Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Next Always by Nora Roberts- Inn Boonsboro Book 1

The launch of a new Nora Roberts romance series always raised pulse-raising possibilities, but the first of her Inn Boonsboro trilogy is a pleasure onto itself. At its center are Beckett Montgomery, an architect with ambitious plans and a longstanding crush, and Clare Brewster, a young widow bookstore owner who has returned to her hometown. Roberts places readers inside the crosscurrents of small-town...  ( Synopsis from B&
Penguin Group (USA), Trade Paperback , 352pp
Nora Roberts has written a sweet romance for her first book in the Inn Boonsboro series. Clare Brewster is an Iraq war widow who has returned to her hometown and opened a bookstore. Beckett Montgomery is part of a family business that is rehabbing the once decrepit Inn Boonsboro. Beck has had a thing for Clare since their teen years and his opportunity has finally arrived. Ms. Roberts does her usual fine job of portraying a really nice guy who likes Clare's children and gradually becomes an essential part of her life. Clare has a harder time getting used to a new relationship but she falls eventually.
 I loved the descriptions of the Inn and how it was being renovated. I know Ms. Roberts has based this trilogy on the Maryland Inn she herself has purchased and I so want to go after reading this book and stay in the Eve & Roarke room! The main characters are a great match and Beck's two brothers are obviously the focus of the next two books along with Clare's two friends. Can't wait! I also enjoyed the hint of paranormal with the Inn's resident ghost. I am hoping the next two books will tell us about her and how she came to be haunting the Inn. No Robert's romance would be complete without a villain and this book has one, but it is really a small part of the book. The main focus of the story is what Ms. Roberts does so well- two relatively average people with their own faults and issues manage to work things out and find each other. It's believable and sweet and you wish it was you having this wonderful romance
RPL Notes: This book will be available on November 1, 2011 in the Adult New books section under F-ROB. It will also be located in the Books on CD section under R.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Three Day Town by Margaret Maron-Great blend of 2 mystery series!

Judge Deborah Knott and Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant are on a train to New York, finally on a honeymoon after a year of marriage. January in New York might not be the perfect time to visit, but they'll take it. The trip is a Christmas present from Dwight's sister-in-law, who arranged for them to stay in an Upper West Side apartment for one week. While in New York, Deborah has been asked to deliver a package to Lt. Sigrid Harald of the NYPD. Sigrid offers to swing by the apartment to pick up the box, but when they reach the apartment, they discover that it is missing and the doorman has been murdered. Despite their best efforts to enjoy a blissful getaway, Deborah and Dwight soon find that they've teamed up with Sigrid and her team to catch the killer before he strikes again. ( summary from B&

Grand Central Publishing,  Hardcover , 288pp

Three Day Town is the latest in Margaret Maron’s Judge Deborah Knott series.  Deborah and Dwight, her husband of about one year, are finally getting away for a mini-honeymoon in NYC.  As part of the trip, they are bringing a parcel to be delivered to the daughter of one of their friends. They are staying in an apartment owned by the wife of one of Deborah’s relatives. The first night there, they attend a party next door and come home to the body of the building’s superintendent in the apartment.
Now, the story gets interesting! The investigating police officer is Lt. Sigrid Harald, the protagonist from an earlier Maron series.  Ms. Harald is an acerbic, somewhat humorless detective with a past tragedy in her life.  She is also the granddaughter of Deborah and Dwight’s elderly friend who asked them to deliver the parcel.  The contents of the parcel are somewhat shocking and may be connected to the murder.  There are all kinds of interesting characters woven throughout this story.  Well to do society types, art lovers and artists, service workers in the co-op, and New York’s finest all play a part in this mystery.
One of the interesting things about this book was seeing Deborah work away from her home base.  She and Dwight contribute to the solution but not with much cooperation from Ms. Harald.  The taciturn detective’s character becomes more likeable as we learn more about her, but she is the opposite of Deborah’s open, earthy personality. I have to say that I decided to go back and read the older series after reading this book. I asked the author if future Harald books were planned and she said no but that there would be appearances in future Knott books.
This book has plenty of suspense and the characters are well done.  One of Ms. Maron’s strengths is the believability of her characters.  They add to the story and don’t distract the reader with useless red herrings. As usual, the interplay between Dwight and Deborah is wonderfully romantic even in the midst of a murder. I have to say that I will be glad to see them back home in the next book. I just love the family dynamics and the southern ambiance in these books.  Can’t wait for the next book in the series!!
RPL Note: This book will not be available in Adult New Mysteries until November 21, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham

