Wednesday, August 25, 2010

As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs

On the inside front cover flap, As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs is described as "a rare mix of wit, social satire, and irresistible story about a love that just won't give up."  Happily, the book lived up to this description.

From Publishers Weekly (via amazon)
Bestseller Isaacs draws on tony Long Island, gritty New York City, and a tabloid-friendly murder for this smart-alecky whodunit/surprisingly sweet love story. Susan is left alone with her three boys, big suburban house, and nagging questions when plastic surgeon hubby Jonah Gersten turns up dead in a hooker's Upper East Side apartment. Though the police and prosecutors wind up their case against call girl Dorinda Dillon, it's far from settled for Susan. It simply didn't add up, in either my head or my heart, she confesses. And what better sidekick to track down the truth than Susan's rogue granny, Ethel. What follows is an intricate and fascinating dissection of Susan's marriage, family, husband's medical practice and partners, and the unwitting call girl at the center of it all. Isaacs (Past Perfect) brings it all together in this fast and furious ride through wanton greed, fragile relationships, and love worth fighting for.

Ms. Isaacs is the author of twelve novels; however, As Husbands Go was my first experience with reading one of her books, and an excellent one at that.  At first, I was put off by the stylish name dropping and scene setting, thinking, "Oh, here we go.  Another Gucci-Manolo Blanik laden story."  But not so.  Oh, there were style references aplenty written with pointed lifestyle skewering--not snarky, just obvious. 

I'll be looking to catch up on previous titles from Susan Isaacs as well as anticipating her next book.

Rating:  3.5/5 (Mystery Scale)
Dedication:  To St. Catherine and Bob Morvillo with love.
   Here, take this gift,
   I was reserving it for some hero, speaker, or general,
   One who should serve the good old cause, the great idea, the
   progress and freedom of the race,
   Some brave confronter of despots, some daring rebel;
   But I see that what I was reserving belongs to you just as
      much as to any.
          -Walt Whitman, "To a Certain Cantatrice," Leaves of Grass
First Line:  Who knew?

Book Extras
Visit the author's website here.
Click here to read a review on

Monday, August 23, 2010

Delicious and Suspicious by Riley Adams

It's always fun to discover a new mystery series!  Delicious and Suspicious is the first in the Memphis BBQ Mystery series from Riley Adams.

From Publishers Weekly (via amazon)
In this sassy first in a new series from Adams (the pseudonym of Elizabeth Spann Craig), Lulu Taylor, owner of Aunt Pat's, a Memphis, Tenn., rib eatery, is all aflutter because the Cooking Channel has sent food scout Rebecca Adrian to check out Lulu's down-home specialties for a future show. Too bad Rebecca's searching for dirt as well as the best BBQ in Memphis. She quickly insults a number of people, including Lulu's daughter-in-law, Sara, and Lulu's son, Seb, who happens to be Rebecca's former boyfriend. When Rebecca's poisoned, chaos reigns. Lulu later uncovers the corpse of Mildred Cameron, an elderly bookseller and aspiring romance author/sleuth, who was also offended by the tart-tongued Rebecca. Aiding and abetting Lulu's investigation are the Graces, docents at Graceland, whose devotion to Elvis adds some goofy firepower to this sometimes poky paint-bythe-numbers cozy.

On dogs' behavior
Sara tore out after Derrick, red curls bouncing on her back.  The screen door slammed again, and the Labs hid their heads under a table.  The dogs' law of physics was "If I can't see you, you can't see me!"

I've been watching Memphis Beat on TNT, and it was nice to have the music from Memphis Beat rolling around in my head as I read Delicious and Suspicious

This is a great first entry, and I look forward to more in this series.  Oh--you may want to read Delicious and Suspicious just to find out if that cause-for-celebration bottle of The Domaine Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Les Preuses ever gets cracked open!

Rating:  3.5/5 (Mystery Scale)
Dedication:  For my family, with love.
First line:  Memphis, Tennessee, is a little bit of heaver in the springtime.

Book Extras
Visit the author's blog here.
Visit the author on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen here.
Check out Lesa's Book Critique's review here.
Read more about TNT's Memphis Beat here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Welcome, Lucy Begonia

Yes, dear Juliette, we did say that you would never be replaced--and you haven't.  Lucy Begonia is her own girl with her own story.

Lucy was originally adopted from the MSPCA Nevins Farm shelter by friends of our son.  Although just a kitten, she quickly became the companion and comfort for one of Brian's friends--a friend that left this life all too young.   The ensuing changes left Lucy living with two other cats, and she was not happy at all.   Then, I got the call:  "Mom, just go see her.  She's really a nice cat."  So I did, and she is. 

