I read the first of these and wasn't overly impressed (review here) but others may like it, so I thought I'd offer the link since all three are free today, at least in the U.S.
I am reading this for Locked Room Mystery square.
I already finished "The Murder in the Vicarage" and loved every bit of it. But it's definitely a transition from a Miss Marple that feels barely tolerated to the Miss Marple that we all know and love that shows up in "The Body in the Library."
I also think that having the Vicar (Leonard) be the main narrator for the first story definitely colors how you think of Miss Marple as well.
Review for The Murder in the Vicarage:
So this is a classic locked room murder mystery. Told from the point of view of St. Mary's Mead, local vicar, Leonard Clement we have him starting to wish harm upon the head of Colonel Lucius Protheroe. The colonel is despised by many of the residents and eventually winds up dead, he is found murdered in the vicar's study.
What makes this murder mystery even more intriguing is that two people confess to the murder, but it seems that the real suspect could be far sinister.
The vicar goes around and through being around when discussions are held and clues abound he digs around into who could be behind the colonel's murder. One of St. Mary's Mead resident, Miss Jane Marple always seems to be on the scene too, helping along the vicar.
We get a lot of characters who show up in later Miss Marple books.
I really did get a kick out of this one, especially when we get to the reveal. Miss Marple reads as stuffy and gossipy though by the vicar. I am glad that Christie changed that up in later books.
This companion novel made the series that much better! I loved every single story, but Lyre has found a special place in my heart. I enjoyed seeing the same situations from a perspective that wasn't Piper. I like Piper, but being in Lyre or Ash's head is much more interesting considering they've been alive for centuries (it seems) and are much more knowledgeable in everything than Piper is.
If you couldn't tell by now, I adored being in Lyre's head. Annette Marie did this character justice with her writing and I'm so happy for that! Lyre proved to be just as secretive and intriguing as I was expecting him to be. I'm officially hyped for his prequel series.
Looking from Piper's eyes I assumed Ash would have complicated and tumultuous thoughts. From the stories from his point of view, he came off as nonchalant. It almost felt like a calm before the storm. It was interesting but not as interesting as Lyre.
Overall this was a collection of interesting stories and makes an amazing companion to the original series. These stories gave me a much better understanding of Ash and Lyre which would make re-reading the Steel & Stone Series that much more fascinating.
My Favorite Quotes:
"Once, Ash had called Lyre an angel of death. Tonight, he would do the name justice. "
"Incubi are lover's, but no woman's true love."
"The past lies in rest, its ghosts long slumbering, and I would not disturb them. Let us begin again."
Not even his mother’s funeral can convince self-proclaimed party boy Zach Johnson to tone down his snark or think about settling down. He is who he is, and he refuses to change for anyone. When straight-laced, compassionate Aaron Paulson claims he’s falling for him, Zach is certain Aaron sees him as another project, one more lost soul for the idealistic Aaron to save. But Zach doesn’t need to be fixed and he refuses to be with someone who sees him as broken.
Patience is one of Aaron’s many virtues. He has waited years for a man who can share his heart and complete his life and he insists Zach is the one. Pride, fear, and old hurts wither in the wake of Aaron’s adoring loyalty, and as Zach reevaluates his perceptions of love and family, he finds himself tempted to believe in the impossible: a happily-ever-after.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It is a super sweet romance and it just soaks in the couple time and we get so many phases of the relationship. Agh. Love it.
Aaron is completely sweet and well a wish fulfillment hero for someone as hurt and angry as Zack. Zack's voice in wonderful with great asides to the read and wry self reflection.
Aaron is a bit of a doormat but there is some nice conflict around making sure Zach and Aaron are partners in this relationship.
As much as I liked it, and I did, there are issues with the writing in terms of unresolved stuff,.
Aaron's relationship with Zach's brother and wife need to be discussed. There is so much co dependency in Aaron.
Zach needs therapy for his childhood trauma.
The plot pacing is sluggish so while even though I enjoyed it, others will be driven batty.
Aaron has no pets. He is a vet. We never get to see his love of animals.
And there is other weird stuff but I liked it anyway, A lot. lol.
This third book in the Bristol Collection is about Grant (Mas' asshole cheating married ex) and Dare, who had a thing for Perry, but didn't succeed.
There's a scene in Stuff where Grant shows up at Perry's store in hopes of winning back Mas, a little on the drunker side, and gets doused with wine, courtesy of Perry, and then escorted out by Dare, who also attended the 'grand re-opening' of Perry's store.
You see, Grant was married with children when he carried on an affair with Mas, but he's come clean to his wife, divorced, and now doesn't know how to move forward. He's gay, he knows it, but still closeted. His boss, a sleazebag first class, sends him on a fact-finding mission, which brings Grant to Dare's scrap yard, where Dare rebuilds travel vans (and lives in his "office" trailer), while taking care of his junkie brother who lives in Dare's house.
Dare is out and proud, straight-forward, and doesn't take shit from anyone, especially not some real estate developer's minion who's rude and snobbish and looks down his nose at him.
Of course, to the wanna-be posh Grant, Dare's motor oil perfume isn't what he's looking for, but while he's busy looking down his nose, he cannot help but notice the other man's body and lust for what seems to be a sizable endowment.
Dare remembers Grant from the store reopening and feels kind of sorry for the guy. They get physically close quickly, but Grant is an idiot and selfish and scared, which nearly costs him the one good thing he's found since he fucked over Mas and his wife and kids.
With her typical charm and style, Jo Myles made me care even about someone like Grant, even though I usually cannot abide cheaters in my romance novels. I felt sorry for him, really. He sucked, sure, but I could see that he didn't really want to be a bad guy. He tried to do the right thing in the end, even if it cost him.
This book was probably the angstiest of the three in this series. Dare's situation with his brother's addiction does have a positive ending, even if it didn't look like it would, for a while there. I liked Dare a lot - his no-nonsense attitude combined with his deep love for his brother, and his steadfastness when it came to people he cared about made him a lovable character and a good guy in my book.
The author teases at the end that there might be another book forthcoming. Possibly a new character not yet introduced, or possibly a book that revisits all three couples in the future. I'd read it either way.
** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of the re-release. A positive review was not promised in return. **