Phooey!

I hardly ever go on Facebook, but I decided to try to use it a little more often than I do now, and while I was away, too many things have changed. I had a heck of a time even trying to post a comment today. My Judi Lynn author account is now a business account, and it wouldn’t let me write a comment and hit enter unless I added something to the post. I played with the stupid thing for half an hour before I finally wrote ONE small post that worked, and it only worked because out of desperation, I added a “feeling” emoji. <sigh>.

I can’t even find my personal account right now. I keep being sent to the Tattered Book page. How did that happen? I feel like leprechauns came while I was away and screwed everything up.

I looked up “Why can’t I post on my Facebook author page?” in search and came up with so many reasons, I quit trying. I know Facebook has tried to make tons of improvements to help me boost followers, but that’s not going to happen if I can’t figure out how to use it. Aargh! There’s a reason I like twitter. It’s easy! At least, for now. Who knows what’s coming for it next?

One book finished, now it’s plotting time again

I published The Body in the Wheelbarrow, and I’ve debated about what I want to write next. I meant to write a new Laurel and Nick mystery. I even have a prologue/hook for the second book and an idea of the beginning and end, but I left Jazzi pregnant in book nine, and I sort of want to see Toby show up in book ten, so I’ve decided to write another Jazzi before turning to Laurel and Nick.

I changed my pacing in The Body in the Wheelbarrow, and most readers liked the faster pace. One faithful reader didn’t, so I hope I can come up with some kind of a mix for book ten. I hate to disappoint anyone, but I know some changes work, and some don’t. I’m adding babies into the new plot, and that’s going to change some things up, too. Jazzi’s dad and Jerod’s mom not only volunteer but demand getting to care for Toby one day a week, so Jazzi can still be involved in house flipping. I’m going to try to keep up with the balance between renovating a house, caring for babies, and solving mysteries. Fingers crossed I can pull that off.

In book ten, Franny’s sister is accused of murdering her ex-husband who cheated on her after she had his baby. He was jealous of all the time she spent on their new daughter, and instead of getting involved in caring for her, he slept with another woman. Jerod and Franny have Rachel and her baby girl stay with them while she’s out on bail. And of course, Jazzi tries to help prove that Rachel’s innocent.

I think book ten is going to be a challenge for me to write. I’m a little worried how I’m going to pull it off. But I’ll give it my best. And if I’m happy with it, I’m going to be ready to turn to Laurel and Nick again. They’re more of a straight mystery, and Nick and Laurel work together as a team to solve it. They can be a little darker than Jazzi novels. A nice change of pace.

Just as a side note, I meant to try a BookBub Ad for the new release of The Body in the Wheelbarrow, but after reading all the hints of how to make an ad work, I chickened out today. Maybe I’ll get brave and try again another day, but boy, running an ad is intimidating!

I’m a Newbie, and I screwed up

I had my newest Jazzi ALMOST ready to go. My critique partner wasn’t happy with my big final conflict scene, so I needed to rewrite it and run it past her again. For a while, I couldn’t think of a way to fix it, but bless my little grey cells, because I woke in the morning with a solution. I wrote all day that day, trying to make the last three chapters stronger. Then I sent them to her, but I know she works long hours on Friday and Saturday, and she wouldn’t be able to get to them.

So…I turned my thoughts to marketing. This time, I wanted to do a Goodreads Giveaway. And I wanted to do it BEFORE the book came out. So I decided to do a pre-order. I’ve never set one of those up before. My publisher did it for me. But other authors do them, so I gave it a try. When I clicked on the link, I thought I was choosing the date the pre-order would start and loaded my book. Instead, I chose when the book would go live, and the book went up before I got my feedback on what I’d tried to fix. So, I screwed up. I meant for the pre-order to go from Nov. 23 to Dec. 5. That’s what the giveaway dates are. Instead, the book’s pre-order went up the minute it was approved, and the book goes live on November 23rd, and it’s locked in so that I can’t change the mistakes my critique partner found.

Mary Lou said there were three easy fixes, so later, I’ll go back and fix them. But I hate sending a book out that I know has a bump in it. Arghh! The thing is, I thought I’d planned for the book’s come out better this time. And I did. But I sure didn’t understand how to do the pre-order the way I wanted to. But I live and learn. I’ll know next time. BUT if anyone out there is like me, just know that when you push pre-order and give a date, the book will go up as soon as Amazon approves it. They approved mine in only a few hours instead of the (sometimes) 3 days. Everything went faster than I expected. And if I’d done it right, I’d be thrilled. As is, the date I put down for what I meant to be the pre-order date was the date the book will go live. BUT, I’m still happy I did it. Hopefully, 50 people will win my Kindle book and maybe leave a review. I’m curious to see how that goes.

