The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 5-12-19

Sunday Post

I seem to be getting a slow start on this rainy Sunday here in Atlanta. It’s just the sort of day that’s tailor made for curling up with a good book and a sleepy kitty. And the cats all agree!

Current Giveaways:

Paperback set of A Duke Changes Everything and Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle
$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the May of Books Giveaway Hop
$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the May Flowers Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr is Linda

Blog Recap:

B+ Review: Pets in Space Sampler by S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Donna McDonald, Cassandra Chandler and Alexis Glynn Latner
A Review: Westside by W.M. Akers
B+ Review: Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle + Giveaway
A- Review: The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan
May Flowers Giveaway Hop
Stacking the Shelves (339)

Coming This Week:

Shadowblade by Anna Kashina (review)
The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning (blog tour review)
Love In Bloom Giveaway Hop
You May Win Giveaway Hop
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (339)

Stacking the Shelves

Not quite as humongous as last week, but still not exactly a short stack! And I listened to the siren song of an Amazon ad. So many books, so little time!

P.S. If you’ve heard good things about the Pets in Space 4 Sampler, well, they are all TRUE. And it’s free!

For Review:
The Ascent to Godhood (Tensorate #4) by JY Yang
Caitlin’s Song (Carson Chronicles #4) by John A. Heldt
Dearly Beloved by Mary Jo Putney
Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney
Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Flannelwood by Raymond Luczak
The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain
Hope Rides Again (Obama Biden Mystery #2) by Andrew Shaffer
I Spy by Claire Kendal
Marley by Jon Clinch
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
Pets in Space 4 Sampler by S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Donna McDonald, Cassandra Chandler and Alexis Glynn Latner (review)
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
The Toll by Cherie Priest
Unsung Heroine (Heroine Complex #3.5) by Sarah Kuhn
Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Purchased from Amazon:
Charms and Death and Explosions (oh my!) (Case Files of Henri Davenforth #2) by Honor Raconteur
Magic and the Shinigami Detective (The Case Files of Henri Davenforth #1) by Honor Raconteur

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


May Flowers Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the May Flowers Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Review Wire!

First, and oldie but a goodie:

If April showers bring May flowers, then what do Mayflowers bring?

The answer, and it’s a groaner of a pun, is PILGRIMS!

But speaking of May flowers – the kind you plant and not the kind that sail, how are the May flowers doing where you live? Not that I have a green thumb, because I certainly don’t! But one of the things that was and presumably still is marvelous about May in the Chicago area where I used to live was the proliferation of peonies. They are one of my favorite flowers! But I don’t see them much down here in the Atlanta area – it’s probably too warm for them – or not cold enough in the winter (which I don’t mind AT ALL!) or something like that.

What’s your favorite springtime flower? Answer in the rafflecopter below for your chance at either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a book, up to $10 in value, from the Book Depository. (This giveaway is open to anyone who lives in a location where either of those prizes is available.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more fabulous prizes be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!


Review: The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan

Review: The Scent of Murder by Kylie LoganThe Scent of Murder (Jazz Ramsey, #1) by Kylie Logan
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: mystery
Series: Jazz Ramsey #1
Pages: 320
Published by Minotaur Books on May 7, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

First in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Scent of Murder is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains cadaver dogs.

The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.

My Review:

The first person to smell that distinctive scent of murder is a young cadaver dog-in-training named Luther. Luther was supposed to find a tooth on the third floor of the building. Jazz, his trainer, never expected him to find an entire body on any floor.

That the body is of someone she knew is only the beginning of the murder investigation that Jazz has absolutely no business being involved with.

She’s even more certain that she has no business getting involved with her ex again either, even if he is the investigating officer for the homicide. Especially because her ex is the lead officer on the investigation.

Jazz is still reeling from her own losses, so inserting herself into the police investigation is yet one more way she can keep herself from dealing with everything she has had to bear in the past two years – her breakup with Nick, the loss of her father and the loss of the dog-of-her-heart, Manny.

