Books for November

I know I said October had a lot of new releases – well, I feel as though November has even more.

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13578466Sharon Shinn‘s ROYAL AIRS (fantasy): I am so excited about this one, you have no idea.  I loved TROUBLED WATERS, the first book in this series (though I recall reviews were slightly mixed) – I’m glad she’s decided to revisit this world.

“Master storyteller Sharon Shinn created the thrilling and enchanting world of Welce in her acclaimed novel “Troubled Waters.” Return with her to that elemental universe in this tale of secrecy, romance, and a battle for power…”

Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city.

Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables—until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she’s stumbled into the wrong bar. She, too, is a princess—sister to Josetta, who finds her with Rafe. He fascinates her.

Josetta has never encountered anyone like him—someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings. He is drawn to her, though he thinks they are unlikely to ever meet again—but their connection grows strong when she nurses him back to health after he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries.

And when they learn the reason he’s being hunted, they know that the truth about his history could endanger not only their love but also their very lives…

Out Nov 4

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13544081Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s TRADE SECRET (SF): I actually have this book already, thanks to Baen’s policy of releasing ebooks the month before the hardcover publication. While it’s another Liaden Universe book, it’s not part of the Korval storyline (I think, anyway) – I remember liking Jethri’s story in BALANCE OF TRADE, so I’m glad we get to see what happens next.

Star-spanning galactic trader Jethri Gobelyn’s story continues in the seventeenth entry in the Liaden Universe series by master storytellers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

In a universe full of interstellar intrigue and burgeoning commerce, novice Terran trader Jethri Gobelyn, adopted by a Liaden clan after an ill-directed bow of honor insulted the scion of a major Liaden house, is alive and whole to tell the tale. Convinced that the adoption has saved his life and made his future, he settles into a comfortable and even elite routine, a Trader’s Ring his goal.

Even as Jethri’s initiation into the mysteries and joys of Liaden Festival bring him to manhood, he’s forced to face Necessity and the facts of life: his adoption has also invigorated a net of unfinished Balance far more complex and potentially deadly than a simple Terran blood feud. He must embrace his Terran birthright as well as his Liaden connections while leaving behind the safety of the great Liaden trade ship Elthoria to defend his honor and that of shipmates past and present. Forced to sit Second Board as a back-up pilot on a Liaden Scout ship, Jethri’s convinced he’s already at wit’s end—when several familiar faces threaten all that he knows of himself, and all that he wishes to do.

Out Nov 5

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15724097Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS (mystery): How long has it been since the last JSF?  More than two years apparently – it says a lot that just reading the blurb below has me remembering Clare, Russ, and Millers Kill vividly.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and kidnapping. Which is the very last thing Russ needs…Currently he’s struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood. And his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week in an unelectrified ice-fishing cabin. The vestry of St. Alban’s Church has called for the bishop to investigate Clare’s “unpriestly” pregnancy. She has one week to find out if she will be scolded, censured, or suspended from her duties. Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again-off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away.

As the days and hours tick by, Russ and Clare fight personal and professional battles they’ve never encountered. In the course of this one tumultuous week the lives of the Millers-Kill residents readers have come to love and cherish change forever.

Out Nov 5

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18392843Viv Daniels‘ ONE & ONLY (NA): Viv Daniels aka Diana Peterfreund aka author-of-one-of-my-favourite-ever-series… I’m so looking forward to seeing what she does with her self-pubbed venture into the New Adult genre.  Especially as she wrote NA even before it was labelled NA.

One night they can’t forget…

Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.

One love they can’t ignore…

Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.

…And only one chance to get things right.

Out Nov 8

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18524333Julie Cross‘s RETURN TO SENDER (YA): Remember when I raved about LETTERS TO NOWHERE?  This is the follow up.  Fair warning: it’s going to be shorter than LoW – Julie Cross is doing shorter but more frequent releases to round off this series.  FYI I tweeted her to ask about the price point for this one and she reckoned $2.99, but with some $0.99 sales and potentially collecting these novellas in a couple of volumes at either $3.99 or $4.99.  I liked LoW so much that I’d probably pay full price.

