Never Coming Home
by Evonne Wareham
Published by Choc Lit
When Kaz Elmore is told her five-year-old daughter Jamie has died in a car crash, she struggles to accept that she'll never see her little girl again. Then a stranger comes into her life offering the most dangerous substance in the world: hope. All she has left is hope. Devlin, security consultant and witness to the terrible accident scene, inadvertently reveals that Kaz s daughter might not have been the girl in the car after all. What if Jamie is still alive? With no evidence, the police aren't interested, so Devlin and Kaz have little choice but to investigate themselves. Devlin never gets involved with a client. Never. But the more time he spends with Kaz, the more he desires her and the more his carefully constructed ice-man persona starts to unravel. The desperate search for Jamie leads down dangerous paths to a murderous acquaintance from Devlin's dark past, and all across Europe, to Italy, where deadly secrets await. But as long as Kaz has hope, she can't stop looking.
This novel has won awards and had a good review on Vulpes Libris, but I couldn't warm to it at all. Just about all the characters: the hero, the heroine, the hero's sidekick and most of the antagonists display moments of that great romance trope, Too Stupid To Live. Sadly most of them survive. Equally sadly most of the plot hangs on the big coincidence that the only available hired killer to cause trouble for the heroine also has a long-term grudge against the hero. I also got annoyed at the apparent head-hopping within scenes between the hero and heroine, and overuse of the trope where a protagonist learns something vital, but the reader isn't told what until several chapters later.
To Davy Jones Below
by Carola Dunn
Published by Robinson Publishing
With the peal of wedding bells still ringing in their ears, Daisy Dalrymple and her new husband, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, take an ocean trip to America. On board they are joined by a coterie of acquaintances, including American industrialist Caleb P. Arbuckle, his friend, millionaire Jethro Gotobed, and his new wife Wanda, an ex-showgirl with huge ambitions. But very soon the pleasant voyage dissolves into an atmosphere thick with chaos, intrigue and vicious gossip, followed by a series of suspicious accidents and a sudden death. And with harsh weather and rough seas making the crossing even more perilous, it's up to Daisy and Alec to uncover the tangled secrets and hidden agendas of some very dangerous guests...
I've got slightly out of order with reading these, but I'll be back on track from now on. Daisy and Alec are married and off to America for an adventure I've already reviewed. Cruise ship mysteries are generally fun, and this one doesn't disappoint, especially given the different passengers' reactions to the rough sea: Daisy copes better than Alec and the various remedies they are offered by a fellow traveller. Lots of class and wealth issues get rolled out to add to the complexity of the mystery and Alec seems to be developing Daisy's pragmatic approach to dealing with the guilty at least when out of territorial waters. Spiffing fun.
by Jessica E. Subject
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
At twenty-two, Leanne Declan has graduated from college and hopes to take over the family farm until a tragic accident changes her life forever. Unable to do the simplest everyday chores, she must depend on her family and friends as she learns to face life’s challenges. But when her fears threaten to destroy her future, can an unexpected love be strong enough to help her dreams come true?
The third and last so far in the Challenge Series, and my favourite of the three. This time, we get to see the full process from initiation to recovery as the heroine deals with an acquired disability (the accident is only briefly mentioned, but may squick some people). The central characters are quite young, and the heroine does tend to angst more than I'd expect from someone older, but she does show a fair degree of resourcefulness as the story progresses. There's also family tension as well as the challenge of unexpected disability, and for once the epilogue worked for me.
Watching the Ghosts
by Kate Ellis
Publisher: CREME DE LA CRIME
DI Joe Plantagenet investigates a house with a disturbing past in the fourth of this popular police procedural series. Boothgate House has a sinister past. Once an asylum for the insane, serial killer Peter Brockmeister was sent there on his release from prison in 1978. Three years later, it closed, and Brockmeister died in mysterious circumstances. Solicitor Melanie Hawkes is investigating the suspicious events when her young daughter is kidnapped. Meanwhile, Boothgate House resident Lydia Brookes is burgled. And why is a paranormal researcher fascinated by the building's basement? As Joe uncovers the appalling truth, he faces an evil that threatens those closest to him - and puts his own life in jeopardy.
A wonderfully complex tale of medical malpractice, the obsession some individuals develop with serial killers and the tricky issues surrounding child custody and blended families. I was gripped and took a long time to figure out who was behind which plot twists. Also, George Merryweather is becoming one of my favourite minor characters. Sadly the use of a couple of tired stereotypes stopped the story from getting top marks.
Death Comes to Pemberley
by P.D. James
Published by Faber and Faber Crime
The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, as the guests are preparing to retire for the night a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham -- Elizabeth's younger, unreliable sister -- stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.
I enjoyed this a lot, although I found its success as an Austen pastiche patchy at best. It stood up better as a historical mystery, although a few words jarred as being not quite in keeping with the period (checking the etymology, none of the words were wildly anachronistic, but there are possible substitutions that would have felt more natural for the characters and setting). On the other hand, I liked the feel of the characters themselves, and while Wickham isn't completely redeemed, we do get to see a different side to some of the other minor characters from Pride and Prejudice.
Forbidden Jewel of India
by Louise Allen
Published by Harlequin
Anusha Laurens is in danger. The daughter of an Indian princess and an English peer, she's the perfect pawn in the opulent courts of Rajasthan. Even so, she will not return to the father who rejected her. Arrogant "angrezi" Major Nicholas Herriard is charged with bringing the alluring princess safely to her new life in Calcutta. Nick's mission is to protect, to serve -- but under the searing Indian sun an initial attraction unfurls into a forbidden temptation.This beautiful, impossible princess tests the very limits of his honor -- especially when Nick is left with only one option to keep Anusha safe: "marriage." But the fast-flowing waters of the Ganges determine a different fate, and duty may separate them forever....
While I'm very fond of Louise Allen's historical series, I adore her stand-alone stories that take place in slightly less expected settings. This one had all the aspects that appeal to me: race and class (in terms of inherited money vs that from trade) conflicts, scandal (both in relation to Anusha's origins and to her attitudes compared to those of the fine English ladies she's supposed to emulate) and a heroine who spends a good few scenes dressed as a boy. A couple of the plot twists followed standard tropes, but I forgave them in this instance because I could see that the situation really would play out in the best possible way.