Helping train Luther is one of her first tentative steps in getting back into what used to be the groove of her life, only to have it completely derailed by her discovery of the body of one of the girls that she used to coach at the highly respected exclusive college preparatory high school where she serves as the principal’s administrative assistant as well as a part-time track coach.

Jazz’ obsession with finding out the truth begins to pull her out of her depression, while pushing her back in at the same time.

While searching for who Florrie Allen really was under her Goth makeup and behind her award-winning photos keeps her from dwelling too much on her wounds, it also isolates her from the people she is closest to – her mother, her brothers, her friends and her fellow cadaver dog trainers, while at the same time repeatedly bringing her face-to-face – and sometimes in opposition to – the man who broke her heart.

Her quest to find both Florrie’s truth and Florrie’s killer may set her free. It may set her up as the murderer’s next victim.

Or both.

Escape Rating A-: This book sucked me in from Luther’s first sniff and kept me right there with Jazz until the very last page. And I’m saying that even though I guessed whodunnit somewhere in the middle.

The trail that Jazz follows as the slightly obsessed, completely out-of-her-depth amateur detective has a lot of twists and turns, because Jazz’ quest morphs from finding the killer to finding Florrie’s truth – both good and bad. And there’s plenty of both.

On that one hand, Florrie isn’t quite the girl everyone thought she was. On the other, she still deserved better than to never see her 21st birthday, her body abandoned in a building that has been abandoned in its turn.

That the building is about to receive a rehabilitation that Florrie will never see is just part of the irony.

What makes Jazz so interesting to follow is that her hurts feel so very real. Her relationship foundered because love doesn’t paper over neglect – on both sides. She and Nick were both so caught up in the necessities of their own careers and their own pursuits that they forgot to make time for each other.

It happens.

And it is good that the story ends with the possibility of friendship, if not more, but doesn’t rely on any kind of Happy Ever After to paper over their issues yet again. I’m looking forward to seeing them work out those issues in later books in the series.

I’m also happy that their romance is not central to the story. The central part of the story is Jazz’ unauthorized search for Florrie’s killer. She trips, stumbles and falls along the way. Fairly often. She’s curious and intelligent but working at something at which she has no experience – and she gets in her own way. As any complete amateur would.

I loved that she doesn’t gloss over, excuse or ignore what she discovers about Florrie. The victim was not the person they all thought she was, in both good and bad ways. But she deserves to be mourned, and her killer still needs to be caught.

This is one of those stories where the journey was every bit as interesting as the destination. I’ll be back to see where Jazz – and her new dog – lead me next!

Review: Anything but a Duke by Christy Carlyle + Giveaway

Review: Anything but a Duke by Christy Carlyle + GiveawayAnything But a Duke (The Duke's Den, #2) by Christy Carlyle
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical romance
Series: Duke's Den #2
Pages: 368
Published by Avon on April 30, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he’s ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need, but the one thing he can’t purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage.

Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan’s marriage to the perfect lady—as long as that lady isn’t her. She doesn’t need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety.

As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can’t ignore.

In the Duke’s Den, can happiness ever be a winning prospect?

My Review:

I picked up Anything But a Duke because I absolutely adored the first book in the Duke’s Den series, A Duke Changes Everything. So naturally I wanted to see what happened next to the Duke’s Den gambling den and investors’ club.

While the two things that go on in the Duke’s Den may seem like opposites, they also aren’t. Because the three owners of the Duke’s Den, Nicholas Lyon (hero of A Duke Changes Everything), Aiden Iverson (the hero of our current tale) and Rhys Forrester (presumably the hero of the next book) invest in inventions. Often very large inventions on a grand scale, but not always. But whether those inventions will succeed or fail is really just gambling under a different name – and a slightly more respectable one at that.

Think of the Duke’s Den as a historical version of Shark Tank. The rules seem to be very similar – but without the posturing for TV cameras. (And OMG the original international version of Shark Tank is called Dragons’ Den!)

Diana Ashby has come to the Duke’s Den, just as inventors come to Shark Tank, to convince them to invest in her household, housewide, vacuuming system. It’s ingenious in its way, a system that once installed in an establishment, will vacuum every room with merely the priming of a suction pump.