If only summer could last forever…

Karen and Jordan might be out in the open with their relationship, but that doesn’t make it any easier for them to face events looming in the future. Like Jordan leaving for college halfway across the country. Or Karen’s win at a big international gymnastics competition setting the bar high for her future and adding pressure like she’s never experienced before.

But when Nina Jones (aka-US Gymnastics Dictator), makes plans for Karen and teammate Stevie to train at a gymnastics camp for a month—the same camp where Jordan coaches—romantic summer interludes replace their fears of being apart. Both Jordan and Karen know that when fall comes, some very tough decisions will have to be made, but for now, it’s stolen kisses, racing hearts, and whispered words.

Out now

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13431883Kelley Armstrong‘s WILD JUSTICE (suspense): If there’s a theme to this month’s releases, it appears to be long-awaited sequels finally turning up.  The last Nadia Stafford book was published in 2009 – I seem to recall talk of Kelley Armstrong considering self-pubbing this (though I could just be making that up), but it’s being released via the traditional route.

Protect the innocent. If there is any one principle that drives hit man Nadia Stafford, it’s this. In her own mind, when she was thirteen, she failed to protect her older cousin Amy from being murdered. Now she fails again, disastrously, when she botches a hit. To help her find her equilibrium, her mentor, Jack, brings her a gift: the location and new identity of the predator who killed her cousin and disappeared after the case against him failed.

Vengeance, justice? With the predator in her sights, nothing seems more right, more straightforward, more easy. But finding justice is never as simple as it seems.

Out Nov 26

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And that’s not all – other books I’m looking forward to:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW (contemporary romance): I mentioned this last month’s list, as the M&B/Harlequin ebook release was last month, but the book goes on general sale 1 Nov.
  • Josh Lanyon‘s KICK START (m/m romantic suspense): I may think Josh Lanyon occasionally prices his self-pubbed works on the high side, but I’m a massive fan of his Dangerous Ground series, so I’m getting this for more Will & Taylor
  • Richelle Mead‘s THE FIERY HEART (YA UF):  The 4th installment in her Bloodlines series.  I’ll probably end up borrowing this from the library, as the previous books haven’t really blown me away.
  • A COSMIC CHRISTMAS 2 YOU edited by Hank Davis (SF anthology): It’s the Baen Christmas anthology – I suspect I’ll get this because of the familiar names on the list of contributors (including Wen Spencer and Sarah A Hoyt)

Slightly Longer Thoughts

The rest of the books I read during July 2011 – this time, I actually liked all of them.  Non-Goodreads comments in italics…

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One Was a Soldier (Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #7)One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (mystery)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was totally engrossed in this book, even though it’s been ages since I read the last one, I Shall Not Want (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery, #6). Raw, painful, though ever-so-slightly predictable – it was a good read and I’m looking forward to the next Clare/Russ book.

Though I don’t exactly rush out to buy the latest on release date, I know Julia Spencer-Fleming always delivers a good read and is worth the hardcover splurge.  

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Grave Dance (Alex Craft, #2)Grave Dance by Kalayna Price (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the books that make you think “Oh, actually, no, I do want more of X” when you could have sworn you had enough of the genre. For me, GRAVE DANCE is one of these and had me rethinking my supposed overdose of urban fantasy in recent years.

I liked the first book in this series (Grave Witch (Alex Craft, #1)), and DANCE has me really getting into the series – there is great storytelling and world-building here. I loved how Kalayna Price explained the concept of indebtness for fae – having Alex feel the imbalance shift as you thank someone or apologise made total sense. Though I could have done without the love triangle (sigh… if I could ban one plot device, it would be the love triangle), I have to admit both the romantic interests are intriguing, and I want to see what happens next – I’m looking forward to the next book.

I liked this one – can you tell?  This is one of the very few new(-ish) UF series I get excited about.  I haven’t read her other series though – has anyone?

