Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Review: The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson

The Villa in Italy The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I read the short biography of Elizabeth Edmondson on the website of the International Thriller Writers, I was intrigued enough to go online and download four of her books. I expected from the titles they would be rather run-of-the mill romantic suspense set in exotic locales. Far from it!

Edmondson writes “retro” books. They are set in the 1930’s 40’s and 50’s. They capture that period of recent history so authentically that, half way through The Villa in Italy, I looked back to see what the publication date was. (It was 2006). Even then, I wondered if it was something she had kept in the back of a drawer for 65 years. Not so. This is what Edmondson writes. And she does so brilliantly. Her writing puts me in mind of Nevil Shute’s incredible post-WWII novels.

You will need a score board to keep track of her principal characters, (an opera singer, a writer, an atomic scientist, a banker and a young socialite running away from her husband) all of whom are stuck together at a villa in Italy for 33 days. There are a host of important minor characters as well.

Even the romantic ending of this book is true to the period. If you want an unusual trip back in time, with interesting characters, a beautiful setting and a mystery to be solved, I highly recommend The Villa in Italy.


View all my reviews

 
Where Lemons Bloom by Blair McDowell
Blair McDowell's latest Romantic Suspense takes readers to Italy's  beautiful Amalfi Coast.


"Adamo and Eve are two people who have both been through their own versions of hell. They are both certain that they are not ready to enter into a relationship, but love finds them anyway. Then it takes them on the non-stop thrill ride of their lives."





 
When Eve Anderson meets Adamo de Leone on a ship bound for Europe, she has no idea of the dark secret that will endanger both their lives. She accompanies him to his home on Italy’s Amalfi Coast to open an inn left to him by his grandfather. But then she learns he spent 5 years in prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. Could the man she loves be responsible for embezzling eighty million dollars from the investment firm he once owned?

Adamo wants to hold Eve at arm’s length until he can clear his proud family name. But when there is an attempt on his life and Eve is terrorized by a gun-bearing thug, he realizes how much he wants her, and he must accept whatever help he can get to uncover the well-hidden trail of a six-year-old crime.





Thursday, 26 November 2015

Review: The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne

The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne by M.L. Longworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This delightful detective series is set in Provence, largely in the town of Aix. The author, M.L. Longworth, shows his/her depth of knowledge and love of Aix and the surrounding French countryside with every word. As readers, we are immersed in the setting, culture, the architecture, the daily lives of the “Aixoise” in these books.

The author tells us the kernel for The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne resulted from reading letters written by the great Impressionist, artist, Paul Cezanne’s. It appears that in 1885, Cezanne had a love affair with a mysterious young woman in Aix. Longworth takes us back to 1885, where a relationship between the great artist and a young woman who works in a bake shop is re-imagined.

In The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne a painting of the young woman is discovered in the present time, hidden away in the house where Cezanne once lived. Murder and mayhem follow as Judge Verlaque and Commissioner Paulik try to save the painting and solve the crimes resulting from the painting’s discovery. The on again off again romance between Verlaque and his lover, law professor Marine Bonnnet, hovers in the background, just enough to be interesting.

This is one of the best of a very good series featuring Verlaque, Paulic and Bonnet.


View all my reviews
 ..................................................................................................
 Click here to purchase Romantic Road,
WINNER of the 2015 Romance Reviews 'Readers Choice' Award in the 'Action/Suspense/Adventure' category.  


