*Flirting with the Beast by Jane Porter

*Flirting with the Beast by Jane Porter
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Holiday
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

It’s been five years since Andi McDermott lost her husband, and she’s finally starting to feel like herself again, ready to live fully—she’s even started dating again. But when her holiday plans with her stepson and his fiancée fall through, she refuses to spend another Christmas alone while everyone is celebrating with their families. Impulsively, she decides to go up to her cabin in Lake Arrowhead, a place she used to love to visit but hadn’t gone to in years, not since the feud started between her husband and their nearest neighbor.

Andi starts to rethink her decision when being alone at the cabin proves to be more challenging than she expected—a heavy snowstorm hits the area, and Andi finds herself trapped there with no one to help except for her neighbor, Wolf Enders. A military vet who lives full-time on Lake Arrowhead, Wolf is as grumpy and intimidating as Andi remembers. But he’s also unexpectedly kind and uncomfortably sexy—his presence reminds Andi that she may be older, but her body still works perfectly fine, thank you very much. But can this good girl tame this sexy beast of a man, and will this snowy fling turn into a love of a lifetime?

I loved reading Wolf and Andi’s story. I thought it was emotional and touching and I never wanted it to end. What I found intriguing and different about this story is that it is about two mature adults. They have both had their ups and downs in life and don’t expect to find love again.

Andi is a widow feeling adrift since her husband died. She is lonely and feels stuck; she is ready for some changes in her life.

Wolf is a strong alpha male, he is former military, down to earth and enjoys the solitude his cabin provides. He is big, muscled and imposing and the exact opposite of Andi’s former husband.

Wolf and Andi are great together and they have loads of chemistry. They are two broken people and together they fill each other’s holes. Wolf is afraid to take a chance on love again but he finds it impossible to resist Andi. I liked all their scorching looks and all of their encounters.

Wolf and Andi’s story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. They are opposites in many ways but yet they fit together so well. Andi’s sweetness and trust help break down Wolf’s walls. Her kindness and openness helps open Wolf’s heart and keep his grumpiness at bay.

They are two mature adults trying to navigate a relationship while dealing with kids, grandkids and family drama. I loved reading their story and I was rooting for them to get their HEA. I enjoyed the plot and all of the interesting secondary characters. I highly recommend reading Flirting with the Beast.

Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
Psy-Changelings, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins – cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna…

Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted – and had her mind violated – by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…

Complicated, hot and fantastic.

I’ve never read Nalini Singh before and I’m glad I remedied that. I can’t wait to go back and pick up more of her titles. This one was hot, so hot it scorched the pages, complicated – I’ve never read a world this intricate – and fantastic. The pacing was good, and the reveal was even better. I got emotionally involved in the story and didn’t want to put it down.

Brenna is a changeling with issues. Oh boy, does she have issues. She’s been traumatized and her past may be a trigger to some – there is violence and assault toward her – but this makes her who she is. She’s stronger than she thinks. I liked how Judd plays off her, too. He’s cold as ice and trained to be that way, but he’s got a reason. He’s an Arrow. An elite. He’s supposed to be tough, unyielding and strong. I like how he melts for her and the way their pairing progresses. It’s hot and sometimes painful, but worth the ride.

If you’re looking for something intense, then this might be the romance for you. I’m hooked.

Dark Whisper by Christine Feehan

Dark Whisper by Christine Feehan
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Vasilisa Sidkorolyavolkva is a Lycan of royal blood. She knows what is expected of her, but all she wants is to be out from under her family’s watchful eyes. There is a fire inside her that is building. A restlessness coupled with a sense of growing dread. Every day she feels the weight of the legacy passed down through generations. The prophecy that says a man will come to claim her as his mate, and that she will guard his soul. She knows nothing about him except that he is hers. But nothing seems real until the night she meets him in the flesh….

Afanasiv Belan is a Carpathian, an ancient one. In all the centuries of his existence, no one has ever affected him like Vasilisa. He can see into her mind and feel what is in her heart. They are so alike, warriors bound by honor and plagued by secrets. They both know they must reveal the darkest parts of their souls if they hope to survive and protect the ones they love.

But if they claim each other as lifemates, it will change them down to the bone. They will become something more—something feared by both of their kinds….

The action is well-written, the suspense and drama are strong, and the characters are as interesting as ever. What I liked about Dark Whisper is that there is no stupid drama about the heroine resenting or resisting Afanasiv’s claim to her, or the possessive alpha nature of the hero. Vasilisa is well aware of what she guards, and I actually like that about her. No unnecessary angst, just a strong sense of self, knowing her duty and the confidence of her skill to carry it out, come what may. She’s a very strong heroine.