Four-year-old Lucy has been with us just over a week and has found her favorite window, a nice hidey hole when she wants to be alone, and (best of all) she's drawing a bead on our resident mouse.

So, dear Juliette, you haven't been replaced.  We've just opened up a new place in our hearts for Lucy Begonia.  We know you will understand.  Besides, you never really did get that whole "the cat in the house is supposed to catch the mouse" thing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr

Moonlight Road, the final installment in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series, gives us the story of Erin Foley and Aiden Riordan and the complication of the return of Annalee Riordan, the woman Aiden believed was his ex-wife--emphasis on "ex."

From the publisher (via
With her beloved younger siblings settled and happy, Erin Foley has empty nest syndrome. At age thirty-five.  So she's hitting the pause button on her life and holing up in a secluded (but totally upgraded—she's not into roughing it) cabin near Virgin River. Erin is planning on getting to know herself…not the shaggy-haired mountain man she meets.  In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the navy. He's intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race—her meditating and journaling are definitely keeping him at arm's length. He'd love to get closer…if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don't hold him back.  But maybe it's something in the water—unlikely romances seem to take root in Virgin River…helped along by some well-intentioned meddling, of course.

Moonlight Road was the August selection for the Barnes & Noble (Burlington, MA) Romance Readers and has all the usual Virgin River characters--more babies are born, and there's more on the original perfect couple, Jack and Mel.  As readers, we may have dallied too long and will be somewhat happy to see the "Leaving Virgin River" in our rearview mirror.  But, then there's those two last Riordan brothers....

Rating:  3.5/5 (Romance Scale)

Dedication:  For Tonie Crandall, because the world would be a dimmer place without all the love you have in your heart.  Thank you for being even more than a friend--thank you for being a sister.

First Line:  In the two weeks Aiden Riordan had been in Virgin River, he'd hiked over a hundred miles and grown himself a pretty hefty dark red beard.

The Search by Nora Roberts

The Search by Nora Roberts--classic NR romantic suspense.

From Publishers Weekly (via amazon)
The serviceable latest from Roberts centers on Fiona Bristow, a professional canine search-and-rescue trainer, who moved to Orcas Island in Puget Sound eight years earlier, just after barely escaping from a serial killer. The story opens with Simon Doyle, an artisan cabinetmaker who arrives on the island with a puppy in tow. It's the puppy that brings Fiona and Simon together, and the romance gets off to a rocky start; he's grumpy and plainspoken; she doesn't scare easily. Then a serial killer begins operating within striking distance, and all Fiona's hard-won peace and equanimity begins to wobble: the man who almost killed her is in prison, but he's got a disciple on the outside. The serial killer plot is very familiar and without much to distinguish it, but the romance is finely done, with Roberts's trademark banter lighting up the page. Fiona and Simon are the main attraction, but the setting and the supporting characters—with paws and without—provide a vivid backdrop.

For anyone who loves dogs, there are passages galore that will make you knowingly nod.  This was the first of many for me:
"Peck found him.  He's the one.  He'd be pleased if you shook his hand."
"Oh."  Devin scrubbed at his face, drew in a couple steadying breaths.  "Thank you, Peck.  Thank you."  He crouched, offered his hand.
Peck smiled as dogs do and placed his paw in Devin's hand.

Roberts has been hit or miss for me lately, but The Search was an absolutely perfect reading choice for a few hot, humid summer days.  Looking back at my reading journal, I see that Nora Roberts turns up consistently in the summertime.  One especially favorable entry was about a summer weekend a few years ago when I read the entire Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy (Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea). 

Rating:  4/5 (Romance-Suspense)
Dedication:  To Homer and Pancho, and all who sweetened my life before them.
First Line:  On a chilly morning in February with a misty rain shuttering the windows, Devin and Rosie Cauldwell made low, sleepy love.
Epigraph, Part 1:  Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend. -Corey Ford
Epigraph, Part 2:  The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too. -Samuel Butler
Epigraph, Part 3:  Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? -The Bible

Click here to visit the author's website.
Click here for information on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington state.
Click here or here for more information on search and rescue dogs.

Other Reviews of The Search
All About Romance

New (to me) Word
The copper would verdigris over time, he thought, and add to its appeal.
verdigris:  [vur-di-grees, -gris]  a green or bluish patina formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces exposed to the atmosphere for long periods of time, consisting principally of basic copper sulfate.