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review 2018-10-15 15:24
The Killings At Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham
The Killings At Badger's Drift - Caroline Graham

An old lady witnesses something in the woods as she's searching for an orchid. Something so terrible, someone is willing to kill her to keep it hidden. But as soon as the police is involved, thanks to the lady's nosy neighbor, more and more secrets are coming out...

An interesting murder mystery with multiple possible suspects, loads of red herrings and a surprising final reveal.

Unfortunately, it was also very slow with a quite a plodding pace and some of the filler scenes were rather boring and dull.

I much prefer the series, actually, including the characterization of Barnaby and Troy.

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review 2018-10-03 11:18
Hunted by the Past by Jayne Evans
Hunted by the Past - Jayne Evans

Lucy Smith's life is derailed when she has to babysit her nephew after her sister suddenly decides to prolong her vacation. Then she's cornered at a bank, having to shoot a cop to save her nephew...But despite what the cop, who survives, tells her, she's determined things aren't connected. Nothing is about to derail her meticulously planned life.
Then her car blows up, luckily without her in it, her nephew is once more almost kidnapped...And maybe, just maybe, her sister's disappearance isn't as innocuous as it seems.

And the only one Lucy believes can keep her and the little boy safe is the man she shot at the bank...

This story started off with a bang. Almost literally. The mystery was intriguing, the suspense was ramped up to a thousand, the hero was perfectly flawed and issue-filled, the little boy was utterly adorable...The problem, as mostly happens, was the heroine and her control-freak, disbelieving in spite of everything, tendencies. She was a lawyer, but she still presumed to know more than professionals in the field of law enforcement, and there's nothing you can tell me that will dissuade me from my conviction that the successful kidnapping attempt happened because of her and her I-know-better-than-everybody attitude.
The romance was rushed and rather unbelievable...Maybe because it was so rushed or maybe because of my dislike for the heroine, but the suspense worked.

Until the reason behind the kidnapping and murder attempts was revealed...And everything simply fell apart. It was so thin and seemingly conjured out of thin air and it didn't really make much sense. I'm still wondering why.

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review 2018-10-02 11:19
Mountain of Lies by Jayne Evans
Mountain of Lies (The Pack Book 1) - Jayne Evans

***eBook available for free on Amazon***

Mia Blackmore finds herself in a strange predicament. First, she's almost covered by a landslide and supposedly left there by a would-be rescuer. To get free, she provokes another slide and takes her would-be rescuer along with her.

The guy out to be an undercover cop, Hudson McClure, up on the mountain looking for a stash of drugs, when Mia took him with her on her way down, and now, partly to protect her and partly to do his job, he's determined to stick around.

Only she doesn't want him to stick around and it quickly turns out, Mia is as good as keeping secrets and wearing masks as he is.

Usually freebies are mostly misses, and this one didn't look like much at the beginning. But it didn't sound so bad as to make me stop reading, and once the story kicked into higher gear, I was hooked.

Yes, I found it a little too filled with coincidences and the heroine got on my nerves a little with her supposed passivity (which I promptly forgot about, once the story got into its groove), and I loved the hero, their interactions and the relationship blossoming between them, I adored Neville, Mia's furry sidekick and lie detector, and the suspense, despite its many coincidences tying it all up in a nice little bow, was nicely developed, well-paced, and quite intriguing.

Because of the coincidental suspense, I somewhat wished the story was longer and the two cases weren't as connected as they turned out to be, but in hindsight, I must admit, the length was rather perfect. Not too short to make it all seem rushed, and not too long to drag it all down to a halt.

I liked the voice and narrative style and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

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review 2018-09-30 08:12
The Wicked Spy by Mary Lancaster
The Wicked Spy - Mary Lancaster

Lady Anna Gaunt is not what she seems. Yes, she's the sister of the Marquis of Tamar, but her visit to her brother in Blackhaven has nothing to do with family. Anna is here on the Foreign Office mission to free a French prisoner and turn him onto the British side. But the man manages to get free without her help, she merely intercepts him in the woods, cares for his wound...And the man has the gall to disappear again. And he doesn't go far.