Both hero and heroine work well together. They don’t get a lot of down time because the pace of this novel is non-stop. The plot conflict keeps coming at them. But with their allies, Afanasiv and Vasilisa are up to the task of fighting off demons, vampires and betrayers. It’s a dark read which fits the title appropriately.

The ending is a bit abrupt, and I wasn’t expecting that. Usually there’s a wrap up that gives a reader time to admire all the threads of the plot being wrapped up, including the happy ever after. It felt like a roller coaster ride that ended too soon, up, down whoosh and …done. It was still a good tale, entertaining and engaging. Afanasiv and Vasilisa definitely complement each other. There were even a few surprises which I enjoyed.

I’m not too thrilled with the current story arc. I’ve been a fan of the series for a very long time, and most of the books are awesome. This one with the demons and Lilith mixing with vampires and mages just seems like it’s pushing the envelope into an area I don’t care for. The one sticky point that bothered me the most was the use of holy water. It seemed disingenuous because there was no correlation to anything referring to Christianity in Dark Whisper. I am used to holy water being directly associated with some type of Christian faith because it’s one of the most potent, visible and easily accessible symbols, yet it’s frequently taken out of context, using all its power but none of its source. I’m all for engaging willing suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy the paranormal romances I read, but I can’t ignore the use of something with power devoid of what gives it power in the first place. Using it on evil beings and then expecting me to believe that it would have the same powerful effect as if it were produced from the sole source, a Christian religion, but not? Nope, that didn’t work for me. It didn’t completely kick me out of enjoying all the other aspects of the novel. Like I said, there was a lot going on, but I took note, and it bothered me enough to mention it. It’s a good thing that there were many other facets of the tale I did like. There were exciting and powerful characters helping the hero and heroine out and I enjoyed the idea that there is something about Skyler that could create a new story arc for her and Dimitri. It certainly brought up more questions than answers, but they are captivating ideas to ponder. Then there’s the mention of the trapped Carpathian, Justice. Something big is building, that’s for sure. I’m glad they got one of the bad guys out of the picture. How they did it was sort of gruesome but extremely apropos. This is a dark romantic paranormal suspense after all. Ms. Feehan knows what she’s about.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It’s a good read and I think fans of the series will like it. I did go, Wow! a few times and threw in a whoa! or two as well. It’s worth checking out.

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
Real Men Knit, book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans for what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store. Jesse wants to keep the store open. His brothers want to tie off loose ends and close shop….

Part-time shop employee Kerry Fuller has kept her crush on Jesse a secret. When she overhears his impassioned plea to his brothers to keep the knitting shop open, she volunteers to help. Unlike Jesse, Kerry knows the “knitty-gritty” of the business, and together they make plans to reinvent Strong Knits for a new generation.

But the more time they spend together, the stronger the chemistry builds between them. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe their relationship can last longer than she can knit one, purl two. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her forever and always. After all, real men knit.

A guy, a girl, the yarn shop and a romance. What can go wrong?

This is my first book by Kwana Jackson and I’m glad I picked it up. The writing was crisp, and I felt like I was right there with the characters. It was a quick read and while there was drama, it wasn’t overly complicated. There was a lot of misunderstanding, which is relatable, and I liked that.

Kerry is headstrong and she won’t back down. I liked her as the strong heroine. She’s a good foil for Jesse. Then there’s Jesse. He thinks he’s a screw-up, but he’s just got to find his direction. He’s a player, to a degree, too. I liked the pairing between these two characters, but it took a long time for me to feel the romance between them. That might have been just me and others might feel the romance sizzles the pages.

I liked how the author made the guys knitters. They’re adopted brothers and all different, but still have their strengths. Their individual personalities did show through. I liked that the author normalized guys as crafters, too.

If you’re looking for a great book about boys who knit, then this is the one for you.

The Accidental Pinup by Danielle Jackson

The Accidental Pinup by Danielle Jackson
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Rival photographers are forced to collaborate on a body-positive lingerie campaign, but they might have to readjust their focus when sparks fly.

Photographer Cassie Harris loves her job—her company Buxom Boudoir makes people look beautiful and feel empowered with her modern twist on classic pinup photography. Cassie’s best friend, Dana, is about to launch her own dangerously dreamy lingerie line and wants Cassie to shoot and direct the career-changing national campaign. But company politics and Dana’s complicated pregnancy interfere, and Cassie finds herself—a proud plus size Black woman—not behind the camera but in front of it.

