Last Diner Standing by Terri L. Austin

17133514Title: Last Diner Standing

Series: Rose Strickland Mystery, Book 2

Author: Terri L. Austin

Published: December 3rd 2012 by Henery Press

Genre: Mystery

Age group: Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Last Diner Standing (Rose Strickland Mystery, #2)

Summary:

Rose Strickland is having a blue Christmas. Her friend is arrested for attempted murder, her sexy bad guy crush is marked by a hit man, and her boss is locked in an epic smackdown with a rival diner. Determined to save those she loves, Rose embarks on an investigation more tangled than a box of last year’s tree lights.

With her eclectic gang at the ready, Rose stumbles across dead bodies, ex-cons, chop shops, jealous girlfriends, jilted lovers, and a gaggle of strippers in a battle for freedom she might not survive.

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Having read the first book in the Rose Strickland Series last week, I was right away hooked onto it, and couldn’t wait to read the next one ‘Last Diner Standing’. You can guess, that I had really high expectations about it, but they were all justified.

Just like the first installment, ‘Diners, Dives & Dead Ends’ focuses on its main character Rose Strickland navigating the crime world of Huntingford City. This time Rose is trying to prove the innocence of her friend Janelle, who is accused of hitting her ex-husband (known from the previous book as Asshat) and murdering his lover Crystal (or Chicken Licker :)). Janelle swears she didn’t do anything, but she may go to prison for life if her innocence isn’t confirmed. Besides, she has two kids to raise, and of she is imprisoned they will go into foster care. Rose is a true and reliable friend, and she believes Janelle wholeheartedly. In fact, she starts her own investigation, when the police once again turns out useless.

Rose Strickland is the kind of character I couldn’t help but admire. I already mentioned in my review of ‘Diners, Dives & Dead Ends’, that she was a very refreshing type of heroine. She is a loyal and devoted friend, has a good head on her shoulders and a wicked sense of humor. But what is also great about her is that she is very independent and won’t let anybody make decisions for her (Even Sullivan, though he really tries). It’s been a long time since I really loved a book character, but Rose is so amazing. She is the type of person I would definitely be friends with in real life.

But, as a matter of fact, ‘Last Diner Standing’ simply abounds in a set of good, well-developed characters, both main and supporting. It’s not like other books where you only care about the main characters and all the others fade into the background. In Terri L. Austin’s books everyone has their own story, either funny or mysterious, but all intertwined with Rose’s.

I loved the addition of the diners’ confrontation as a side-story. While Rose rushed all over the town in search of the real killer, there were some really funny thing happening at her workplace. Ma, the owner of the diner Rose works as a waitress at, is all worked up about her rival Rudy now serving breakfasts, too. But Ma isn’t going to let this pass, her diner has been famous for their breakfasts for many years. And now Ma isn’t going to lose, even if it means for her to start serving lunches, which slowly exhausts both her and her staff. The battle of the diners was such an amusing plot line and after reading about Rose’s dangerous adventures, it was a good contrast to let my mind relax at this humorous drama.

What was only a hint at romance in the first book, now is a strong growing attraction between Rose and Sullivan. Their romance may be considered forbidden (what with Sullivan being a high-profile criminal), but just like Rose I could easily forget about it, when Sullivan was so attentive and caring. Again it was a good contrast, as it showed that not every criminal is heartless, like those Rose met in her investigation. Some of them are normal people, who just happened to be on the other side of the law system.

The cozy mystery books by Terri L. Austin are the first of this genre that I’ve read, and now I’ve become a real fan, especially of this particular series. I’m in a desperate need to get my hands on the continuation, I really hope it will come out soon. These books are the ones that can make you forget the time and place you’re in, as their intriguing plots won’t let you stop reading till the very ending. Thanks to Terri L. Austin for such a wonderful reading experience!

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Favorite character: Rose Strickland

Favorite quote: “There are some absolutes in this life that are irrefutable. If you leave the house looking like crap, you’ll see someone you know, usually an ex-boyfriend. If you’re running late for an appointment, you’ll hit every red kight on the way. And a three a.m. phone call is never good news.”

Diners, Dives & Dead Ends by Terri L. Austin

13557115

Title: Diners, Dives & Dead Ends

Series: Rose Strickland Mystery, Book 1

Author: Terri L. Austin

Published: July 12th 2012 by Henery Press

Edition: ebook, 235 pages

Genre: Mystery

Age group: Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Diners, Dives & Dead Ends (Rose Strickland Mystery, #1)

Rose Strickland, 24 years old, comes from a rich and snobby family. Her mother is controlling pretty much every aspect of her husband’s and her two daughters’ lives. While the older sister Jacqueline is more than happy to oblige, to follow whatever life path her mother chooses for her, Rose is not that passive. She doesn’t want to go to the college her parents paid for, but prefers to find something different, something to appeal to her interests.

