Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove #4) by Tessa Dare

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The Duke of Halford has a problem. His mother has decided that she has waited long enough for grand babies, and he absolutely must marry as soon as possible or else. But the Duke has no desire to burden himself with the fairer sex, and certainly no interest in chasing debutantes around London. His mother’s counter-offer? He doesn’t have to marry a wealthy heiress or a female with a dowry, he can marry anyone he wants, just so long as he finally marries and puts his family line in motion. The Duke agrees to this plan, but with his own agenda. He will find the most wildly inappropriate female for the job, and he will pay that female to be a complete disaster for his mother’s designs. With any luck, it will go so badly that his mother will stop pushing the issue for a while and he can have some temporary peace. But his plan is flawed. His working-class belle is very rough around the edges, and has just enough spirit and courage to make the Duke question his own methods of operation… Can he follow through with the plan without falling in love with Pauline?

Anyone who loves historical romance novels (bodice-rippers) will want to pick up Any Duchess Will Do, by Tessa Dare. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious and the romance is sweet and genuine. This novel is like a cross between Pygmalion (My Fair Lady) and Pride and Prejudice, with some sexy and slightly naughty sprinkled on top.

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison

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Neil Kazenzakis does whatever it takes to have a normal life…He is a popular coach and teacher, and a single father to his son, Christopher. A few years back, a terrible accident left his wife severely disabled and in a nursing home, an unimaginable tragedy and nightmare for any parent and spouse. But he’s keeping everything together…Sortof. His son has had a few struggles, there are politics in his neighborhood that he’d like to avoid completely,  and he has been spending time with his ex-mother-in-law’s nurse on the sly. When he breaks up a fight one day after school, everything starts to go downhill. A video is posted online that can quite possibly cost him his job and mean a possible law suit, his girlfriend has a surprising announcement, someone has started sending him horrible harassing emails, and, in short, his life is about to shatter into a million pieces. Can Neil sort out everything before he loses everything good in his life?

The Banks of Certain Rivers, by Jon Harrison, is a heart-wrenching, gut-punching dose of the harshness that is real  life, and the struggles we much through trying to stay afloat when everything seems to go against us. A touch of mystery and suspense mixes with true humanity in an excellent example of modern fiction that just about any reader will enjoy. If you need reading material about humanity, in all it’s pain and beauty, The Banks of Certain Rivers is an obvious choice. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman

One night, Calliope Jenkins, P.I., gets a phone call from her business partner that changes her life forever. There was nothing special about the phone call, just a check-in while he was on a job in the middle of the night. When the police appear on her doorstep claiming that her partner is likely dead, and they have found a body that may be his, Calliope refuses to believe it. She even has a voicemail from Josh that was received an hour AFTER the body was found. Something suspicious is happening and Calliope is about to take on an investigation that hits very close to home. A homeless man who seems to be wearing clown makeup keeps appearing wherever Calliope goes, and she is getting tired of kicking his butt. When she finally listens to the man, she agrees to take his advice and follow some clues that will let her know just what happened to Josh.

Reality begins to blur, as Calliope realizes that there is much more to the world than she has been led to believe. There are secret doorways into other worlds, monsters hiding in plain sight, dragons and fantastical creatures in the most mundane places, like karaoke bars and rest stops. Can Calliope get past the obstacles along the way in time to save her partner? Can it all be real? If Josh is actually dead, what does he want from her, that he would call her from beyond the grave?

Readers who loved these:

Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere

John Connolly’s “The Book of Lost Things

Christopher Moore’s “Practical Demonkeeping

Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Will adore Doyce Testerman’s Hidden Things“, which combines urban fantasy with dark sarcasm in perfect proportion. This reviewer was actually sad that the book was over-I wanted to know what else that fantasy world had to offer a girl! This novel is not for the average reader, but for the few who can appreciate dark humor and fantasy. If you think this may be a book you want to try, based on my description, then absolutely DO NOT miss it.

Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

Isabel Spellman and her kooky family are back for the 5th installment in the Spellman Files series. The family owns a private investigation firm and this means that they go to great lengths to keep their own secrets hidden-elaborate computer security, cameras, phone bugs, lockpicking and stakeouts are all a part of normal family life in the Spellman household (sometimes the work that they do is actually LESS elaborate than what they do to spy on one another).

In this installment, Isabel’s mom has begun avoiding home at any cost, even to the extent that she is taking classes in russian language, joining crocheting circles and bookclubs, and doing pottery classes to stay away from the house. But why? Isabel’s father won’t share any information about a case he is working on, and her little sister seems to be turning in fraudulent surveillance reports. What can be going on with this family? Even Demetrius, the freed prison inmate who works for the Spellmans and does most of the cooking for the household, seems to have secrets.

Isabel decides to take matters into her own hands like she has never done before, and you will laugh until you cry when you take in the witty banter and amusing espionage-related humor that this author has perfected. If you want a funny read with a touch of mystery, you will not want to miss a single Spellman Files novel, by Lisa Lutz.

Readers who enjoy authors like Janet Evanovich will fall in love with this series. Don’t miss it!

Sacré Bleu is a masterpiece of fiction

Artist Vincent Van Gogh allegedly commits suicide, and his painter contemporaries are saddened but credit the deed to his well-suspected lunacy. Some of his friends, however, find the event strange. Why would a man who didn’t own a gun shoot himself with someone else’s gun, then walk miles in the country to find help? Lucien Lessard and his friend Henri Toulouse-Loutrec are bothered by the story, but can’t quite place the source of their unrest, especially when there are beautiful women to chase and masterpieces to paint (if both can be done at the same time, it is considered a very good day).

Life isn’t all art and merriment, of course. Henri finds the woman he once adored and she has no recollection of him. Surely this cannot be true. He must get to the bottom of this strange amnesia that his painter friends and the models among them seem to keep catching from one another. And who is this “Colorman” who appears and obnoxiously gives away his precious blue paint, then disappears once again. An increased popularity among the Great French Masters in the expensive and rare paint, the “Sacred Blue” and a strange series of events including unexplained deaths and disappearances can’t possibly connected…Or can they?

Things aren’t quite adding up to a logical conclusion, and Lucien and Henri decide to get to the bottom of the strange goings-on before more people get hurt…If only Lucien could avoid the bewitching beauty, Juliette, who seems determined to see him as the greatest painter who ever lived, and who keeps offering to pose nude for him. Such sacrifice to be an artist…

The mystery of the blue paint will take readers to places they never expect the story to go, and there is a little something for everyone. If you love art, this fictional portrayal of the French Greats, including Manet, Monet, Seurat, Renoir, Gauguin, and more, will be highly enjoyable, as you are blessed with fictional accounts of just what the personalities of these men might have been like. If you have a moderately sick sense of humor, this book will bring you to tears with laughter over and over again.

If you don’t mind reality being stretched for the sake of a seriously humorous story, you won’t want to miss Sacré Bleu, by Christopher Moore, who is also known for Lamb, Fool, You Suck, Bite Me, and more.