- Published: 07 December 2023 07 December 2023
Alice works as a visual merchandiser in the luxury store owned by Thomas Moore and his family in New York. Thomas is attracted to Alice, but won’t admit it to himself as she is his employee and he does not wish to take advantage of his position. Due to his upbringing, Thomas is lacking in social skills and can’t express his feelings so Alice believes he does not like her because of the way he behaves.
Anyone but the Boss is really a book of two halves. The first half of the book concerns the upcoming Elvis-themed wedding of Thomas’s brother Chase in Las Vegas. Several of the store staff are making the trip, and I may be in a minority here but I found the humour a bit juvenile. In fact, I almost stopped reading at this point. The morning after the wedding, Alice and Thomas wake up in bed together, wearing matching rings, with no memory of what went on the night before. What is the likelihood that they would believe they had got married, without further investigation, but you just have to go along with it for the rest of the story to make sense.
I much preferred the second part of the storyline when Alice and Thomas take over parenting duties for Mary who has been abandoned by her mother (Alice’s foster sister). Mary is a delightful child who wins Thomas over and enables him to loosen up and show how kind he is underneath his stern exterior. Thomas’s mother Emily’s reaction to Mary is also a revelation – we see a completely different side to her. All that’s needed to complete the picture is a hairless cat with a bad attitude.
The story is told from the point of view of both Alice and Thomas so we get a rounded picture of what is going on. The characters are well written and believable, and develop as the story goes on. Naturally there is a lot of humour or everything might have seemed a bit dark. This is the second book in a series and I have not read the first one, but I don’t think it really mattered. Thanks to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.
- Published: 04 December 2023 04 December 2023
The Girl on the Boat is listed as the first book in the Cal and Sofie series, but this is a bit misleading. It is actually the first half of a two-part story which concludes in Don’t Look Down. It is better to know this before you start reading as it will be less confusing. The plot is complicated, but in simple terms it concerns a pharmaceutical company, Cambridge Bio, founded by MP Walter Crane, and an illegal drug trial. Crane has aspirations to become leader of his party, something the Russians are also working behind the scenes to facilitate. Sofie’s dad, who was participating in the drug trial, died six months previously in what was presumed to be an accident. Sofie’s journalist friend Kate is investigating the drug company and plants the seed of doubt that draws Sofie into this dangerous conspiracy.
The story is told from both Sofie and Cal’s perspective, with additional sections from other characters, so the reader gets a rounded picture of what is going on and knows more than either Sofie or Cal. Of the two, I found Cal more believable than Sofie. I don’t know if this was a case of a male writer not creating a convincing female protagonist, but I really did not take to Sofie at all. Hopefully, the next part of the story will change my opinion. Apart from a short conversation near the beginning, Cal and Sofie do not meet properly until almost the end of The Girl on the Boat. In books like this there would normally be a lot more interaction between the main characters earlier in the narrative. This is a promising debut thriller from JD Wood, though he has written in other genres, and I look forward to reading the conclusion to Sofia and Cal’s adventure. I read this as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT
- Published: 18 November 2023 18 November 2023
Set in St Andrews, A Blind Eye is the seventh book to feature DI Clare Mackay. Local solicitor Harry Richards is found in his car in the middle of Tentsmuir Forest with his throat cut. There is no obvious motive, but as the team investigate it soon comes to light that he was not as squeaky clean as he first appeared. When the wife of one of Harry’s colleagues dies in a bizarre car crash, the team start to wonder if there is a connection. Clare has her eye on Colin Grandison, up to his neck in money lending and property scams, but he is a slippery character and always manages to avoid getting caught.
The plot is linear with the narrative taking place over the course of nine days. Normally, a DCI would be called in to take charge, but they are all busy elsewhere so Clare just has to get on with it. She has a good team behind her, and this is probably what a real investigation is actually like – lots of checking and re-checking to get solid enough evidence for a prosecution, with the added complication of working around solicitor/client confidentiality.
Marion Todd paints an affectionate picture of St Andrews and the surrounding Fife countryside. The characters of the detectives are fleshed out just enough to make them believable, but not so much that their lives intrude on the investigation. There is a lot of humour to offset the serious nature of the crimes they have to deal with. Robbie’s struggles with his mental health are handled in a sensitive manner. This is one of my favourite Scottish crime series, and I look forward to reading the next one. Thanks to Canelo Crime and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.
- Published: 02 December 2023 02 December 2023
Indira has just fled to her older brother Collin’s house, along with her cat, after finding her boyfriend Chris in a compromising position. To make matters worse, her brother’s childhood friend Jude is also staying there in the run up to Collin and Jeremy’s wedding. Indira, Collin and Jude grew up together, but she and Jude have never really got on. The extended wedding celebrations mean that Jude and Indira will both be faced with difficult situations they would rather avoid, so they agree to be each others ‘fake date’ for the duration. As they have an extensive backstory, and know each other a lot better than people who have just met, this changes the dynamics.
Jude is suffering from PTSD due to having spent the last three years working as a trauma surgeon in conflict zones and disaster areas all over the world. To put it mildly, he is in a bad way. Indira is a psychiatrist and while she offers support and suggests that he needs help, she does not act as his therapist. This strand of the narrative is dealt with in a sensitive manner, and the serious nature of Jude’s condition is offset by humour. Indira is also working through some issues of her own relating to her father leaving when she was very young. This is not a light-hearted rom-com; the main characters are damaged emotionally, but they do grow and change as the story progresses.
The Plus One is the third book in the series ‘A Brush with Love’ by Mazey Eddings. I have not read any of the others, but it made no difference as I found The Plus One worked fine as a standalone. Characters from the other books do make an appearance, but I was more interested in Jude and Indira’s story. This will definitely not be the last book I read by Mazey Eddings. Thanks to Headline Eternal and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.
- Published: 17 November 2023 17 November 2023
The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything is the debut novel from South African author Kara Gnodde. Since the death of their parents, thirteen years previously, Mimi Brotherton has looked after her brother Art, who is a mathematical genius and somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Mimi has made a lot of sacrifices over the years so that Art can work on his research. At the start of the book she has reached breaking point and gives up her museum job to work with her friend Rey as a trainee foley artist (interesting to learn what this involves). Art has difficulty with social and personal relationships, and does not appreciate how trapped and isolated Mimi feels. When she decides to use a dating app, Art thinks the whole process can be worked out using an algorithm, but Mimi does not believe maths is the answer to everything. She meets Frank at a maths conference, but does not give her real name as she wants to be accepted for herself and not as Art’s sister. At first, Frank seems too good to be true, but Art views him with suspicion. From then on, once the seed of doubt had been planted I had trouble shaking it off. Does Frank have an ulterior motive – you’ll have to keep on reading to find out.
The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Mimi and Art so we get a balanced view of what they are both thinking. The characters have depth and do develop as the story progresses. At times it was painful to read, but this was balanced by humour, although you could never describe The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything as a romantic comedy. Art’s autism is treated in a sensitive manner, but I really felt for Mimi as he had real trouble understanding how she feels. I knew nothing about this unusual book before I started reading, but I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely look out for Kara Gnodde’s next book. Thanks to Pan Macmillan, Mantle and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.