This romantic thriller is a mix of hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humor. 
Escape Rating A - Marlene Harris, EscapeReality.net

"Like her other books, the story in this one operates on more than one level.  The suspense is edge of the seat, while Lacy's inner journey makes her a sympathetic and fascinating character. If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat suspense with a heart-pounding romance wrapped around a story that also makes you think, read Romantic Road, or any of Blair McDowell's marvelous stories.".....More


5 out of 5 Stars - Jack Magnus, ReadersFavorite.com
"Blair McDowell's romantic suspense novel, Romantic Road, is exciting and fast-paced. Lacy is a strong and appealing character whose fairy-tale marriage has abruptly ended, leaving unanswered questions and danger. The quest Igor sets for her leads her and the reader on a marvelous trip through Canada, Austria and Hungary, and the author's familiarity with each of these venues makes Lacy's adventures truly come alive.".....More


5 Stars out of 5 - Debbie Davenport, Librarian via NetGalley
"This is my kind of book: a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller with teeth! And the puzzles Igor left that Lacy must follow all over Europe... beautiful! The secrets will blow your socks off!"

5 out of 5 Stars - Celia Lewis, Pres., Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
"A challenging love story, a deadly dangerous secret, a mysterious quest from New York through Europe, the latest story from Blair McDowell has it all!... I love romantic suspense, and this story was very fascinating to me, not least because of the unusual locales, adding an exotic flavour. I'm already wanting to read the next story by Blair McDowell!" 
  
4 out of 5 Stars - Deb Sanders, DebSanders.com 
"Romantic Road has something to please everyone, beginning with top notch writing. Blair McDowell has penned another riveting tale chock full of danger, suspense, romance and mystery. I’m quite sure the book grew tentacles and wrapped around me because I found it impossible to look up until I’d turned the final page. I confess, I was a willing prisoner."....More

Release Date: Dec. 16, 2015
 WHERE LEMONS BLOOM

When Eve Anderson meets Adamo de Leone on a ship bound for Europe, she has no idea of the dark secret that will endanger both their lives. She accompanies him to his home on Italy’s Amalfi Coast to open an inn left to him by his grandfather. But then she learns he spent 5 years in prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. Could the man she loves be responsible for embezzling eighty million dollars from the investment firm he once owned? 
 

Adamo wants to hold Eve at arm’s length until he can clear his proud family name. But when there is an attempt on his life and Eve is terrorized by a gun-bearing thug, he realizes how much he wants her, and he must accept whatever help he can get to uncover the well-hidden trail of a six-year-old crime.


To read more about these and my other novels, please visit my website:


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

My review of Kathy Clark's "Worst Date Ever (Scandals #3)"

Worst Date Ever {Scandals #3}Worst Date Ever {Scandals #3} by Kathy Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, the third in Kathy Clark’s “Scandal Series”, is labeled by the author as “Young Adult”. I find the increasing categorization of novels as, “new adult”, young adult”, “women’s fiction”, “contemporary fiction”, etc. confusing and on the whole quite arbitrary. The only difference I can see among them is that the characters in the former tend to have blue or purple streaks in their hair, while the characters in the latter tend to have less creative hair and to be a bit more literate.

That being said, Kathy Clark has created some interesting and diverse characters and a tightly woven plot in this light-hearted romantic suspense. Her central character, Tulsa Wiggins, a member of a detective agency, Scandals Investigations, is a specialist in cyber security. She is called upon to investigate a major breach in an on-line dating service by “tracking through the deep net” to discover who has penetrated and is now systematically usurping the site. As an added complication, the owner of the dating company is suspected of having murdered his girlfriend. In the process of solving the case Tulsa meets and falls in love with a fireman, Cody, who is among the suspects.

The story is fast paced, taking the reader along an increasingly dangerous road with threatening notes, car explosions, poisoned pizza and deadly snakes.

Anyone who is deeply into technology will love this book. But it isn’t necessary to understand the vocabulary of the sophisticated computer underground to enjoy the entertaining interplay among the characters or the ingenious complications of the plot.

Having said earlier that I do not always understand or agree with age categorizations of books I must admit that this one will probably appeal most to the decidedly technology oriented younger set.


View all my reviews
 
 ..................................................................................................
 Click here to purchase Romantic Road, my latest romantic suspense.