Though she’s never modeled herself, Cassie’s pretty sure she can handle the sheer underwear and caution tape bralettes. She’s not sure she can work so intimately with the chosen photographer, her long-time competitor in the Chicago photography scene, Reid Montgomery. Their chemistry is undeniable on set, however, and feelings can develop faster than film…

A beautiful woman who knows she’s beautiful and a man who needs to be put in his place…sparks will fly.

I’ve never read anything by Danielle Jackson before this book and I’m glad I remedied that. This was a fun story, albeit a bit toxic in spots–but with reason. I flew through the story and got emotionally involved in their relationship.

Cassie is a bigger woman and she’s black. She’s been passed up for opportunities in the fashion industry and it drives her to be the best she can be behind the camera. I loved her drive and determination. Nothing will hold her back. Then there’s Reid. He’s a bit of a chauvinist and could use being knocked down a peg or two. Enter Cassie. I loved how she gave him a hard time–he needed it–and was strong in her interactions with him. I had a bit of a hard time with his character growth in the second half of the book, but that could’ve been me and my headspace when I read the book. I’m sure other readers will love Reid.

If you’re interested in something different, but still in the enemies to lovers and forced interaction tropes, then this is totally the book you need to read.

Lightning in a Mirror by Jayne Ann Krentz

Lightning in a Mirror by Jayne Ann Krentz, Sandra Michelle (Narrator)
Fogg Lake, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley, Recorded Books, Inc. (Audio Publisher)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sci-fi/fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Olivia LeClair’s experiment with speed dating is not going well. First there was the nasty encounter with the date from hell who tried to murder her and now the mysterious Harlan Rancourt—long believed dead—sits down at her table and tells her she’s the only one who can help him locate the legendary Vortex lab.

This is not what Olivia had in mind when she signed up for the Four Event Success Guaranteed package offered by the dating agency. She doesn’t have much choice, though, because her psychic investigation firm works for the mysterious Foundation and Victor Arganbright, the director, is adamant that she assist Harlan. There’s just one problem—no one knows Harlan’s real agenda. His father once ran the Foundation like a mob organization, and Harlan was destined to be his heir. There’s a real possibility Harlan has returned to claim his inheritance.

For now, however, it’s a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend because others are after the secrets of the long-lost lab. Unfortunately for Olivia, the one thing friend and foe have in common is that everyone is convinced she is the key. Her unique psychic talent is required to defuse the ticking time bomb that is Vortex.

Neither trusts the other but Olivia and Harlan soon realize they must work together to survive and unlock the Bluestone Project’s most dangerous secrets before more innocent people die.

I’ve read all three books in the Fogg Lake Trilogy and this final book is the BEST. It has much more intrigue, action, surprise twists, shocking revelations and outright hilarity. I wasn’t a complete fan of the narrator because I think male voices are a challenge for her, but when the writing is good, as it usually is from author Jayne Ann Krentz, it overpowers any hesitation. The storytelling is wonderful. Those fans who will read the print book are in for an excellent time.

Of course, longtime readers of Ms. Krentz will recognize some of her favorite writing techniques which seem to show up in almost all her books. That’s not a negative. It almost guarantees a wonderful time of pure escapism, entertainment and adventure. All of that is on stage in Lightning in a Mirror. I had a blast.

I do believe that all three books should probably be read in order only because there are a couple of plot conflicts/threads that are woven between all three. Then again, each one has its own heroine and hero, and they don’t seem to play much of a role in the other two beyond some scenes that help the current hero and heroine along, or out of a jam. There are two characters, Victor Arganbright and Lucas, the head guys at The Foundation, that pretty much stir the pot, so to speak, in all three books.

Olivia LeClair and Harlan Rancourt are the primary focus. Either they are being chased, investigating clues, escaping from almost certain death, or in a few scenes, being embarrassed and/or hilariously mortified as well as being confused with being someone … or something else. Somewhere in all that chaotic mix, Olivia and Harlan manage to get to know one another, answer the right questions and fall in love, eventually getting to explore the physical side of their relationship and prove that opposites do attract.

There are so many red herrings and options to choose from as to what is really happening, who is going to get there first, figure out why there’s all this fascination with mirrors and crystals and again, who is going to figure it out first. Many times, throughout this novel, I was left in breathless anticipation.

