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Review: Al Dente’s Inferno by Stephanie Cole

Al Dente’s Inferno 
Stephanie Cole
 
Tuscan Cooking School Mystery, Book 1 
Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Berkley Books

 

 

An American chef will have to serve up more than good eats if she wants to establish a successful farm-to-table cooking school in Tuscany, in this charming first installment in a new cozy mystery series set in Italy.

When Nell Valenti is offered a chance to move to Tuscany to help transform an aging villa into a farm-to-table cooking school, she eagerly accepts. After all, both her job and her love life in America have been feeling stale. Plus, she’ll get the chance to work under the acclaimed Italian Chef Claudio Orlandini.

But Nell gets more than she bargained for when she arrives. With only a day to go until the launch dinner for the cooking school, the villa is in shambles, and Chef O is blissfully oblivious of the work that needs to be done before a group of local dignitaries arrive, along with a filmmaker sent to showcase and advertise the new school. The situation only worsens when Nell discovers that the filmmaker is an ex-boyfriend, and he’s found murdered later that night. Even worse, Chef O has disappeared, and accusations of murder could shut the school down for good.

As tensions reach a boiling point at the villa, Nell must throw her chef’s hat into the ring, and investigate the murder herself. Because if she fails to solve the case, her career, or even her life, could be next on the chopping block

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Stars

 

Al Dente’s Inferno is the first book in Stephanie Cole’s new Tuscan Cooking School Mystery series.  Murder, mystery and a bit of romance are all lurking on the Tuscan countryside.

 

Chef Neil has found herself in a unique position of being able to help open a cooking school with her idol of a chef. Neil gets more than she bargained for while trying to start this farm to table is cooking school.  Neil is a hard worker with a deep sense of pride. She’s knowledgeable in what she does, and seems to handle stress better than most. But opening a cooking school and solving a murder are two completely different things.

 

Al Dente’s Inferno introduces readers to a beautiful setting within the Tuscan countryside. It was very easy to imagine the kitchen in which they were cooking and the olive fields outside of the house. I honestly could almost smell garlic if I tried hard enough.  Along with a colorful, charismatic and tight knit group of characters Neil uses her power of observation along with a little bit of nosiness to try to get to the bottom of the mystery.

 

Al Dente’s Inferno had the potential to be an exceptional read, however I found a few hiccups along the way. The amount of actual Italian used in the book made it very hard for me to read. Using a word or two here or there is not an issue but when you are using full phrases and several sentences at a time, anyone who does not have an understanding of the language is going to have a hard time. I do think the use of the Italian language to give the book a more authentic feel however for myself It was almost too much and began to take away from the entire feel and mood of the book.  I also felt that some of the characters were almost too much of a mystery. The characters that we got to know were very enjoyable but there is a cast we still know little about.  Neil, Pete and Chef were amazing and I felt like it was because we really got to know them. Stephanie Cole has a good foundation with the start of the series. I am hoping through the next book that we will actually get to know the characters a little more, the language barrier is not so high and the story will flow a little more evenly.

 

 

 

Review: A Fatal Faberge by Ellery Adama and Parker Rigg

 

A Fatal Faberge

Ellery Adams 

Parker Riggs

Antiques & Collectibles Series, Book 8

185 pages

Beyond the Page (February 2, 2020)

 

 

A new book in the Antiques & Collectibles mystery series by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ellery Adams and Parker Riggs!

In the world of antiques and collectibles, it helps to have a sharp eye for quality, a good ear for gossip, and a nose for murder . . .

In the grips of a cold and drab autumn, Collector’s Weekly reporter Molly Appleby is thrilled to be attending a festive black-tie fundraiser hosted by the very private Natasha Gordon, an heiress known for her charitable events and aversion to the limelight. It’s Molly first chance to see the stunning interior of the Gordon estate, but when a rare book dealer is pushed from a high window to his death, she’s confronted with a sight that’s become all too common for her. And despite the fact that the crude and pompous victim was roundly disliked by all who knew him and that any number of people may have wanted him dead, Molly agrees to look into the murder for his surviving son.