This romantic thriller is a mix of hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humor. 
http://www.blairmcdowell.com/Romantic_Road.html


Escape Rating A - Marlene Harris, EscapeReality.net

"Like her other books, the story in this one operates on more than one level.  The suspense is edge of the seat, while Lacy's inner journey makes her a sympathetic and fascinating character. If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat suspense with a heart-pounding romance wrapped around a story that also makes you think, read Romantic Road, or any of Blair McDowell's marvelous stories.".....More


5 out of 5 Stars - Jack Magnus, ReadersFavorite.com
"Blair McDowell's romantic suspense novel, Romantic Road, is exciting and fast-paced. Lacy is a strong and appealing character whose fairy-tale marriage has abruptly ended, leaving unanswered questions and danger. The quest Igor sets for her leads her and the reader on a marvelous trip through Canada, Austria and Hungary, and the author's familiarity with each of these venues makes Lacy's adventures truly come alive.".....More


5 Stars out of 5 - Debbie Davenport, Librarian via NetGalley
"This is my kind of book: a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller with teeth! And the puzzles Igor left that Lacy must follow all over Europe... beautiful! The secrets will blow your socks off!"

5 out of 5 Stars - Celia Lewis, Pres., Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
"A challenging love story, a deadly dangerous secret, a mysterious quest from New York through Europe, the latest story from Blair McDowell has it all!... I love romantic suspense, and this story was very fascinating to me, not least because of the unusual locales, adding an exotic flavour. I'm already wanting to read the next story by Blair McDowell!" 
  
4 out of 5 Stars - Deb Sanders, DebSanders.com 
"Romantic Road has something to please everyone, beginning with top notch writing. Blair McDowell has penned another riveting tale chock full of danger, suspense, romance and mystery. I’m quite sure the book grew tentacles and wrapped around me because I found it impossible to look up until I’d turned the final page. I confess, I was a willing prisoner."....More

COMING SOON! --- WHERE LEMONS BLOOM

When Eve Anderson meets Adamo de Leone on a ship bound for Europe, she has no idea of the dark secret that will endanger both their lives. She accompanies him to his home on Italy’s Amalfi Coast to open an inn left to him by his grandfather. But then she learns he spent 5 years in prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. Could the man she loves be responsible for embezzling eighty million dollars from the investment firm he once owned? 
 

Adamo wants to hold Eve at arm’s length until he can clear his proud family name. But when there is an attempt on his life and Eve is terrorized by a gun-bearing thug, he realizes how much he wants her, and he must accept whatever help he can get to uncover the well-hidden trail of a six-year-old crime.


To read more about these and my other novels, please visit my website:


Monday, 29 June 2015

My Review of 'Falling In Love' by Donna Leon

Falling in Love (Commissario Brunetti, #24)Falling in Love by Donna Leon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Donna Leon is back in full glory in this latest of her books featuring the scholarly Venetian police detective, Guido Brunetti and all our other favorite characters: his erudite wife Paula, his children, his side kick Vianello, and the secretarial worker of miracles, Signorina Elettra.

In Falling in Love, we are re-introduced to opera singer Flavia Petrelli, a woman Brunetti had occasion to save twice before in Aqua Alta, and toward whom he felt more than a passing attraction. In Falling in Love, she is the target of a violent stalker.

But the subject of the book matters little. What does matter is that we are seeing Leon in absolutely top form here. I had feared after her last couple of books that she had tired of her creation and wanted to kill him off, as Agatha Christie finally did with Poirot. Clearly I was wrong, because Falling in Love is as strong and compelling a read as her much earlier ones that also revolved around opera and singers, Aqua Alta and Death at La Fenice. This is every bit as good a read as those two. Her intimate knowledge about, and love of, opera infuses the pages as does her intense dislike of Tosca, the opera that frames the book.

Of course she manages always to infuse the pages with a sense of the setting, Venice, and Brunetti’s (Leon’s) sorrow at the “decline of the city and its gradual transformation into Disneyland on the Adriatic”…a feeling all of us who knew Venice back when, share.

This is a Leon to put on your bookshelf and keep. And by the way, Chapter One is a tour de force even if you are among the few who instantly recognize what you are reading.

