Book Talk Tuesday: Meant to be Yours

It’s no secret I love Susan Mallery’s books. I love her women’s fiction. I love her Fool’s Gold series. And I love her Happily Inc stories, too. This is book #5 set in Happily Inc, a wedding destination town in the California desert.

MtbYRenee has been working for Pallas at Weddings out of the Box for a while now. We haven’t gotten to know her very well in previous books. Same with Jasper Dembenski, a veteran with PTSD and a bestselling thriller writer. Neither is looking for a relationship, so it seems perfect for them to agree to a “friends with benefits,” arrangement. Especially since Jasper needs helping writing a feminine point of view for his newest book.
Of course, this is a romance, so it isn’t long before feelings get tangled up. Mallery does a great job dropping hints about Renee’s past hurts and struggles without making us wait toooooo long for the details.

And of course, we know, just like one of the characters tells him, Jasper isn’t nearly as broken as he thinks he is.

I loved how both Jasper and Renee had to learn some things about themselves and each other as they traveled the road to happily ever after.
I’m already looking forward to the next installment in Happily Inc!


I received a copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review, just give my opinion. Which I gladly did.

Book Talk Tuesday: THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE

In 2018 I worked to catch up on several series I’d fallen behind on. It’s odd how authors kept churning out books, even though I wasn’t reading!

9780804169905_handsomemansdeluxecafe-350x540One of the most prolific writers working today is Alexander McCall Smith. He’s perhaps best known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, but he has several other series as well. Isabel Dalhousie and The Sunday Philosophy Club is the other series I enjoy as well. It’s set in Scotland, and having been there once, I love revisiting Edinburgh and its environs.

Anyway, back to Botswana, Precious Ramotswe, and Grace Makutsi in THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE. I felt an earlier book in this series, THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY, which was the story of Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti’s wedding felt rushed and not edited and disjointed.

I’m happy to say that one was an anomaly, and the following books were back to his usual high standard, including THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE.

Grace and Phuti have married, built their new home and have their son. Grace has decided she wants to own her own business, like her husband and her business associate, Mma Ramotswe. Grace opens a restaurant.

Mma Ramotswe takes on a case of a woman who doesn’t know who she is. And Mr. JLB Matekoni is forced to let one of the apprentices go from the garage.

As usual, Grace’s shoes have a bit of wisdom for her, that she ignores. Grace and Charlie disagree about … well, nearly everything. Precious and Mma Potokwane share some fruitcake and discuss a case and human nature.

I love this series and THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE is a worthy addition. I’m continuing in my quest to catch up. There are 4 more and I’ll be current. They are fairly quick reads, so I’m confident 2019 will see me all caught up. I’m still behind on my several of my other favorite series, but I’m working on it.

Stay tuned!

BOOK TALK ON A THURSDAY: Not Quite Over You

We’re back in Happily Inc for another visit! I love Susan Mallery’s small towns, quirky characters, real life emotions, and fun plots.

In NOT QUITE OVER YOU, Silver Tesdal, owner of AlcoHaul (a portable bar that can be towed to wedding and party venues) wants to expand. Her high school boyfriend wants nqoyto invest in her business. And maybe in her life. The only problem is a secret she’s been keeping from him for a few years.

One thing leads to another and pretty soon they’re partners in business and in bed.

Silver knows she has to come clean and when she does, Drew takes the news hard, but comes around pretty quickly.

Drew’s family has been grooming him for a career and there are certain expectations. Those are part of the reasons Silver broke up with him after high school and not much has changed more than a decade later.

NOT QUITE OVER YOU employs some common romance tropes, but in Mallery’s capable hands they don’t feel overused or stale. I enjoyed Silver and Drew’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks story and I recommend it! Especially if you love fun and funny stories!


I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for a honest review. I honestly loved it.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: WHY NOT TONIGHT

It’s so much fun to go to my mailbox and find a new book. Whether it’s one I ordered from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or an Advanced Reader Copy from an author I review, or a gift from someone else. I love getting books. I love reading books. I don’t care if they’re hardbound, paperbacks, or electronic versions. I love them all.

