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.