While Diana is unable to immediately convince the members to invest in her device, she IS able to get a stay of execution on their refusal – because Aiden Iverson clumsily broke her model. And because once upon a time, not so very long ago, she saved his life.

There’s a spark that runs hot between them, so in a bit of self-deception they decide to use each other – as an excuse to remain in each other’s company just a bit longer.

Diana needs funding for her inventions. She’s under a deadline from her mother to either get funding within a month or finally throw herself into the “marriage mart”. Fully aware that marriage will probably make her miserable. Not that she might not want to get married and have a household and family of her own, but that under the current laws any husband can and probably will force her to stop inventing – and she needs to invent rather as much as she needs to breathe – possibly more.

Iverson needs to marry into the aristocracy. He has plenty of money, but his origins, both that they are common and that they are secret, keep him from the highest strata of society. And it’s that strata that controls memberships and inclusion into the areas that he needs to be in to bring the inventions he funds to their fullest potential.

They make a bargain. Diana will find Iverson an aristocratic wife, and he will fund her vacuum invention and help her find a buyer.

But no woman can live up to the fire in Diana, and no invention – no matter how successful – can make Diana feel as alive as Iverson does.

The question is whether they can step back from what they both said they wanted to what they truly need – each other.

Escape Rating B+: Anything But a Duke is a whole lot of fun. I’ll confess it’s not quite as much fun as A Duke Changes Everything (which was pretty amazeballs), but it is a terrific historical romance and I enjoyed every minute of it!

One of the things that I really liked about Anything But a Duke is that the characters, while part of the upper classes (that’s a whole ‘nother topic we won’t get into here) were neither of them actually titled members of the aristocracy.

Rather they were both upper-middle class, and both had mixed feelings and reactions about that situation. Diana feels stuck because she really wants to work on her inventions, but is being forced to submit to being “a lady” with all of the restrictions that are involved.

Meanwhile her brother is out drinking and gambling and wasting money that the family cannot publicly admit they don’t have. Diana’s mother needs her to make an “good” marriage to save the family from penury. (I have thoughts about her brother – and they are not complimentary thoughts in the slightest – but this isn’t his story.)

Iverson, on the other hand, is a self-made man. His mother abandoned both him and his sister to the workhouse. He’s not even sure that “Iverson” is his true name and has absolutely no idea who his father was. His lack of pedigree keeps him from getting into places that he needs to get into to further the inventions he invests in. He’s willing to make an arranged marriage, offering his money to save some aristocratic family’s position in order to get the entree into society he requires.

Diana and Iverson really do belong together. It’s obvious to the reader – in a very good way – and seems to be obvious to everyone except the two of them for the longest time. The way that the tension builds between them is delicious – even more so because it isn’t fake in any way but is inherent in the situation in which they have placed themselves.

And Diana is a wonderful character for 21st Century readers to identify with! I’m not sure her position is historically accurate, but it feels plausible enough to work – and work well.

One final note, there have been a rash of historical romances where the hero unexpectedly becomes a duke, with mixed results. Based on the title, I expected that to happen here, and I was so happy when it didn’t. Part of what makes Iverson so interesting is that he isn’t part of the nobility. I really liked seeing a hero and heroine who are not, were not and do not become aristocrats. It’s a refreshing change and I hope to see more of it!

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

To celebrate the release of ANYTHING BUT A DUKE by Christy Carlyle, we’re giving away one paperback set of A Duke Changes Everything and Anything But a Duke!

LINK:  http://bit.ly/2WmtcTY

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of A Duke Changes Everything and Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 5/16/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly.

Review: Westside by W.M. Akers

Review: Westside by W.M. AkersWestside by W.M. Akers
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: fantasy, historical fantasy, historical fiction, historical mystery, horror, urban fantasy
Pages: 304
Published by Harper Voyager on May 7, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

A young detective who specializes in “tiny mysteries” finds herself at the center of a massive conspiracy in this beguiling historical fantasy set on Manhattan’s Westside—a peculiar and dangerous neighborhood home to strange magic and stranger residents—that blends the vivid atmosphere of Caleb Carr with the imaginative power of Neil Gaiman.