I like working with Goodreads. I’ve mostly had wonderful experiences with it. Fingers crossed, I will this time, too. But if I’ve confused you, The Body in the Wheelbarrow is up for pre-order right now. And on November 23rd, it’s live and for sale.

Goodbye, Old Faithful

This has nothing to do with writing. But when my first daughter was born in 1976–a bicentennial baby–we also bought a new furnace. And tomorrow, after all of these years, we have to install a new one. Our beloved furnace has kept us warm for all these years. Its heat exchanger is finally starting to crack, so we have to buy a new one, but really. How many people can claim to have had a furnace that lasted 46 years? I’m pretty sure the new one won’t be as good as the old one, but everything we buy these days isn’t made to last. It irritates me that I have to buy a warranty to guarantee that our expensive refrigerator will work for ONE year. Really? Manufacturers have so little faith in their products that they can’t promise they might work for a year or two? That’s just plain sad.

But tomorrow, the workmen will carry our furnace away. And I hope there’s a furnace heaven for products that work their hearts out. Goodbye, old friend. You have my love and respect.

Getting Nervous

I sent my Jazzi manuscript to my critique readers, and this is when I always get nervous. Did I get most of the book right? How many rewrites will I need to do? Did I do enough to keep readers turning pages?

I enjoyed this book because Jazzi and Ansel are expecting a baby. So far, pregnancy hasn’t felt very real for Jazzi, because she keeps feeling better and better as her body changes. Her waistline’s expanding, but so far, there’s no baby bump. It’s mid-March, and she, Ansel, and Jerod have bought a Greek Revival style house to flip. But this time, the men have strict rules for her. No caffeine, so everyone drinks caffeine free coffee to sympathize with her. No wine, and no heavy lifting. She’s not allowed to help patch the roof. She can still tear up ugly linoleum and refinish wood floors, but she can’t help hang drywall. It’s not until April, when she’s five months in, that she has to buy maternity clothes, and Ansel’s thrilled. Toby’s finally starting to take up space.

For this book, I saw a Greek Revival house in the Jan./Feb. 2021 Country Living magazine that I fell in love with. I tore out the pages to use as inspiration for my flippers. https://www.pinterest.com/judithpost/the-body-in-the-wheelbarrow/ I included a bust of C.S. Boyack because he gave me the idea of using Pinterest to save ideas for my books. I looked for images for a nursery, too, to get ready for Toby’s arrival. Ansel’s good at building things, and reorganizes the entire closet to make it easy storage for baby things. He built a cradle and baby bed for his son, too.

Of course, getting ready for Toby is only a subplot for the The Body in the Wheelbarrow. The main plot involves someone killing a fellow Derby race car driver, Sparks Stiller. Whoever did it loaded Sparks’s body into his car and drove to Jazzi’s dad’s assistant’s house, put it in Doc’s wheelbarrow, and left it beside his garage. Doc and Sparks were going to small claims court, so Doc’s considered a suspect. When Jazzi’s dad asks her to talk to her friend, Detective Gaff, to help Doc, she learns that she and Gaff can’t work together anymore. Gaff’s been teamed up with Detective Caden as partners, and Caden doesn’t bend rules. No citizens are involved in his work.

I hope the new wrinkle for Jazzi works. She feels let down by Gaff, but poor Gaff’s caught between a rock and a hard place. He can’t share information with her. I won’t know if I pulled any of my twists off until I get my bloodied manuscripts back. But it was fun writing this book!

Ugh!

I have a problem. My hearing isn’t what it once was. It’s frustrating. But I’ve never been good with accents. Never. My friend and I went on a trip to New Orleans years ago to attend a writing conference, and we stopped at a restaurant in Mississippi. The waitress came to take our orders and to tell us what the specials of the day were. We both listened to her and looked at each other. What did she say? “Can you repeat that?” I asked. She did. We still had no clue what she said. Her southern accent was so strong, we couldn’t make out what she said. We both ordered off the menu. I was too embarrassed to ask her to repeat the specials again.

I love English mysteries. So does HH. We watch more of them than we should, and we’ve always been able to understand what everyone says in every Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. We watched every White Chapel and never had a problem. We watched all of the episodes of Pride and Prejudice without a hitch. But lately, it’s hit or miss if we can understand what the actors are saying. I asked a few of my friends, and they’re having the same problem. The actors talk fast and lower voices, and HH and I look at each other and say, “What?”