Now, I found the most hilarious scenes have to do with a car, and much later, a phone call. I know you see LOL all over the place but I truly did laugh out loud, immensely loud because I found the humor of the situations tickled my funny bone to the extreme. I was on a forum talking to another fan of Ms. Krentz and this novel in particular. We had to be careful about spoilers, but we both found the same things totally grin worthy. We shared the laughter about our favorite parts, without, you know, saying anything. It was so much fun getting to share the joy and appreciation about Lightning in a Mirror with another fan. That’s what I always hope to do in my reviews – share what I like in the hopes others will find also find enjoyment and fun when they get their own copy. There is so much in this story to keep a reader engaged, curious, guessing and entertained.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the ending. It has a very welcome happy ever after, and indeed, Harlan’s final gesture totally warmed my heart. He may have issues with social cues, but when it really counts, he comes through with the most endearing, thoughtful gesture. He really is Olivia’s Prince Charming.

There are quite a few chapters in the novel and within its pages is a plethora of intrigue. I can easily get lost in trying to choose what parts to share with you, so I’m having to be vague in my references. There is so much meat to the plot, the conflict, the characters new and old, the descriptions of the garden and the eerie fog as well as wonderful dialogue between all the major players. I know there is a saying about ‘saving the best for last’, and that’s what Ms. Krentz did. Not sure if it’s by happenstance or design, but Lightning in a Mirror outshone the previous two stories. I am a very happy reader. I encourage fans of romantic suspense who don’t mind a little science fantasy and supernatural overtones spicing up the action to read this book. It’s splendid.

The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carl

The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carl
Chocoholic Mystery, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

After giving up her career as a Texas trophy wife, 28-year-old Lee McKinney finds herself in a Michigan resort town, keeping the books for her Aunt Nettie’s luxury chocolate business. But she soon finds that her new life isn’t all truffles and bonbons…
Clementine Ripley, the defense attorney everyone loves to hate, is throwing a party that calls for several thousand dollars worth of custom chocolates—some made in the image of her champion cat. Lee jumps at the job, but sweet success takes a bitter turn when someone adds and extra ingrediant—cyanide—to one of their delicious chocolates and it finds its way into Ms. Ripley’s mouth. Now it’s up to Lee to figure out who tampered with Aunt Nettie’s recipe before they find themselves behind not-so-chocolate bars.

Chocolate, a mystery and cats? I’m in!

I picked up this book because there’s a cat, chocolate and a mystery. How can you go wrong? This is the first in the series, so it’s an easy pick-up read. This is an easy read and it’s perfect if one’s looking for a cozy to spend the evening reading.

Lee is an interesting investigator. She’s handy with chocolate and animals, but she’s good at solving mysteries. I liked the sprinkled in bits about making chocolate. It was interesting to learn about the process.

I have to admit there were times in this book that it seemed a bit slow. There was a lot of information about the chocolate, but sometimes the mystery seemed to get lost in the mix.

Still, it’s a fun read and worth the time. I liked how the mystery unraveled and it took me the whole book to figure it out.

If you’re looking for a cozy for the afternoon, then this might be the one for you.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert
Publisher: A Jove Book published by Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Jobless and forced home to Wisconsin, journalist Sabrina Monroe can tolerate reunions with frenemies and kisses from old boyfriends, but not the literal ghosts that greet her in this heartwarming tale of the power of love and connection from acclaimed author Amy E. Reichert.

For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells–the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World–means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina’s always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who’s much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina’s side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He’s charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn’t have time for romance–she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she’s in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe?

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is.

Can someone make a movie based on this book? I am not overstating when I say that this novel is seriously wonderful – it made me feel cozy warm and happy all over. The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is charming, funny, emotional, romantic and incredibly well written. The characters are solid, well-developed and full of personality; truly full of life; even the ghosts.

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Most of the story is told through Sabrina’s point of view, but the hero, Ray, has his moments too. There are also a few flashback scenes in this novel plus sized story, one being Molly’s, that flesh out the background of the characters so a reader can better understand the driving force behind everyone’s current state in life, or unlife.

Erika was a convincing thorn in Sabrina’s side. She’s the rich high school bully who never outgrew her cattiness and continues to torment the heroine. Erika instigated a continual state of anxiety and was a stress attack trigger for Sabrina. Oftentimes I felt miffed and angered on the heroine’s behalf. People like that really do exist and I totally understood all the emotions and frustrations that Sabrina felt because I had experiences like it. Not to the degree the heroine did, but those moments never seem to lose their bitter flavor no matter how much time has passed. I got it.

