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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

Genre: Psychological Suspense
Release Date: September 26, 2017

Marion and her brother, John, live together in a home that was once well cared for but has now seen years of neglect taking its toll. In her 50s, Marion has never truly been seen as her own person. She's bossed around, verbally abused by peers and loved ones, and spends most of her day lurking in the home, ignoring the cries she hears coming from the basement, and sleeping with her collection of teddy bears each night.

Marion's neighbor only socializes with Marion when she wants something. John wants Marion to realize the neighbor only uses her. He also wants Marion to keep out of his things and do as he says. When he suffers a heart attack, Marion finds herself finally by herself in a house where John still wants to control what she does and says.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The atmosphere in The Visitors is chilling. It's creepy. It's one eerie family and that comes true from the very minute you start meeting the mother, father, and children in the past to the children who are now adults.

It was slow to build, however. I was far more than halfway through the book before the brother has his heart attack. That's when the action really picks up. By that point, I knew what was coming even if the main character was seemingly blind to it. I also found myself no longer interested in what Marion would do next. It was too late.

RTR's Bottom Line

If you look at The Visitors as a disturbing look into a woman who never truly grew up, the book works. If you're, like me, expecting a surprise in the basement, well I'm sad to say it just was never surprising. I wanted to love all of the story, but when I was halfway through and Marion was still muddling along and nothing had changed, I didn't really feel compelled to finish the story. It was a struggle from that point.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery by Melinda Mullet

Setting: Scotland
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Alibi
Release Date: March 21, 2017

Her parents died in a car crash when she was young. Abi Logan's uncle raised her, and she's always been incredibly close to him. When he loses his battle with lung cancer, Abi is shattered. She heads up to Scotland to decide what to do with Abbey Glen, the whisky distillery he owned.

Abi's an award-winning photojournalist who really has no interest in the business, but it was her uncle's pride and joy so she will do right by him. When threatening messages find their way to her, she's cautious but not dissuaded. When a body's found in one of the distillery's vats, Abi decides that she may be a little more diligent about getting to the truth behind the murder and the person that is so eager to get Abi to leave.

Strengths and Weaknesses

I liked Abi from the start. She's shrewd and having been all over the world in dangerous situations, she's not one to scare easily. It takes a little time to get each of the Abbey Glen characters down. There are a few of them.

I do appreciate the author knowing that whisky is the correct spelling in Scotland and that the "e" shouldn't be there. That was nice to see, as it doesn't always happen. I also liked reading about the process that goes into making whisky and the differences between blends and single malts.

I'm used to cozy mysteries having a touch of romance. That's hinted at in this book, but it's never the main focus. I appreciate that. I also have my own hopes on where things go in future novels and plan to keep reading to see if I'm right. I like that the story wrapped up but left me with an eagerness to read the next book.

RTR's Bottom Line

Single Malt Murder is an intriguing start to a series. I'm not a big whiskey drinker, but I have discovered a taste for Irish whiskey over the years. It was fun reading about the process that goes into making a Scottish whisky and meeting the characters, some of whom still remain a bit of a mystery. I can't wait to get to know their characters in future A Whisky Business mystery novels.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Setting: Charleston, South Carolina
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Release Date: October 3, 2017

As one of the owners of Two Love Lane, Macy Frost is uncertain the matchmaking service's latest prospect is worth their time. They find people's true loves. They arrange quick flings, and that's exactly what Deacon Banks is after. He wants to make his aunt happy by seeing a number of women before Christmas arrives. He has no interest in finding the love of his life.

Macy ends up taking on the project if only to prove to him that he just hasn't found the right woman yet. She's out there, and Macy knows it. What Macy never plans on is that she's the perfect match. He's her client, and that means she cannot possibly have what every algorithm finds or what her heart truly wants.

Strengths and Weaknesses

I know it's all part of the romance conflict, but I've never understood why people opt to ignore what's right in front of their face. That's exactly what Macy does. Even though she knows he's the one, she continues to make excuses. It was somewhat maddening at times. Life's too short to ignore what's right in front of you.

With that, the conflict in Christmas at Two Love Lane also kept me hooked. I couldn't get enough of Deacon. What a charmer. I also loved the feel-good story that was so uplifting. It's a big part of why I look forward to holiday romance season.

After a tough year, some feel-good fiction is exactly what I need. Kieran Kramer certainly delivered. With that in mind, I really hope that poor George gets his own special someone. I loved his character and wanted to see him find the right person, too.

RTR's Bottom Line

If you want emotional and lighthearted, Christmas at Two Love Lane delivers on many levels. I snickered, smiled, and was left with that warm cozy feeling that a solid romance offers. I'm kind of sad it's over, but so happy I took the time to read it.