The Cat Who Said Cheese (Cat Who…#18) by Lilian Jackson Braun

I used to read this series when I was in high school. It is actually a quite wholesome and non-violent mystery series. I mean, there are violent crimes, but you never get the gruesome details, only the emotional fall out. The stories are based around Jim Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum. Qwill is a retired crime reported from the city who moved to the small town of Pickaxe in rural Moose County after inheriting a large fortune. Most of the fortune he put into a fund that is administrated by a board of directors who see to its use in helping Moose County and its residents. Now Qwill tends to get mixed up in solving the local crimes with the help of Koko, the uncommonly intelligent cat. The two of them unofficially help solve most of the more important cases in the county. Thus, the series unfolds in a description of the multiple cases they help work on and the unusual antics the town residents and the cats get up to.

In this particular story, there is a mystery woman called Anoosh whose hotel room gets blown up, luckily without her in it. Following this are two other deaths that no one can seem to figure out, one a murder and the other a death resulting from multiple bee stings. Qwill investigates all of them, quietly of course, and meets a host of interesting characters. You follow him as he untangles the crisscrossing of information from witnesses, friends, and Koko. In the background are the interactions and normal happenings of the small county and town. Qwill gets suckered into being a judge in a contest and a bachelor for auction at a fundraiser. You get to visit with the cast of colorful characters that make up the town and invade each book, such as Qwill’s lady friend Polly, the local sheriff, the manager of the local newspaper, and Qwill’s unofficial sidekick and helper, a nice elderly lady with a hilarious personality.

I love these stories as there is little swearing, violence, or smut. Like I said before, it is a wholesome read, appropriate for nearly every age. The story line is full of twists and turns and makes for good reading. The antics of the residents as spice to the small town life and interest to the story. There are a couple story lines that follow through several books which keeps you reading as well. Even though a story about a retired writer might seem boring, these are anything but. I started with this particular book way back in middle school and read the rest of the series from there. I am glad I again started with this book. It is a good example of the writing and characters that Mrs. Braun uses in her writing. I encourage everyone to try at least one of her books.

My rating:

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The Wilde Sisters Trilogy by Sandra Marton

I don’t know why it took me so long to write my review of this trilogy, but here it goes. This trilogy just happened to fall in my lap on sale in the Kindle store and since I needed a trilogy for my reading challenge I figured I’d read it. It was an easy read and rather short if I remember correctly. The collection follows the love stories of three sisters.

Sex and Sensibility

This story follows Emily and Marco. Emily is picked up by Marco in the middle of the night walking in the rain. On the drive to her house, she answers his questions, admitting she is out of work and can play piano. Marco finds her a temporary job playing piano at an opening of one of his new buildings, but the human resources department hires her as his personal assistant instead based on her resume. The attraction between them grow and they eventually give in, with multiple discussions about how to behave in the workplace. They have some trouble and arguments, but it ends happily.

Fire and Ice

This story follows Jaimie and Zach. Jaimie is starting out in real estate and happens to end up at Zach’s apartment thinking she has an appointment to talk to him about selling his apartment. He knows nothing about this and the confusing meeting ends up as a steamy night due to a power outage. Unfortunately, Jaimie has a stalker and her brother hires Zach (unknowingly thinking they have never met) to protect Jaimie. One thing leads to another and Zach ends up showing himself but not explaining why he was really near by. The story builds from there as they figure out who is stalking her, deal with their growing romance, and she discovers the truth of his visit.

Sugar and Spice

This story follows Lissa and Nick. Lissa is a trained chef who gets stabbed in the back by her boss/partner and ends up looking for work outside Hollywood. Her agent sets her up as the chef at a ranch in Montana. Unbeknownst to her, the ranch is not a fancy dude ranch and the owner is a retired actor. The two clash heads most of the time despite their attraction to each other. Eventually they give in and Lissa tries to help Nick to heal from his troubled past.

Overall

I didn’t have an issue with the books too much as romance reads. There is a lot of erotica in them, but for the most part they are quick, steamy reads. However, since I am slowly drawing away from romance, these are books that are why. There is no way a lot of these scenarios would actually happen. The last book, Sugar and Spice, I liked the best because it was actually believable (not all of it, but most of it). People don’t just fall in love with a one night stand or during a stalking incident. Furthermore, the love interests of three sisters in different parts of the country don’t miraculously know each other already. However, the story lines were decent, they moved really well, and I had not trouble with the language or grammar. The characters are relatable and well-developed. If you are looking for a good summer, weekend, or steamy read these are the books for you.

My rating:

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Amanda’s Blue Marine by Doreen Owens Malek

I found this book somewhat of a let down. Don’t get me wrong – it is a good book, just not quite what I wanted. I wanted a well-written book that followed a pretty standard storyline, but adapted it somehow. The adaptation was good, but it could have been worked a lot better in my opinion.

The story follows Amanda and Brendan. Amanda is a well-born woman who went to school to become a lawyer so she didn’t have to live off her trust fund. In her job as an assistant at the DA’s office, she picked up a stalker. She gets the red carpet treatment at the police station thanks to her father and ends up assigned to Brendan. Brendan helps to find her stalker and keep her safe, with the two of them falling for each other every step of the way. This causes problems with Amanda’s fiance, Tom. Amanda ends up choosing Brendan (not really a spoiler since it’s a romance novel). After they get together, Tom comes after them with a vengeance.

The characters could have been developed a little more strongly. Amanda is a solid character, well-developed and relatable. However, she is the only one. You don’t really learn anything about Brendan until the very end. He’s there and you know what he feels for Amanda and his job, but not a whole lot else. You don’t really know anything else about him until the end, and it’s mostly just a lot of background on him thrown into conversations. He goes through a lot at the end, but you never get a feel for what he is going through, how hard it is, what he is dealing with, or how Amanda is helping him through it. I think that would have been a great way to work this book, really get into how he was dealing with the issues at the end of the book.

The core of the book is good though and you cheer on the couple most of the way through. It could have been developed a little deeper, complicated the storyline a little more, but not a bad book. I’d recommend it to anyone who wanted a simple summer read or likes the books where the lady falls for her protector.

My rating:

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