The absolute best part about Erika’s moments on stage is when Ray reacts and makes it plain under no uncertain terms that Sabrina counts and is worthy of respect. How he does it, what he says, the decisions he makes and the action he takes made me cheer and want to hug him. Ray is completely, totally, beyond super awesome as a hero in this book. His little quirks, his drive to stand on his own two feet, to honor his uncle and his role in the community, all are commendable. But, the most romantic of all was his restrained passion for Sabrina. He is a man. By that I mean that he has self-control, self-respect and respect for the heroine. The almost kiss, the first taste of passion kiss, the second that is hotter than Sabrina can handle, all lead to that just-right moment when everything comes together. The bedroom door is completely closed but I was not left in any doubt that not only did their chemistry explode but it was satisfying and eye-opening for Sabrina. I guess all that describes a sensual level of heat but the way he looks into her eyes, I felt the hotness. So sigh-worthy, it was awesome.

As for seeing ghosts – I know it’s been done before but the books I’ve read in the past didn’t have the emotional, poignant and charming effect that The Kindred Spirits Supper Club had on me. There was a bit of angst but it didn’t overshadow and darken the tone of the book. The author kept it low key by involving Sabrina’s whole family. The heroine’s adorable cousins helped keep the cool factor alive by treating it with awe, excitement and normalcy. The scene when Ray, the hero, puts two and two together, and his reaction to realizing ghosts can be seen is romance-story-genius.

Oh, I have to mention Ray’s parents. The author is a clever one. First impressions are not always the full story and Ms. Reichert totally surprised me. Surprised the heck out of Ray too. It was actually kind of funny.

I really could go on and on. There are so many more things I could mention, like Frank the dog, the recipe at the end of the novel, the importance of cheese, Sabrina’s emotional growth, the mystery of the diary, duck boats – seriously, this book is chockful of details, wonderful descriptive prose, excellent dialogue, healthy family dynamics and a romance with a happy ending that totally satisfied on so many levels.

Like I said in the beginning, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club should be made into a movie because it’s that stunning, special, heartwarming, fun and complicated. I adored this story and I heartily encourage fans of feel-good romances to read it. The paranormal element just adds to the fun but I assure you that the focus is on the growing romance between two people ripe for falling in love and the people and ghosts around them who know they are perfect for each other and want to help them along. This is a great read!

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Charlie is stressed out. The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school.

It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong, and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset…
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But Charlie, who was seen having a heated argument with Gavin the day before, has jumped to the top of the suspect list. Now Charlie and Diesel must check out every clue to refine their search for the real killer among them before the next book Charlie reads comes from a prison library…

A murder and librarians…must be something in the pages…

Join a cat, his master and a lot of people upset with Gavin Fong. I like these Cat in the Stacks mysteries and have read a couple now. It’s like catching up with old friends. The writing is easy and flows along well. Plus, there are kitties.

My favorite character has to be Diesel the Maine Coon. He’s huge and runs around like he’s a dog. He’s got about as much personality as everyone else in the book, which is great. Gavin Fong, the man who doesn’t make it, is equally great, but not because he’s a good guy. The author excelled at making him naughty, which made me want to know who’d bumped him off. I couldn’t wait to find out whodunit.

There are about five different storylines running through this book and series. Charlie is worried about his job, his future and his romance as well as his children, who are older. It’s nice to see the characters again, but at times, it feels a little overly complicated and that there are too many characters to keep track of at times. You can read one of these books and know what’s going on even if you haven’t read the others, which is nice

If you’re looking for a cute mystery, cats in your stories and family life, then this is the book for you.

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Rated 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

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The moment-to-moment interactions of the characters are unpredictable, and this is certainly true for the overall story. Everly is a strong main character, with surprising interests and skills, but more importantly, a depth of feeling she shares ever so gently. We feel her mourning even as she is moving forward. Events of the past filter in with Everly’s discoveries; they are somehow no less heart-wrenching for being part of the long-ago.

This has the flavor of the American south, and a hint of endlessly reminiscing. Surviving Savannah is one of those novels you will read, and then re-read as if touching the life of an old friend.

Patti Callahan’s writing is no less than simply brilliant. “Sunlight cast him in gold” she describes at one point, and I would say, reading casts this novel in gold.

Do read Surviving Savannah. This is a venture away from the common time and place, yet familiar: warming and wonderful and worth every one of those five stars.