Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What I Read in November 2015 Part V

What I Read in November 2015 Part V ...

Finding Love's fortune- An Avalon Romance by Shelley Galloway-- Contemporary Romance
Finding Love's Fortune - An Avalon Romance
When Cameron Reece decides to take a break after taking the bar exam, he learns that his recently deceased grandfather left him a legacy- a box of dusty old books. Cameron doesn't think much of them [noooo!!!] until he discovers a very old note hidden inside one of the books. The note, written by his great-grandfather to his grandfather, describes a long lost treasure buried during the Civil War and forgotten in the chaos of war and death. Cameron thinks it might be fun to try to locate the missing treasure. His search brings him to the home of Mary Beth McKinley. She purchased this 100-year-old house because she thought it would be fun to restore. However, with a leaking roof and numerous other problems, it's turning out not to be such a fun project after all. When Cameron offers to trade labor for the chance to look around her property, she readily accepts. Through rain storms, bees, poison ivy and meddling parents, they stick out their projects and grow closer together. Cameron has a secret though which could potentially ruin a good thing.

This is a light - very light- romance with a bit of mystery thrown in. I wasn't crazy about it. The writing was not wonderful - especially the dialogue which was clunky and unrealistic most of the time. The plot is highly improbable- WHY would anyone let a random stranger into their home or on their property when they're not home?! There aren't enough diary entries and letters for a quest to find a 100 year-old fortune. The main focus is on the love story which I found to be uninteresting and super cheesy. The romance is squeaky clean with a tiny tiny bit of heat. I was surprised at how dated the references from 2000 are - land line phones, videos, Meg Ryan movies, no Google search for random stranger who shows up on her doorstep - it seems strange that 15 years ago is so long ago already.

A few minor nitpicky things... ahem... a box of musty old books is a GOOD thing! I'd squeal with joy if someone left me a box of old books - the mustier the better. That's the best smell! Give me the smell of dust, paper, glue and rotting leather over a bland screen any day! Also, small town historical societies are almost never open. If you want to view a map or something from their collection, make an appointment!

I didn't care too much about either of the main characters - they're too perfect for words. They both do what's expected of them and their one and only act of rebellion turns out not to be so rebellious. The meddling, scheming parents seemed more realistic than their children but only marginally so.

Dead Men Don't Eat Cookies (A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #6)-- cozy mystery
Dead Men Don't Eat Cookies (Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery, #6)
Olivia's mom Ellie, brother Jason and cousin Callipoe are renovating an old flop house for a new arts and crafts center in Chatterley Heights when a skeleton is discovered behind a wall. Alicia, one of the workers, is convinced the bones are that of her long-lost father. She can identify the necklace he was wearing when he was killed - a silver chain with a cookie cutter charm of an arrow piercing a heart. Maddie is thrilled to have a new mystery to solve but Livie isn't so sure. Spunky is sure there's something or someone lurking outside their shop and when a mysterious note appears tacked to Livie's door, she's drawn into the investigation. Livie and Maddie uncover some long-dead town secrets and another set of bones is discovered along with something unexpected. Binnie is on the war path and Del has his hands full dealing with the forensics team and trying to shut down Binnie. This may be the opportunity the killer or killers needs to stop Livie and Maddie's investigation for good.

The plot of this novel relies too much on coincidence and memory. Characters randomly just happen to remember conversations and faces from years earlier at the right moment. One character's memories in particular are WAY too improbable. Because of that I knocked off a star. I was partially on the right track with the identity of the murderer but the plot took a different path than I expected. I was partially correct about the identity of the murderer. I chuckled a few times out loud which saved the plot from being too stupid. I really like Chatterley Heights and the history there but how this story ties into that history was unexpected and didn't really fit into the story well. The story works well on it's own. It doesn't spoil any previous plots, but it helps if you know the history of Chatterley Heights.. There is a recipe included - for Pete's meatloaf! Hello! Is this a story about Pete's Diner? NO! It's a story about cookies! Give me cookie recipes not meatloaf!

I added a half star because of Spunky. He's my very favorite character. A true terrier, Spunky is brave and loyal - and has no idea he weighs only 5 pounds! He also adds some humor to the plot. I also really liked Ellie. Livie's mom is so unlike her and some of her actions are really really off the wall - I've never seen anything like that in real life let alone in novels- but she means well and she has a kind heart. I even liked Calliope in this book. She's changed a bit from her introduction now she has found her place in Chatterley Heights. Jason is the same as ever and adds a little bit more humor to the heavy plot. Maddie's manic nature drives me crazy a lot of the time. This time she didn't bother me too much and at least she stopped calling her Internet searching "hacking." Del is hardly in the story but he has softened up since he first met Livie. He truly cares about her and their relationship is sweet.

New characters include Alicia, an overly emotional teenager who adored her dad and hates her mom. She's had a rough life and she makes some stupid decisions but I felt bad for her and wanted her to find happiness. Her story isn't entirely wrapped up neatly at the end so perhaps she will reappear in future books. Alicia's mother Crystal is crazy. She's a terrible person who has hurt her daughter. She has made bad decisions in her life when it comes to men and she blames everyone but herself and relies on her creepy new husband Robbie too much. Robbie is scary. I wouldn't want him around my child if I had one, let alone want to be near him. His temper is too volatile and he doesn't seem like a good person. Kevin is nearly as bad and I wondered why no one thought to get him arrested for consorting with a minor. Chalk it up to Del being overworked. I hated that a so-called "computer nerd" had to be a weak, whiny, bully.

Though this was not the best entry in the series, I hope to read more about the characters and Chatterley Heights.

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