March Recent Reads

Hello All, and welcome to this month’s Recent Reads!

The last month has flown by, even with that pesky extra day thrown in for the leap year. I managed to dive head-first into my new project, and have reached 20,000 words at time of writing this post. The book is coming together nicely, and I can’t wait to finish it up and share it with you all.

I’ve also been busy with my recreational reading. Whether it be physical books, eBooks or listening to audiobooks while driving, it seems most of my free time has some sort of reading crammed into it. Works for me, the more books the better! Which is sort of the point of this series of blog posts. I figure a few of you out there are big readers, and are always looking for some new titles to add to your “to be read” pile. So, here are my recommendations for this month – enjoy!

“Murder at Pirate’s Cove” (Secrets & Scrabble Book 1) by Josh Lanyon

Josh Lanyon’s brand new book series takes the ‘cozy mystery’ concept and infuses it with her own unique style, quirky characters and a brilliantly constructed mystery.

For the uninitiated, a cozy mystery is a murder mystery story that doesn’t feature swearing, explicit violence or sexually explicit content etc. Think a modern version of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series.

Ellory Page, an aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and forever unlucky in love, inherits a dilapidated mansion and a mystery book store in the tiny village of Pirate’s Cove, Rhode Island. Leaving behind his life in New York in the hopes of a starting new life seems like a brilliant idea, until just 3 months later, Ellory’s new life comes unstuck when he discovers a man murdered in his book shop.

As an ‘outsider’ to the village, it doesn’t take much for the town to start pointing fingers at Ellory, despite the dead man being far from popular or even well liked. Desperate to prove his innocence, Ellory begins investigating, and quickly discovers the little village has more than a few secrets, and someone is clearly willing to kill to keep them…

This first book was a fun and enjoyable read. Engaging characters, a unique setting and a well constructed mystery with lots of clues and red herrings scattered throughout. Unlike some cozy mysteries, this one wasn’t filled with outrageous scenarios or twee old fashioned characters. A delightful modern take on the genre. With a new book in the series due to be released later this month, this one is Highly recommended.

“Rory’s Rock” by Drew Hunt

I had no idea that Drew Hunt had released a new book in his “Double J Ranch” series (Cowboy Sandwich Volumes 1&2) so I was absolutely delighted when this book popped up in my recommendations list on the Apple Bookstore. The first two books are one of my go-tos when I just want something comfortable and fun to read, and getting to revisit these characters for a new story was simply wonderful.

Rory Brown’s life had never known stability until he came to work at the Double J ranch. Growing up in foster care group homes after witnessing his father murder his mother, the sense of family and connection he gets from ranch life is only made better working alongside fellow ranch hand Zane Fox. Zane is big, rugged, handsome and… straight.

Rory’s secret unrequited feelings for Zane are difficult to hide, especially when an unexpected ice storm forces the two men to share a bed for warmth. But when Rory gets drunk on his 21st birthday, his lowered inhibitions cause him to confront his feelings when he accidentally kisses Zane.

Rory doesn’t get much time to process what happened or the fallout he expects to come, as he is forced to leave the ranch and visit his dying father in prison. When Zane shows up unexpectedly, Rory begins to wonder if his unrequited feelings for the big cowboy are quite as unrequited as he thought...

Sweet, poignant and filled with lots of heart, Rory’s Rock is an excellent addition to the Double J Ranch series. Although it can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading the first two books first for full context (plus they are a damn good read!)

“Stand in Place” by Mary Calmes

I have very mixed feelings about this book. There are certain elements I loved about it, and others are strongly disliked. But overall, it’s another Mary Calmes book that manages to provoke strong feelings in the reader, which all great art should do. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

Kaenon Geary grew up in a small town in Texas. After being outed by his brother and tortured by his parents in the name of their religion, Kaenon went to live with his grandparents for the rest of his teenage years. Suffering bullying not just at the hands of his fellow school students but by the local townspeople too, Kaenon left for college in New York with no intention of ever returning to his home town. But a phone call from his grandmother a decade later changes everything,

Diagnosed with terminal cancer and with only a few months left to live, Jo asks her grandson to spring her from the hospital before she is sent to live in a hospice facility. She wants to live out her remaining days at home, but needs someone to help her. Despite never wanting to return to his home town, he could never refuse the woman who saved his life. So Kaenon returns for one last summer with his grandmother, and quickly discovers things have changed – not just in the town, but within himself.

As Kaenon starts restoring his grandmother’s garden to its former glory, he has an opportunity to heal his wounded soul, rebuild bridges long burnt and find it in his heart to forgive.

First of all, this book contains trigger warnings: bullying, child abuse, homophobia, outing. Secondly, on the whole, I enjoyed this book. The snarky relationship between Kaenon and his grandmother Jo is delightful and hilarious. The idea of coming back to a place filled with bad memories and trying to find closure is also an excellent theme.

What I disliked was how easily Kaenon seemed to forgive certain members of his family. It was totally unrealistic. And despite the subplot regarding his Wiccan Aunt, the way Kaenon simply cleaning up a backyard somehow causes just about every man in town to suddenly become attracted to him (almost supernaturally) borders on ludicrous. But for the most part, Stand in Place is an interesting read that will challenge you and likely inspire some strong opinions in you.

Well People, that’s all for this month. Hope you have a lovely March and I’ll catch you again with more Recent Reads next month.

Lots of Love

Alex Leslie

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