Recommended most highly to all lovers of detective stories, and to all readers who simply enjoy reading a highly literate book of any kind.


View all my reviews
 ..................................................................................................
 Click here to purchase Romantic Road, my latest novel.

This romantic thriller is a mix of hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humor. 
http://www.blairmcdowell.com/Romantic_Road.html


Escape Rating A - Marlene Harris, EscapeReality.net

"Like her other books, the story in this one operates on more than one level.  The suspense is edge of the seat, while Lacy's inner journey makes her a sympathetic and fascinating character. If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat suspense with a heart-pounding romance wrapped around a story that also makes you think, read Romantic Road, or any of Blair McDowell's marvelous stories.".....More


5 out of 5 Stars - Jack Magnus, ReadersFavorite.com
"Blair McDowell's romantic suspense novel, Romantic Road, is exciting and fast-paced. Lacy is a strong and appealing character whose fairy-tale marriage has abruptly ended, leaving unanswered questions and danger. The quest Igor sets for her leads her and the reader on a marvelous trip through Canada, Austria and Hungary, and the author's familiarity with each of these venues makes Lacy's adventures truly come alive.".....More


5 Stars out of 5 - Debbie Davenport, Librarian via NetGalley
"This is my kind of book: a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller with teeth! And the puzzles Igor left that Lacy must follow all over Europe... beautiful! The secrets will blow your socks off!"

5 out of 5 Stars - Celia Lewis, Pres., Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
"A challenging love story, a deadly dangerous secret, a mysterious quest from New York through Europe, the latest story from Blair McDowell has it all!... I love romantic suspense, and this story was very fascinating to me, not least because of the unusual locales, adding an exotic flavour. I'm already wanting to read the next story by Blair McDowell!" 
  
4 out of 5 Stars - Deb Sanders, DebSanders.com 
"Romantic Road has something to please everyone, beginning with top notch writing. Blair McDowell has penned another riveting tale chock full of danger, suspense, romance and mystery. I’m quite sure the book grew tentacles and wrapped around me because I found it impossible to look up until I’d turned the final page. I confess, I was a willing prisoner."....More

COMING SOON! --- WHERE LEMONS BLOOM

When Eve Anderson meets Adamo de Leone on a ship bound for Europe, she has no idea of the dark secret that will endanger both their lives. She accompanies him to his home on Italy’s Amalfi Coast to open an inn left to him by his grandfather. But then she learns he spent 5 years in prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. Could the man she loves be responsible for embezzling eighty million dollars from the investment firm he once owned? 
 

Adamo wants to hold Eve at arm’s length until he can clear his proud family name. But when there is an attempt on his life and Eve is terrorized by a gun-bearing thug, he realizes how much he wants her, and he must accept whatever help he can get to uncover the well-hidden trail of a six-year-old crime.


To read more about these and my other novels, please visit my website:


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Review of Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb

Rodin's LoverRodin's Lover by Heather Webb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this fictionalized biography of the sculptor, Camille Claudel , author Heather Webb has drawn a sensitive portrait of a woman drifting solely into madness as she tries to make her way as an artist in an art form considered to be totally the province of men, sculpture, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Claudel was a fine sculptor in her own right, first a student and then the mistress of Auguste Rodin. She fought the dual battles of being considered a mere shadow of the great master on one hand and being decidedly second in Rodin’s life to the woman with whom he had a son and a comfortable home life. One can only sympathize with her plight as she struggles against the mores of the world in which she lives and against her own encroaching paranoia.

The scene from this book that will stay in my mind forever is the one in which she is asked to clothe her two dancers in her great work, La Valse. It was considered unseemly for a woman to show the dancing figures nude. Had the artist been a male artist the nudity would have been not just accepted but expected. The hypocrisy of the times is vividly portrayed in this and numerous other scenes in the book.

Set against the Paris of Debussy and Monet, the construction of the Eiffel Tower, The Dreyfus affair and the political and social turmoil of the times, this book will be an interesting read even for those not as enamored as I of the art of sculpture. Strongly recommended.


