More Mystery Than Romance. This is apparently Novak’s 75 book, and while I’ve only read a handful of those prior books – mostly a few of her most recent ones – this seems to be a bit of a departure from her usual style. At least in my own experience with her, she tends to write more women’s fiction/ romance blends… and this is pretty far from that. This is more of a Catherine McKenzie / Kimberly Belle / Leah Mercer style mystery that also includes a romance than the more usual Novak style, though still set in an idyllic small town island. It is specifically because the title and cover don’t really match the overall tone and substance of the tale told here that it lost a star for me, and admittedly this is something that can easily be corrected in the nearly five months between when I write this review and the book’s actual publication date.
For what it actually is, this story is pretty solid and well told – if you like your mysteries to also include a romance, you’re going to love this book. If you enjoy a tale that meets all known RWA criteria for being a “romance book” but the story is more about the mystery than the romance, you’re going to enjoy this book. But if you’re looking for more of a “classic Novak” women’s fiction/ drama on an island… eh, read this book and see what you think. I personally think it is a bit darker than her usual and thus is a fairly significant departure, but again, I’ve only read her last few books. For all I know this is where she built her fan base and is *returning* to this rather than this being an entirely new thing for her. Again, what she does do here, she does in fact do quite well indeed, so there is that at least.
Overall this was an excellent tale that was told well – it just doesn’t match its title (which has only the most tangential of connections to the tale) or cover imagery. Very much recommended.
This review of The Seaside Library by Brenda Novak was originally written on December 18, 2022.
This week we’re looking at a great bit of escapist fiction set on a tropical island and written by a debut author. This week we’re looking at The Finalist by Joan Long.
Solid Debut. This is one of those books where the premise draws you in, and the author begins executing with the very first page. Solid mystery/ action tale of murders happening on a supposedly secure remote tropical island, this one does a bit of setup before the murders start, but once they do the action picks up reasonably well and stays reasonably well paced through the end. Ultimately one where you can see the promise of this author’s ability, while also still showing some things that need some improvement generally. Still, this reader for one is looking forward to Long’s next book. Very much recommended.
Compelling Conclusion. This is an excellent conclusion to the short novel/ novella trilogy of Heirloom Island, where all three sisters play prominent roles in each book yet with each book focusing primarily on one of the three in particular. Because it is such a great conclusion, I have to make the rare recommendation of actually starting with Book 1 of this series, The Boardwalk House, and reading through the entire trilogy – which is still shorter than some single books out there. And when you do that, you’ll be glad you had the entire trilogy at hand at one time. 😀 Very much recommended.
This review of The Abbey House by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on January 5, 2022.
To kick off this Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a shorter tale that wasn’t quite what I expected – but was a solidly fun tale for what it actually was. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Stranded With Her Greek Husband by Michelle Smart.
Not What I Was Expecting, Still Good In Its Way. With the title and the description here, I was expecting some kind of boat emergency that left our leading lady stranded on an island where her husband happened to be. Instead, we get the husband essentially imprisoning the wife against her will – and openly bragging about it. I normally try to go wherever for whatever with a book, but this one was pushing even my (more tolerant than many) limits. That noted, if the reader is willing to simply go with this set up… the book is a fairly standard second chance romance in an exotic location, pretty well perfectly on brand. And yes, not exactly for the clean/ sweet crowd either – this one has some fairly significant steam, though at least here the husband is much more careful about forcing himself. The epilogue is fairly standard stuff for a romance, and mostly expected given the exact nature of this particular tale – but I personally was hoping for something a bit more courageous and genre bending. Which was probably setting my own expectations a bit too high, given how safely within genre most of the rest of the tale is. 🙂 Still, this is on the shorter side (under 200 pages) and perfectly timed in that week between Christmas and New Year’s when no one really knows what they want to do, but everyone knows they should be relaxing and having fun in whatever way they deem. This tale definitely fits that general mood, and is very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the various “publisher details” including book description, author bio, and buy links.
Continue reading “#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Stranded With Her Greek Husband by Michelle Smart”
Poetic Prose But Intensely SLOW Story. This is one of those tales where the actual words and descriptions are so incredibly beautiful – and yet the plot moves along about as fast as a snail in cryostasis. Basically somewhat similar to The Great Gatsby, but with a more poetic front end and where Gatsby has an action packed back end, this one manages to finally hint at some mysteries around the middle of the book that will compel you to finish it. Then, it even manages to pack a *bit* of action into the final 15% or so of the text, as one final calamity strikes – the first calamity of the book to happen within the “current” time period. For those who dislike dual perspectives/ dual timelines, know up front that this book has those – and that I would argue that you should read it anyway, because here they completely work together to show the mysteries more fully. Ultimately a satisfying read with an ending that some will love and others will hate, the only reason this book got dinged a star was because the front half in particular was *so* slow. Very much recommended.
This review of The Women Of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby was originally written on November 14, 2021.