Louis Delon stays in Blackhaven under the guise of a British nobleman, waiting for his moment to strike down at the man who betrayed him. But the enemy is already in town, waiting for something or someone else and Louis is determined to stop him at any cost, even by putting his trust in the hands of the enigmatic British beauty...Which turns out to be a rather pleasant prospective as the lines between pleasure and duty start blurring on both sides.

This is the first book in this series with a strong suspense sub-plot, which also turned out to be its strongest point.
I loved the intrigue and the mystery of it all, the skulking around in the middle of the night, the hidden stilettos and daggers, the "masquerades", secret identities, and the assassination plot. It was intense, interesting and the pacing complimented the rising excitement beautifully.

Also, the premise of two enemy spies falling for one another promised to make things even more interesting. Alas, the story didn't deliver on the promise. I simply didn't find the rushed romance believable. I didn't even find the possibility of friendship believable. The two simply spent too much time (in an otherwise rather short book) lying to each other, mistrusting and trying to use one another for the romance between them blossoming so fast (or at all) to actually make sense.
It felt more like attraction and passion as they found some common ground between them, as they could remove their masks in each other's company and be (more or less) themselves, but in the end, the first thought that came to my mind was "I give it a couple months".

I didn't much care for Anna and Louis separately, either. The rest of the cast worked much better, especially seeing how they were old friends (and it was lovely to see Rosa finally speak). As I said, the suspense saved it.

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review 2018-09-28 15:44
The Wicked Governess by Mary Lancaster
The Wicked Governess - Mary Lancaster

Caroline Grey is suddenly dismissed from her post as Earl of Braithwaite's sisters's governess, when the earl's mother thinks she has designs on her son. The Earl, convinced his mother will soon change his mind, loans Catherine as governess to a mysterious tenant of Haven House and his mute daughter. And soon Caroline realizes this is where she's supposed to be, helping the little girl and her father rejoin society.

Javan Benedict is a recluse, determined to protect his daughter at all costs. But Caroline Grey soon makes him realize that protecting his daughter shouldn't be equated with keeping the girl a relative prisoner in her home. Besides, little Rosa falls in love with her new governess almost from the start and Javan realizes Caroline might just be good for him as well...

This story had an almost gothic feel with the overgrown, supposedly haunted house and its scarred, brooding tenant and his supposedly crazy sister (or is it wife?) and his mute, fearful daughter. But as you should never judge the book by its cover, so you should never judge people by their appearance or others's perceptions of them. And the heroine in this story proved to be just the right person for the job. She never judged, she just wanted to help however she could. Sure, she fell for her employer, but that's Romancelandia for you.

I loved Caroline and her gentle, caring and nurturing nature. She offered comfort with her presence alone, while always trying to stay in the background. And it took the right man to see her for what she was.
The hero needed some time to get used to, I guess. But as Caroline slowly got to know him (although he remained a mystery for the better part of the story), so did this particular reader, and I must say I liked what I discovered. A hero who thought his honor was in tatters, yet was determined at all costs to protect his daughter and spare her from gossip, scandal or any slights that might arise from his supposedly lost honor. Sure, he had his moments of obtuseness, mostly because he thought he didn't deserve to be happy (he was an epitome of tortured hero), but then there was his mischievous cousin to provide the swift kick Javan needed to see straight and finally realize what he wanted.

I liked how the romance seemed to progress slowly (even though it all happened in a week or two). I think it had all to do with the pace and the fact the reader discovers all these new things and gets to know new people alongside the heroine, so it all seemed longer. The progress of the romance was quite realistically portrayed (despite the swiftness of it) and it felt organic and true, which I appreciated.

The suspense didn't play as a pivotal role as in the previous books, but what there was, provided an added intensity and grip to the story. The villain was creepily twisted, the suspicion and the subsequent truth of his actions offered a counterbalance to the "lightness" of the romance with its darker topic, and the first big climax propelled the romance forward a little bit more.

The supporting cast was great, as usual, with old "friends" mingling with new ones and Javan's daughter, Rosa, was absolutely adorable.

This was another great addition to the series.

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