View all my reviews

  ................................................................................................
 Click here to choose your purchase options for Romantic Road, my latest novel.

This romantic thriller is a mix of hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humor. 
http://www.blairmcdowell.com/Romantic_Road.html


Escape Rating A - Marlene Harris, EscapeReality.net

"Like her other books, the story in this one operates on more than one level.  The suspense is edge of the seat, while Lacy's inner journey makes her a sympathetic and fascinating character. If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat suspense with a heart-pounding romance wrapped around a story that also makes you think, read Romantic Road, or any of Blair McDowell's marvelous stories.".....More


5 out of 5 Stars - Jack Magnus, ReadersFavorite.com
"Blair McDowell's romantic suspense novel, Romantic Road, is exciting and fast-paced. Lacy is a strong and appealing character whose fairy-tale marriage has abruptly ended, leaving unanswered questions and danger. The quest Igor sets for her leads her and the reader on a marvelous trip through Canada, Austria and Hungary, and the author's familiarity with each of these venues makes Lacy's adventures truly come alive.".....More


5 Stars out of 5 - Debbie Davenport, Librarian via NetGalley
"This is my kind of book: a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller with teeth! And the puzzles Igor left that Lacy must follow all over Europe... beautiful! The secrets will blow your socks off!"

5 out of 5 Stars - Celia Lewis, Pres., Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
"A challenging love story, a deadly dangerous secret, a mysterious quest from New York through Europe, the latest story from Blair McDowell has it all!... I love romantic suspense, and this story was very fascinating to me, not least because of the unusual locales, adding an exotic flavour. I'm already wanting to read the next story by Blair McDowell!" 
  
4 out of 5 Stars - Deb Sanders, DebSanders.com 
"Romantic Road has something to please everyone, beginning with top notch writing. Blair McDowell has penned another riveting tale chock full of danger, suspense, romance and mystery. I’m quite sure the book grew tentacles and wrapped around me because I found it impossible to look up until I’d turned the final page. I confess, I was a willing prisoner."....More

To read more about Romantic Road, as well as my other novels, please visit my website:


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Q&A's on My Writing, My Books, etc.

Have you read the Questions and Answers posed by others on my Q&A page on my website?  If not, here are some snippets, with much more to be found on my website.


When writing who is in charge, you or your characters? How do you deal with bossy characters?

Bossy characters? I love them! I get a huge kick out of it when a character says to me, “Now just wait a bloody minute! I’d never do that!”  If I’ve done a good job of writing my character studies, the character is usually right when he or she rebels.




What do you find is the most challenging thing about writing romantic suspense?

I think the most difficult aspect of writing romantic suspense is keeping up the suspense. The romance part is easy, but keeping the dramatic suspense in the forefront is not so easy. A sense of impending disaster – that’s hard to do. 



For many other interesting questions, take a look at my Q&A pageI hope they are fun for readers and helpful for other writers.

 ..................................................................................................

 Click here for purchase options for Romantic Road, my latest novel.

This romantic thriller is a mix of hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humor. 
http://www.blairmcdowell.com/Romantic_Road.html


Escape Rating A - Marlene Harris, EscapeReality.net

"Like her other books, the story in this one operates on more than one level.  The suspense is edge of the seat, while Lacy's inner journey makes her a sympathetic and fascinating character. If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat suspense with a heart-pounding romance wrapped around a story that also makes you think, read Romantic Road, or any of Blair McDowell's marvelous stories.".....More


5 out of 5 Stars - Jack Magnus, ReadersFavorite.com
"Blair McDowell's romantic suspense novel, Romantic Road, is exciting and fast-paced. Lacy is a strong and appealing character whose fairy-tale marriage has abruptly ended, leaving unanswered questions and danger. The quest Igor sets for her leads her and the reader on a marvelous trip through Canada, Austria and Hungary, and the author's familiarity with each of these venues makes Lacy's adventures truly come alive.".....More


5 Stars out of 5 - Debbie Davenport, Librarian via NetGalley
"This is my kind of book: a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller with teeth! And the puzzles Igor left that Lacy must follow all over Europe... beautiful! The secrets will blow your socks off!"