As the police go about their steady business of interviewing the dozens of people in attendance that night, Molly decides to look closer to home and begins questioning the staff and anyone else connected to the estate and the victim. More and more stories of the dead man’s troubled life and marriage begin to emerge, including a potentially lucrative deal that’s gone bust and an old Gordon family heirloom that’s gone missing—a rare jeweled Fabergé egg once owned by the Empress Alexandra of Russia.

When clues to the murderer’s identity begin to accumulate, so too do the threats to Molly, and she knows she’s getting close to the truth. But with a secret family history and an untold amount of money on the line, Molly knows she’ll need to tread carefully before she becomes the latest victim of a killer trying to cover their tracks . . .

“A wonderfully written, captivating cozy novel with likeable main characters and an interesting plot!” —Goodreads review on A Treacherous Trader

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

A new to me series that delivered a very enjoyable cozy mystery. A Fatal Faberge is the eighth book in the Antiques and Collectible series by Parker Riggs and Ellery Adams. A murder mystery filled will twist and deception that sucks you in from the get go.

In this little Vermont town amateur sleuth Molly has given herself a reputation of being able to solve cases. She is like a cat, and curiosity gets the best of her. Sometimes even too much for her own good. She’s smart and witty with a great personality. I love the little nudges Molly‘s husband Matt, and her mother, give her to continue to get to the bottom of the mystery. Having the ear of the local detective is not a bad thing either.

A Fatal Fabergé is an engaging and enjoyable cozy read. A twisting plot that keeps you going as the secrets unhold. For a little Vermont town and an antiques writer things sure get shaken up in A Fatal Fabergé.

 

 

Review: Dirty and Dangerous by Shayla Black

Dirty and Dangerous

Shayla Black 

Kindle Edition, 202 pages
Published February 6th 2020

 

 

Trading pleasure for information is no way to catch a criminal…or is it?

With fifty grand at stake and a star-witness missing, bounty hunter R. A. Thorn and Detective Cameron Martinez reluctantly team up to and put their bodies on the line to make gorgeous informant Brenna Sheridan a deal: everything she knows in exchange for everything she desires.

Their heated interrogation explodes into an unexpected experience none can forget or forego. Commitment-shy Thorn is sure their “deal” is nothing but pure, sizzling lust. Cam knows it’s more. But Brenna is keeping dangerous secrets, one a mafia boss is intent on learning—before silencing her forever. While on the run, her past spills out. And when shocking desires are revealed, there’s no turning back…

Can the guys come together to protect and serve the woman they want to claim for good before the threat ends her?

Short Novel

*(Formerly titled Dangerous Boys and Their Toy. Contents of this book are unchanged.)

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

This book is intense on so many levels. From page one the action is in your face and bam, it keeps coming at you. A complex situation that gives a fast-moving plot and multi-layered characters with intense personalities.

 

Thorn is raw, aggressive and very alpha. Being a bounty hunter is very fitting for him. Thorn is the love them and leaves them, type of guy.  Cameron is as observant as he is a charmer. He had a way with people that makes them melt into his hands. He has finesse and patients and knows the meaning of being sensitive and how to use sensitivity. Cam’s way with words is a gift. Brenna is a woman trying to get answers to questions she’s been asking for a lifetime. One man connects these three people and is the first link in a fast chain of events that changes each of them down to the soul.

 

Dirty and Dangerous is a quick-moving, action-filled, intensely intimate and hot as sin itself.  Shayla Black once again draws readers in with raw emotions, a great story and some wicked romance that just may leave readers panting.  Thorn, Cam, and Brenna together found a way to help, save, free and understand and love. I loved the open-mindedness and the natural progression in which the relationship developed. It may have been quick but it gave me goosebumps and chills while reading. Dirty and Dangerous is a male, male, female ménage that is beyond hot.

 

Review: In Cold Chamomile By Joy Avon

 

In Cold Chamomile 

Joy Avon

A Tea and Read Mystery, Book 3 

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

Just in time for the holidays, In Cold Chamomile is sure to be a cupid’s arrow aimed straight for your bookshelf.

