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Fair Game–fun and danger at the fair

Fair Game

Fair Game

The county fair is the setting for Annette Dashofy’s mystery Fair Game. It is part cozy and part police procedural. Fair Game is a page turner with two murders and several viable suspects. Complications keep arising as EMT and deputy coroner Zoe Chambers has duty at the county fair where she is also showing her quarter horse. Some of the crimes occur in neighboring jurisdictions so her boyfriend Pete Adams, police chief in Vance Township, Pennsylvania, as well as several other law enforcement colleagues are called in.

Threads include 4-Hers, a family with a child in rehab due to a horse accident, Zoe and Pete’s romantic relationship, abusive boyfriends, teenagers attracted to the carnival, and a school bus demolition derby. Zoe tends to see the best in people and her intuition sometimes gets her in trouble. She is smart, fearless, and caring and those characteristics make her a heroine you will root for. Chief Pete Adams, a thorough investigator who loves Zoe and is supportive of her and her passion for horses and her work. He wants the best for her as she struggles to overcome a less than perfect past.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #8 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, but can be read as a standalone.

  2. There was more bad language in this book than is usual in a cozy or than I prefer, but not enough to preclude me from reading more by this author.

Publication:   May 14, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Before Zoe could ask anything else, he spun and trudged away in the head-down, slouched posture of one used to dodging emotional bullets.

Close enough that Zoe could smell the stale sweat on her clothes, the alcohol on her breath, and the anger radiating from her soul.

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Murder at the Marina–family secrets

Murder at the Marina

Murder at the Marina

Kelly Jackson grew up on a Wyoming ranch enjoying barrel racing, but moved to Redwood Cove in Northern California where she manages the Redwood Cove B&B and is an honorary member of the Silver Sentinels, a group of senior citizens who solve crime to help their community. In this cozy mystery they are called on to help two of their own, the Russian brothers Rudy and Ivan, who have a cloud of murder over their heads.

This book is replete with Russian culture and some history as the area hosts the Russian Heritage Festival. We also learn of the aristocratic family background of the brothers. The most fun and exciting part of the story is the inclusion of a remarkable Cossack riding team. I felt like I was right there watching their amazing feats. There are many possible suspects, and danger lurks in surprising places. I could read the book again just for the fun and entertainment of the last third, which would be meaningless without the development that occurs in the first part of the book. If you enjoy watching an investigation unfold, read Janet Finsilver’s Murder at the Marina where there are many pathways to the truth and clues for the sleuths to chart as they track down the murderers. 

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone

Publication:   April 2, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Memorable Lines:

The smells and sounds of the sea mixed together—an orchestra of sensation. Ocean mist covered my face and my skin tingled from its cool touch.

“You all give generously of your time and your caring. It’s your nature. Accepting a gift is a form of giving.”

The Rancher’s Rescue–the vet comes home

The Rancher’s Rescue

by Cari Lynn Webb

The Rancher's RescueBig E (Elias Blackwell) left the Blackwell Ranch in financial difficulties, took off in his RV with his extravagant fifth wife, Zoe, and nobody in Falcon Creek nor any of his grandsons knows where he is. Big E and his mysterious disappearance is the thread that holds this “continuity series” together.

Jon, as related in The Rancher’s Twins, is the only one of the Blackwell brothers remaining in the area. He has a full time job with his own ranch, twin daughters, and a new wife. He does what he can to keep the Blackwell Ranch above water, but calls in brother Ethan, a newly graduated veterinarian, to troubleshoot various problems including the opening of the Blackwell Guest Ranch and gaining access to more of Big E’s funds to meet expenses.

In The Rancher’s Rescue, Ethan arrives in Falcon Creek and is surprised to learn that the quiet and reliable Grace Gardner is carrying his child. Both Grace and Ethan must come to grips with what a baby means to them, their career goals, and their families. Will love play a part in their decisions about the future?

The first book in this series, The Rancher’s Twins, has a lot of action and cute five year old twins. The main characters are obviously dealing with serious issues in their backgrounds. The Rancher’s Rescue is more subdued. There is less action, fewer events, and more soul searching by the main characters as they waffle back and forth without talking anything out with each other. They have important decisions to make, but they aren’t being honest with each other or themselves. At times it almost feels like Hamlet’s soliloquy on continuous repeat. At other times the plot and interaction are quite enjoyable. The last third of the book is the most interesting as other characters intervene and force a confrontation. Things begin to happen quickly and a resolution occurs. 

Author Cari Lynn Webb brings in interesting supporting characters like Katie, manager of the Blackwell Ranch; Judge Myrna Edwards, second wife of Big E—for five days; and Sarah Ashley, Grace’s sister who was Ethan’s high school sweetheart. I appreciate that there were no characters competing for Grace or Ethan romantically. That is a complication that would not have added to the plot: a triangle is not always of benefit to a romance novel.

As in the first book in the series, there is an epilogue that focuses on Big E, and this one holds a huge surprise! Although The Rancher’s Rescue is not as much of a page turner as the first book in the series, it is well-written and I enjoyed it. It also segues nicely into the next book, The Rancher’s Redemption. 

I would like to extend my thanks to the author, Cari Lynn Webb for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Romance

Notes: #2 in the Return of the Blackwell Brothers series. This could be read as a standalone, but is more enjoyable if read as part of the sequence since the town and its residents are introduced in the first book.

Publication:   September 1, 2018—Harlequin Heartwarming

Memorable Lines:

Curse words banged around inside his mouth like popcorn kernels chipping his teeth, but he located his inner gentleman before he spewed any into the air.

That thought bothered him like an unseen puncture in a horse’s sole, that by the time it was discovered, the horse had developed an abscess that could cause severe damage and even death.

“We have to love and live for the moments now so that we have memories to carry us through later.”

Cry Wolf–part cozy, part police procedural

Cry Wolf

by Annette Dashofy

Cry WolfReaders get to ride along briefly with Zoe Chambers as she completes her nonstop shift as a Monongahela County EMS paramedic responding to a machete attack. As interesting as that is, it only gets more so as the characters involved are soon also identified as part of murder scenarios. In Cry Wolf, Annette Dashofy continues the personal tale of Zoe and her boyfriend, Pete Adams, who is Vance Township’s Chief of Police. The network expands to include Harry, Pete’s father with Alzheimer’s and Jason Cox, Zoe’s newly discovered half-brother.

Zoe’s boss is hospitalized, and she has to take over his coroner’s duties putting her closer to the investigation of both murders. Meanwhile the folks at Golden Oaks retirement home help out with the sleuthing, and Pete tries to come to grips with this newly found family relationship of Zoe’s. Vance’s small police force is currently undermanned due to a young officer’s reluctance to serve after his first police shooting results in a death.

Cry Wolf has a complicated plot with lots of interwoven threads and action scenes and a little humor thrown in. The characters are interesting and well-developed. This is a book you won’t want to put down until its surprise ending and satisfactory conclusion.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #7 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, but the author does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed on the characters.

Publication:  September 18, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“Kristopher was livid. He has a very clear picture of how he wants his life to be. When anyone or anything interferes with that vision, he throws a temper tantrum to rival most two-year-olds.”

Zoe wondered what her dad would have been like in old age. On one hand, she’d been spared watching time and illness ravage his mind and body. On the other, she’d give just about anything to have him in her life, no matter what shape he’d be in.

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