It was a sweet day indeed when I found a copy of Susan Mallery’s latest, WHY NOT TONIGHT in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago. It’s the latest addition to Mallery’s new Happily Inc series.

WNT by smRonan Mitchell is the last Mitchell brother to find his one and only. He pulled away from the family–and his brothers, including his twin–after he learned a truth about his father. His brothers are still there for him, but have tired of his continual withdrawal. Ronan and two of the others have inherited their father’s artistic talent. Except Ronan’s having a hard time creating art, and an even harder time enjoying it. He’s been hugely successful and money isn’t an issue.

Natalie Kaleta is also an artist. Part-time. She also works at the gallery that handles Ronan’s art. She’s a glass-half-full-no-heck-it’s-plenty-whether-full-or-empty kind of gal. She’s had her share of heartbreak, but has managed to retain her sunny disposition.

A freak storm and freakier incident with Natalie’s car maroons them at Ronan’s mountain hideaway. Their growing attraction makes the isolation … problematic. At least from Ronan’s point of view.

As the story progresses, the couple become a couple. Ronan responds to Natalie’s optimism. She blossoms under his belief in her talent and her art. They each have issues on their road to happily ever after, but they do make it. Come on, this is a romance, did you have doubts?

I love all of Mallery’s books, and WHY NOT TONIGHT is typical of her romances. Fun and funny and light, but with a deeper message about family and doing what you love and having to pay bills.

I highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Book Talk Tuesday: NAKED IN DEATH

I finished J.D. Robb’s NAKED IN DEATH a couple of weeks ago. It’s the first of her In Death series and one I hadn’t read yet.

An AutoChef by Any Other Name 

download (4)It’s a good introduction to the series. I loved seeing Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke’s first meeting and their attraction. Some of the beloved elements in the series were also introduced. We met Mavis, Charles, Nadine, the Auto-Chef (although not called that quite yet), Feeney, and Commander Whitney. Eve hasn’t yet started hiding candy around the office, but she definitely has a predilection for the sweet stuff. And real coffee. And a cat who figures in one of her cases.

The story is about a professional prostitute (in the 2050s, prostitution is legal and regulated and they’re called licensed companions), who is murdered. She’s the granddaughter of a prominent senator. The murder weapon is a gun, something outlawed and no longer manufactured, so the weapon is an “antique,” although it was manufactured in the early twenty-first century, i.e. now. There’s a taunting note left with the body. A week later, another prostitute is killed.

Some of the clues lead Eve to Roarke, already rich and successful and gorgeous. They explore their attraction, with Eve fighting it the whole way. Of course, Eve comes into grave danger. Of course, Roarke rushes to save her. Of course, she saves herself just before he arrives. Some things never change.

Our Protagonist: Before and After

I was interested to see how Eve has changed in some ways during the series, while in other ways she didn’t. She began irritable and broken, and still shows those characteristics. There were a few details that, in my opinion, no longer apply to Eve. She noticed flowers and trees and could name them. The Eve in the later books doesn’t care enough about flowers to name them, much less notice them. The early Eve has a taste for leather and bold colors. Later, she does love a great armored leather coat, but the Eve of 2064 prefers browns and grays and only consents to color when Roarke insists. Those are extremely minor quibbles though.

Overall, I enjoyed NAKED IN DEATH. And when more of the early books join my TBR stack, I’ll gladly read them.

Do you have to start a series at the beginning or do you dive in and just start anywhere?

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Revisiting Favorites

I used to reread books all the time. I’ve read all the Agatha Christie books multiple times. Same with Dick Francis. Nancy Drew. Trixie Belden. Donna Parker. I grew up returning to my favorites like they were meatloaf and mashed potatoes. They were my comfort reads.

download (5)As I got older and found other authors I enjoyed, I reread fewer and less often. Now, I rarely reread books. I don’t have the time any more. I read books for reviews. I read books to judge for contests. Sometimes I go months without reading for purely my own enjoyment.

But before and after our Ireland and UK trip last year, I did revisit some books set in the places we’d be seeing, or had seen,  in person.

