Monday, March 20, 2017

What I Read in November 2016 Part VI. . .

What I Read in November 2016 Part VI. . .

Miss Dimple SuspectsMiss Dimple Suspects by Mignon F. Ballard--Historical Mystery

Christmas is coming and everyone is looking forward to the season. When little Peggy Ashcroft goes missing, it puts a damper on the festivities and sets into motion a mystery that Miss Dimple has to solve. Newly adopted Peggy ran off after her cat and while everyone believes Peggy returned to the site of her original home, Miss Dimple, as Peggy's teacher, knows right where the girl should be- if she can find it. With the sky growing dark and the temperature growing cold, Miss Dimple nearly gives up, but is helped by a protective German Shepherd dog guarding the little girl. The child is too heavy and too sick for Miss Dimple to carry down the hill but the dog leads her to the home of a reclusive artist Mae Martha and her nurse/companion, an Asian woman named Suzy. When Suzy saves Peggy's life and probably Dimple's too, Dimple politely keeps her suspicions about Suzy's background and secretive ways to herself. When Mae Martha is found dead only a few days later and Suzy becomes the chief suspect, Miss Dimple knows the young woman is NOT a murderer. She owes the younger woman her life and will not stop until the mystery is solved. Helped by Charlie, Annie and Virginia, Miss Dimple is on the case.

The mystery is engaging enough. I had a short list of suspects and I wasn't wrong. There was a slight red herring but not enough to make the identity of the villain a surprise. I still stayed up until 2 am reading so I could find out what happened. I skimmed a lot of the descriptive details that make this series stand out. I focused on the mystery. What I really wanted to know was what was happening with Charlie and Annie's boyfriends. They were left out of the story aside from some brief mentions. I felt like the characters accepted Suzy too quickly. I can see why Miss Dimple trusted her and I suppose the others trust Miss Dimple but Emmeline and her witch hunting seemed a little more accurate for small town America at that time... or now .... One little anecdote about Willie was taken straight from A Christmas Story. Those are really my only complaints. I figured out the secondary mystery right away.

The new characters center around the mysteries. There's Mae Martha, a kind-hearted, reclusive painter. She has no idea of her talent. She has a big heart and it was absolutely terrible that she was murdered. I was so sad. Suzy also seems nice. I don't blame her for being secretive. I figured out why she always made herself scarce in front of strangers and I didn't think she would murder Mae Martha but I wasn't sure. She was a long-shot suspect in any case. Mae Martha left behind two nephews. Esau and his wife Corinne are not all that likable, especially Corinne. Something about them bothered me, whether or not they are murderers. Nephew Bill, a blacksmith, hardly makes an appearance. When he does, it seems like he loved his aunt, but he handles all her finances so he could be a murderer. Then there's the handyman Bill Pitts. He gave me the creeps, sneaking up on people when they least expect it and always disappearing. He made my suspect list too. There's also Lottie Nivens, a newcomer to town. She takes over helping out with the church Christmas pageant while her husband is overseas. I had her on my suspect list as well. Her husband is in the navy so she has good reason to blame Suzy.

Fans of more hard boiled sleuths will like this one. I like less matter-of-fact sleuths and a good deal more romance. I still want to know what happens to Charlie and Annie's boyfriends so I have to keep reading!

Love and Larceny by Regina Scott--Traditional Regency Romance

Daphne Courdebras has carefully cultivated the reputation as an amazon. She can't help it. She just can't sit still doing nothing like a proper lady of the ton. Now her sister and friends are happily partnered, she feels left out. She longs for love, marriage and a family of her own, but that will never happen when the gentlemen see her as just one of the guys. When her former teacher, the new Lady Brentfield, asks for help solving the mystery of the missing treasure, Daphne and her friends are on the case. She's not happy to be chaperoned by her mother but decides to bring along her friend Wyn Fairfax to pretend to be her suitor. Wyn doesn't want to pretend to be Daphne's suitor. He fell in love with her the moment he met her. Together, with Daphne's former classmates, they work to solve the mystery. Wyn must also sit by and watch Daphne be courted by another. He can't bear to think of her spirit being dampened by another man but why would she wants a crippled nobody like him? 

This story is rather short for a novel. It concludes the series begun with 
Secrets and Sensibilities or La Petite FourArt and Artifice. The writing in this story is not stellar. It reads more like a first novel than the conclusion of the series. The simplistic writing style and spunky young characters will appeal to teens. The mystery was pretty easy to figure out. The villain practically has a giant sign over their head yet Daphne was not smart enough to realize it. Being the last book in the series, this story contains spoilers for the previous books in the series. Not having read the 4th book (UGH library please please buy it!) I was disappointed to see spoilers here. I tried to skim over them. I enjoyed the story nevertheless. It was like catching up with old friends, since I have followed them from the start of their adventures.

In this book, the character I could relate to the most was Lady Emily. She's sharp, cynical and doesn't care much for status. I like her relationship with Jamie but I did not like his insufferable nobility when it came to Emily. Why make her decisions for her? Emily's Aunt, Lady Minerva, the dowager spinster of the family made me laugh. I can see myself being just like her when I'm old(er). Wyn is a swoony sort of hero. He has potential for depth but the story doesn't get too deep. He's wounded- physically and emotionally. He's of the ton but not really one of them because his family lacks a title or fortune. They're well enough off but his father died when he was young and Wyn was left in charge of his silly mother and sisters. His injury limits his physical ability and he feels inadequate. I love his relationship with Daphne and how SHE leads and he follows. They're cute and funny together. The other characters pretty much remain as they were at the end of their respective books.

I really liked seeing Hannah and David after the honeymoon. They seem to be holding their own and doing well. I would have liked to see a little more of them alone. I also want to see a new series with Priscilla as the matchmaker to the stars. That would be very interesting! She went through the most growth throughout the series and it would be nice to see her mature more. 

I will miss this series and the Regency world Regina Scott has created. I hope she returns to it someday.

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