5 out of 5 Stars - Celia Lewis, Pres., Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
"A challenging love story, a deadly dangerous secret, a mysterious quest from New York through Europe, the latest story from Blair McDowell has it all!... I love romantic suspense, and this story was very fascinating to me, not least because of the unusual locales, adding an exotic flavour. I'm already wanting to read the next story by Blair McDowell!" 
  
4 out of 5 Stars - Deb Sanders, DebSanders.com 
"Romantic Road has something to please everyone, beginning with top notch writing. Blair McDowell has penned another riveting tale chock full of danger, suspense, romance and mystery. I’m quite sure the book grew tentacles and wrapped around me because I found it impossible to look up until I’d turned the final page. I confess, I was a willing prisoner."....More

To read more about Romantic Road, as well as my other novels, please visit my website:


Monday, 6 April 2015

The Characters Who Travel the Romantic Road - #8, #9 and #10 - Minor Characters



Minor characters can sometimes be very important to a story. So it is with the three below.

Jean-Paul and Claudette

Jean-Paul and Claudette own and operate a small inn on the northern end of a lake in Quebec. They are long-time friends and colleagues of Igor’s. Lacy They help prepare her for the dangerous route on which she is embarking.
 ..................................................................................................
Jane Kline
Jane is Lacy’s closest friend. They shared a flat in Brooklyn before Lacy’s marriage. Like Lacy, she works at the U.N. as a translator. They met through work. Physically, she’s almost a look-alike for Lacy, tall, blond, slender. This similarity of appearance gets her into trouble. It is to Jane Lacy turns for help when she is battered by events beyond her control.

 ..................................................................................................
 Click here to choose your purchase options for Romantic Road, my latest novel.

This romantic thriller is a mix of hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humor. 
http://www.blairmcdowell.com/Romantic_Road.html


Escape Rating A - Marlene Harris, EscapeReality.net

"Like her other books, the story in this one operates on more than one level.  The suspense is edge of the seat, while Lacy's inner journey makes her a sympathetic and fascinating character. If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat suspense with a heart-pounding romance wrapped around a story that also makes you think, read Romantic Road, or any of Blair McDowell's marvelous stories.".....More


5 out of 5 Stars - Jack Magnus, ReadersFavorite.com
"Blair McDowell's romantic suspense novel, Romantic Road, is exciting and fast-paced. Lacy is a strong and appealing character whose fairy-tale marriage has abruptly ended, leaving unanswered questions and danger. The quest Igor sets for her leads her and the reader on a marvelous trip through Canada, Austria and Hungary, and the author's familiarity with each of these venues makes Lacy's adventures truly come alive.".....More


5 Stars out of 5 - Debbie Davenport, Librarian via NetGalley
"This is my kind of book: a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller with teeth! And the puzzles Igor left that Lacy must follow all over Europe... beautiful! The secrets will blow your socks off!"

5 out of 5 Stars - Celia Lewis, Pres., Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
"A challenging love story, a deadly dangerous secret, a mysterious quest from New York through Europe, the latest story from Blair McDowell has it all!... I love romantic suspense, and this story was very fascinating to me, not least because of the unusual locales, adding an exotic flavour. I'm already wanting to read the next story by Blair McDowell!" 
  
4 out of 5 Stars - Deb Sanders, DebSanders.com 
"Romantic Road has something to please everyone, beginning with top notch writing. Blair McDowell has penned another riveting tale chock full of danger, suspense, romance and mystery. I’m quite sure the book grew tentacles and wrapped around me because I found it impossible to look up until I’d turned the final page. I confess, I was a willing prisoner."....More

To read more about Romantic Road, as well as my other novels, please visit my website: