Month: July 2017

Guest Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

Posted July 17, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 20 Comments

Good Morning guys! I hope you all are doing well and enjoying your July. I myself cannot believe how fast this summer is flying. Before you know it, we are going to be in the fall and than the year will come to a close. I miss you guys. It’s been super busy around here but I have managed to keep on reading, so I have a bunch of books to review for you and hopefully be back in full swing soon. Until than, the lovely Sophia has another review for you. Enjoy her take on how she felt about book twelve in the Pink Carnation series. I’ve been eyeing this series what feels like forever, it sounds like a great read with interesting characters.

Guest Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren WilligThe Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig
Series: Pink Carnation #12
Published by NAL on August 4th 2015
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.  Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.   All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.   It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.
READERS GUIDE INCLUDED

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for espionage stories particularly from the past so the Pink Carnation series has been right up my alley. The Lure of the Moonflower is the twelfth and final book of the series and brings things full circle with a mission for the Pink Carnation herself.

For those not in the know, this series is told split story- present story framing a past story. In the present, Eloise and Collin have their adventures as Eloise lives at the old Selwick country estate to do research for her grad dissertation on the enigmatic shadowy lady spy of the past during the wars with France, The Pink Carnation. And in the past, the stories follow the missions of the members in the Pink Carnation’s league of spies. There is suspense and romance to be had- heavier on the romance much of the time.

The missions can get quite twisty so that sometimes it comes down to the end before secrets are revealed. These are exciting stories, but don’t slip into gritty thriller territory. I confess that the split stories don’t hold my attention equally. I enjoy Eloise, Collin and their families, but I get more engaged with the stories in the past. That said, with this last one, I found both stories engaging and I loved how this last story ended up. And I really hope a few of those possible future threads get addressed.

What I enjoyed about this one was not the actual spy mission itself- Jane, the Pink Carnation, recruiting a dubious Jack to help remove the queen of Portugal from French hands. No, I enjoyed the interplay between stiff, prejudiced, and know it all Jane against a man of equal intellect who is not what she thought he was. The Pink Carnation never errs and never is taken by surprise, but from the outset, she thinks she knows all about him and lets these preconceived notions guide her into making mistakes.

I was so afraid that there would be an imbalance and that the hero would never live up to who was needed to pair with Jane because she is such a strong and highly skilled agent and woman, but that was not the case. Jack was a brilliant complex character- strong enough to stand beside Jane and let her do her thing, but also have her respect because he was strong in his own right. Their chemistry was smoldering at first as they battled wits and figured out how best to get along, but then it was sizzling. Loved how their relationship was brought along.

Incidentally, my paper copy came with some extras at the back- historical notes, author q&a, extended and deleted scenes, and reader discussions.

So this was a great end to the series, but I do hope there are a few more to come someday. These will be for those who can appreciate a split story, gentle suspense that is more focused on romance and character parts of the plot.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Audio Review: Death Around the Bend by TE Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden

Posted July 5, 2017 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 24 Comments

Morning guys! Hope you grabbed your coffee because I got Sophia Rose on the blog today with another excellent review. Enjoy as she expresses her thoughts and feelings about Death Around the Bend, a cozy mystery. I personally thought it sounded so fun that I want to start this series myself <3

Audio Review: Death Around the Bend by TE Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth KnoweldenDeath Around the Bend by T E Kinsey
Series: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #3
Published by Brilliance Audio on June 8th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 8 hours 36 min
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Florence, are invited to Lord Riddlethorpe’s country estate for a week of motor racing and parties, they both agree it sounds like a perfectly charming holiday. But when one of the drivers dies in a crash during the very first race, they discover that what seemed like an uncharacteristic error in judgement may have a more sinister explanation . . .
Closer investigation reveals that the driver’s car was sabotaged – and the driver murdered. The local constabulary are quick to dismiss the case, but Flo and Lady Hardcastle are determined to find out just who has committed this dastardly act, and why.
As the pair begin to make enquiries of Lord Riddlethorpe’s servants and guests, it seems that, below stairs and above, there is more to this case than meets the eye. And, even in the quiet of the countryside, death is always just around the bend.

Sparkling wit, upstairs/downstairs, motor racing, country house party, and a fantastic, unique female detecting pair to make Death Around the Bend a great listen.

This is my first encounter with the series though Death Around the Bend is book three. It can easily be read/listened to standalone or out of order. I had such a good time with it that I definitely plan to go back for the first pair.

Lady Hardcastle and her ladies’ maid, Flo are a sparkling pair and I loved following along as they found their way to the solution in the country house party murder mystery. Even though this is the third book, there is a great backstory for this pair who have been together through thick and thin. Both have surprising talents that make them good detectives.

The book follows the usual style of introducing everybody, a murder, and then the slow working through to the solution. It was not a dramatic piece, but it did have the exciting climax point with a good denouement. There is also an adorable mini-mystery plot involving a ticklish problem for one of their neighbors that bookends the other mystery. Oh, and a bit of romance in the air for another side story for a few minor characters.

It was set in Edwardian Era England. I thought the story caught the tone of those times and balanced well, staying present enough to be noticed, but also not overtaking the other elements of the plot.

The cast of characters surrounding Lady Hardcastle and Flo were a great lot. There were the below stairs serving staff and the upstairs house party of the Earl and his guests.

Now the mystery itself was clever. I worked out the who and how and somewhat why out once I had enough clues, but there were a few parts that I had to wait to get until the solution was revealed.

I really only had one niggle and it was a teeny tiny one. ‘What ho!’ was often used by Lady Hardcastle so that I cringed each time Lady Hardcastle spotted Flo. I suspect it’s her signature greeting.

The narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden, was new to me. She had a great plummy English accent for the upper class characters and her voices for all the levels in the servant’s hall was superbly done. She had a huge cast to read and they were all distinct and I could easily distinguish them. She added an extra layer of goodness to an already good book. I’m pretty sure that the series would lose a little shine if I didn’t experience the rest of it with her narration.

So, all in all, this was an abso-fab story and I will definitely be getting the rest of the series. Historical mystery/cozy mystery fans should definitely give this book/series a go.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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