Monday, June 11, 2018

Softhearted by Kim Law

Set in the Texas Hill Country, somewhere near San Marcos, Softhearted is the second book in the Deep in the Heart series by author Kim Law.

The series focuses on the women of Bluebonnet Farms – a foster home begun and continued by “Aunt Blu” Johnson. Softhearted features Heather Lindsay, the middle “sister” of Aunt Blu’s three original foster girls and continues from a point a little while after the story told in book one, Hardheaded. (Softhearted can be read as a standalone novel though I think readers will enjoy it more after having read Hardheaded.)

Of the three original girls, Heather is “The Soft One” with a heart as big as Texas and tender to boot. She was orphaned as a young teen when both parents were killed in a barn fire. Years later, this tragedy still looms large in her life and colors the choices she makes. Thrice disappointed in love, she finds herself attracted to what she fears is another bad choice – Waylon Peterson, the new ranch manager working for her foster sister, Jill and, soon-to-be-husband, Cal.

With the wedding only weeks away, the Bluebonnet women (Jill, Trenton, and Heather) are working hard on transforming Cal’s ranch house and grounds into the perfect setting for the upcoming nuptials. Adding to the expected pressure that a wedding brings is the fact that these activities are all being filmed as part of Jill and Cal’s new reality TV show, Building a Life. Heather and Waylon are like catnip to each other in this emotionally charged atmosphere. But both have some soul-searching to do before they can find their happily-ever-after.

Softhearted is a great next step in the Deep in the Heart series with a full-bodied story for foster sister, Heather, and some intriguing foundation laid regarding the future for foster sister number three, Trenton, and even Aunt Blu. The hero is a romantic and a single dad with a charming young daughter. I loved the setting in the Texas Hill Country and the mention of San Marcos. Horses played a featured role in this story which I also enjoyed. This book is recommended for contemporary romance readers.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Murder at the Car Show by Sandi Scott

Georgie Kaye is on the snoop again!

This time, Georgie and her twin sister, Aleta, are attending the Tri-Local Antique Car Show when one of the show’s employees is found dead in one of the vintage cars. Georgie had been asked to dress up and act as a model for a new photographer friend, Errol Barr. Aleta, as usual, has accompanied Georgie as her wingman. However, Aleta is the one that catches the eye of an admirer. Marley Gillibrand, an attractive older gentleman, is one of the participants in the show. When Hera Packard, one of the employees of the show’s organizer is found dead in Marley’s restored ’56 Chevy, Marley becomes the chief suspect in her death.

With Aleta considering venturing into her first relationship since the death of her husband, William, Georgie is determined to discover the truth behind Hera’s death, and exonerate Marley. In the meantime, she is also questioning her own romantic relationships including her true feelings for her ex-husband, Chief Detective Stanley Toon.

Murder at the Car Show is the fifth entry in author Sandi Scott’s Pet Portrait Mystery series about twin amateur sleuths, Georgie and Aleta Kaye. The characters remain interesting, the dialogue snappier than ever, and the relationships among the recurring characters genuinely fun. One thing that sets this series apart from others is that the characters are mature (if not always mature-acting) individuals; the twins are in their 60s and their beaus are the same and older. This book and all of the previous ones are just a fun time, and I really look forward to each new adventure.

Friday, June 01, 2018

The Dead Game by Susanne Leist

After graduation from college in New York, Linda Bennett is somewhat at loose ends. Her parents and brother had been killed in a car accident during her freshman year, and her future, without her family, stretched before her. Happening upon an advertisement for a bookstore for rent, Linda checks it out, signs a lease, and relocates to Oasis, Florida, the new proprietor of “Oasis by the Sea” bookstore and coffeehouse.

The quaint little town was picturesque and poised on the coast of northern Florida. But Oasis isn’t the idyllic respite Linda expected. Once there, with her bookstore open for business, she realizes the town harbors some shadowy secrets.

Lurking at the heart of the problem are the long-established residents of the town that live in the gated and oddly green-glassed mansions in the forest outside town, and only appearing at night. Frequently, townspeople and tourists go missing never to be heard from again. And then outside of town there is the mysterious and long abandoned mansion situated high on a cliff overlooking the ocean known as End House.

As shadowy figures flit through town at dusk, strange things begin to happen. Linda’s store and that of her friend, Shana, are vandalized looking as if a powerful wind had whipped through toppling bookcases and blowing things all around. And one day when Linda is out for a swim, she is grabbed underwater by a black-clad figure and almost drowns when she is rescued by the town’s most eligible bachelor, Todd Morrison.

Things really get dangerous when Linda and her friends, all newcomers to town, receive a mysterious, unsigned invitation to a party being held at End House, and they decide to attend.

The Dead Game is a horror story with elements of romance. The horror is fairly mild, scary, but not something that would keep a reader up all night afterwards. The romance is clean and sweet for the most part (no graphic scenes). Action is presented from the viewpoints of several characters. And there are questions left unanswered that would be a launching point for a sequel. This book would make a really fun movie. On the other hand, there are some confusing things that make reading a little tedious. There are a large number of characters involved that all have a part in the main story. The dialogue is repetitive in some instances BUT if this were a movie would probably make sense because additional characters would have to be updated on what was going on. And frankly, I wanted to smack almost every one of the characters at one point or another for dumb decisions, childish behavior, and stupid comments…you know, like in real life.