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Naamah's Blessing (Kushiel's Legacy, #9)Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey (fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

NAAMAH’S BLESSING has not been my favourite of Jacqueline Carey’s three Kushiel trilogies (Moirin and her travels just hasn’t engaged me as much as Phedre or Imriel did), though having said that, I finished this in one sitting despite its length. There’s good storytelling here with genuinely scary parts. And there was a good-wins-out-in-the-end type of ending, which did leave me feeling satisfied.

Gosh, I recall some squeam-ish moments towards the end in this book.  I loved Ms Carey’s Kushiel books but her more recent releases haven’t worked that well for me.  Though having said that, her more contemporary UF, SANTA OLIVIA, is still in my TBR pile.  I should get started on that. 

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Prove ItProve It by Chris Owen (m/m romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the friends-to-lovers plot, though I’m not quite sure that the device of having a 3rd (or 4th person) explain relationship truths to the h/h really worked because (a) it’s sort of awkward unless yes, they’re very very close and have been a spectator to all your relationships and (b) it would have been more satisfying if the h/h had worked it out for themselves.

I did like the writing and would read more by Chris Owen.

New-to-me author here, IIRC.  And despite my problems with the plot device used, it was a good read. 

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Ghost Story (The Dresden Files,  #13)Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, talk about story-telling. I’m not entirely sure the book left me completely satisfied as a reader, but it certainly kept me hooked, with Jim Butcher blatantly tugging on my heartstrings throughout. The title of the previous book, Changes (The Dresden Files, #12), was certainly a good prophecy for this book and I will definitely be picking up the next.

My annual Dresden fix.

Books for April

This month’s new releases that I’ve been anticipating…

Teresa Grant‘s “Vienna Waltz” (historical mystery): Technically a March 29 release, this book has been a long time in coming.  I won’t go into the slightly convoluted history of why I’ve been waiting for this book for ages (mainly because it is of no interest to anyone but myself), but if this is in the same vein as her previous two books, it promises to be an excellent mix of historical intrigue and suspense, with some rather complicated romance.

Blurb:

Nothing is fair in love and war. . .

Europe’s elite have gathered at the glittering Congress of Vienna–princes, ambassadors, the Russian tsar–all negotiating the fate of the continent by day and pursuing pleasure by night. Until Princess Tatiana, the most beautiful and talked about woman in Vienna, is found murdered during an ill-timed rendezvous with three of her most powerful conquests…

Suzanne Rannoch has tried to ignore rumors that her new husband, Malcolm, has also been tempted by Tatiana. As a protégé of France’s Prince Talleyrand and attaché for Britain’s Lord Castlereagh, Malcolm sets out to investigate the murder and must enlist Suzanne’s special skills and knowledge if he is to succeed. As a complex dance between husband and wife in the search for the truth ensues, no one’s secrets are safe, and the future of Europe may hang in the balance…

Out now (excerpt)

 

Erin McCarthy‘s “The Chase” (contemporary romance): I can’t remember the last time I’ve been waiting impatiently for a contemporary romance to be released.  But I was completely captivated by her previous three Fast Track novels last year and am very much looking forward to this one.  I’ll be the first to admit that not all of Erin McCarthy’s books have worked for me (there have even been some DNFs), but I loved how she brings together the testosterone atmosphere of stock car racing with some very steamy romance.

Blurb:

Kendall Holbrook is determined to make it to the top, even with the challenge of being a woman on the male-dominated racing circuit. She doesn’t have time for romance- especially not with racing rival Evan Monroe, the man who nearly crushed her dreams years ago. Forced into meeting up with him, Kendall is experiencing all those old feelings again- and she can’t deny that they still have more than enough chemistry to set fire to the track.

