Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot

Once again I have discovered a new-to-me author and thoroughly enjoyed her work.  Abigail Harding is content with her life as a teacher in Vermont.  Her students love her and she has an understanding with another teacher with an engagement to come soon, but letters from her sister, Charlotte, bring her great concern. Charlotte, married and living on a Fort in Wyoming, sounds distressed and melancholy... very uncharacteristic for Charlotte. Abigail decides to make a surprise visit to see for herself what is afoot.

As Abigail travels on her journey, she finds the landscape boring and the trip monotonous... she longs for the beauty of the lush greens of Vermont.  A robbery attempt shakes her from her boredom and opens her eyes to a whole new world... and to Lieutenant Ethan Bowles.

As their attraction grows, so does the tension. Abigail has a life and a sweetheart in Vermont.  Ethan loves the military life and Wyoming.  Add to this a bit of intrigue and scandal at the Fort and you have the makings of a wonderful well rounded story with full rich characters... joy and love, but also heart ache and sadness.

Book 1 of the Westward Winds was a wonderful book and makes me look forward to the others in the series.

Everybody's Suspect in Georgia by Cecil Murphey

This is a 3 in one book... Everybody Loved Roger Hardin, Everybody Wanted Room 263, and Everybody Called Her a Saint.  Three Romance Mysteries in one.

This was a pleasant enough read, but none of the stories really grabbed me and made me want more.

The stories find psychologist Julie West and Pastor James Burton thrown together over and over at the wrong time and in the wrong place.  Their first meet each other at a dinner party in Everybody Loved Roger Hardin. The party, held on a private island, is a grand affair to dazzle all until Hardin is found dead.

Next they both show up at the Carledge Inn where their find a dead body of a mutual acquaintance in Room 623... and oddly enough after the murder Everyone Wants Room 623.

And their final adventure (at least in this compilation) happens on an Antarctic cruise where romance grows cold as they come face to face with the murder of yet another friend in Everyone Called Her a Saint.

A nice cozy read, but not wow.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Psalms 23 Mysteries Book 1 - 3

I am a huge fan of mysteries and while I read serious one for years, I find myself drawn towards cozy ones more these days. I am just not a fan of the intensity and realism of some of the secular mysteries these days.

I discovered this series when book 1 (and then 2 and then 3) were offered as Kindle freebies. I cannot express how much I loved reading them!  I know their is a fourth one and hope there will be others. This is a cross between a cozy mystery and a more serious one.  You have the community of characters and sense of fun, a cozy mystery brings.. but the mystery is more real and complex. There were definitely intense moments, but not overwhelmingly intense.  Very difficult to explain, but if you are a mystery buff I feel certain you will like these books.

Each book involved Cindy, a church secretary, with a strong faith and a fairly normal, even dull, life. and Jeremiah, the rabbi at a neighboring synagogue, who has secrets buried deep so no one can discern them... he hopes.  They meet over a dead body and as their friendship and attraction grows, they seem to find themselves caught up in mystery after mystery.

The author includes elements of each faith and allows the characters to work through the differences as their friendship grows.

Book 1 -- The Lord is my Shepherd -- Cindy and Jeremiah meet and find themselves caught up in a serial killers scheme.  The case is solved and they reluctantly part ways only to find themselves in the midst of yet another mystery.. and as they continue to be tossed together, they learn that despite their many differences, they have a great deal of common ground.

Book 2 -- I Shall Not Want -- Thanksgiving is around the corner and hearts are softening and turning to helping those less fortunate. Joseph, a member of Cindy's church, has started an organization that provides homeless people with a rescued dog who has been trained to be their companion. The goal is to give the folks someone to love and care for.. a sense of purpose.. and in return they enjoy the love of their pooch. Joseph has even worked out medical care and food for the dogs, so as not to add a financial burden for the new owners. But then everything goes wrong.. one by one the folks who received dogs are dying and no one knows why. Once again, Cindy and Jeremiah find themselves flung into the center of a mystery with little time to act before the killer strikes again. 

