Saturday, August 15, 2015

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

The World's Fair is nearing its end, but the danger in Chicago lingers.
It's mid-September of 1893 and Eloisa Carstairs is the reigning beauty of Gilded Age Chicago society. To outsiders she appears to have it all. But Eloisa is living with a dark secret. Several months ago, she endured a horrible assault at the hands of Douglass Sloane, heir to one of Chicago's wealthiest families. Fearing the loss of her reputation, Eloisa confided in only one friend. That is, until she meets Detective Sean Ryan at a high-society ball.
Sean is on the outskirts of the wealthy Chicago lifestyle. Born into a poor Irish family, becoming a policeman was his best opportunity to ensure his future security. Despite society's restrictions, he is enamored with Eloisa Carstairs. Sean seethes inside at what he knows happened to her, and he will do anything to keep her safe-even if he can never earn her affections. .
Eloisa longs to feel normal again in the midst of the danger surrounding the Chicago World's Fair, but a killer is on the loose. In the last month, three debutants have been accosted in the city by an assailant wielding a stiletto. As the danger in the city increases, and as Eloisa's and Sean's romance blossoms, they both realize they want to be seen as more than how the world views them. But will they catch the killer before all their hopes come tumbling down?

Deception on Sable Hill is the second novel in Shelley Gray's Chicago World's Fair Mystery Series. Following a few months after the death of Douglass Sloane and his actions against Eloisa, which occurred at the end of the Secrets of Sloane House, Eloisa finds herself despising the parties, the conversation, and she still has not allowed herself to process, to grieve over what happened. Not only that, but as one of society's most eligible debutantes, she is also in the sights of a serial killer intent on maiming or killing the most beautiful and rich young women in Chicago. That is when Sean Ryan makes his appearance, and there is an instant connection between the two. I enjoyed watching their relationship play out as the killer continues his rampage and as both Eloisa and Sean race to figure out who the killer is before it is too late. I found the storyline interesting and full of unexpected twists, mystery, and romance. The other minor characters were well developed and added greatly to the complexity of the story. I especially liked both Sean's younger sister and his fellow detective and partner, and I really enjoyed what they added to the story. I liked both Eloisa and Sean, but I did think their relationship was rushed at times. But I did appreciate the issues that both brought to the table and how they were able to work through those together. I also found Eloisa's breakthroughs near the end as she wrestled with her thoughts and her relationship with God to be compelling as well. Overall, I found this novel to be well written and very interesting, especially in the consideration of what it really means to help others for the correct reasons and how easy it can be to hide darkness behind the mask of a friendly face. I would highly recommend this novel and the previous one to any reader looking for a compelling and thought provoking mystery.

I received this novel from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge

A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places
Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge is the second novel in the Two Blue Doors trilogy, and it is just as enjoyable as the first. Picking up where the first novel left off, we find Juliette in Italy and France as she visits extended family and digs deeper into the mysteries left behind by her grandmother. Stumbling across her grandmother's letters during the 1940's while in Italy, the rest of the novel alternates between her grandmother life when she was young and Juliette's current circumstances. The novel also includes the wonderful recipes that Juliette and her family use at the end of every few chapters. I enjoyed seeing Italy and France through Juliette's eyes and through the eyes of a chef. One of my favorite parts of the book were the letters, which were interesting and ended in an ultimate cliffhanger. The characters of the novel were mostly the same as those seen in the first novel, and they continued to develop in Reservations for Two as well. I liked Adrian a whole lot more in this book than the other, and my feelings of affection for Juliette and Neil faded slightly in this book, but that is all I can reveal. I do hope that Juliette comes to trust more in God than she does in this novel, especially considering everything happening in her life. I also was not a huge fan of how the last few chapters played, so I am very interested to see how the final book resolves the issues raised at the end. Overall, I enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to the next installment!

I received this novel from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.