Tea party organizer Callie Aspen learns that Cupid’s arrows can be deadly when a Valentine’s Day soiree ends in murder.

Callie Aspen can’t think of a more appropriate place to spend Valentine’s Day than her adopted hometown of Heart’s Harbor, Maine. When she’s not helping out at Book Tea, her great-aunt Iphy’s vintage tearoom, Callie’s adorning Haywood Hall with hearts and roses for the big Valentine’s event, where townspeople will fall in love with sweet treats, heartwarming music, and delightful books. But tension is brewing: The librarian argues with the expert who is on hand to appraise precious volumes. And Iphy is shocked to recognize the baritone who’s slated to sing at the event as an old acquaintance–one she’d hoped she’d never meet again. And then, when a dead body is discovered, the stirring spoon of suspicion points at the many people who had reasons to want the victim dead.

When Iphy’s old acquaintance draws the attention of Deputy Ace Falk, Callie finds herself in a spot. Ace, as usual, doesn’t want Callie involved, but how can she ignore Iphy’s anguish over the fate of a man she cares for more than she will admit? Bringing the killer to justice may endanger Callie’s budding relationship with Ace–and, quite possibly, her own life.

Callie and the Book Tea crew may think they have this case in the bag, but un-kettling truths are yet to be decanted.

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

Valentine’s Day brings more than hearts and roses when Callie finds herself steeping in a murder happens during a booktastic charity even.

Callie Aspen is unique in a few ways. She’s got a knack for getting things out of people yet you can tell there are times she feels guilty for digging in deeper than she should. Even drives her cop of a boyfriend batty with her sleuth thing. I personally just think he’s jealous because Callie is good at what she does. I liked how Callie would cut the conversation and excuse herself when she knew she was crossing the line yet hightailed it out of there before she did. In Cold Chamomile brings many changes in her life, along with a murder Callie can’t helped to be wrapped up in.

In Cold Chamomile is a Multi layered cozy mystery with a romance or two added in. Well develop characters with a vast array of personalities, charm and quarks that make them more relatable and fun. Joy Avon twisted and turned the plot, keeping readers guessing. While I had an idea of who, the why caught me by surprise. Callie and Iphy are a force, whether it be good or bad, these women will make you laugh. In Cold Chamomile is my first read of the A Tea and Read Mystery series and I felt like I was walking into a friend’s house for tea and entertainment. The characters definitely drive the story while the layered plot keeps pages flying.

 

 

Review: Phantom Queen by Yasmine Galenorn

 

Phantom Queen

Yasmine Galenorn

Whisper Hollow Series, Book 3

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published January 27th 2020 by Nightqueen Enterprises LLC

 

Whisper Hollow, where spirits walk among the living, and the lake never gives up her dead…

Fifteen years ago, I ran away from Whisper Hollow, Washington, a small town on Crescent Lake in the Olympic Peninsula. But truth is, if you were born here, you can never really leave. I’m Kerris Fellwater, and I’m a spirit shaman. It’s my responsibility to drive the dead back to their graves, because around Whisper Hollow, people-and secrets-don’t always stay buried.

Veronica, Queen of the UnLiving, is causing trouble. When I request an audience with her, she tells me something big is coming, something that even the Hounds of Cú Chulainn fear. Now, Bryan and I must enlist the help of the dead in order to keep the spirit world from unwinding and to keep the Hounds from using the approaching disaster for their own ends.

 

 

 

 

 

4.5 Stars

 

A new darkness has wandered into Whisper Hollow just as Kerris has begun to settle nicely into her role as spirit shaman. Fast paced and action packed, unlikely alliances, and dark magic grab the reader from page one. The Phantom Queen is a page turner from beginning to end.