I reread a few Dick Francis books, and even read one or two of his newer titles, written with his son. They were great and reminded me why I’d been a fan for nearly forty years.

I revisited Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophy Club series, that is set in Edinburgh and with slices of other Scottish towns.

I’ve now pulled out Liz Curtis Higgs’ MY HEART IS IN THE LOWLANDS. I read this several download (6)years ago and didn’t reread it before our trip, because I knew we were headed more to the Highlands. But I opened it up this morning because I was longing for a glimpse of the Scottish countryside.

I’m now actively trying to figure out when we can return to Scotland and visit the Lowlands this time, following in Liz’s steps.

Do you ever reread favorites? Which ones? Recent favorites or older ones? Am I the only one who thinks of them as comfort reads?

Book Talk Tuesday: Catching Up

I’ve decided 2018 is going to be about catching up with my favorite series. The last few months have been filled with some great books, but also some lackluster entries. I realized that I have many favorite authors and their characters that I’ve set aside for other reading.

I’m going to fix that. I’ve made a list of what’s next.

downloadAlexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books are always wonderful, but I hadn’t read one in three years. So I found THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY in my TBR stack and read it! It was lovely, of course, although I had a few quibbles with dangling plot points at the end. Next will be LIMPOPO ACADEMY OF PRIVATE DETECTIVES.

From Susan Wiggs’ Willow Lake series, I just requested from the library, RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE. A few months ago, I did read MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY, so that’s one mystery solved.

download (1)

A friend gave me a copy of Alan Bradley’s AS CHIMNEY SWEEPERS COME TO DUST, but that’s three or four stories ahead of where I left off in his Flavia de Luce series. Fortunately, I have a cousin who’s also a fan and she’s loaning me SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES this weekend.

I’ve already read three of Jan Karon’s Mitford books so far this year, and that’s what spurred my impetus to catch up on all my favorite series.  I just finished IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS, which is set in Ireland. Father Tim and Cynthia visit the ‘auld country and of course find a parish away from home to minister to. Next download (3)will be COME RAIN OR COME SHINE. I read these slightly out of order. Earlier this year I read SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD, which is directly after IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS. I’m trusting that picking up COME RAIN OR COME SHINE next won’t be a problem.

Since Sue Grafton’s death in late December, I’ve also been reviewing her books to make sure I didn’t miss any along the way. I don’t think I did, but I’m definitely behind. So S IS FOR SILENCE is next on my list.

download (2)I have one last Deborah Knott title by Margaret Maron that I’ve been saving, but it seems appropriate to add it to my list. Maron announced LONG UPON THE LAND would be the last Deborah Knott novel. Maron is still writing, but I don’t love her Sigrid Harald books as much as I do Deborah and Dwight and the family.

Finally, my last series to catch up on isn’t a series. I do love Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper books and I’ve read them all. I haven’t kept up with her stand alones. I added two of those to my list. LOVE MERCY will be up first.

And then Nora Roberts. I haven’t read all of the IN DEATH series and Roberts is far too download (4)prolific for me to attempt to keep up. I’ve decided to go back and read the first in the series, NAKED IN DEATH, and then read whatever is in my TBR stack and whatever crosses my path. The books don’t require being read in order. The characters change slowly enough that it’s easy to pick up anytime. These books are all about the case, although Lt. Eve Dallas and Roark are fascinating and compelling protagonists.

Of course, as my favorite authors release new stories, I’ll add those in. They’re not included on this list because I’m already caught up with everything they’ve written. This includes Susan Mallery, Kristan Higgins, Susan May Warren, Kathryn Cushman, Tamara Alexander. I could keep going, but I’ll stop for now.

Last year I read 100 books. This year, I’m at 37 so far. Looks like I may hit the century mark again.

Expect reviews in the next weeks. And please, ask me how the list is coming along. I estimate I have 27 books to read to consider myself “caught up.” And I’ve pre-ordered several books from my favorites that will be released in the next few months and will have to be factored in.

Gotta go. I’ve got a book waiting!