Coattails and Cocktails: Murder with a Twist by Rumer Haven

Publication Date: September 10, 2017

 

Its 1929 and Silent Film Ingenue, Lottie Landry returns to the home of her adopted parents just outside of Chicago with her intended husband and frequent co-star, Noble Howard. Lottie isn’t sure about the engagement as her affections lie elsewhere. When things with Lottie don’t go his way, Noble threatens to expose what he believes has been going on between his lady love and her adopted father, media mogul Ransom Warne. Will it be scandal or something more sinister that brings death to the household?

This book was given to me for review by the TBC Reviewer Request Group.

 

Haven knows how to paint a setting. Delicately placed in the cultured country outside of Chicago is a palatial estate with gleaming tennis courts and richly paneled rooms with all of hidden nooks featuring modem technology. Ice in the library bar! What a luxury! At the center of this roaring 20’s topography is a bombshell with a tragic backstory, Lottie Landry. Raised in France until the death of her parents and given to a mother that never wanted children at a formative age, Lottie has always relied on men and knows how to use them though she can’t always control them. Lottie has good intentions and is seeking happiness through success. Will she find what she’s looking for and wind up in a relationship that will beat down all that’s good inside of her.

Perpective shifts in Coattails and Cocktails but the true star is always Lottie. Period references are plentiful. Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, current political events and the birth of the talkies are mentioned to further the opulence of an era soon to end. Ranson Warne is framed as a rival of the great William Randolf Hurst. Noble Howard is the silent film Lothario who is charm on screen and menace behind the scenes. He is devious and threatened by everyone that might stand in the way of his self appointed goals. Haven develops her characters in a way realistic to the storyline even if everyone is perhaps a bit obsessed with Lottie.

Coattails and Cocktails is a book that really drags at first. In setting the scene and establishing the relationships between the characters, readers are a third of the way into the book before anyone dies. It would have been nice to have at least one character as an observer not really invested in the actresses success or failure. Noble is in love with her, Ransom dotes on her, Rex is living in a memory of a little girl on the back of his ice truck teaching him French phrases in her light accent. One woman suspects Lottie of an affair with her husband while the other is doing everything she can to connect her with the man with whom she arrived so that Lottie can have a little bit of happiness.

Haven’s writing style is heavily detailed but technically flawless. Shifts in perspective are easy to follow and while the story may drag, its due o style choice and not lack of writing skill. As much as Haven is writing a mystery, she always aims for the literary genre.

So do I recommend Coattails and Cocktails? I do. The brilliance of Haven’s historical fiction style and her knowledge of the era will have few fiction rivals. If you have a few hours and enjoy historical fiction, buy Coattails and Cocktails and give it a shot. Be sure to let me know what you think.

Arkansas Summer by Anne Moose

Publication Date: April 16, 2017

It’s 1955 and Catherine is a college student. She travels from California to Arkansas to help her father sort out her grandmother’s situation in the wake of his father’s death. She reconnects with Jimmy, the son of her grandmother’s housekeeper and her favorite playmate as a young child. The attraction between them in strong but the south is a dangerous place for a black man showing anything other than casual indifference to a white woman. Will their love survive the hate of those around them?

The author, Anne Moose, sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.

 

We meet Catherine following the death of her husband. She’s young and she and her daughter are grieving together when she finds the need to get the story of young love off of her chest. Moose treats her readers to the charm of 1955 complete with hot bus filled with sweating and stinking humanity. We’re told that her grandfather has died from whom her father was estranged for a reason not yet revealed to the protagonist. Catherine’s mother, not beloved by her in-laws, has opted to stay in California leaving her husband and daughter to reconnect with his mother. Catherine also connects with Jimmy who she hasn’t seen since she was 9 years old. He’s now 20 and attractive both for his history with Catherine and his strength and intelligence. Jimmy and Catherine are young, hormonally charged and an accident waiting to happen. The case of young Emmett Till is fresh in the minds of those involved, especially Jimmy’s mother who is understandably afraid of losing her second oldest child.