Kerris is becoming confident within her role of spirit showman. I love that she admits that there is still much for her to learn yet she is learning new things about who she is and what she does each day. I like the little things that you see within her friendship with Peggin. Yes we have got to know these characters in previous books but I feel like now that the series is set up we are really getting to see who these characters are. I love that Kerris understands the importance of relationships. Kerris is a very sweet and caring woman yet she can be as tough as any of the creatures that she comes across if need be. I really enjoyed the little intimacies shared by Bryan and Kerris. I also enjoyed getting to know the townspeople. They are a fun and interesting bunch that truly lend more to the story than what you think they would.

I’m so excited for Ms. Galenorn to continue the Whisper Hollow Series. The Phantom Queen was well worth the wait. Ms. Galenorn dazzles her readers with interesting characters, a good plot, great world building and a satisfying ending. Whisper Hollow is a dark and mysterious town but it also has a warmth that makes you feel like you’ve come home.

 

“I was given an Advance Reader Copy as a gift from author without obligation. I am providing an honest review.”

 

 

Audio Review: The Director’s Cut by Steve Higgs

The Director’s Cut

Steve Higgs

A Patricia Fisher Mystery, Book 3

Kindle Edition, 162 pages
Published August 16th 2019

She’s over fifty, overweight, and in way over her head!

It’s well known that working in movies can be cutthroat, but no one expected that to be taken literally.

It’s party time on board the Aurelia! On the LA to Hawaii leg, a Hollywood film crew are shooting scenes for a new action movie and Barbie has been given a bit-part role. It’s all great fun and Patricia isn’t surprised when her cute, blonde friend attracts the attention of the handsome A-lister male lead.

But when he is found murdered in the upper deck pool and the killer leaves a message saying Barbie is next, it falls to Patricia to work out who the killer is.

With her trusted butler, Jermaine, good friend, Barbie, and lame-duck Shane Sussmann, an odd-looking film extra she befriended, Patricia will have plenty of help as she unravels the truth. The prime suspect has an ironclad alibi though and there is definitely something going on with the film’s beautiful female lead.

Will there be more bodies? Will the new deputy captain be of assistance this time? Will Jermaine be able to serve tea at four o’clock?

It’s going to take more than luck to solve this one. Can she survive The Director’s Cut?

 

4 Stars

 

A cutthroat, conniving, hiding in the shadows kind of mystery filled with humor and entertainment.

 

Director’s Cut is the third installment of the Patricia Fisher mysteries. On this leg, from Los Angeles to Hawaii, a film crew hops on board bringing excitement and murder. Patty along with her faithful butler, Jermaine and her best friend on the ship Barbie, get caught up in a hot mess of Hollywood proportions.

 

Patty is such a wonderful character. Starting life over on an around the world cruise is definitely the way to do it. Patty is observant, resourceful and willing to bend the rules just a little bit.  I love how she has befriended her Butler, Jermaine and allows him to dote on her even though she doesn’t feel she deserves it and Barbie. Her exercise obsessed friend, who lends a hand in many of the humorous parts of this novel.  The characters are as lively as they are lovely.  There’s lots of personality flowing right alongside the mystery of The Director’s Cut.

 

Director’s Cut is a fast paced, ever twisting plot, fun cozy read. The turns will keep readers guessing themselves throughout the entire read. Patty is smart and lively even if she jumps the gun from time to time.  She may not be a professional when it comes to solving crime, however she does quite a good job at figuring it out. From the interaction to the characters down to the who done it, The Director’s Cut Will keep you fully entertained.  I had the pleasure of enjoying the Director’s Cut as an audiobook. Narrator Katherine Anderson is amazing. She brings Patty to life with flair and charisma. Ms. Anderson’s performance earned an extra star on my review of this title.

Review: Shadow Silence by Yasmine Galenorn

 

 

Shadow Silence

Yasmine Galenorn

Whisper Hollow Series, Book 2

Publisher: Nightqueen Enterprises LLC; 2 edition (January 20, 2020)

 

Whisper Hollow, where spirits walk among the living, and the lake never gives up her dead…

Fifteen years ago, I ran away from Whisper Hollow, Washington, a small town on Crescent Lake in the Olympic Peninsula. But truth is, if you were born here, you can never really leave. I’m Kerris Fellwater, and I’m a spirit shaman. It’s my responsibility to drive the dead back to their graves, because around Whisper Hollow, people-and secrets-don’t always stay buried.