Christmas has never brought out the best in the MacDougal family. Still, year after year, they gather together in the Blue Ridge Mountains to try to make the season merry and bright. But this year is an especially strained one, with Shayne's impending divorce, Morwenna's slavish devotion to work and Bobby's reluctance to face what life has to offer. They've never felt less like a family.
Then, in the midst of a snowy sibling shouting match, a mysterious stranger appears. He could be a criminal, a madman—or something far more unexpected. Despite their fears and the growing danger in the dark woods around them, the MacDougals take a leap of faith. But when another stranger arrives on the mountainside, they don't know which of them to believe. One of these men can't be trusted. And one is about to bring Christmas into their hearts. ( Synopsis from B&

Published by Mira, Hardcover , 336pp

An Angel for Christmas is a sweet holiday story with a message. The three MacDougal siblings are coming to their parent’s vacation cabin in the woods for Christmas. Shayne, the oldest, is bitter about his recent divorce and missing his children for the holidays. Morwenna, the middle, whose boyfriend has gone to Cancun without her and she is debating her choice to come home. Bobby, the youngest, has just decided to leave a college that is not preparing him for the future he wants.
Into the middle of this holiday bliss, Shayne’s children turn up and then the family finds an injured stranger on their property. The man Gabe Lange, claims to be a State Trooper chasing a white collar criminal who injured him and then escapes.  Lange states the man, Luke Defeo is not a killer but he would be dangerous he if turned up. The rest of the story proceeds with Gabe being cautiously brought into the family’s holiday celebration.  Gabe seems to have a talent for talking to people and helping them see their inner self and what they would like to have their life be about.  Defeo turns up and becomes the worm in the apple. He claims to be the good guy but he spends all of his time spreading poison into the ear of whoever is nearby. There is a dramatic rescue of another family member and a final fight between Gabe & Luke before the resolution.
I enjoyed the whole Gabriel/Lucifer allegory in this book. The family is fractured but loving and they need someone to help them see how they have been allowing negativity to take hold in their lives. For example, Shayne needs to realize he can’t slam his ex around his kids because the children love both parents and it hurts and confuses them to hear the comments. Gabe really helps the family get the spirit of Christmas in spite of Luke’s attempt to pull them apart.  The message of love and hope is especially nice in the crazy time we are living in. 
RPL Note: This book is available in Adult New Fiction 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolfe

Gabriella “Ella” Graham is a portrait artist in her mid-30s, living in present-day London, whose dedication to her artwork precludes her developing personal relationships, in this latest from Brit author Wolff (A Vintage Affair). Ella refuses to paint from photographs and instead requires her subjects to spend long hours sitting for portraits, so intent is she on revealing their true natures. She’s also keenly aware that “I’m drawn to people who are a little bit dark—who haven’t had happy-ever-after sorts of lives. I like painting people who I sense are... complex.” As Ella learns more about the people she paints, she allows herself to reflect on secrets that have haunted her family since she was a child. She remembers sketching her father’s face when she was a little girl in order to preserve his features, but despite repeated inquiries, Ella’s mother refuses to provide her daughter with much detail about the past. The powerful combination of Ella’s professional success along with her sister Chloe’s upcoming wedding causes Ella to turn her focus inward and face startling revelations about herself. Wolff’s heroine is an excellent conduit to understanding how art can reflect the true essence of those being depicted, while the story delivers all the charm and romance readers have come to expect ( Publisher's weekly)

