Author: Jayne Ann Krentz

Guest Review: The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

Posted May 29, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda QuickReviewer: Jen
The Other Lady Vanishes (Burning Cove #2) by Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Burning Cove #2
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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Goodreads
four-stars

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Knew Too Much sweeps readers back to 1930s California--where the most dazzling of illusions can't hide the darkest secrets...

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they'll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they'll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be--and uncover the specter of a killer who's been real all along...

The Other Lady Vanishes continues the Burning Cove series, which is set in a California resort town for the 1930s Hollywood crowd. This time our heroine is Adelaide Blake. Adelaide is a tearoom waitress (and sort of amateur herbalist) who escaped from a sanitarium after being wrongly locked away. She’s struggling to build some sort of life for herself in Burning Cove, even while she’s worried someone will come after her and try to drag her back. Jake Truett is a visitor to town, ostensibly to “rest his nerves” on the orders of his doctor. He becomes a regular tearoom visitor, and when the opportunity presents itself, he jumps at the chance to go on a date with Adelaide. Their date doesn’t quite go as planned, however, and they get sucked into a grisly murder. Clues keep adding up suggesting that Adelaide’s past is not as far behind her as she had hoped, and Jake’s true reasons for coming to town may be related as well. They have to work to investigate the increasing crimes and stay alive while doing so.

I really enjoyed the twisty, turny mystery of this book. There are a lot of players double crossing each other and trying to advance their own hidden agendas, and it’s fun to see Adelaide, Jake , and their friends untangle the threads. (We hear more about Luther Pell, the mysterious nightclub owner we met in Book 1. I am so intrigued!) This book has a bit of a gothic feel to it, despite being set in the 1930s, mostly because of the sanitarium. Rushbrook is a creepy building where horrible things take place, and it is absolutely terrifying to think of Adelaide being forcibly locked up there with no seeming way out. There’s also a drug involved that can trap people in their nightmares, and that adds a very macabre touch, too. It was a bit of a stretch like many mysteries since there were so many coincidences and tidy solutions, but I was hooked.

I liked Adelaide, even if it did take her a little while to come into her own. At the start, she is understandably doubting herself. She knows she wasn’t ill…and yet she spent months being told she was and being dosed with a hallucinogenic drug. Of course, that would plant a seed of doubt in someone’s mind. More than that, though, she is afraid that other people will think she’s mentally ill. I thought her caution and reticence to get involved with Jake at first made sense, and I really appreciated that she doesn’t drag out her standoffishness forever. Jake is an ok character, but we never really learn that much about him. He has a backstory with a dead wife and some far-fetched involvement with international intrigue, but we only get a vague sense of him as a person. I liked him with Adelaide, but theirs is not a particularly well-developed, character-driven romance. Their dialogue can also be a bit stilted at times.

I did want to mention a big old trigger warning for discussions of mental illness and, to a lesser extent, rape in this book. Mental illness in particular is a thread that comes up in several different ways throughout the book, and it’s not always handled with a modern sensibility by these 1930s characters. To my mind, nothing was egregiously offensive, but characters in the book do things like call the residents of the sanitarium “poor wretches” and “crazy,” and generally residents are used as part of the creepy scenery rather than human characters in their own right. Better was the discussion of Jake’s wife and her own mental health issues, which I thought was treated with more respect. In other words, it’s not all bad, but YMMV.

I liked the mystery of this book better than the mystery of Book 1, but I didn’t quite love the characters as much. Still, this is a good read if you enjoy a good old-fashioned mystery with a little romance mixed in.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Burning Cove

four-stars


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Guest Review: When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

Posted February 23, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann KrentzReviewer: Jen
When All the Girls Have Gone (Cutler, Sutter and Salinas #1) by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler Sutter and Salinas #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
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Goodreads
two-stars

Jayne Ann Krentz, the New York Times bestselling author of Secret Sisters, delivers a thrilling novel of the deceptions we hide behind, the passions we surrender to, and the lengths we’ll go to for the truth...

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way...

After reading over a dozen books in a few days while home with the flu, I just couldn’t find any new books that grabbed me. When this one caught my interest I actually broke my usual rule and paid full price for it. Unfortunately, the book was a big disappointment.

Charlotte receives a mysterious package on her sister’s behalf. The package was sent by a woman in her sister’s investment club. When the friend who sent the package ends up dead, Charlotte starts poking around and comes into contact with Max, a private investigator hired by the dead woman’s cousin to investigate the death. Soon, it becomes clear Charlotte’s sister is missing, and other dangers seem to be centered around the women in the club. Is the danger due to the club’s investment activities, or is it something more personal?

Like I said, the synopsis sounded thrilling, but the reality of the book didn’t live up to the premise. First, there really was no mystery. It was clear early on who the villains, and even the attempted twist at the end was not at all surprising. The danger never felt that acute, and the investigation was kind of lackluster.

Charlotte and Max are both pretty forgettable characters. Charlotte works at a senior community, which provides plenty of opportunities for ridiculous elderly plot moppets. She’s pretty vanilla and honestly doesn’t have much that makes her stand out. Max burned out of law enforcement and now is trying to start his own PI business, so naturally the first case he takes is one he knows will make him little, if any, money. Sounds like a solid business plan, no? He’s also got a bunch of family drama, which gets resolved way too tidily in this book, and some mysteries from his past, which don’t get resolved and I presume will form the longer story arc of this new series. None of it grabbed me.

Most disappointing of all was the romance, though. There is no sexual tension, and the actual sex is definitely lukewarm. I did like that there’s no real conflict of interest or drama about being together. Max knows he’s interested and wants to get to know Charlotte. Too bad there’s no real chemistry either. 

All in all, this was a bland and forgettable story, and it reminds me why I don’t pay full price for most books.

Grade: 2 out of 5

two-stars


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