My best friend Peggin finds herself under a curse after she is almost taken by the Lady of the Lake. As Bryan-my guardian and mate-and I work to break the hex, we stumble over a dark and violent mystery from the past. One the Hounds of Cú Chulainn will do anything to stop us from bringing to light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Shadow Silence is an outstanding experience in paranormal romance. Yasmine Galenorn masterfully builds worlds that you can’t help but to get lost in.

 

The second installment of the Whisper Hollow Series continues to entrance readers into a place where anything could be and is lurking.  Ms. Galenorn paints a vivid picture of the danger and magic that lay within Kerris path. I love that Kerris learns as she goes. She’s become so much stronger within a book. She takes her roll on fully and gives herself to her fate. Kerris’ friends are her family and the bonds are deep with her chosen few. Loyal and more powerful than she realizes, Kerris becomes more interesting with each book.

 

Shadow Silence finds Peggin at the fingertips of danger known as the lady of the lake. Shadow spirits all over town and dark magic at play. Kerris learns that sometimes you just have to wait for things to happen before you can do anything about it. The main plot arc continues to thicken, the suspense builds and not everyone is whom they seem to be. And I can see many things that could happen just from the events of Shadow Silence.

 

Ms. Galenorn would building and attention to detail is like none other. Shadow Silence, like most of Ms. Galenorn’s work, is based in mythology, legend and lore with her unique twist that gives the reader a new or different perspective. Shadow Silence is quick moving, dark magical, adventure.

 

 

Review: A View to a Kilt by Kaitlyn Dunnett

A View to a Kilt

Kaitlyn Dunnett

Liss MacMrimmon Mysteries, Book 13

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2020 by Kensington

A series of blizzards have kept tourists away from Moosetookalook, Maine, and shoppers out of Liss MacCrimmon’s Scottish Emporium. But as warmer weather brings promises of tartan sales and new faces, melting snow reveals cold-blooded murder . . .

Liss has suddenly found herself in charge of the March Madness Mud Season Sale, a town-wide celebration created to boost the local economy during the slushy weeks of early spring. With businesses ailing after a rough winter, the pressure is on to make this year’s effort the can’t-miss-event of the season. But before Liss can get her hands dirty, her husband makes a horrifying discovery. There’s a dead man on their property, and he didn’t die of natural causes . . .

Stunned by the murder mystery developing in her own backyard, Liss receives another shock. The victim is identified as Charlie MacCrimmon, an uncle believed to have died eleven years before Liss was born. No one has seen or heard from Charlie since he went off to fight in Vietnam. What secrets could he have been hiding for so many years, and who would want to kill a man long thought to be dead?

Enlisting the help of her family, Liss uncovers more questions than answers as she delves into her uncle’s murky past. One thing is clear—before he met his end, Uncle Charlie was desperately trying to warn her about something sinister. And unless Liss can soon track down a maniacal criminal as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster, she just might be the next MacCrimmon to disappear . . .

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

Liss seems to find herself tangled into trouble whether she is trying or not. She’s a fun and strong woman that has a caring streak that runs deep. Lover of cats and amateur sleuth, she will make you laugh while getting the information she wants.  She’s a small town girl will a mind that thinks outside the box. A wonderful main character.

 

A View to a Kilt was a fun cozy read. Ms. Dunnett keeps the reader going with a well developed, keep you thinking plot.  You can tell this was part of a long going series, however new readers like myself are easily about to jump right in and not feel lost. I love when the town or setting of the book is almost like a character. Moosetookalook is an interesting town with personality and flair.  The residents are even more so. Small towns are always full of secrets and sometimes they end up in your own backyard. The backyard is Liss’ this time and hits close to home. From the quaintness of the town, to the colorful personalities of the people within it, to a plot that spins an excellent tale, Ms. Dunnett’s A View to a Kilt was a one sit read for me.

