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review 2015-10-18 20:20
The Bali Mystery by Linda Weaver Clarke
The Bali Mystery (Amelia Moore Detective Series Book 1) - Linda Weaver Clarke

Amelia Moore is a private investigator and the owner of the Moore Detective Agency. She’s got several cases under her belt. So when Mrs. Brody hires her to find her missing brother (William), she doesn’t bat an eye. As she digs further into the case, she realizes she could really use the assistance of Rick Bonito, who she has hired in the past for certain jobs. Pretty soon, they find out that they need to travel to Bali to pick up William’s trail. Early on, Amelia notices two men following her. She figures once they leave the states for Indonesia, that will be the last of them. Alas, these men follow and Amelia is pretty sure they are hoping she will lead them directly to William. Luckily, Rick knows a few tricks for shaking them and that makes their job much harder. Amelia and Rick also have William’s journal as their secret weapon, giving them clues along the way as to why he left abruptly and what his end goal might be.

This book is more travel romance than mystery. The descriptions of Bali, their natural tourist attractions, and the food all make me want to visit the beautiful island. The budding romance between Amelia and Rick is flirty and cute. Rick decided some time ago he was interested in Amelia and now she has to make up her mind if she’s interested in Rick or not. There’s torch lit dinners, dancing, hikes through forests, swimming with dolphins, etc. It’s like a first couple’s vacation without having had a first date yet. I especially liked the swimming with dolphins bit, though I wish the dolphins were free to come and go as they like instead of being kept for the tourist trade.

With that said, the romance detracted from the mystery. While the romantic elements were well laid out and executed, the mystery elements were not so neat and tidy. Like Rick’s attempts to evade the two mystery men – these men have some training in trailing suspects and Rick’s quick corner turns, etc. seemed like teenager attempts to avoid the local sheriff. Also, later on there is a tracker placed on the vehicle and Rick simply moves it to another vehicle. Ummm… these guys know exactly what Rick and Amelia look like, what they are wearing that day, and what they are driving. So, I would have liked a bit more thought to have gone into these details.

While Amelia has been a PI for some time, for some reason she has never taken any self-defense lessons. Rick offers some quick lessons and these were flirty and involved kisses (which was cute). Yet I had a hard time believing Amelia had over looked this part of being a PI. Several of the little tips Rick shared were common sense and in most regards, Amelia strikes me as a common sense woman. So, I was a little disheartened to see that she needed such basic self-defense training.

Rick has William’s journal. I don’t have the impression that it was a 1000 page tome, yet it takes Rick most of the story to read it. This journal obviously has clues as to why William left and perhaps even where he intended to go, yet our heroes let it languish. I forget how long the flight to Bali is, but I am pretty sure either of them could have finished it in that flight. Normally, I like the ‘clues from a journal’ plot ploy, but for the clues to dribble out like this, I need the journal to be in secret code that needs breaking or something to make it believable.

The pacing was a pretty mellow pace for most of the book. This allowed for the romance to develop and be sweet about it. There is one altercation with the two mysterious men at perhaps the halfway point that gives a little spike of excitement. The ending is where all the action is as we find out the answer to our mystery. I would have liked the action sprinkled throughout the story instead of being bunched up at the end. Also, I think if the romance was broken up by bits of action, I would have enjoyed the romance more.

So while my enjoyment of this book was lukewarm, I would still like to see what happens with Rick & Amelia and the Moore Detective Agency. The two have some heat between them and Amelia surely has more mysteries to solve.

I won a copy of this book from the author via a giveaway on her blog.

The Narration: Diane Lehman had a great voice for Amelia – smart, strong, sometimes flirty. She also had a believable male voice for Rick that I quite liked. Since they are in Bali, Lehman had some accents to do and I believe they were done well (though I haven’t been to Bali so I am no expert on the Balinese accent).  My one quibble with her performance is that she often mispronounced Bali. She would say it with a flat A, as you do in the word ‘play’ instead of using a round A as in the word ‘ball’. Later in the story, she sometimes gets the pronunciation right and sometimes wrong. It was a tiny bit distracting. 

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review 2015-04-20 01:43
The Ice Captain's Daughter by S. G. Rogers
The Ice Captain's Daughter - S.G. Rogers

Set in Victorian England, Miss Jillian Roring, daughter to the ice captain and merchant Mr. Roring, is headed off to her first season in London. Unfortunately, there is failed kidnapping en route and she must seek assistance from the nearest estate, that of Logan. What ensues is a mess of flirting, confused signals, mild insults, and misunderstandings.

I will admit that it was the title that drew me into this book. The job of an ice captain has to be exciting, and I had pictures in my head of the daughter wrapped in furs, big rock pick in hand, hammering away at a small iceberg as the men of the ship collected the chunks and stowed them away in the hold. Alas, the captain is barely mentioned in this book, and his profession is only discussed by snide gossips who find his career far beneath them. Of course, they are sipping ice chilled drinks as they do this.

I think that if you like Jane Austen’s works, you wold enjoy this book. It is a sweet tale of two people struggling through their own fears and desires, London society’s strict rules of propriety, and vicious gossip. If that all sounds like your cup of tea, then check this book out. It is well written with a decent pacing. There is also a little sub-plot dealing with the failed kidnapping that added some dimensionality to the our main character, Jillian.

Unfortunately for me, I have never been much of a Jane Austen fan and so this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. I find all the gossip and people pushing against London society’s unspoken rules to be tedious and a bit boring. Also, none of our characters work for a living (except the ice captain, who we see so very little of) so their lives seem small to me.

The ending was sweet. I think romantics will enjoy it. Of course we know from early on that they must get together by the end, because that is how these books go. The amusement was in watching how they figured everything out.

The Narration: Rachel Hirsch was a good fit for this book. Most of the tale is from Jillian’s point of view and Hirsch had a nice, proper English accent for her. She also had dialects for the servants. Her range of male and female voices served this book well. 

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