After getting dropped by his biggest sponsor, Evan is watching his racing season go up in flames. Now, the only replacement available is completely humiliating: a co-sponsorship for his-and-her deodorant with Kendall Holbrook- the girl who once broke his heart. Acting like Kendall doesn’t still get him all hot and bothered is bad enough, but the biggest challenge awaits him on the track- where Evan has to decide if a second chance at love is more important than making it to the finish line…

Out April 5 (excerpt)

 

Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s “One Was A Soldier” (mystery): I won (and actually reviewed) the previous book in this series, “I Shall Not Want”, when Keishon hosted a giveaway back in 2008.  I loved how the mystery was set against the backdrop of Clare’s faith and the small-town setting, and was also intrigued by the rather complicated relationship between Clare and Russ – and this book sounds as though things aren’t getting any easier.  It’s been quite a long gap in between books, but this may be worth the wait judging from the online buzz.

Goodreads blurb:

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s debut novel, In the Bleak Midwinter, burst onto the mystery scene like a wild fire, snatching up almost every award imaginable. Since then, the series has only been picking up speed, the characters only digging deeper into our hearts. One Was a Soldier takes the suspense and heart-tugging to the next level, making for a truly devastating read.

At the Millers Kill Community Center, five veterans gather to work on adjusting to life after war. Reverend Clare Fergusson has returned from Iraq with a head full of bad memories she’s using alcohol to wipe out. Dr. George Stillman is denying that the head wound he received has left him with something worse than simple migraines. Officer Eric McCrea is battling to keep his constant rage from affecting his life as a cop, and as a father.

High school track star Will Ellis is looking for some reason to keep on living after losing both legs to an IED. And down-onher- luck Tally McNabb has brought home a secret—a fatal one. Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne just wants Clare to settle down and get married—to him. But when he rules Tally McNabb’s death a suicide, Clare sides with the other vets against him. Russ and Clare’s unorthodox investigation will uncover a trail of deceit that runs from their tiny Adirondack town to the upper ranks of the Army, and from the waters of the Millers Kill to the unforgiving streets of Baghdad.

Fans of the series have been waiting for Russ and Clare to get together, and now that burgeoning relationship is threatened in this next tantalizing novel by Julia Spencer-Fleming.

Out April 12 (excerpt)

 

Holly Black‘s “Red Glove” (YA urban fantasy): I’ve been meaning to read Holly Black’s faerie urban fantasy books for years, but never quite got around to it.  Then last year, I read her first Curse Workers book, “White Cat”, which sucked me into a very cool and inventive world – so I’m all excited about the second book now.

Blurb (note this has SPOILERS FOR FIRST BOOK):

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

Out April 5 (though June 16 for the UK edition – sigh) – book site (I’m linking to the News page as opposed to the frontpage as video starts playing automatically)

 

Lisa Lutz and David Hayward‘s “Heads You Lose” (mystery): I am a BIG fan of Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files books.  They’re slightly loopy and incredibly funny, but leave you with a big smile on your face at the end of it.  And while this is not a Spellman book and may have a bit of a gimmick-y concept (okay, very), I’m curious and do know that Ms Lutz, at least, does good comedy, so I’ll be getting it.

Blurb:

From New York Times–bestselling author Lisa Lutz and David Hayward comes a hilarious and original tag-team novel that reads like Weeds meets Adaptation.

Meet Paul and Lacey Hansen: orphaned, pot-growing, twentysomething siblings eking out a living in rural Northern California. When a headless corpse appears on their property, they can’t exactly dial 911, so they move the body and wait for the police to find it. Instead, the corpse reappears, a few days riper … and an amateur sleuth is born. Make that two.

But that’s only half of the story. When collaborators Lutz and Hayward—former romantic partners—start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics (meet Brandy Chester, the stripper with the Mensa IQ), and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

Out April 5 (excerpt)

 

And finally, two maybes for the month: Kelley Armstrong‘s “The Gathering” (out April 12), the first in her new YA trilogy and Alison Goodman‘s “Eona: The Last Dragoneye” (out April 19).

As much as I like Kelley Armstrong’s books, I’ve not fallen in love with her YA writing, and this may be a library borrow for me.  As for Alison Goodman’s sequel to “Eon”, I liked the first (and love the cover of this one!), but may wait for the UK paperback release in August.

