When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

Dear Fellow Reader,

I am at a bit of a loss as to how to start this review. I think I have mentioned in the past that current books in the Romance genre contain more sex than they used to. Well, they contain sex. To my own ears, this makes me sound like a prude. This definition of prude appeals to me more than the one in my brain.

“A prude is a person who is described as being concerned with decorum or propriety, significantly in excess of normal prevailing standards. He or she may be perceived as being more uncomfortable than most with sexuality or nudity.” Wikipedia

In my mind, a prude is a taunt that is made to someone who doesn’t want to talk about sex. I am not sure if “normal prevailing standards” are involved. And in my defense, I don’t object to all sex in books.

As you may have guessed, today’s book has sex scenes. If that influences your decision to read the book then I guess, now you know.

When Sparks Fly is the story told by Avery Spark. She and her two sisters run Spark House, an event hotel. Avery is happy with her life. She co-owns a condo with her good friend, Declan McCormick. They have been friends since college and they have a group of friends from that time. Avery’s parents were killed in a car accident that occurred during a rainstorm. Avery has reservations about driving in the rain because of that.

Avery has the opportunity to make a pitch to her college alumni association for the event hotel. She has made plans with some old friends to meet and attend a game while she is at the college. Declan is going to go with her. She reminds him several times about the event. The night before they are supposed to go, she has a date. This is our first indication that Declan could possibly have feelings for her. He objects to the dress she is going to wear on the date. He thinks it is too revealing when she is going out with someone he doesn’t know. She wears the dress anyway and goes out. Declan goes out that night and gets drunk, picks up a woman, and leaves his car by the bar and takes an Uber home. In the morning, he oversleeps and then tells Avery that his car isn’t available. She had not wanted to take her car because she thinks she needs new tires and it is raining hard. She feels she doesn’t have any choice but to leave without him in her car.

Declan calls her while she is driving to apologize. While they are on the phone, a guy in a white truck causes a multicar accident and Avery is taken to the hospital. She has multiple injuries and will need full time care for several months. Declan announces that he will be the one to take care of her over the objections of her sisters.

It is during the caregiver intimacy where we move into a new phase of their relationship. But that is not the end of the story. They have problems that both need to face before we could move into a happy ever after.

The book is a quick, interesting read. I think that while working to their “happily ever after” they run into some real-life problems that they work through. The wrinkles help the story. I think it is a good fall under the covers reading book.

And last but not least, I was given a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Thanks for reading!

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The Maid by Nita Prose

Dear Fellow Reader,

I find my thoughts turning to Fall. I don’t want to think about Fall but I see some signs that it is coming. The tree in the back has started to turn and as much as I hate it, the days are getting shorter. It has been so hot that it is hard to think that the inevitable change is coming but it is creeping in slowly.


I find that I am not looking forward to Fall the way I usually do. I have enjoyed my time in the garden this year and I don’t want it to come to an end. I have never really worked in a garden before but this year, I have planted and weeded, shoveled, and mulched. Let’s be clear, I have no idea what I am doing but I have gone for it with abandon. And how did this all start? I did it for the exercise. I was tired of riding my stationary bike and felt that being outside would be preferable. There must have been something that kept me going.


While I have pulled out a couple of gardening books, I am leaving those to winter. Look them over and make plans for next summer in front of the fireplace under a blanket. I am going to make a journal with pictures as to what I have done this year and what I want to do (so far) next year.


But I did read an interesting book this last week.


The Maid by Nita Prose will be published on January 4, 2022. I was given the book in exchange for my honest review. So, off we go…


The Maid tells the story of Molly Gray. Molly is a maid in a nice hotel. She is an excellent maid. Molly is not good with people. She can’t read facial expressions very well and tends to be very literal. She grew up living with her grandmother, who cleaned for a rich family. Her grandmother taught her to keep everything clean and neat and would explain things that people said or did to her. Molly’s grandmother died several months before the story opens and Molly is having trouble financially and socially.


Molly’s real problems start when while cleaning, she finds Mr. Black dead in his bed. The police detective does not understand Molly or her response to questions. We then find that perhaps there are some bad things going on in the hotel the Molly doesn’t understand.


Molly is an interesting character. She appears to be a bit simple, but appearances can be deceiving. There are several surprising twists that occur in the story.


I will admit that there was a time in the middle of the book that I was getting a little tired of Molly but then something would happen that would wake the story up and cause you to think. Some of Molly’s problems are very apparent to the reader and you think you can see what is going to happen next. But then there is something completely different, which is wonderful.


Thanks for reading!

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The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert

Dear Fellow Reader,

August. Can it possibly be August already? While I want time to pass so I can go on vacation, I don’t want summer to go so quickly.

I seem to have taken up working in the garden this year. It has been good, and it has been frustrating. As usual, I just started without thinking about what I was doing. Just a few years ago, I remember saying that we wanted less beds around the house. We filled in one with grass. (Not entirely successfully…) And here I am this summer digging up grass to put in another bed. All in the quest to have more color in the back yard. And weeding NEVER stops, does it? And there are some more things that I would like in the yard. This is a sickness, I say!

And I have been reading. Although I have been watching the Olympics, so my reading time has been cut back drastically. Oh, next week…

This week’s book is one that I was given in exchange for my unbiased review. So here goes.

