Friday, May 20, 2022

Fatal Code by Natalie Walters

Book cover
Fatal Code
by Natalie Walters


ISBN-13: 9780800739799
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: May 3rd 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In 1964, a group of scientists called the Los Alamos Five came close to finishing a nuclear energy project for the United States government when they were abruptly disbanded. Now the granddaughter of one of those five scientists, aerospace engineer Elinor Mitchell, discovers that she has highly sensitive information on the project in her possession--and a target on her back.

SNAP agent and former Navy cryptologist Kekoa Young is tasked with monitoring Elinor. This is both convenient since she's his neighbor in Washington, DC, and decidedly inconvenient because . . . well, he kind of likes her.

As Elinor follows the clues her grandfather left behind to a top-secret nuclear project, Kekoa has no choice but to step in. When Elinor learns he has been spying on her, she's crushed. But with danger closing in on all sides, she'll have to trust him to ensure her discoveries stay out of enemy hands.


My Review:
Fatal Code is a Christian romantic suspense/mystery. This is the second book in a series, but it works as a stand alone and didn't spoil events from the previous novel.

The characters reacted realistically to events and came across as real people with genuine struggles. Kekoa wasn't able to protect his little brother and has never forgiven himself. When it's clear that Elinor's in danger, he's terrified that he won't be able to protect her, either, especially since he's a computer expert, not a warrior. As Kekoa and Elinor spent time together, they became friends and cared about each other. They shared interests and supported each other. The suspense came from lots of different people wanting the plans and program codes that Elinor possessed and their willingness to hurt and kill to get them.

Kekoa needed to release his feelings of guilt, accept forgiveness, and trust God was in control. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

An Unfamiliar Duke by Sian Ann Bessey

Book cover
An Unfamiliar Duke
by Sian Ann Bessey


ISBN-13: 9781524419912
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Released: May 16th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
At eleven years of age, Rosalind Ainsworth was convinced that Sebastian Lumley, the future Duke of Kelbrook, wanted nothing to do with her. And ten years later, after having had no contact with the nobleman in the intervening time, her opinion of him has not changed. Unfortunately, neither has the marriage contract their fathers signed soon after her birth.

As Rosalind’s twenty-first birthday and the appointed wedding day approaches, Sebastian makes a rare appearance in London. His first meeting with Rosalind since childhood goes less than perfectly, but both are willing to do their best to make their marriage work. After a quick wedding, the new couple relocates to Finley Park, where their acquaintanceship slowly blossoms into affection. But Sebastian’s time consuming work in his private workshop threatens their fledgling relationship. When Rosalind’s life is placed in jeopardy because of that work, Sebastian finds himself forced to choose between the man he has pledged to help and the woman he has come to love.


My Review:
An Unfamiliar Duke is a romance set in 1782 in England. Sebastian and Rosalind were betrothed at birth and didn't gain a positive impression of each other when they met as children. Sebastian still doesn't like social events and idle chatter (though he loves numbers and talking with inventors). However, he realized that he ought to do a little courting to get to know his bride before they married. Both agreed to have patience with each other's mistakes, and they did make mistakes as two people learning to join their lives together. They were willing to recognize and admit to mistakes and gave forgiveness when needed. Rosalind even tried to think of a good trait or action by Sebastian for every misstep he made so she wouldn't focus only on the negative.

Sebastian and Rosalind were thoughtful, kind, likable characters who reacted realistically to events. I cared about what happened to them. They found shared interests and came to appreciate and love each other. Some historical details were woven into the story, mainly about inventions, clothing, and manners. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable story.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Guarding His Secret by Jill Kemerer

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Guarding His Secret
by Jill Kemerer


ISBN-13: 9781335759290
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired
Released: May 24th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When a family crisis leaves rancher Randy Watkins caring for a surprise baby nephew, he turns to longtime friend Hannah Carr for help. But Randy has a heart condition—a secret he’s determined to hide…until Hannah’s clever retired service dog threatens to expose it. As friendship turns to something more, can Randy trust Hannah with the truth?


My Review:
Guarding His Secret is a Christian romance. Hannah is a caring woman who tries very hard to meet her carefully planned, high expectations. Just as she takes on a retired service dog and a puppy to train toward becoming a service dog, her friend Randy also asks for her help with minding his store and then his baby nephew. Nothing's going as planned. Since Randy inherited a heart condition from his dad, he needs to avoid stress. The retired service dog was trained to pick up on certain signals and can tell when Randy needs help and then acts to help calm him. Hannah sees that Randy and the service dog need each other more than she needs the dog as a pet, but it isn't until nearly the end that she actually learns about his heart problem.

Randy didn't want to pass his condition on to any children and knew Hannah would constantly worry if she knew. They enjoyed being together, but Hannah and Randy had to come to a place where they could trust God with an unknown future. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this sweet romance.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, May 13, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Book cover
The Woman in the Library
by Sulari Gentill


ISBN-13: 9781464215872
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: May 10th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers sitting at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.


My Review:
The Woman in the Library is part romance and part mystery. There's the woman's scream mystery story and a "real" (fictional) series of letters at the end of each chapter where a helper in Boston provided details about Boston and and a critique of the story to the author. This wannabe writer increasingly tried to influence the writing of the main story, so we see a battle begin as the author resisted certain suggestions. I began to wonder if the intended ending (from initial clues) might change because of this "outside" influence.

In the main story, it's a well-written story about four very different people becoming friends and a romance or two growing from this friendship. They talked about the woman's scream but didn't really play detective. The clues were still all there, and I did guess whodunit and how (though not why) right before the big reveal. The characters were engaging and reacted realistically to events. It's an unusual story and written in present tense, which I didn't even notice until nearly halfway through.

There was a fair amount of bad language. There was a brief sex scene that wasn't graphically, body-part described except for one sentence. Overall, I'd recommend the story.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

Book cover
An English Garden Murder
by Katie Gayle


ISBN-13: 9781803140667
ebook: 264 pages
Publisher: Bookouture
Released: May 5th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Recently divorced and reluctantly retired, Julia Bird has fled London to enjoy idyllic rural life in the Cotswolds. Determined to have the perfect English garden, her first job is to tear down the old shed, where she unearths much more than she’d bargained for… A body, apparently buried for decades. But who could it be, and who killed them? The police draw a blank, and even the gossip-fest that is the local bookclub can’t remember anyone going missing in the village.

Unable to get on with her garden until the mystery is resolved, Julia decides to conduct her own investigations. So, together with her wayward chocolate Labrador puppy Jake, Julia begins a whirlwind tour of the local residents. And everyone, it seems, has something to hide in this village. As she gets closer to the truth, Julia uncovers something even more shocking… Another body, this time of someone she actually knows.


My Review:
An English Garden Murder is a cozy mystery. It's a clue-based mystery, and I correctly guessed whodunit shortly before Julia. She listened to the village gossip and used her skills learned as a social worker to track down information about the identity of the old murder victim. She made friends with the detective on the case and combined what they knew to come up with theories. The detective immediately pointed out the flaws in some of her ideas and looked into others. They made a good team with the unique information that each could gather. Whodunit was guessable but not immediately obvious.

I loved the heroine. There's an underlying humor to how the author portrayed her foibles and thoughts. Julia's a nice, intelligent person. She adopted a "bad boy!" puppy and liked to think about what a good boy he was when given a firm hand...oops! Off after a bird! Well, a very good boy when he's not being a bad boy. Charming puppy. There was some bad language (though much of it was British bad language). There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this delightful mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

When the Meadow Blooms by Ann H. Gabhart

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When the Meadow Blooms
by Ann H. Gabhart


ISBN-13: 9780800737221
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: May 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
If any place on God's earth was designed to help one heal, it is Meadowland. Surely here, at her brother-in-law's Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past--the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium, and her girls' experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, hope blooms as their past troubles become rich soil in which their faith can grow.

Dirk Meadows may have opened his home to his late brother's widow and her girls, but he keeps his heart tightly closed. The roots of his pain run deep, and the evidence of it is written across his face. Badly scarred by a fire and abandoned by the woman he loved, Dirk fiercely guards his heart from being hurt again. But it may be that his visitors will bring light back into his world and unlock the secret to true healing.


My Review:
When the Meadow Blooms is a Christian historical set in 1925 in Kentucky. Rose was told by her husband that his brother wanted to be left alone, so she's tried to manage being widowed and having tuberculosis by putting her daughters in an orphanage. It was only meant to be for a month or two while she recovered at a sanatorium, but years have past. She's started to suspect that her daughters are being abused, but her doctor doesn't want to release her unless she has someplace to continue to heal. In desperation, she asks her brother-in-law to help. To her surprise, he's willing to bring her family to Meadowland.

The first half of the story was suspenseful as the adults tried to work out how to retrieve the children from the abusive orphanage. We see events from the point of view of Rose, Dirk, and the children. Historical details were woven into the story which helped bring the story alive in my imagination. The characters were complex and grew as people as they faced the present difficulties and past events. There was some romance between Rose and Dirk as they spent time together. But Dirk had to heal from the past first, so much of the second half focused on what had happened to the girl he had intended to marry.

The children prayed to God for help and saw those prayers answered. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable historical.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, May 6, 2022

Death in a Blackout by Jessica Ellicott

Book cover
Death in a Blackout
by Jessica Ellicott


ISBN-13: 9781448306527
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Severn House
Released: May 3rd 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
1940. Britain is at war. Rector's daughter Wilhelmina Harkness longs to do her duty for her country, but when her strict mother forbids her to enlist, their bitter argument has devasting consequences. Unwilling to stay in the village she loves, Wilhelmina - reinventing herself as Billie - accepts a cousin's offer to come for a visit to the British coastal city of Hull.

The last thing Billie expects on her first evening in Hull, however, is to be caught in the city's first air raid - or to stumble across the body of a young woman, suspiciously untouched by debris. If the air raid didn't kill the glamorous stranger, what did? Billie is determined to get justice, and her persistence earns her an invitation to the newly formed Women's Police Constabulary. But as the case unfolds, putting her at odds with both high-ranking members of the force as well as the victim's powerful family, Billie begins to wonder if she can trust her new friends and colleagues or if someone amongst them is working for the enemy.


My Review:
Death in a Blackout is a mystery set in 1940 in England. It's more of a historical as the first two-thirds of the story didn't focus on the mystery. At that point, newly-sworn-in police constable Wilhelmina and her partner actively asked questions, followed up on leads, and put things together. Historical details provided a distinct sense of time and place, but they were so heavily added that they slowed the pacing. For example, Wilhelmina was supposed to ask questions while a woman did her mending, but instead she watched a sock get mended (in detail) then thought about how people were now encouraged to mend things and why. This could have been cut without changing the story.

The characters were likable but I got little sense of their personalities. We're told a bit about them, but their thoughts and speech patterns were similar and rather monotone. Wilhelmina was extremely observant, focused to the point of not noticing danger, and devoted to justice, but we're never told why she's like this. While the mystery was complex enough that the solution wasn't obvious, this feeling that the characters were stilted and had no real, personality- and motive-forming past beyond the beginning of the book dropped my enjoyment of the story.

There was no sex. There were a couple uses of bad language. Overall, I might recommend this to fans of historical novels that contain a mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.