshes together perfectly.  I am a huge fan of dual time stories, so The Glass Ocean really hit the spot for me.  Caroline, Tess and Sarah are all wonderfully developed characters who possess different strengths of character and are all attempting to find the best way to use those strengths.  I was very pleased that the connection between Caroline and Tess in 1915 and Sarah in 2013 was more about a shared struggle than blood relation.  Usually in dual time stories, I find myself being pulled more into the historical side of the story, I was pleasantly surprised that I cared equally about both the past and present sides of this story.  I loved learning more about the Lusitania and the many conspiracies her voyage played a part in during World War I.  Through Tessa and Caroline I was able to envision the many decks, staterooms and conditions for passengers as well as the many different dishes they were served at various mealtimes.  Most impressively done was complex plot of the Strauss Waltz, the hidden formulas and the spy espionage aboard the ship. With masterful writing, The Glass Ocean is one of my favorite reads this year.  I hope that these three authors continue to create together.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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