Book 3 -- Lie Down in Green Pastures -- This was the most intense, to me, of the 3 books.  Cindy recruits Jeremiah as a last minute chaperon substitute for a local kids camp.  Kids from bother her church and his synagogue are headed there to enjoy the outdoors and strengthen their faiths.  Jeremiah is hesitant to go and yet feels compelled. The sense of danger is strong as they arrive and quickly things begin to happen... trouble from without and within... mixed with a dangerous storm bringing flooding and a washed out bridge. Jeremiah is thrown back into a life of survival he thought he had left behind... doing all he can to save the kids in his care. While Cindy, in town away from the flood and danger, works to solve determine who is behind the troubles and what else does he have planned. Very fast paced! Great book!

The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

Yet another new-to-me author and again one I will be reading again! Loved this book. I confess the cover reeled me in.. it is just too cute and I felt sure the story would live up to my expectations.. and it did!

This is book one of the Texas Boardinghouse Brides.

When Rachel jilted him for James, Luke's heart broken and he ran.  Now he is coming home to become the new sheriff, determined to coexist with daily evidence of all he lost and to resist the love he still feels for Rachel. But then he learns that Rachel is now a widow and the towns folks expect the 2 of them to pick up where they left off.

Luke is not willing to forgive much less forget and Rachel is resigned to living life without love.

And then the brides arrive.  Luke's mischievous cousins take it on themselves to find him a woman, placing an ad on his behalf and without his knowledge.  Three women arrive as the mail-order brides of the Sheriff's and much to everyone's dismay they find shelter in Rachel's boardinghouse while things get straightened out.

There is a great deal of competition as each lady is desperate to be married and stay in Texas... and when Rachel decides to secretly toss her hat in the ring, sparks fly and humor abounds!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James

Another new-to-me author and one I will watch for in the future.

This is a Ladies of Summerhill Novel.. book 1.. and what a delightful read! Lily Westbrook is a proper lady of 1899 on her way to marrying into a family that will establish her in the realms of Rhode Island High Society,  But Lily has a secret... she is a writer. Oh not the poetry her family sees and hears, no Lily's real passion is writing Dime Store Novels. And she is good!  Donning a pen name and keeping an air of mystery, only serve to increase the popularity of her books.  What would her family... her fiance' .. think if they knew she was Fannie Cole!?

She get to witness their reaction first hand.. and sooner than expected.  A ruthless blackmailer has set out to reveal Fannie Cole's real identity unless Lily pay his price.  Add to that a long-lost beau who returns and purchases the publishing company which employees her.... and who is insisting on meeting Miss Cole.

Oh what a tangled web we weave... and how on earth will Lily every get untangled!

Again, delightful read!  Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I have read a number of books that are set among the Amish world.. mostly by Beverly Lewis or Wanda Brunstetter. This is my first book by Fisher and it most definitely will not be my last. In fact, I have bought another one already and look forward to reading it soon.

Julia Lapp is 21 and looking forward to her long awaited marriage to Paul Fisher.  When Paul tells her he once again wants to postpone the wedding, Julia is devastated and angry. She knows who is to blame for Paul's doubts.. the Bee Man, Roamin' Roman Troyer, who travels from settlement to settlement "renting" out his bees for a fee to farmers and filling other young men's heads with dreams of an unencumbered life on the road.. no ties, no concerns, no responsibilities.

When Roman rents an old cottage from Julia's father, her anger grows. Now she has to face this trouble maker day after day.. even prepare his meals as he eats with her family. What was her Da thinking! But maybe, just maybe she can use this to her advantage. Roman owes her for the trouble he has caused.  If Paul thinks he and Julia are sweet on each other, he just might come to his senses and follow through with their wedding.

The Double Cross by Clare O'Donohue

Book 3 in the Someday Quilts Mystery series

I thoroughly enjoy this series. It combines so much of what I love.. cozy mysteries, a touch of romance, a sense of community and quilting!  These are secular books, but most definitely G rated.

Nell and the Someday Quilts ladies are taking a break from their normal everyday life to accompany friend and teacher, Susanne, as she teaches at a retreat being held at a newly opened B & B.  It just so happens that the owners were once friends of Bernie's... which causes a bit of a stir. Once there, the group is baffled at the poor state of the Inn, as well as the mismatch of folks they have assembled for the retreat. And then when the owner shows up dead and Bernie is a suspect, well everything seems to fall apart.

With the local-yokel law enforcement focused solely on Bernie, Nell and the other ladies determine to clear her name and find the real killer.. before he or she has another victim.