Celia Aaron-The Elder

Celia Aaron writes stories that take place down in the deep South, Louisiana and Mississippi. I really enjoy her stories. You should go check out Blackwood. I cannot recommend that one enough. You get some dark and sexy along with mystery and intrigue. That’s a recipe I can get behind. But this review is about The Elder, the first book of the Mississippi Kings series. I’m sticking this in the romance section because it has a romance that runs through it, but it’s not the primary focus of the book, which is why it’s also under the mystery category. I would call it a murder mystery suspenseful thriller with some romance, instead of a romance with some murder mystery going on.

Anyway, let’s get on with the story, shall we? Benton King, the elder of the 3 King children, works in the law firm of King and Morris with his father. One morning, he goes to work and opens his father’s office door to find him sitting at his desk with a hole in his head. In their quiet, very small town of Azalea, Mississippi, the murder rate is something like 1/year. In fact, their police force was tiny, and only had 2 detectives on the entire force, Arabella Matthews and her partner, Logan. When Benton calls in the police, she gets the call, since she is the senior detective. The chief has been staying at the hospital with his daughter who is in a coma.

Benton, along with his brother Porter, who is the county sheriff and totally unsuited and underqualified for his job, is waiting for the police, and are both angry about the chief not showing up and sending in the “B team”.

Arabella knows damn good and well that she’s not part of any B team. She’s good at her job, determined, dogged, and stubborn. She wants to make sure that her town is safe, and she will do everything she can to do that. Arabella walks into the murder scene and takes control. She just lets the crap that Benton is spewing just pass her by. She gets that he’s sad and angry, but she’s there to solve a murder and she’s not going to let him derail her, no matter what. When he refuses to hand over information about what his dad was working on, she says OK, that’s fine, we’ll go see the judge in this kind of hearing and this, that, and the other, and I’ll get to look at them. Celia’s background as a recovering lawyer does show up in this.

When a second murder turns up, connected to the King murder, the stress that Arabella feels just gets worse. At least Benton has decided to stop giving her a hard time, and now he’s decided that he’s going to help her, and gets his brother to deputize him as part of the country department. This is when the romance really gets started too.

The story is really well written. The legal stuff is all well done, since see above recovering lawyer. I’ve never lived in a town as small as Azalea, but I’ve lived in small towns, and she sure got the politics and culture of a small town right. I do like Benton, although I want to pull his head out of his ass sometimes because he gets a little too me man, you woman, me protect at times, but I get why he did that.

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Vivi definitely steals the show whenever she’s on stage. She’s a force to be reckoned with when she’s 4. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with her when she’s 16. She’s going to give everyone a run for their money and then some.

I totally didn’t see the end coming. That was a total shock, I mean jaw hitting the floor shock. But, going back and looking, I can see some small hints of it, but not a lot, which is how I like my mysteries. I don’t like figuring them out before the author gets to the denouement. I like finding out as the characters do, in an organic way. Celia did really well with this.

If you like a healthy dose of mystery and suspense with some romance, then this is definitely a book you should check out. Happy reading!

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Mark S. R. Sterling-Arsenic and the Socialite

Mark Sterling is a new author to me. Lady Theodora Strangways is a character in his new series.

Lady Theodora is a woman who married into the English nobility. When her husband died, she should technically have lost her title, but since Queen Vic liked her and kept referring to her as Lady, then the rest of the world has to as well. She is pretty, quick-witted, adventurous, wears slightly scandalous clothes which are amazingly fashion-forward, and gives just about zero fucks about anything. She’s going to go out, do things, live her life, and then have everything written up in books.

In Arsenic and the Socialite, Lady Theodora is called to Glasgow, Scotland by an old friend, John Digby, who is an inspector with the Scotland Yard. He needs her help to find a poisoner who murdered a man. They also take the time to renew their FWB status, including a little spanking.

While the Lady Theodora is the person the series is named after, we don’t actually see a lot of her. We see much more of Madeline Smith, the young woman who has been accused of poisoning her lover.

The story starts out several months after the murder when Lady Theodora is called to court as a witness for the prosecution. When she gets asked a question, she goes back in her mind to the past, and we get a little look into what happened during the investigation. Then, we get into a whole different timeline and POV because we find out what Madeline, or Mimi, was doing.

Apparently, this story is based on one that actually happened in Glasgow, Scotland in 1857. Madeline Smith was accused of poisoning her lover with some arsenic in his cocoa. Obviously, Starling has taken a few liberties here and there, but when I looked at the Wikipedia page, it seemed reasonably true to the story.

The story is pretty light on sex, but there is some, and some spanking, both for fun and for punishment. Because it takes place in the Victorian era, the sex isn’t overly graphic and the language is very euphemistic. Remember, from this point, you may find spoilers.

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I overall enjoyed reading the story, but there were a few things that did pull me out of it. One of those things is that we keep going back and forth between Lady T in court and Lady T investigating, and then back and forth between Mimi’s letters and what Mimi is doing. It just seemed a wee bit too much to me. If one of the timelines was cut, and we saw more of Lady T, I would’ve been happier.

Lady T is pretty much a character that I would really like, so I’m looking forward to future books to see how she develops and if I get to see more of her in action in her books.

That’s it for today! Go check out this book, I think that you will probably enjoy it.

Let’s Get Cozy

I don’t just read UF, erotica, and dark romance. I also read mysteries. I love reading mysteries because I like the tension and the thrills. I tend to follow series because I like to watch the character development from book 1 to book whatever. Among others, I like Patricia Stabenow’s Kate Shugak books, which take place in Alaska and Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell stories, which are an interesting take on Sherlock Holmes, in particular, the fact that Mary Russell starts out as his apprentice and then they get married.

Just like any other genre, there are sub-genres. For mysteries, one of those sub-genres is the cozy. So, what exactly is a cozy?

A cozy mystery is one that doesn’t have a lot of sex, bad language, or violence. When the death happens, it’s usually off-stage. A character just runs across the dead body instead of the reader seeing how the person died, generally. If the person does die on-stage, the description will generally be fairly tame. Sex is off-stage too, mostly, and if it isn’t, it’s again described in the most general way, without any of the more graphic terms. Another feature of the cozy is that it is generally set in a small area with a limited amount of people around, and everyone usually knows each other. The person who solves the murder is also generally an amateur, think more Miss Marple and less Lt. Joe Leaphorn (Tony Hillerman).

Cozy mystery series can also have a theme. Diane Mott Davidson is a good example of this. Her series focuses around cooking, with all of the titles being related to cooking or food, and she includes recipes in the back of the books.

One of my favorite cozy authors is Charlotte MacLeod, who died back in 2005, about 50 miles from where I live. She has two or three series out. My particular favorite is the Sarah Kelling/Max Bittersohn series. It takes place in Boston and the characters are mostly all the upper crust, old families of Boston. There are some eccentrics, which does tend to happen with cozies. Sarah’s Uncle Jem is definitely a character, but he’s a lot of fun, and I really like him.

Anyway, that’s the cozy in a nutshell. If you want a quick, light, sometimes funny mystery to read, then the cozy is a good choice. As with any other genre I read, I have plenty of suggestions and recommendations.

If you ever want to see me write about some genre, author, book, whatever, let me know. If you have suggestions of a book, genre, author, whatever you think I’ll like, let me know. I am always on the lookout for new things to read.