Arkansas Summer, for the most part, is a very real story. I was not around in 1955 but have studied the Civil Rights era and a lot of what Moose presents bears up as a possibility historically speaking. To be black in the South at a time when the color of one’s skin was enough to get one killed (and still is today in some locations), was a dangerous proposition. Catherine is perhaps a bit of a limp fish at first but when she and Jimmy reconnect, their passion reads as authentic. The narrative is simple but engaging. We experience Arkansas with Catherine and while it’s beautiful, the peril is clear. While some of Catherine’s dialogue it trite at the start, it reads as a real child on the cusp of adulthood. I received Arkansas Summer in print form and it’s very cleanly edited. Roughly 1/3 of the way through this 302 page work, the story gets very interesting taking some unexpected turns.

The romantic story of Arkansas Summer is not a surprise but Moose gives readers an engaging tale of wide eyed innocence and tragedy chased by anger and hate and, ultimately, revenge. The story shifts seamlessly between eras and when ultimately we return to Catherine and her daughter, Hannah, their look back and Hannah’s memories of key moments tie together how far society has come and how far we have left to go. We have all either witnessed or experienced hate and we are the key to change. Moose conveys a social unconscious beyond the forbidden and ill fated love of two 20 year old college students.

I found Arkansas Summer very interesting. Catherine, Hannah, Jimmy, et al…are fascinating and Moose’s writing style maintains tension and fear without protracting the story unnecessarily. Without giving spoilers, I adored the ending. I would read another book by this author without hesitation.

Do you like historically based fiction? Pick Arkansas Summer up today. You will not be disappointed.

The Bastard Son (Winds of Change Series Book 1) by Jerri Hines

Publication Date: July 26, 2016

 

The Bastard Son (Winds of Change Series) by Jerri Hines book review by Rabid Reader's ReviewsIt’s 1780 and the Revolutionary War is raging. Sumner Meador has lost everything and pledges to do what he can for the patriot cause. When he arrives at his farm he finds Jane, a woman who has also suffered a devastating loss. Sumner doesn’t have time for distractions and Jane is determined to remain alone but despite their best efforts, love is in the air. Can their love survive the war?

The Bastard Son is the second book in the “Winds of Change” series.

 

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Danger in the Stars by Veronica Scott

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

 

Danger in the Stars by Veronica ScottMiriell is an empathetic priestess who has been captured and enslaved by an evil corporation for use to their advantage. When her services are rented to Lady Opherra, Miriell meets Conor and his energy fascinates her. Conor has secrets that Miriell could use against him if she got too close. Can he resist Miriell and keep them both alive? And can Miriell escape and save her people without being blown up in the process?

 

 

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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Publication Date: November 28, 2006

 

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry PratchettAziraphale, an angel, and Crowley, a demon, aren’t ready for the end times. They’ve gotten quite comfortable in their years on Earth. Despite representing good and evil, the two decide to work together to postpone the inevitable.

 

 

 

 

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His Name was Ben: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin

Publication Date: September 21, 2014

 

This review is dedicated to Allison Ridgeway Doan, the wife of one of my husband’s childhood friends and a lovely person, who lost her battle with cancer yesterday. Check out her memoir released not long before her death, Bruised and Beautiful.

His Name was Ben by Paulette Mahurin, book review by Rabid Reader's Reviews

Sara Phillips’ life changed when she received a cancer diagnosis. Life was over until she met Ben and everything changed yet again.

 

 

 

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Collateral Damage by Stuart Woods

Publication Date: September 3, 2013

 

Book Review Collateral Damage (A Stone Barrington Novel) by Stuart Wood

Stone Barrington and his sometimes lover, CIA Assistant Director Holly Barker, are at it again. Holly brings Stone a case with big risks. Will their lucky streak hold? Can they solve the case or will they be Collateral Damage? Collateral Damage is the 25th book in the Stone Barrington series.

 

 

 

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Billy and Ant Lie: Lying (Billy Growing Up Book 4) by James Minter (Author) and Helen Rushworth (Illustrator)

Publication Date: April 5, 2016

 

Billy and Ant tell a lie to cover the true reasons that they were late for school. When complications arise, their lie is found out. What consequences will they face?

 

 

Continue reading Billy and Ant Lie: Lying (Billy Growing Up Book 4) by James Minter (Author) and Helen Rushworth (Illustrator)

The Facility by Brandon Ford

Publication Date: December 20, 2016

 

The Facility by Brandon Ford, thriller horror book review When Holly Vogel discovers that her husband has been violating their five-year-old daughter, she takes the child and goes on the run. With no one to turn to, she finds a website known as “The Facility.” Will it be the answer to her prayers or a new beginning to her nightmare?

 

 

 

 

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