Phyl's 5 Phaves for March

March was a most excellent reading month. It was good to catch up on a number of books I'd been wanting to read for a while. Here are the ones I liked best:

5. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. I know I've said I avoid paranormal these days, but the Mercy Thompson series is one I've always wanted to read-- I've heard so many good things about it. It turns out we actually drove through the Tri-Cities in Washington, where these books take place, on our way home from Oregon last summer. We camped a bit to the north of the city and below is one of my pictures of the sunset from our campsite. So while we didn't actually stop and spend time there, I have some sense of the terrain of the area which I think helped my enjoyment of the book. I've already gone on to read the second book, Blood Bound, and I like the way Briggs has created her world, slowly revealing details across the books. I love Mercy--her independence, her determination, and her sense of humor. There's very little romance so far, but you can see her relationship with Adam developing. I'm sure I'll be all caught up on these books by the end of the summer. Great fun.


4. The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter. This is the second book in Hunter's latest series and while it helps to have been introduced to some of the other characters, I think it stands alone pretty well. Lady Cassandra had been compromised some years back and shocked society by refusing to marry the man who had compromised her. She's now living quietly with an elderly aunt, the only member of her family from whom she is not estranged, but finances have become a problem. When Cassandra attempts to sell some of her aunt's jewelry, she runs afoul of Viscount Ambury, who just so happens to have been good friends with the man who compromised Cassandra. That man is now dead, having died in a duel. May people, including Ambury, believe the duel was over Cassandra. No one is telling. The carefully constructed plot includes possibly stolen jewelry, a beloved aunt slowly sinking into dementia, a controlling older brother, and lots of simmering sexual attraction. Ambury is a fairly typical alpha male, thinking he knows best and used to getting his own way. Cassandra is not such a conventional heroine and she is the best part of this book. She accepts the fact that by choosing not to marry the man who compromised her she is left living on society's fringes, ignored by most of the people who once knew her. She respects herself, stands up for herself, and makes hard choices, without making stupid choices. Cassandra marries Ambury in large part because he will help her protect her aunt. Ambury and Cassandra learn to give a little-- both because they've fallen in love and because they want their marriage to succeed. I always enjoy Hunter's rich prose and characters who have a lot of depth to them.

3. Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb. After 40-some installments in the "In Death" series, I am sometimes surprised that it manages to continue to hold my interest. This latest book didn't have any particular surprises or twists to the overall story arc. It was just another solid entry that kept me entertained and enjoying my visit with some of my favorite fictional characters.

2. Did You Miss Me by Karen Rose. Rose's latest suspense thriller continues with characters introduced previously in her Baltimore series. While there are quite a few dead bodies, this time the killer has a very specific target--prosecutor Daphne Montgomery. The killer weaves a very elaborate plot, that includes kidnapping Daphne's 19-year old son, Ford, to lure her into his net. FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter is drawn into the investigation when Ford goes missing. It just so happens that Joseph has been attracted to Daphne for a long time, but never acted because he mistakenly believed she is in a relationship with someone else. As Joseph and Daphne are drawn deeper into the killer's plot their feelings intensify. As usual in Rose's books, the romance is present, but is very much in the background throughout. In this particular book it was nice to have an somewhat older hero and heroine (Daphne was a teen herself when Ford was born). Each of them has had to deal with some pretty significant stuff to reach this point in their lives. An awful lot happens in this book in a short period of time. No pun intended--Rose's books are always a significant change of pace from what I normally read and I always enjoy them. And when I'm done, I'm happy to read something much lighter, lol!

1. Unforgivable by Joanna Chambers. I'm going to state up front that I flat-out loved this book. I'd really like to go back and read it again soon. I thought it was that good. Unforgivable is the perfect title for this story about two people who are so deeply angry or hurt that it seems impossible that they could ever forgive one another and move forward together. Viscount Waite, Gil Truman is expecting to marry the woman he loves when he learns that his father's gambling debts are so great that he has no choice but to marry the weak and sickly Rose Davenport. Rose is not aware that Gil is being forced to marry her and she falls a little bit in love with him when she meets him the first time. But after the wedding and an ugly wedding night, Gil abandons Rose to an estate in the country and heads back to London. Gil may be married to her, but he intends to have nothing to do with her. After five years, Rose is healthy and strong so she decides to head to London to confront her husband. Gil is astounded at how different Rose is--and now he's interested in her. But from here they both have an awful lot to work through, and forgive, in order to have a meaningful marriage together. I really appreciated how Chambers' writing made me connect with, and care for these characters. There is no magic bullet for them. They have a lot to work through, Gil especially. I liked how their story slowly unfolds. It felt natural and real. Well done.

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