New York is dying, and the one woman who can save it has smaller things on her mind.

It’s 1921, and a thirteen-mile fence running the length of Broadway splits the island of Manhattan, separating the prosperous Eastside from the Westside—an overgrown wasteland whose hostility to modern technology gives it the flavor of old New York. Thousands have disappeared here, and the respectable have fled, leaving behind the killers, thieves, poets, painters, drunks, and those too poor or desperate to leave.

It is a hellish landscape, and Gilda Carr proudly calls it home.

Slightly built, but with a will of iron, Gilda follows in the footsteps of her late father, a police detective turned private eye. Unlike that larger-than-life man, Gilda solves tiny mysteries: the impossible puzzles that keep us awake at night; the small riddles that destroy us; the questions that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. Those tiny cases distract her from her grief, and the one impossible question she knows she can’t answer: “How did my father die?”

Yet on Gilda’s Westside, tiny mysteries end in blood—even the case of a missing white leather glove. Mrs. Copeland, a well-to-do Eastside housewife, hires Gilda to find it before her irascible merchant husband learns it is gone. When Gilda witnesses Mr. Copeland’s murder at a Westside pier, she finds herself sinking into a mire of bootlegging, smuggling, corruption—and an evil too dark to face.

All she wants is to find one dainty ladies’ glove. She doesn’t want to know why this merchant was on the wrong side of town—or why he was murdered in cold blood. But as she begins to see the connection between his murder, her father’s death, and the darkness plaguing the Westside, she faces the hard truth: she must save her city or die with it.

Introducing a truly remarkable female detective, Westside is a mystery steeped in the supernatural and shot through with gunfights, rotgut whiskey, and sizzling Dixieland jazz. Full of dazzling color, delightful twists, and truly thrilling action, it announces the arrival of a remarkable talent.

My Review:

Westside is a fantasy that is so dark that it sidles up to the line between fantasy and horror, then powers straight across it just like the ships of the gunrunners and rumrunners navigating the murky straits between Westside and our historical New York City.

Gilda Carr investigates what she calls “tiny mysteries” as the big mysteries in her life are too huge to even contemplate.

Because wrapped inside the big mystery of exactly what happened to her father, the finest investigator ever to walk the Westside, there’s the mystery of the Westside itself. People disappear on the Westside. I don’t mean that in the usual sense, where some people walk away from their lives and are never found, and others are kidnapped or murdered and their bodies are never found.

I mean disappeared in the sense that the Westside just swallows them up. Or rather, something in the shadowed dark on the Westside swallows them up. The numbers of the disappeared were so obviously concentrated in the Westside and so scandalously high that the “city fathers” decided to wall off the Westside for the good of the rest of the city, leaving thousands of remaining inhabitants to rot, or die, or disappear, or kill each other off in the lawless ghetto that the Westside is sure to become. And does.

Attempting to solve the mystery of the Westside cost Gilda’s father his career and probably his life – one way or another. Gilda isn’t willing to put herself in that kind of danger, nor is she willing to open the Pandora’s Box of memories of her father and who he used to be.

But when Gilda receives a tiny case from a woman on the Eastside who needs Gilda to find her lost glove, the glove leads her circuitously around the Westside and back through the past that she’s tried so desperately to bury.

Along the way, she discovers that her parents were not quite the people her childhood memories made them out to be. And that the truth about the Westside is darker, stranger and more dangerous than she could have possibly imagined.

And that it’s up to her to save what she must and fix what she can – before it’s too late.

Escape Rating A: I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this. Because it’s very dark. But Gilda is an extremely compelling character, the setup is amazing, and the quasi-history worldbuilding is just fantastic. Then it falls off the edge of its world and gets even deeper.

The story seems to sit on a very weird corner between urban fantasy, steampunk, horror and historical fiction, with elements of all but not completely in any.