Random House Publishing Group,Hardcover , 336pp

The Very Picture of You is a pleasant and satisfying read. The main character, Ella Graham, is a well known portrait artist whose personal life is somewhat disordered. She is happy with her career, not so much with her romantic life. She is having tiffs with her mother about her biological father, who walked out on the family when she was only five. Her mother was a famous dancer, now remarried, who is still bitter about " the other woman" causing the breakup of the family. Ella loves her stepdad but is beginning to wonder about her father.
Ella has a half sister, Chloe, who has met a new man, Nate and is rebuilding her life after a doomed affair with a married man. Ella is very antagonistic towards Nate after overhearing something she shouldn't have but ends up having to paint his portrait after Chloe wins her services in a charity raffle. After she starts the work on the painting, Ella learns there is a great deal more to Nate than she originally saw.
Besides Nate, Ella is painting three other portraits. One is of an elderly woman named Iris, who has a painting in her house that leads to the telling of a poignant story that resonates with Ella. Another portrait is of a local politician who is going through an emotional crisis that changes his appearance and personality. There is a mystery about this man that may be tied to the hit and run death of a local woman. The third portrait is of a soon to be forty woman who is totally not into the idea of the portait her husband has comissioned. Initially she appears to be shallow and selfish-all surface and no substance.
Ms. Wolfe skillfully intoduces the four"sitters" and little by little gives us glimpses into their lives and personalities. Ella's interactions with the four leads to changes in her life and attitude. Just like in a picture, there are things that have happened and are happening that are not what they seem on the surface. Ella will need to delve deeper into her past in order to have a better future. There are characters in this story we may find unlikeable but we understand in the end why they acted as they did. Ms. Wolfe doesn't excuse bad behavior nor does she punish it. The characters have punished themselves when you really look at them and how they have lived their lives. This books has some parts that are a little formulaic but for the most part it is an interesting look at how people present themselves,how deep those outer layers can go and the work it takes for people to keep those layers intact.

RPL Note: This book is available in the Adult New Fiction Section

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Blood Red Indian Summer by David Handler

This newest mystery featuring Mitch Berger and Connecticut State Trooper Des Mitry presents Des with her first genuine racially charged case in the historic New England village of Dorset, the gem of Connecticut’s Gold Coast.
Tyrone “Da Beast” Grantham, the famously volatile NFL superstar linebacker, has just been suspended for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the league.” When Tyrone and his entourage decide to spend his season in exile in bucolic Dorset---much to the dismay of his early-to-bed, ultra-white neighbors---Des is put on the spot. And when Tyrone’s eighteen-year-old sister-in-law, Kinitra, washes up on Mitch’s beach one morning, bloodied and barely alive, Des is on the case. Especially when it turns out that Kinitra is eight weeks pregnant. Good thing there’s nothing else serious going on in our heroes’ lives right now.  Like, say, Mitch’s parents arriving from Florida at long last to meet the new woman of color in their nice Jewish boy’s life. (summary from B&

 St. Martin's Press , Hardcover , 256pp

I love this series. I enjoy that it takes place in Connecticut and I can visualize the places that are mentioned. I enjoy the little digs that the author makes about the power structure of the Connecticut State Police and about the moneyed life of the residents of the fictional town of Dorset. This book, which is the eighth in the series, continues the story of Mitch Berger and Des Mitry. The opening chapter starts the book off with an emotional situation and outcome that gets your attention immediately.
Des and Mitch are rebuilding their relationship after a rough patch and the ultimate test is coming. Des is going to meet Mitch’s parents. She is worried about the upcoming meeting and about her father, who is recuperating from surgery. Mitch has worries of his own as his parents have been behaving strangely and he is convinced there is something they aren’t telling him.
In the middle of all this, we have the family of Tyrone Grantham temporarily staying in Dorset. The description of how the prickly, native Nutmeggers react to a bad boy African American NFL star in their midst is very realistic. Des is in the middle of the residents and the “outsider” and she feels the pressure. When a Grantham family member washes up on the beach in a bad way, all kinds of possibilities are exposed. There is the angry neighbor, the nutty neighbor, the sleazy relatives, and a money grubbing, publicity seeking, gadfly all of whom make plausible suspects..
A long running theme in the books is how the female troopers are treated by the good old boy network and how that hampers their ability to do their job. Des has survived by being very good at her job and by keeping a few aces up her sleeve when needed. In this book she gets to work with 2 other female investigators and it adds interest to the story, especially as one is the sister of Des’s nemesis in the Department. Des also gets input from her father, the highest ranking African American officer in the CSP.
Mitch is his usual movie geek self, reframing life situations in terms of favorite movies. He helps his neighbors, enjoys his life in the neighborhood, and helps Des when he can. Their relationship is so enjoyable to read about. I love it when she calls him “doughboy”. In this book she picks up another interesting nickname much to Mitch’s chagrin. They balance each other in so many ways, which helps her get through some rough situations, including the conclusion of this investigation.
It has been a while since the previous book in the series. I hope the next one won’t be as long coming.
This book is available in the Adult New Fction section. Previous books in the series are in the Adult Mystery section.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hometown Girl by Mariah Stewart- Nice addition to the series!

