I love the Goodreads yearly challenge, because it helps me keep track of what I read, and reminds me how far ahead or behind I am toward reaching my yearly goal. For the past several years I’ve set my reading goal at 50 books for the year, and each time I’ve managed to meet that number. I’m happy to say that I am currently reading book #50 for 2019! Since I have another week to complete it, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to enter my rating and review before New Year’s Eve. In the meantime, here are my reviews for books 44 through 49.
Kissing the Enemy by Julia Keanini
Kiss Academy, Book Three
This book departs from the first two in the series in that the most of it takes place away from Kissinger Academy. Alana Morales, one of the scholarship students, goes home to South Carolina for Christmas break and encounters her first crush, a wealthy young man named Beckett Clark. Beckett is definitely interested in Alana, but Alana sees a relationship as impossible. For one thing, he attends the school in South Carolina, while Kissinger Academy is in California. Second, Beckett belongs to the Clark family, owners of the large grocery store across the street from the tiny family owned Guatemalan food store. Her grandmother hates the Clarks, and Alana knows the entire family wouldn’t approve. But Beckett doesn’t seem to want to take no for an answer. I enjoyed watching this couple find their way, eliminating one obstacle after another.
Swamp Sniper by Jana DeLeon
Miss Fortune Mystery, Book Three
Book three of the Miss Fortune series continues to deliver non-stop surprises and laugh-out-loud moments. Fortune Redding, AKA Sandy Sue, is still hiding out in Sinful, Louisiana, but the mysteries keep landing on her doorstep. This time, it’s one of the Sinful Ladies who’s implicated in a murder, and Fortune leads her rag-tag geriatric SWAT team in a series of mishaps that somehow lead to the unexpected answer. Sometimes I feel sorry for Deputy LeBlanc when they keep outwitting him, but it’s explained that if he discovers Fortune’s true identity, it would blow her cover and put her in grave danger. The ladies’ ingenious ways of avoiding detection are so entertaining. I am truly a fan of Ms DeLeon and her MacGuiver-like heroine!
Lark, the Herald Angels Sing by Donna Andrews
Meg Langslow Mystery, Book 24
Donna Andrews has got to be the queen of the cozy mystery. The crazy inhabitants of Caerphilly, Virginia continue to entertain on a big scale. Meg is directing rehearsals for the church’s Christmas pageant, and the pastor’s baby boy is supposed to be the Baby Jesus. But when they find a baby in the manger, it’s not the right one. Fortunately, Meg’s husband is an actor and theater teacher at Caerphilly College, so he takes over rehearsals while she hunts down the baby’s mother. From there, a chain-reaction of other problems arise, including a missing person, a corrupt police force, and a disgruntled fiancée. Oh, and the Christmas pageant. Meg’s adventures are so engaging I read it in only two sittings! The usual enormous cast of characters from previous books are all here, but what’s realistic about this series is that the characters grow and change. Way back in Book One, Meg is happily single. Now, she’s not only married, but she and Michael have a set of eleven-year-old twins. I’ve watched (read) as they’ve grown, just like observing a real family, and I really can’t recommend this series enough.
Adelene — the Violinist by Judy Ann Davis
A Musical Christmas Series, Book Two
Adelene Almanza is one busy woman. By day, she teaches high school Spanish. In the afternoons and evenings, she teaches violin students at her cousin’s music shop. And in her spare time, she tutors both high school students learning Spanish, and Spanish speaking adults who want to learn English. At the edge of town is a crumbling building that would be perfect for housing her dream project – a community center where students can have a safe place to study and play. Fortunately, she happens to know a good contractor – and Clay Ciaffonni and his family are more than happy to get involved. Clay, especially, wants to get involved in her personal life, but first he needs to get past her defenses. They’d dated in the past, but in her mind he’s not worth her trust. The story is full of fun characters, like Clay’s mother Sophia, and his sister Lucy. I’m hoping Lucy gets her own story at some point. There’s drama when Adelene encounters problems from another person who wants the building, and that’s brought to a satisfying conclusion, but what isn’t explained is why Adelene broke up with Clay in the first place. He even asks her twice, but she never comes out and tells him why, though she has inner dialogue about her jealousy. Otherwise, this is a sweet holiday story.
Let it Snow by Diana Lloyd
Diana Lloyd is a fellow member of my local writers group, and she was a guest here when her first novel, How to Train Your Baron, was released last year. The second book in her series is scheduled to release next month, but her Christmas novella, originally part of an anthology, is now available on its own, and I couldn’t wait to read it. Saffron is an intelligent, forward-thinking young lady who has no aspirations of marrying well. She considers herself plain, and although her family is respected and comfortably well-off, her father is a magistrate, with no title. But she’s in no hurry to find a husband. In fact, the men in her world don’t appeal to her, partly due to her memories of a young man she’s known since her youth. But since his father is titled, their friendship could never go anywhere. But a succession of unsigned gifts delivered to her home each Christmas make her dream…
The Prince’s Fake Fiancée by Darcy Flynn
I love Darcy’s sweet romances. They feature people like those we all know. I was thrilled when she announced a new Christmas novella and purchased it right away. And since it’s Christmastime, I made time to read it. This story uses several well-worn tropes: a prince who doesn’t want to marry the woman his parents chose for him, a fake fiancé, an ugly duckling heroine who doesn’t realize how beautiful she is, the wicked step-mother and step-sister, and probably a few more. Still, I enjoyed the story, especially the elusive and mysterious Miss Ellie.