The Third Quarter of 2008

Ploughing on with my year in review posts (I’m beginning to regret starting this!), here’s July to September:

 

July

A fairly quiet month reading-wise.  I enjoyed Naomi Novik’s “Victory of Eagles” (historical fantasy, Book 5 of the Temeraire series) – how can you not like Temeraire?  Ms Novik’s take on dragons and the Napoleonic Wars era remains fresh, and I recall shedding some tears during this one.  That was probably expected, seeing how the previous book ended, but all’s well and I look forward to seeing what Will and Temeraire get up to next.

I liked Tanya Huff’s “The Heart of Valor” (military SF, Book 3 of the Confederation series).  This surprised me slightly, because while I enjoy her urban fantasy books, her SF books had never really captured my imagination.  This one did, to the extent I bought the next book in hardcover.

I also read Sherwood Smith’s “The Fox” and “King’s Shield” (fantasy, Book 2 and 3 of the Inda series).  This is slightly different from her other books, as it isn’t YA, though I think it’s set in the same universe.  I had a hard time getting into “The Fox”, primarily because it’s been around two years since I had read “Inda” (Book 1), and I struggled with the large cast of characters and multiple plotlines.  However, by the end of “The Fox”, I was taken enough to buy “King’s Shield” in hardcover – here’s hoping I remember enough when “Treason’s Shore” (fourth and final book) comes out in August 2009.

The last book I really liked is Suzanne Brockmann’s “Into the Fire” (romantic suspense, Book 13 of the Troubleshooters series).  I wasn’t quite sure going in, since the Jules/Robin arc had been wrapped up in the previous book (and Jules/Robin is up there with Sam/Alyssa for my favourite Brockmann couple), but I really liked this one.  Though I will say it probably fell victim to the “everyone-who-has-ever-been-mentioned-pops-in-and-says-hi” curse.  And I will be getting “Dark of Night” when it comes out in January (whoops, missed it off my January releases list) – while I’ve been unable to avoid DoN spoilers, I’m not that invested in the Sophia arc to have a strong opinion as to what the HEA should be.

 

August

Another quiet reading month, with the highlight being Patricia Briggs’ “Cry Wolf” (urban fantasy).  I liked it so much that I was moved to declare if I could only ever read one author for the rest of my life, it would be Patricia Briggs.  Not that I actually want to be in a situation where I had to read only one author, mind you.  But still.  I loved revisiting Ms Briggs’ Mercy universe from a different angle.

I won a copy of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s “I Shall Not Want” (romantic suspense, Book 6 in the Russ/Clare series) at Keishon’s earlier in the year, and finally got around to reading and reviewing it.  I really liked the small-town feel and how Clare’s faith was blended seamlessly into the book, definitely a new series for me to follow.

Other books I read and liked during August were Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” (fantasy, reviewed for the TBR challenge here) and Linda Howard’s “Death Angel” (romantic suspense).  “Death Angel” got mixed reviews in blogland and I can get why, but Ms Howard made the rather unsympathetic main characters and the whole second chance at life scenario (which would normally make me roll my eyes and close the book) work for me.

Oh, and I was thrilled to find a 1958 paperback in pristine condition at a secondhand bookstore, it even had a promotional postcard in it and everything.  Don’t laugh.  Anyway, while I didn’t love the story that much (Josephine Tey’s “One Shilling for Candles”, mystery), I intend to read a few more books from Ms Tey’s backlist.

 

September

Speaking of quiet reading months, I only managed to finish five books in September (though I more than made up for this in October).  That is shockingly low for me, but on the bright side, I did enjoy the books I read.

Jayne Castle’s “Dark Light” (futuristic romance) was a solid fluffy romance (and no, that’s not an oxymoron).  If you read a Jayne Castle, you always know what you’re going to get, and that makes for a great comfort read.  I also read Nalini Singh’s “Hostage to Pleasure” (paranormal romance, Book 5 of the Psy/Changeling series) and Ann Aguirre’s “Wanderlust” (SF romance, book 2 of the Jax series), both again worth the time.