But such kind of disobedience is not something her mother cares to tolerate. It’s either all or nothing. So since the age of 18 Rose has been cut off from her parents’ financial support and maintains a very cold and strained relationship with them. Jacqueline is the only one to stay in contact with Rose, and she actually tries to restore peace within the family.

To be able to pay for her studies and apartment, Rose works as a waitress at Ma’s Diner, but her financial situation is really bad, which by her mother is considered a shame for the family.

But in terms of friendship, Rose doesn’t lack anything. She’s in good relationship with the whole staff at the Diner, particularly with fellow waitress Roxy and her boss Ma (who’s, by the way, is about 80 years old, but totally lively and energetic). Another one of Rose’s best friends is Axton, whom she’s known since school, with their families sharing the same social circle. But they became really closer 5 years ago, when both came to the Huntingford City College.

Rose and Axton don’t really have much in common, though, especially with Axton being a fan of sci-fi movies and fantasy books and consuming weed on regular basis. But it was him who helped Rose overcome the most hardest periods in her life, when she only learned how to live independently.

Axton almost always acts weird (some of it may be the pot influence), but one morning he stumbles into Rose’s workplace, all nervous and secretive, asks her to keep his backpack, and then disappears. Rose is very worried about him and after police turns out to be useless and Rose being threatened by some mysterious man to stay away from this case, she starts her own investigation. What she finds out, though is both unexpected and highly dangerous.

The story is not something I read very often, but it is the statistics I plan to change. First of all, following my New Year’s resolution to read more different genres, and, secondly, judging by this particular book, cozy mystery is a really enjoyable read. So there definitely will be more books like this on my reading list.

‘Diners, Dives & Dead Ends’ is a winning combination of mystery, adventure, humor and a hint at possible romance. The main heroine Rosalyn Strickland is no pushover, she’s independent, brave and loyal. She’s not the one to let anybody control her or her decisions, if she sets her mind on something, there’s no stopping her. It’s very rare to find such a heroine in a book now, so this one was like a breath of fresh air.

Rose’s determination to save her friend Axton is both admirable and very brave. I may have been wondering why these two actually became friends in the first place. They just seem top opposite to me. Rose is just this good girl, who works hard to make something of her life, and Axton is kind of problematic. Yes, they helped each other in some tough moments of life, but what was the actual starting point for the friendship? Besides, if they were such good friends, couldn’t Rose have already influenced Axton about his way of life? Especially if Axton already had several pot possession misdemeanors.

Another thing that kept my eyes constantly rolling was the fact that seemingly every other guy Rose meets throughout the book immediately had the hots for her. I counted 5 guys pining over her! Seems too much to me and kind of reminded me of some lame YA romance books!

Rose’s investigation of Axton’s disappearance was very adventurous and humorous. There were some really unexpected plot twists, but I liked the way Rose conducted herself. Rose’s sidekicks Roxy and Ma are very independent and passionate characters, I liked them just as much as I liked Rose. They are funny, impulsive and entertaining.

And can I just say how much I liked Sullivan? Yes, he is the bad guy here, but he was really mysterious and when he saved Rose in the end, I just knew there’s something going on between these two.

Hope the next installment will turn out just as great, I’m definitely reading it next week. And I would recommend this book to anyone who loves easy-reading and fun stories, with a really intriguing plot and good well developed characters.

A Lot Like Love by Julie James

 

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Title: A Lot Like Love

Series: FBI / US Attorney Series, Book 2

Author: Julie James

First published: March 1st 2011, Penguin

Edition: ebook, 259 pages

Genre: Romance

Age group: Adult

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A Lot Like Love (FBI / US Attorney, #2)

Synopsis:

The FBI wants her cooperation. As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of the city’s top wine store, Jordan Rhodes is invited to the most exclusive parties in Chicago. But there’s only one party the FBI wants to crash: the charity fundraiser of a famous restaurateur, who also happens to launder money for the mob. In exchange for her brother’s release from prison, Jordan is going to be there—with a date supplied by the Bureau.

Agent McCall just wants her. As the top undercover agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has one rule: never e they’re both determined to pull off even if they can’t be together for five minutes before the sarcasm and sparks begin to fly. But when Nick’s investigation is compromised, he and Jordan have no choice but to pretend they’re a couple, and whaget personal. This “date” with Jordan Rhodes is merely an assignment— ont starts out as a simple assignment begins to feel a lot like something more.

My thoughts:

I’m officially in love with this book. Julie James yet again has managed to create a wonderful story mixing an undercover crime investigation, with all its danger and risks, and a hot and fiery love story.