At first it doesn’t seem as if it fits into historical fiction, although it eventually does, and with one hell of a twist. What it reminds me of most is the darker side of steampunk, particularly the Seattle of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, because that’s another alternate history where the supposed “outside” forces of cleanliness and order and good government have locked away a terrible secret along with all of the mostly innocent people who are affected by it.

The scarred and damaged heroine Gilda Carr calls to mind the equally, if not more so, scarred and damaged protagonist Cherry St. Croix of the St. Croix Chronicles by Karina Cooper. And even though Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is set in London (as are the St. Croix Chronicles) the way that his dark, dangerous and magical world exists alongside and underneath the city we know also feels much like Westside.

As much as the horror sends shivers down the spine, it’s the human aspects of this story that stick in the mind. Part of Gilda’s investigation forces her to learn something that is one of the sadder hallmarks of adulthood. She learns that her parents were not perfect, that they were human and flawed and fallible just as she is. And that neither they nor their marriage was anything like her idealized childhood memories of them.

She is also forced by her circumstances to discover exactly what lies at the dark heart of the Westside, and just how much her idolized and idealized father was responsible for. And that she is the person that the Westside has made her, with all its dark faults and all its dubious virtues.

And that she truly can’t go home again. All she can do is go forwards – in whatever she can manage to save of the Westside.

TLC
This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.

Review: Pets in Space Sampler by S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Donna McDonald, Cassandra Chandler and Alexis Glynn Latner

Review: Pets in Space Sampler by S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Donna McDonald, Cassandra Chandler and Alexis Glynn LatnerPets in Space 4 Sampler by Alexis Glynn Latner, Anna Hackett, Cassandra Chandler, Donna McDonald, Pauline Baird Jones, S.E. Smith, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott
Format: ebook
Source: publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genres: science fiction romance
Series: Pets in Space
Published by Cats, Dogs & Other Worldly Creatures Books on May 4th 2019
Publisher's Website
Goodreads

Pets in Space® 4 Sampler: Stories & Art
from some of today’s best known and award winning Science Fiction Romance authors!

NEW & EXCLUSIVE short stories from
* S.E. Smith, Lords of Kassis series
* Anna Hackett, Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone
* Tiffany Roberts, The Kraken series
* Veronica Scott, Star Cruise series
* Pauline Baird Jones, Project Enterprise series
* Donna McDonald, My Crazy Alien Romance series
* Cassandra Chandler, The Department of Homeworld Security series, and
* Alexis Glynn Latner

Not enough? Check out the preview chapters of their upcoming Pets in Space 4 stories from:
Laurie A. Green, Regine Abel, JC Hay, E. D. Walker, and Kyndra Hatch! Finish off this fabulous Sampler with gorgeous alien artwork from Tiffany Roberts.

My Review:

When I received multiple invitations to grab this FREE sampler this weekend, I just couldn’t resist. I’ve loved every single one of the Pets in Space series, so I was certainly up for a teaser for the next one.

Don’t let the words “sampler” or “teaser” fool you. There are plenty of complete stories in this collection. But those complete stories are also teasers or prequels for stories that will be in the next Pets in Space collection (Pets in Space 4) and are also introductions to worlds that these authors have already created and have appeared in previous Pets in Space collections.

And there are some outright teaser chapters. I’m certainly officially teased all the way around!

This was a collection where I enjoyed all the stories, although often, as was intended, I found myself wanting more. Of course that more is going to be provided in Pets in Space 4.

My favorite prequel in this anthology was Anna Hackett’s House of Rone: Beginnings. While the House of Rone series is a new series for the author, it is a spinoff from her terrific Galactic Gladiators series. Readers of the series have met Magnus and Jax before, but not like this. Magnus has dropped a few sparse hints of what his life was like before Kor Magna, and Beginnings is that story in full. It’s a great place to get into the world of the Galactic Gladiators without having to have read any of the previously published books.

I also enjoyed Pauline Baird Jones’ Code Blue. It takes place in her Project Enterprise series, and while I’ve read the first book or two in the series, I’m not as familiar with it as I’d like to be. But the love I have for this story without having much background means that it can be joyously read by anyone else who hasn’t read the series.