And I read Cassandra Clare’s “City of Bones” and “City of Ashes” (YA urban fantasy, Books 1 and 2 of the Mortal Instruments trilogy).  I was a bit on the fence after reading CoB, but bought CoA when I had to grab something in five minutes (hey, you know you need reading material).  And I was very glad I did because I totally loved CoA and did a bit of a squee here.

 

So that was July, August, and September 2008 – my reviews of the first half of 2008 are here and here.

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s “I Shall Not Want”

51aRekSbCbL._SL160_ I’m trying to reduce the number of posts I have in Draft status, and it’s way way past time I should be posting this.  Keishon generously ran a giveaway some time back (okay, a very long time back) for Julia Spencer-Fleming’s “I Shall Not Want”, the sixth book in Ms Spencer-Fleming’s Russ Van Alstyne and Clare Fergusson books, and I won one of the copies.  And I did read it as soon as it arrived… yes, this post has been sitting in the Draft queue for quite some time.

I’ve read the very first book in this series before (“In the Bleak Midwinter”), I didn’t think I had but as I continued reading, some details sounded very familiar, and it suddenly clicked.  Having said that, since I didn’t realise that until some way into the book, this book reads very well as a standalone with one caveat (more details at the end of this post).  Also, note that there are probably spoilers for the previous books in this post – I haven’t read them all, so I probably don’t know what is a spoiler or not (though there is a fairly obvious one).

Ms Spencer-Fleming’s website has the tagline “Novels of Faith and Murder for Readers of Literary Suspense”, which is a fairly spot-on description for these books.  Russ is the police chief for the small town of Millers Kill, while Clare is the reverend for the local Episcopal Church.  There is quite a bit of history between them, and their rather conflicted relationship plays as much part in this book as the external drama relating to the migrant community and a potential serial killer.

The book starts with a bang, with the first pages featuring an action-packed scene, before flashing back to events occurring a few months previously.  Not a device I normally like, but I can honestly say after a few chapters, I completely forgot my reservations and became completely engrossed in the unfolding storyline.  And at the end of the book, when the first chapter flashed up again, but from a different perspective, it actually took me a couple of pages before I thought “haven’t we been here before?”.  Very nicely done.

Despite the seriousness of migrant rights issues and the political undertones of this topic, I have to say this didn’t detract from the sheer readability of this book.  For the romance reader, there is satisfaction as well – you have the long-running Russ and Clare relationship, and also a lighter secondary romance.  Ms Spencer-Fleming sneaks in some sly humour now and again, and there was a Stephanie Plum reference towards the end that had me laughing out loud. 

I liked the small-town feel to these books, and also the church angle.  I’m not particularly religious myself, but I thought Clare’s faith added an extra depth to the book.

Will I read the previous books?  Okay, this may be slightly weird, considering how much I enjoyed ISNW, but I don’t think I will.  In this book, there are hints as to what Russ and Clare went through to get where they are now, and I don’t feel like reading about that journey.  Because they’re in a such good place now, I don’t know if I want to read about how they got there, especially since I just know it was a painful journey. 

And this is the caveat I mentioned at the beginning – I can see how longtime readers of this series possibly found this book even more satisfying and fulfilling than I did, because they’ve been with Clare and Russ through the low points.  But for me, I don’t know if I would get that same sense of satisfaction even if I read all the previous books – I would rather just leave with the high from this one.

This was a strong B+ read for me and I will definitely get the next one in this series – it will be interesting to see what happens to Clare and Russ next!

Other notes:

  • I popped over to Ms Spencer-Fleming’s website, and she’s posted a bonus short story, which, while written slightly differently to the books (i.e. in present tense) , nicely captures the feel of this series, IMO. 
  • Excerpt for ISNW is here.
  • And the cover above is the UK one, which strikes me as being more old-fashioned than the US one.