The Perfume Thief is a historical fiction book with a bit of a twist. The book takes place in Paris during the German occupation of World War II. Clementine is a 72-year-old American living in Paris. She has lived her life as a con artist. Clem, as she is called in the book, escaped to Paris and opened a perfume shop in 1930. She is known for her elegant suits, which she wears almost all the time. Despite her reservations, Clem agrees to help Zoe St. Angel find the book of recipes from Paris’s most famous perfumer. The book has disappeared. So has the perfumer but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope for him because he was Jewish. To help her search, Clem befriends Oskar Voss, a Nazi officer who thinks he knows all about Paris. Voss is living in the missing perfumer’s house. In order to keep Voss’s interest, Clem tells him her life story – some of which he appears to already know. She has to appear to be helping the Nazi so that she has access to search the house. She also lightly poisons him to make him sick and more dependent on her.

The book has a vast array of characters both in Clem’s present day in Paris and in her murky past. She has been in love once in the past and that relationship had a major impact on her life. She is contacted by her lover’s daughter so she knows that the woman has died.

Is this my favorite book of the year? No. It is also far from the worst book I have read and I did read the entire book. (In contrast to a book I was looking forward to reading and only got 1/3 of the way in and stopped. Sorry, Graham Norton! No review for your latest.) Once again, I don’t think you should put it on the top of your TBR pile but if you run across it, you could enjoy it.

Thanks for reading.

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The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Woman sitting on sofa reading magazine in her cozy loft apartment

Dear Fellow Reader,

Last week, I received an offer for some free books. Yes, my TBR pile is sky high and I need to settle in with those books, I just couldn’t pass these others by without taking a few (Okay, does a few go as high at 12?)

These books were not hard reads. They were like cotton candy. They were very easy to read and I read 4 of them in just a few days. The books were all mysteries and they contained some element of the paranormal. Books that do not take any thought to read.

After binging on those, I had a tooth ache. Not really but I just didn’t feel like reading. I had consumed too much fluff.

But then I got the notice from the library that I had a book waiting for me. So, I had to go get it, right? I started it and was sucked in quickly. Once again, this is not War and Peace. It is a better book than the ones I read last week.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is the story of Sabrina and Ray. Sabrina is from the Wisconsin Dells. She grew up there and her family has been there for years. Sabrina is reluctantly back home because she is broke and unemployed – again. All she wants to do is get away from WI but she comes home to get a job to work off her school loan debt and credit card debt. Part of the issue is that she has anxiety issues and doesn’t like talking to people. She likes to write, which is why she went into journalism, but it is not working out for her. She takes her nieces and nephew to the water park one day and meets Ray. Ray has recently moved to the Dells, but a branch of his family has been there since the town’s inception. He grew up in New York and worked in the family real estate business but doesn’t like it. He came out to care for his Uncle Harry during his last days and found that he loves the town and loves running the supper club in the town.

Ray is fascinated with Sabrina from the very first but can tell that she is hesitant. After several incidents of them running into each other, they start talking. Sabrina has a family secret that makes her feel that others judge her constantly. She was terrorized in school by the “popular girl” and even years later, the woman still tries to make her life miserable. (and she usually succeeds)

Will Ray understand about her family secret and not run away from her? And can she work out why Ray’s uncle’s ghost is hanging?

It is a light read but enjoyable. At this time of year, it is a great beach read. Not too hard to keep the characters straight and easy to enjoy. Also, if you are a Wisconsin fan, this book is a real Wisconsin book. Down to having the recipe for a Brandy Old Fashioned at the end. (Yes, it is a real thing.)

I read another book by this author, The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go, but I don’t really remember it. I must have liked it or I don’t know why I would have requested this book. Anyway, if you are on a wait list for The Kindred Spirts Supper Club, then try one of her other books.

Thanks for reading!

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Murder at Wedgefield Manor by Erica Ruth Neubauer

Dear Fellow Reader,

Summer has certainly hit with a vengeance, hasn’t it? Hot days and then rain and humidity. I must admit that as much as I want to be outside, I am not a fan of humidity. I hate dripping! It gets the pages damp.

I said the wrong thing to Silent Sam last week. I told him that I hoped it would rain on Saturday so that I could stay under a blanket and read all day. Little did I know that that wish would lead to days of rain. I was half-kidding! While reading always sounds good, I did want to work in the yard. I have never done much but I have been working on it more this summer. I am not fully convinced that it looks any better. It’s a process, right?

 I did take time for a nice break to read Murder at Wedgefield Manor, the second in the Jane Wonderly series by Erica Ruth Neubauer. Last May, I reviewed the first book, Murder at the Mena House. In this book, Jane Wonderly is visiting Wedgefield Manor in England with her Aunt Millie before she returns to Boston. In the first book, we found out that strait laced Aunt Millie was the mother of Lillian, whom she bore out of wedlock. It is a not very secret secret. There are undercurrents in the house that come to a head when Aunt Millie makes a comment about how the house staff should not be fraternizing with the family. After angry words were spoken, the young man (a mechanic working for the family) tears off in a car to blow off some steam. This is the young man’s post-war coping mechanism that the family is familiar has witnessed before.

But then word comes back that the young man had an accident, is dead, and that the brake lines in the car had been cut. And then out of the blue, Mr. Redvers arrives at Wedgefield Manor. Jane has her suspicions as to why is he there (Is Aunt Millie up to her old matchmaking tricks?)

While Jane and Mr. Redvers seek to untangle the mystery, we can enjoy the slowly budding romance between the two and learn the backgrounds of all those in the house.

Yet another enjoyable mystery by Erica Ruth Neubauer. It is a good summer mystery. It is not heavy or bloody or greatly suspenseful. Just a nice read. As I mentioned before, this is the second book in the series. There will be at least three in the series. A great deck or beach read!

I am looking forward to the third installment!

Thanks for reading!

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