What makes this so much fun is that it is one of those classic stories of family lore, as the protagonists, Doc and Hel, are telling their children, yet again, the story of how the family pet Piggy Love, first came into their lives – and sort of saved them. By grunting like the little piggy that he is. The story is light and fun and Piggy Love is absolutely adorable – which is way more than can be said about the vulture-people he helps them overcome.

But the story I absolutely loved in this bunch was The Magic Mountains by Alexis Glynn Latner. It’s the longest story in the book, at novelette (very short novel) length. And while it is set in the same future history as stories in the previous anthologies, I don’t remember those and this story stands on its own.

The Magic Mountains is, on the one hand, a story about a visit to an interstellar amusement park that goes very, very wrong. It also kind of a “wolf with red roses” story, in that the heroine finds herself attracted to her extremely dangerous partner in this wild adventure. That she’s an academic who is able to give in to the wild side in herself is part of what makes this one so delicious. And unlike the usual symbolism of the wolf with red roses, this one feels like it has the chance of a happy ending – because the wolf treats her as an equal and not as either a victim or as potential prey.

Escape Rating B+: For any reader who loves SFR, or anyone who is looking for an introduction to the genre, and especially anyone who loves the Pets in Space collections and feels like October (and Pets in Space 4) is a long, long time from now, this sampler is a real treat. And it’s FREE! Right HERE!

I’m certainly teased, and I’ll be back for the complete collection, in all of its reading glory in October!

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 5-5-19

Sunday Post

It’s been kind of a dark and stormy weekend here in the Atlanta area, which makes it a perfect weekend to stay in and READ! Of course, I do tend to think that all weekends are perfect weekends to read.

We did see Avengers: Endgame last Sunday and it was AWESOME! Not perfect, but terrific all the same. It’s amazing how fast those three hours go by – even without a bathroom break. If you haven’t seen it yet I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will give you two tips. Number one, bring tissues, you’ll need them. Number two, in spite of the way that Marvel has trained us over the past 22 movies, there are no end trailer features or Easter Eggs. When the credits begin, the movie is over. That’s a good thing, because you will need to make tracks to the nearest facilities!

Current Giveaways:

The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr
$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the May Of Books Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop is Gina
The winner of the Something to Marble At Giveaway Hop is Angela

Blog Recap:

B+ Review: The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr + Giveaway
A- Guest Review by Amy: Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey
May of Books Giveaway Hop
B Review: Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus: Beginnings by Lydia Sherrer
A- Review: Tightrope by Amanda Quick + Excerpt
Stacking the Shelves (338)

Coming This Week:

Pets in Space Sampler by S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Tiffany Roberts, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Donna McDonald, Cassandra Chandler and Alexis Glynn Latner (review)
Westside by W.M. Akers (blog tour review)
Anything but a Duke by Christy Carlyle (blog tour review)
The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan (blog tour review)
May Flowers Giveaway Hop

Stacking the Shelves (338)

Stacking the Shelves

This week’s stack wasn’t quite so splendiferously full – until Macmillan put their Fall books up on Edelweiss on Thursday. As Tor (SF) and Minotaur (Mystery) are both parts of Macmillan, that meant that there were suddenly a whole lot of books available that were on my “anticipated” lists. As well as a few books that just plain looked awesome. As they do.

I’m also starting to see 2020 books in Edelweiss. That’s just wrong. Summer hasn’t even started yet and I’m seeing books for next winter. Too soon, too soon!

For Review:
The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer
The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt by Burt Solomon
A Better Man (Chief Inspector Gamache #15) by Louise Penny
Breaching the Parallel (Future Past #1) by Mark W. Anderson
Conviction by Denise Mina
Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden
Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade
Gamechanger by L.X. Beckett
Gone Too Long by Lori Roy
The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman
A Highlander Walks into a Bar (Highland Georgia #1) by Laura Trentham
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein
The Killing Light (Sacred Throne #3) by Myke Cole
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
The Name of All Things (Chorus of Dragons #2) by Jenn Lyons
The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) by Jeffe Kennedy
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
Ramen Assassin by Rhys Ford
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Review; Tightrope by Amanda Quick + Excerpt

Review; Tightrope by Amanda Quick + ExcerptTightrope (Burning Cove, #3) by Amanda Quick
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical romance, romantic suspense
Series: Burning Cove #3
Pages: 320
Published by Berkley on May 7, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

From the Author's website: An unconventional woman and a man shrouded in mystery walk a tightrope of desire as they race against a killer to find a machine that could change the world.

