I haven’t posted any book reviews lately, although you can follow me on Goodreads to catch my reports. But people often ask writers what we like to read. So here are the books I finished in June.
THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass (Teen Fiction)
Thirty five girls are chosen to compete for the hand in marriage of handsome Prince Maxon in the land known as Illéa. America Singer, a musician and member of a lower caste, enters her name in the lottery after her crush Aspen casts her off. She doesn’t expect to get chosen and is surprised when her name is announced. Soon she journeys to the palace to meet the prince and appear in broadcasts with the other contestants. As she gets to know Maxon, her feelings for him blossom, but the Selection is marred by increasingly violent rebel attacks. What do the rebels want? Why does the king suppress the region’s history? And what’s America to do when Aspen joins the draft and shows up as a palace guard?
The world-building works in this novel that’s part fantasy and partly a take-off on reality shows. I believe it’s billed as the Hunger Games meets the Bachelor. Certainly, the gorgeous cover draws you in. As a reader, you quickly become invested in America’s happiness and wonder how she might help the country if she ends up as Maxon’s bride. But his choice isn’t made by the last page. You have to tune in to the sequel to continue the story and might find this tactic somewhat frustrating.
Accustomed to reading romance novels, I would have liked a conclusive ending. It disturbs me that I might have to read two more books to reach a finale, but I like the story enough that it might be worth the wait. I know how I would like this tale to end. I just wish it wouldn’t take three books to cross that finish line. Find on Amazon
TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG by Connie Willis (Time Travel Historical)
The Connie Willis books I’ve read have been complex stories that take place in dark times of global history. To the contrary, this title is more like a Shakespearean comedy of manners. It’s a twisted tale, hard to follow at first, seeming to wander aimlessly with silly incidents, until the story finally becomes more focused at least halfway through. Then my interest peaked but not so much in the beginning. Certainly I didn’t find it hilarious, more like amusing, and a cheerful diversion from Willis’s usual works. As always, her depiction of the era is vastly detailed and immersive. If you were to start with one of her books, though, I wouldn’t choose this one. I think you need to be a fan to appreciate its absurdities, although some readers love this book the best. My favorites are Doomsday, Black Out, and All Clear. Find on Amazon
UTTERLY DEVOTED by Regina Scott (Regency Romance)
This pleasant Regency romance is a staple in the genre but the plot is a bit contrived. Left in the lurch by the rake Jareth Darby after he loved her and left her, Eloise denies his attraction when they meet again several years later. He is determined to reform himself and begs her forgiveness. To earn her regard, he promises to pass three tests, but neither of them count on falling in love. Can Eloise get over the past in order to accept her future? Find on Amazon
THE PRINCESS AND THE PEER by Tracy Anne Warren (Historical Romance)
When Princess Emmaline of Rosewald is told that she must marry for the political future of her country, she runs away to London for a last fling before bowing to duty. But she doesn’t anticipate the confusion and chaos that greets her in the big city, nor does she know what to do after her reticule is stolen. Adrift in strange territory, she accepts the offer of a stranger who comes to her assistance.
Nick Gregory, the Earl of Lyndhurst after his elder brother’s death, is still adjusting to his new title when he encounters the lovely wench in the street. Assuming her to be an unemployed governess by her refined manner, he offers shelter until she can contact her family. But as he gets to know Emma, his need for her grows. Emma reciprocates his affection, but she’s aware that their relationship must end. Duty calls, and she will not forsake her country. What she doesn’t anticipate is that Nick isn’t willing to give her up and will pursue her until she becomes his wife. Find on Amazon
ANGEL’S ADVOCATE by Mary Stanton (Mystery)
In this Beaufort & Company Mystery, attorney Brianna Winston-Beaufort accepts the case of a young woman accused of ripping off a Girl Scout selling cookies. But the girl’s troubles are minor compared to those of her recently deceased father, whose condemned soul pleads for Brianna’s assistance in celestial court. Was he murdered like he hinted, or did he die in a car crash as everyone believes? Did he become aware of shady goings-on among his associates, or was he a part of them? And how does poor Lindsey fit in? With one case in the temporal world and another in the realm of angels, how will Brie learn the truth? With the supernatural help of her friends and a couple of guardian dogs, she sets on the path to justice. Angel’s Advocate is a twisted tale of paranormal mystery with a dollop of Southern charm. Find on Amazon