Life was always just about perfect for Brooke Madison Burke. She was the prettiest, most popular girl in small-town St. Dennis, Maryland, a prom queen, local pageant star, and the pride and joy of her loving parents. She even married the man of her dreams. But the promise of happily ever after fell to pieces when her husband was killed while serving in Iraq. Brokenhearted and longing for the solace of better days, she returns to the idyllic world of St. Dennis, and the familiar comfort of the family farm. Surrounded by her loving family and friends, she’s determined to build a new life, complete with her own cupcake bakery. She’s equally determined never to fall in love again.
For Jesse Enright, life has been a challenge. A fourth-generation attorney, he’s spent his life fighting to escape the shadow of his irresponsible father. Now he’s moved to St. Dennis to run the family law practice, and he’s ready to find the right girl, get married, and settle down. But his carefully laid plans go out the window when he meets Brooke and finds himself caught between the unbreakable law of attraction and Brooke’s resolve to go her way alone—despite the undeniable feelings Jesse stirs in her. But just like catching lightning in a bottle, is it possible to fall head-over-heels, heart-and-soul in love all over again? ( Synopsis from Barnes &

For readers who have read the earlier books in the Chesapeake Diaries Series, this book will be like coming home and visiting old friends. If you haven't read the books, this book can stand on it's own. 

Brooke has a full plate, widowed at a young age, single mom, and starting her own business. She has been widowed for four years but still keeps herself aloof from relationships. She is the queen of first dates with no follow ups. The book is realistic in portraying her ambivalence about her husbands death and the emotional toll it has taken on her and her son. Brooke has progressed throughout the series from a "mean girl" to a genuinely nice person in part because of the difficulties sh has faced.

Jesse has his own demons to slay as well. His father is heading for wife number 4 and has no relationship with his son. Jesse comes to St. Dennis to work at the family law firm and is treated like a pariah by his grandfather.  He is attracted to Brooke but unsure about his ability to maintain a long term realtionship.

Characters from earlier books make appearances in this book but the focus is mostly on Brooke & Jesse and how they interact with those characters.  They both learn a little bit about themselves from the people around them and from each other. Family members play a role in helping the relationship get off the ground and the fact that they have some business in common helps.

I enjoyed this book and the glimpses of the characters I had read about before. Like all good books in a series, lots of doors were opened for future relationships that I look forward to reading about.

RPL Notes: This book is available in the Adult New Paperback Section.  The earlier books in the series ( Coming Home and Almost Home) are in the Adult Fiction section and also in Large Print fiction. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves

In a world full of frogs, Alison Carter is determined to find her prince. Maybe her dating past is more Titanic than Love Boat, but she's seen enough happy marriages to know that true love is possible. No matter what, she won't give up on happily-ever-after. If she can't find Mr. Right, she'll simply hire someone who can.
When Brandon Scott inherits a successful matchmaking business, he thinks his prayers have been answered. Set up a few lonely ladies, collect the fee, how hard can it be? No one needs to know he's not really a professional matchmaker-especially not his first client, the beautiful, spirited Alison. Soon he's falling for her-and her dreams of kids and carpools. But Alison is getting close to figuring out his secret, and if she learns he's deceived her too, she'll walk right out the door, taking Brandon's heart with her. (synopsis from publisher)


Heartstrings and Diamond Rings begins with Alison Carter on a date with her boyfriend of 8 months. She is sure he is going to pop the question and he does.  Unfortunately, the question is would Alison be willing to do a threesome with some bimbo they both know. Right off the bat we know Alison has baaaad luck with men. She is looking for Mr. Forever, the white picket fence, and a pack of children.
Brandon Scott has inherited his grandmother’s matchmaking business and life use of her house. He usually is a real estate developer, but the economy has wiped him out and he’s laying low, trying to get enough capital together to work on another deal. He is NOT looking for a permanent relationship.
Through a variety of circumstances, Alison becomes the new businesses first client.  The story starts with a bang and continues moving along to the very end. Brendon learns the matchmaking trade slowly but surely with help from Alison. The descriptions of her first few dates are hilarious and each new experience helps Brandon hone his skills. Both of them learn to see what it is that they really want in life and what they need to do to get their heart’s desire. They have well-meaning buttinsky friends who help them along the way.
This book has romance, humor and some heart tugging parts to it.  The dates are a little over the top but enjoyable and the book is a good read. Both of the main characters are likeable and sympathetic, even when they may be doing something not so nice. When the book is done, you feel satisfied. Ms. Graves has another winner to add to her list.
Grand Central Publishing, Paperback, 448 pages
RPL Note: This book is available in the Adult New Paperback section.