Like Something About You, the first book in the series, A Lot Like Love takes place in Chicago and one of the central characters is yet again an FBI Special Agent. Just like Jack Pallas, Nick McCall is very responsible and loyal. Being one of the top undercover agents, Nick’s life is basically a series of new assignments Nick has to pretend different persons for, which is the reason for Nick’s main rule – never get personal. He would never allow himself to get attached to anyone, especially to the person he’s working with.

But it changes when he meets Jordan Rhodes to work on the new assignment. Jordan is a billionaire’s daughter and though Nick first considers her to be spoiled, his opinion of her changes the more they get to know each other.

Jordan Rhodes is never the person anyone would expect a billionaire heiress to be. Her dad taught her and her twin brother Kyle to never rely on his money. And so having to support themselves Jordan and Kyle are quite independent and realistic. As for Jordan, her passion for wine becomes the ground for her business, she is the owner of Chicago’s best wine store. But just like Nick she’s not really into the dating scene, her main concern is Kyle who gets arrested for shutting down twitter, an act called the Great Twitter Outage of 2011, which is actually quite an entertaining story in itself.

So when FBI agrees to reduce Kyle’s sentence, Jordan has no other ways out. She desperately wants to help her brother even though it means she has to take part in FBI’s next undercover investigation, for which she and Nick will have to pretend a couple.

And from this point the love story begins to develop. In all the other situations the romance between Jordan and Nick would have probably take more time to grow, but since it’s an undercover assignment for both of them, it of course means possible dangers, which makes the hidden emotions to come out. I liked that there are sparks between them from the very beginning, first based on physical attraction of course. Nick thinks Jordan is stunning even before meeting her, having seen only her photo. And Jordan feels tingling the moment she sees Nick. His bad boy -ish appearance is a sign for Jordan to be on her guard.

As the story goes they get to know each other more as the persons and those prejudices they had about each other in the beginning become groundless. The sparks and electricity keep growing to until they reach their limit which results in a series very hot love scenes, which Julie James is really a master of.

After some necessary dangerous happenings concerning the investigation (Jordan almost gets killed) and decision-making consideration on both Nick’s and Jordan’s part concerning their relationship (Nick decides to leave his undercover work in order to be with Jordan and Jordan learns to be more open about her feelings) the happy ending is a sure thing.

What is also great about the story is that being the second in the FBI/U.S. Attorney Series it incorporates the characters from the previous installment. It was so great to have Cameron Lynde and Jack Pallas take part in this story too and to also see that their relationship is still on and is even stronger.

What I like about Julie James’s books it’s their simplicity. They are easy reads, of course, I finish each book in just one day. But their very entertaining and quite addictive as having read one book I quickly start with the next one, it seems I can’t get enough of them.

Of course this book is about romance first of all and though it does create some suspense with all this undercover investigation, the love story is the main theme. And for me it’s not bad, as the love story is what I’m reading this books for in the first place. About That Night is next on my to-be-read list for sure.

Something About You by Julie James

 

6642402

Title: Something About You

Series: FBI / US Attorney Series, Book 1

Author: Julie James

First published: March 2nd 2010, Berkley Sensation

Edition: ebook, 251 pages

Genre: Romance

Age group: Adult

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Something About You (FBI / US Attorney, #1)
Synopsis:

Fate has thrown two sworn enemies…

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career…

…into each other’s arms

 Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension…

My thoughts:

First of all I absolutely love romance, and I’m always looking for new books to read. So while navigating Goodreads.com and expanding my to-be-read list I stumbled upon this unknown to me author Julie James with really good reviews. I checked the books summaries and found them interesting. So I began with the first book in the FBI / U.S. Attorney series about Chicago FBI Special Agents and U.S. Attorneys investigating crimes. But it’s not only work for these people. Sometimes they let their feelings and emotions take control, thus presenting the most beautiful but bordering with danger love stories. This combination of danger and emotions, some detective plot lines with an amazing love story developing through the course of the book is what doesn’t let you put the book down till you reach the last page. The characters are really full developed and realistic here. There are no blind spot here, which is rare for this type of books. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde is a strong, intelligent and independent woman and FBI agent Jack Pallas is hot, brooding and protective. The chemistry between them is so strong and electric it can be felt even through the book. I liked the development of the story, this hate turned love plot. In the beginning Jack hates Cameron for what he thinks she did to him 3 years ago. But even that can’t stop sparks from flying between them. And when it’s becoming too much for both and the reader to handle, Jack learns that all his hate was groundless. And that’s when the romance really explodes, the scenes between Jack and Cameron described by Julie James are crazily hot and steamy. The idea to mix the love story with the crime investigation was not only refreshing and balancing, but it was also quite interesting by itself, though I would have loved if we knew the killer a little bit later in the story to keep the suspense a little longer. All in all Something About You was a great read and I’m definitely signed on to read the next books in the series, which I’m sure will be just as great as this one.