Book Review

ARC Book Review: Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead (Finlay Donovan #2) by Elle Cosimano

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery + Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Elle Cosimano
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From Edgar-Award nominee Elle Cosimano, comes Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead—the hilarious and heart-pounding follow-up to Finlay Donovan is Killing It.

“A funny and smart, twisty and surprising series.”—Megan Miranda

Finlay Donovan is—once again—struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. On the bright side, she has her live-in nanny and confidant Vero to rely on, and the only dead body she’s dealt with lately is that of her daughter’s pet goldfish.

On the not-so-bright side, someone out there wants her ex-husband, Steven, out of the picture. Permanently. Whatever else Steven may be, he’s a good father, but saving him will send her down a rabbit hole of soccer moms disguised as hit-women, and a little bit more involvement with the Russian mob than she’d like.

Meanwhile, Vero’s keeping secrets, and Detective Nick Anthony seems determined to get back into her life. He may be a hot cop, but Finlay’s first priority is preventing her family from sleeping with the fishes… and if that means bending a few laws then so be it.

With her next book’s deadline looming and an ex-husband to keep alive, Finlay is quickly coming to the end of her rope. She can only hope there isn’t a noose at the end of it.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

WILD RIDE.

Wow did I eat this up in a day. Even when I get frustrated with the story I can’t help but be charmed by the writing. It’s easy to consume and has a rollercoaster of events to keep things moving.

Finlay and Vero are at it again. Trying to solve the mystery of the hit put out on Steven. I couldn’t believe some of the things they were getting up to and some of the decisions being made. While I can’t fathom making some of them and have to suspend reality a bit (since it gets ridiculous at times) I still like how high stakes it feels. There’s many well timed moments and parts that I just couldn’t put the book down.

I don’t love Vero. Maybe it’s because I don’t fully trust her? I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop about her background and thank heavens all will be revealed [hopefully] in the next book because I NEED ANSWERS. Yes there’s more to come. A fact I didn’t know prior and want to state now.

I am alllllllll team Nick. ALL IN. This love triangle has also kept me intrigued and I like the push and pull from both sides. I want all the romance with him. I appreciate the many layers to this story and how deeper things keep going. It’s a bit twisted, with a good dash of humor and intense moments.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: heated make-outs & light innuendo
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: attempted murder, gun violence, murder, kidnapping, loss of a loved one, extortion

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Book Review

Book Review: Dial A for Aunties (Aunties #1) by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance + Mystery
Length: 300 pages
Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 27th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?

You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

READ IN A DAY.

That’s how great this book was. I couldn’t put it down. I found reasons to keep listening to my audio copy because I had to know what would happen next.

This was absolutely hilarious. I haven’t laughed this much while reading in awhile. It was fantastic. I adored all of the Aunties and the hijinks they got up too. I loved the main character, Meddy. I wanted to be her friend and her inner monologue was spot on. This group of women were wonderful. All of the family dynamics with great support and hilarity. I just loved everyone so much.

The romance was cute! I didn’t like how it initially started (with a forced miscommunication) but otherwise the reconnection had me swooning. Nathan was a sweet dreamboat who wasn’t letting Meddy walk away again.

Following the larger plot was engaging and I thought everything wove together well. I liked the setting and how the romance worked out for the side characters too. There’s just a lot here to love and I will definitely be passing this around as a new highly recommend read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance + Murder mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: one brief open
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: accidental homicide, attempted sexual assault, racism, sexism, recreational drug use, nonconsensual drugging, on page car accident, catfishing

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Book Review

ARC Review: The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Nancy Campbell Allen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: September 7th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Set in Victorian London from the Queen of Mystery Romance

Amelie Hampton is a hopeless romantic, which makes her the perfect columnist to answer lonely heart letters in The Marriage Gazette. When Amelie plays matchmaker with two anonymous lonely hearts, she also decides to secretly observe the couple’s blind date. To her surprise, the man who appears for the rendezvous is Harold Radcliffe—a grieving widower and a member of Amelie’s book club.

Police detective Michael Baker has been struggling ever since his best friend and brother-in-law died in the line of fire. Because he knows the dangers of his job, he has vowed never to marry and subject a wife and family to the uncertainty of his profession. But when he meets Miss Hampton, he is captured by her innocence, beauty, and her quick mind.

When a woman’s body is pulled from the river, Michael suspects the woman’s husband—Harold Radcliffe—of foul play. Amelie refuses to believe that Harold is capable of such violence but agrees to help, imagining it will be like one of her favorite mystery novels. Her social connections and clever observations prove an asset to the case, and Amelie is determined to prove Mr. Radcliffe’s innocence. But the more time Amelie and Michael spend together, the more they trust each other, and the more they realize they are a good team, maybe the perfect match.

They also realize that Mr. Radcliffe is hiding more than one secret, and when his attention turns toward Amelie, Michael knows he must put an end to this case before the woman he loves comes to harm.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain for an ARC.

NOT REALLY A MYSTERY?

If you know from the get-go who the murderer is, is it really considered a mystery? Asking for a friend.

Besides that flaw, the beginning started off well enough. I didn’t mind the hero or heroine. The set-up was something I haven’t read before in a Victorian romance so sure! Call me interested. The further things went on the more and more I really couldn’t stand the heroine, Amelie. I think the impression was supposed to come off as strong-willed and capable, but all I saw was a woman in over her head that couldn’t follow basic instructions. Cue a few eye rolls. Michael was the lone savior of the story. I liked his dynamic and POV chapters. I love that his job was a detective and how he pursued the truth.

I found myself intensely skimming the last half because everything was TOO predictable. And based off of the title I thought the story would be a bit different. They didn’t match one another very well. So yes, this book was fine, but not one I’m going to remember.

Overall audience notes:

  • Victorian Proper Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: murder, murder of a pregnant woman, physical altercations, near drowning

NANCY CAMPBELL ALLEN is the award-winning author of eighteen published novels and several novellas, which encompass a variety of genres, ranging from contemporary romantic suspense to historical fiction. Her most recent books, which include Regency, Victorian, and steampunk romance, are published under Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance brand, and the What Happens in Venice novella series is part of the Timeless Romance Anthology collection published by Mirror Press. She has presented at numerous conferences and events since her initial publication in 1999. Nancy loves to read, write, travel, and research, and enjoys spending time with family and friends. She nurtures a current obsession for true crime podcasts and is a news junkie. She and her husband have three children, and she lives in Ogden, Utah, with her family, one very large Siberian Husky named Thor, and an obnoxious but endearing Yorkie-Poo named Freya.

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