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

My Review:

And we finally get the link – or at least a tangential link –  if not to Scargill Cove (which I still think must be just up the coast) then to the Arcane Society. It’s there if you squint – and I was certainly squinting for it – but if you haven’t read any of the author’s Arcane Society books in any of its eras under any of her names, Tightrope still works well as a standalone, as the latest entry in the Burning Cove series, and as a terrific story of a heroine in jeopardy and the man who comes – not to rescue her – but to stand beside her as she rescues herself.

Just like the other books in this series, The Girl Who Knew Too Much and The Other Lady Vanishes, this story begins with a particularly gruesome murder, and with our heroine on the run. Even if in this particular case our heroine doesn’t actually know it.

Amalie’s running is just a bit less fraught than either Irene’s (Girl) or Adelaide’s (Lady), as Amalie Vaughan may be suspected of having murdered the rigger in her last circus, but she was never officially charged with anything. Nor should she have been.

After all, she didn’t murder him – he tried to murder her.

But when another murder happens almost literally on her doorstep, she can’t help but wonder if bad luck is following her. After all, she bought the Hidden Cove Inn at a bargain basement price after the events of The Other Lady Vanishes, when a noted Hollywood psychic threw herself from the roof.

Now one of her guests has been killed just down the road in the middle of his own show – by his very own robot! Amalie can’t help but wonder if she’s doomed to fail. All the Hollywood reporters who stake out Burning Cove are certain to give her inn endless pages of bad publicity – especially after someone breaks into the place in the middle of the night.

The only question is whether the purpose of the break-in is to search the late robot inventor’s room – or to finish up the job that the rigger intended at that last circus performance.

When rumored mobster (and real life covert agent) Matthias Jones convinces Amalie that he needs to stay at Hidden Cove both to protect her AND to keep an eye on things, it’s just the beginning of the adventure.

Because there’s much more going on in Burning Cove than just a crazy inventor and a runaway machine. And the chemistry between Matthias and Amalie is more incendiary than anything ever cooked up in his great-great-great-grandfather’s alchemical laboratory.

Escape Rating A-: Tightrope was a whole lot of fun, just like the other two books in Burning Cove. And also like all of the author’s books in the Arcane Society/Harmony series. But Burning Cove is only tangentially (very tangentially) related to the Arcane Society, and you certainly don’t have to have read any of that to enjoy this. It also stands alone relative to the other books in the Burning Cove series. But if you have read the whole thing, it is interesting to see the characters from the previous books again.

Burning Cove is a fascinating place. It’s close enough to LA for the Hollywood stars to use it both as a getaway and as a place to see and be seen.

One of the many fascinating side characters in Tightrope is fading actor Vincent Hyde, someone who was best known for his many horror films but who has come to Burning Cove to stay at Amalie’s “psychic murder mansion” in the hopes of generating some much-needed publicity for his failing career.

Vincent Hyde’s name sounds like an homage to the great horror actor Vincent Price, but the progress, or rather the downward trajectory of his career sounds a lot like the career of Bela Lugosi, a career which ended in the deliciously execrable cult classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Hyde’s presence in the story, and in Burning Cove, is just the tip of one of the many layers of the story. Hyde is in town to meet with one of the legendary Hollywood gossip columnists – a woman who can make or break his remaining career. She’s in town to follow up on the inventor’s “death by robot” and so are a surprising number of others.

Because this is Hollywood, or close enough, and no one is exactly who they seem to be. Not Amalie, not Matthias, and certainly not Luther Pell, the man who seems to be running Burning Cove.

The story begins because a crazy circus performer has made a career of staging the last and final performance of too many beautiful trapeze artists – without a net. It ends with spies and secrets.

