Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang | Review

About The Book

Essie Lang’s series début is perfect for fans of Lorna Barrett, Vicki Delany, and book lovers everywhere.

Rookie book-store owner Shelby Cox must hit the books to learn the ropes before she loses a killer in the stacks.

Shelby Cox never intended to become a bookseller, so when the former editor returns to her home-town of Alexandria Bay, nestled in up-state New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region, to take over her aunt’s book-store, she has no idea what to expect. To her amazement, she discovers that she now owns a fifty-percent share in Bayside Books, and will also run the store’s second location in the majestic castle on nearby Blye Island.

But just as Shelby is gearing up for the start of the tourist season, the Castle volunteer coordinator is found murdered in the nearby Grotto. Castle caretaker Matthew Kessler is suspect number one, but Shelby thinks the killing may be connected to an earlier era, when violence among Prohibition-era smugglers was rampant in the region. As Shelby launches her own investigation, handsome and unnerving Special Agent Zack Griffin of the Coast Guard Investigative Services tries to quell her smuggling theory and keep her safe. But Shelby is determined to summon all her savvy as a book editor to plot the murder—and find the killer before he strikes again—in Trouble on the Books, Essie Lang’s clever and captivating series début.

My Thoughts

As a lover of cozy mysteries, I knew I would be onto a winner with this début in a new series! “Trouble on the Books” ticked all the right boxes before I had even started reading. The setting – a cosy book-store in a castle, no less – and an eye-catching, colourful front cover – all the makings of a great read for me. And I was even afforded a rare opportunity to begin a series from the offset as I always seem to pick them up half-way through. Here was my chance to, hopefully, discover another new favourite author to add to my ever-growing list.

There aren’t many settings as perfect as a bookshop located within a castle, and Essie Lang made great use of this. Alexandria Bay is a fine lakeside town, with a real sense of community and a general feeling of nostalgia. This, as well as a town full of secrets, made it a brilliant backdrop for a murder investigation.

Essie Lang has drawn some fascinating and very useful characters in this début. Protagonist Shelby has the necessary attributes of any great sleuth – intelligence, curiosity and attention to detail – but lacks some of those needed to make a success of the book-store, ‘Bayside Books’, as she is not great at dealing with people. I could see avenues for Shelby’s progression as the main character in any future books in the series.

I was especially fond of Essie Lang’s portrayal of Shelby’s endearing Aunt Edie. She was depicted as having great strength-of-character and was someone who always wanted to be on-the-go.

Even though the murder investigation itself took some time to get going, this did not detract from the story in any way as this book had many of the components that make a really good story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the existence of family secrets. There was a true sense of increasing danger as the story progressed, which definitely helped to keep my interest.

Another of my favourite aspects of this novel was the fluidity of the writing. The details of the plot were brilliantly executed and every chapter left me with a compelling need to read on.

I also enjoyed the little sparks of romance in this wonderful cozy mystery.

I very much look forward to returning to ‘Bayside Books’ in  Alexandria Bay with Shelby and Aunt Edie on a future occasion!

[Thanks to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and the author, Essie Lang for my free ARC of Trouble on the Books in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

Happy Reading!

Pisces Hooks Taurus by Anyta Sunday | Review

About The Book

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.

It would be perfect.

And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of any more?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring an unapologetic romantic and a broken realist.

More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!

Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, will-they-or-won’t-they

Genre: New Adult, lighthearted contemporary gay romance

My Thoughts

This is book four in a series named ‘Signs of Love’ and it was such a delightful little love story! The other books are ‘Leo Loves Aries’ and ‘Scorpio Hates Virgo’, followed by ‘Gemini Keeps Capricorn’.  “Pisces Hooks Taurus” is the only book from the series that I’ve read and I was happy to have read it as a stand alone.

Although I would say that this novel is light, funny and uplifting, it also has strong themes centred around recognising vulnerabilities and personal improvement.

Anyta Sunday’s character development was really good. Zane was very offbeat and unique and also pretty likeable. Beckett, so well drawn by the author, was quieter, more down to earth and reliable. Their romantic adventure was wonderfully charming and amusing. Much of banter between them had me laughing-out-loud on many occasions.

There were many things that were fantastic in this book. As well as the beautiful character detail, there was the slow-burn romance, the humour and the innuendo.

For me, Anyta Sunday showed such talent in this inspiring and delightful tale. This is my favourite kind of romance – one written with imagination and with real characters who, though flawed, gradually develop a real connection with each other.

I really loved the story and the journey on which I was taken throughout “Pisces Hooks Taurus” and I was rooting for Zane and Beckett from the offset. Though there was sexual tension and a touch of eroticism, this was nevertheless, a classic romance that was deeply enchanting and so full of truth that I didn’t want it to end.

Thank you, Anyta Sunday. This was a great read and so extremely worthwhile. 

[Thanks to NetGalley and the author, Anyta Sunday, for my free ARC of  Pisces Hooks Taurus in exchange for an honest review.]

#PiscesHooksTaurus #NetGalley

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

Happy Reading!