Dear Ms. Ellen:
What happens when you take a woman out of her bookstore, throw in loved-ones with issues (ok, let me amend – some of these loved ones go past “issues” into the land of “subscriptions.” And one of them, in fact, has a room dedicated to them in the basement of the Library of Congress. They don’t have issues – they have a Dewey Decimal category all for themselves) and then add a healthy dose of murder mystery? Why, this book, of course! The icing on the cake, in my not so humble opinion, is the sexual chemistry between the main characters.
Anabel Axelrod is an orphan – but an orphan with a passel of sisters and one baby brother – who was raised by the beloved grandmother for whom she was named. Not only that, they were all raised in my idea of nirvana – a small-town bookstore. Anabel has taken the bookstore over from her grandmother and is now working her dream job, living her dream life, complete with tall, dark and mysterious Luke, her brother’s neighbor. Anabel isn’t a typical heroine. She’s a petite girly-girl who knows how to shoot, knows how to ask for help and has a very non-traditional view of relationships. This, of course, means that she and Luke have some very interesting things to work through as a couple. Unfortunately, they have to do that around one missing person, one larcenous cousin, Luke’s very secretive job, Anabel’s family and friends, and one ex-boyfriend who comes back to make things even more interesting.
I want to live in your world. Seriously, I REALLY want to live in your world. First of all, it’s a world of alpha males who haven’t been fed the testosterone-laced kool-aid, eaten the man-muscle cookies, and become poisoned by the penis-power. Not every man is chest-beatingly infallible. Next, I have to repeat again – a BOOKSTORE. Not only a great used bookstore, but one that has a sandwich / coffee shop / bakery run by Anabel’s best friend. I absolutely adore what you do with all of the characters. Each one of them is nicely developed and well-rounded. It’s very easy to just let some secondary characters remain partially fleshed out, but your characters seemed to come to life.
The one major complaint I have, and it’s definitely a major one, is the rambling. There are several portions of the book where we’re listening to Anabel speak and she jumps back and forth to three or four different involved stories that DO relate back to the topic at hand, but in a very, very long-winded, convoluted manner. I had to flip back and forth between a few pages to make sure I was getting everything and ensure that, no, I hadn’t skipped a whole chapter somewhere. Once I got through the regressions, I didn’t mind them so much – but they took quite a bit of getting used to.
The minor complaint I have is that the book ends on a slight cliffhanger. All of the major plots in the book (a murder, a missing person, etc.) are neatly resolved, but there’s one relationship point that gets moved on to the next book. And damnit, I want to know what’s in that bag! Well, that and a few other things. There were just a few too many details left hanging without explanation. Given how solid the writing was in this book, I’m sure those details will be taken care of in future books, but it’s mildly annoying.
Another minor, nitpicky thing? Proofreading. There were several places where misspelled words or improper grammar pulled me out of the story. Proofreading is essential. Luckily, as mentioned before, the story was just so good that I couldn’t put it down.
***** This section may contain spoilers, but I feel it’s important *****
Spoiler (spoiler text-dubcon): Show
***** End of Spoiler Section! *****
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I loved the characters and the way they came to life on the page. Anabel is a kick-ass heroine who feels –real-. Yes, she’s very capable, but she’s also human and can succumb to the same terrors that affect every one of us. I also think I’d like my own Luke. Definitely my own Luke. I enjoyed that theirs is a somewhat non-traditional relationship – readers will definitely see what I mean. Saying anything more would spoil it a bit. There are a few things I would have liked to see tweaked, but they are, by and large, minor. Fans of Kristen Ashley’s “Rock Chick” series or Julie Walker’s Black Knights, Inc. books will likely enjoy this one. B-
Yes, I’m going to buy the next installment right now,