 

 

 

Review: Four Money by Jayne Rylon

 

Four Money

Jayne Rylon

Ever and Always Duet, Book 1

Kindle Edition, 167 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2020 by Happy Endings Publishing

 

Would it be the worst thing in the world to accept an obscene amount of money in exchange for living with a guy and a couple of his best friends for three months?

Seems like a no brainer. But what if it means sharing their beds, too?

Let’s be honest, Holly would probably do that for free considering how hot, successful, and fun to be around they are.
Besides, if she helps Trent cash in on his inheritance—with a few naughty strings attached—she could pay for the life-saving surgery her mother’s insurance company has denied.

The one thing she can’t afford is falling in love when the man she’s obsessed with plans to ditch her after their ninety days are over.

Four Money is book one of the Ever & Always duet. Holly, Trent, Lorenzo, and Owen’s story will conclude in Four Love.

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

Ms. Rylon hit the reader hard and fast with Four Money.

What would you do for the right amount of money?

Holly is about to her wits end trying to figure a way to pay medical expenses for her mom. Trent is a professional gambler trying to stack the chips to fund the startup for his company. Lorenzo and Owen are Trent’s closest friends, roommates and his poly partners.

Holly is a force for sure, pure willpower and guts with such a caring nature. Trent is smart and funny. I truly enjoyed his personality and passion. We truly only just start to get to know Lorenzo and Owen in Four Money, however their charisma shines through.Opportunity knocked and Trent and Holly answered not know the surprise that was about to become their lives.

Four Money packs a punch from beginning to end. Wow. Well written characters, a super fast paced story and plot that will knock you down. Four Money is a chance on life in more ways than one. Reviewer Warring: This book is a Duet and that is stated before I started reading. Ms. Rylon hits us with quite the cliffhanger that I never saw coming. If you are not a fan of cliffhangers, highly recommend that you wait until Four Love release and read them back to back.

 

Review: Wild Side by Mari Carr

Wild Side

Mari Carr

Wilder Irish Series, Book 9

Kindle Edition, 194 pages

Expected publication: January 28th 2020

 

No strings attached? Wrong. So wrong.

Layla moved to Baltimore in search of a fresh start. After too many years in a lackluster relationship, she’s ready to embrace her wild side. Casual is her new middle name and the last thing she wants or needs is a serious relationship.

Finn and his best friend, Miguel are ALL IN on showing Layla a good time. After all, neither one of them is looking for love either. Or so they think.

Until Finn falls for Layla and Miguel falls for Finn and Layla falls for…both men. Then it’s a wild side freefall as the three lovers try to make one plus one plus one equal the perfect match.

 

 

 

 4.5 stars

 

Wild Side is a super hot, yet tender story of moving past being friends and giving into the impulses that lovers crave.  Mari Carr blends passion and a bit of suspense give the reader one delightful read.

 

Finn is finally seeing that the Collins curse is a gift and not a burden.  He sees what his family has and wants this in his life. Layla has returned to Baltimore to restart life after the ending of a relationship and to be away from the thumb of her protecting brothers. She wants a wild adventure, to explore her own wild side. Miguel had a rough start but has become an amazing man. Family to him is more than blood. Miguel wants what Finn’s family has shown him.

 

Wow!  Talk about a friends to lovers story. Wild Side is so many good thing wrapped in a beautiful package. Friendship and family, love and adventure, truth and emotions, honestly and self discovery.  When desired emotions become tangled within friendship it can either make or break. Finn like Layla, Miguel like Layla and Miguel liked Finn. What they didn’t see coming was the connection the three of them shared together. They gave into the chemistry, attraction and impulse to be something more. Mari Carr more than made the story about love. Sexual orientation didn’t matter it was about their emotions and feelings for each other acting on them and figuring out where they stood with each other. Not only was this an intensely hot, toe curling story it was very endearing and heartwarming as well. It was about love.

 

Wild Side is a great addition to the Wilder Irish, Collins family series.