In the middle there’s a marvelous adventure, a combustible romance, and the exploration of a relationship that dives deeply into the value of trust and the danger of lies. Lies to oneself, lies to loved ones – and lies told at the highest levels of government.

It’s the 1930s, war is coming. Gentlemen may not read each other’s mail, but governments certainly do.

Excerpt from Tightrope

“There is no need to fear robots,” Dr. Pickwell declared. It was clear that the suggestion that robots would displace workers annoyed him. He raised his voice to be heard above the murmurs of the crowd. “I urge you to consider that these machines could take the place of soldiers. Wars of the future will be fought with robots, not human beings. Think of the lives that will be saved.”

“You’re mad,” someone else shouted. “You want to create robots that can kill? What if these machines of yours decide to turn on their creators and try to destroy us?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Pickwell snapped. “Robots are nothing more than mechanical devices. Fundamentally, they are no different than the cars we drive or the radios that we use to get our news.”

“Futuro looks mighty dangerous to me,” the man in the front row called.

“Nonsense,” Pickwell said. “Allow me to demonstrate how useful Futuro can be. Futuro, what is the forecast for tomorrow?”

The robot answered in a scratchy, hollow voice. “There will be fog in the morning but by noon the day will turn warm and sunny. No rain is expected.”

Pickwell faced his audience. “Think about how useful it would be to have Futuro in your home at your beck and call. It won’t be long before there will be robots that can cook and clean and do the laundry.”

But the crowd was no longer paying any attention to Pickwell, because Futuro had once again lurched into motion.

“What’s that thing doing?” Hazel whispered.

“I have no idea,” Amalie said.

They watched along with everyone else as the robot opened the suitcase that it had just placed on the bench. Pickwell finally realized that he had lost the attention of the crowd. He turned away from the podium to see what was going on at the bench.

Futuro reached into the suitcase and took out a gun.

There was a collective gasp from the audience.

“No,” Pickwell shouted. “Futuro, I command you to put down the gun.”

The robot pulled the trigger. Twice. The shots boomed throughout the theater.

Pickwell jerked under the impact of the bullets. He opened his mouth to cry out but he could not speak. He collapsed onto his back.

Futuro calmly clanked offstage, disappearing behind the curtain.

Stunned, Amalie stared at the unmoving figure on the stage. It was a trick, she thought. It had to be some sort of bizarre charade designed to shock the audience.

Most of the crowd evidently believed the same thing. The majority of the people in the seats did not move. They appeared stunned.

But not everyone was frozen in shock. Amalie glimpsed motion out of the corner of her eye. When she turned to look, she saw that Luther Pell and the stranger who had accompanied him to the theater had left their seats and were making their way to the stage steps. They were moving fast, almost as if they had been anticipating trouble.

When they reached the stage they were joined by Oliver Ward, who had managed to move with surprising speed, considering that he had a noticeable limp and was obliged to use a cane. His wife, Irene, was not far behind. She had a notebook in one hand.

Luther Pell and the stranger vanished behind the curtain. Ward crouched beside Pickwell and unfastened the inventor’s tuxedo jacket to expose a blood-soaked white shirt.

The theater manager evidently had been watching the demonstration from the last row. He rushed down the center aisle toward the stage.

“Is there a doctor in the house?” he shouted.

Amalie saw a middle-aged man in the center section make his way quickly down the aisle.

“I’m a doctor,” he said in a loud voice. “Call an ambulance.”

The manager disappeared through a side door, presumably in search of a telephone.

Onstage, Ward was using both hands to try to staunch the bleeding. The doctor arrived and quickly took charge.

Luther Pell reappeared from behind the curtains. He looked at Oliver Ward and shook his head. Ward looked grim.

The stranger finally emerged from behind the curtain. He was in the act of reaching inside his white evening jacket. Amalie caught a glimpse of something metallic just before the elegantly tailored coat fell neatly back into place.

It took her a couple of seconds to comprehend what she had just seen. Then understanding struck. Like any self-respecting mobster, Luther Pell’s friend from out of town had come to the theater armed with a gun.