We tried to watch the new mystery, Karen Pirie. The acting was wonderful. The story was topnotch. I’ll never watch another one. I didn’t understand key scenes and had to rewind them to try to figure out what people were saying. One of my friends uses Closed Caption to READ the dialogue. If an actor can’t deliver lines that I can understand, I’m not watching her or him. I have other options. We have a Bose speaker, and sometimes, that helps. The words are crisper, clearer. But the new way of acting that mumbles words in a low voice is just plain irritating to me.

Time for me to start watching Hallmark mysteries. The actors are easier to understand.

Agatha

When I was younger, I read one Agatha Christie novel after another. These days, I usually watch a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot mystery once a week, even though I’ve already seen most of them. There’s something about Christie’s style that comforts me. I’m still hooked on Agatha.

My friend bought me the book AGATHA CHRISTIE, AN ELUSIVE WOMAN by Lucy Worsley for my birthday, and I’ve been waiting for things to settle down so that I can enjoy it properly. I’m starting it tonight. While HH’s brother stayed with us, we watched David Suchet’s special on Agatha Christie’s life. Suchet played Poirot for 25 years and was looking for answers as to why her work’s been so popular and enduring. He explored her childhood, marriage and divorce, her second marriage and the “missing” time period when she disappeared for 11 days.

I loved the TV movie about those missing days–Agatha and The Truth of Murder, an alternate history where she disappears to solve a case. At the time, it was a national event, trying to find her. Search parties combed the area where her abandoned car was found. It made the newspapers every day. My friend told me the book she bought me might tell what really happened before she was found. Agatha never talked about it.

Christie herself was an interesting person, adventurous but private. David Suchet could only make guesses about what made her work so loved. Some people suggest readers loved the clever puzzles she created, the unexpected twist at the end of each book. Others argue that her exotic settings thrilled readers at the time. She took them to Egypt, on cruises, and on the Orient Express. She was fond of poisoning, so that a person might sip a cocktail in an elegant restaurant and die on the spot.

I love all of the elements in her novels, but for me, I mostly remember the characters she created with a few deft brush strokes. And I enjoy the interplay between those characters. So much can be hidden behind a smile. Her characters are complicated, and that makes them interesting. I’ve read a lot of mysteries by a lot of talented writers, but Agatha is still one of my favorites.

Are you a fan? What do you think made her one of the best-selling authors in the world?

Happy Halloween!

I thought I’d write a story with a little magic in it for Halloween:

Watchful Eyes

Zephyra frowned when Conan walked into her eatery for the fourth day in a row.  Why wasn’t he at his own restaurant serving the lunch crowd?  He got in line and approached the buffet, studying the specials for the day.  Three choices of sandwiches, three soups, and three salads.  When he reached her, he ordered the turkey with cranberry sauce on sourdough bread. 

“That’s what Jane always orders.”  Jane was his elderly relative, and she was sitting at a round table for eight with her friends.

“I know.  And she always chooses the minestrone soup and chopped salad—her favorite Thursday specials—so I will, too.  I figure if I come here enough, maybe she’ll notice me, and maybe you’ll stop by my pizzeria some night for supper.”

She didn’t see that happening.  She knew he was interested in her and didn’t want to encourage him, but the man sure was tempting.

When she only smiled, his dark eyes sparkled with amusement.  “I’ve lived long enough to love a challenge.”

She’d probably lived as long as he had and knew how to resist one.

He waited for an answer, and when he didn’t get one, said, “Okay, no reply.  I can take a hint.  I’m going to move down the line and leave you alone.”

Her young sous chef blushed with pleasure when he went to her station.  Drop dead gorgeous, he could charm with an offhand smile, and he’d definitely charmed Kaylee.  He looked back at Zephyra.  “Just remember, if you ever stop in for supper, it’s my treat.”

He owned one of the best pizza restaurants in town.  People drove from far and wide to try his pies.  Food critics compared him to New York and Chicago.  But then, he’d lived in both cities in previous lifetimes.  Italy, too.  He’d had plenty of time to perfect his products.  So had she.

She raised an eyebrow.  “You aren’t coming for lunch just to see me, are you?”

His lips curled into a seductive smile.  “Why not?  But I might have an ulterior motive.  Jane comes here every day.  She likes and trusts you.  If she sees me with you, she might actually talk to me someday.”  He was hundreds of years older than his relative and had kept track of her.  The old woman had a zest for life, but when he’d tried to bond with her, she’d shooed him away, didn’t trust “young” men who were attentive to old women.  Little did she know. 

Zephyra appreciated that he wanted to be there for Jane in her later years, so decided to help if she could.  “I’ll come sit at your table for a while.  If Jane sees us together, she might give you a chance.”

His smile grew.  “You have a soft spot for her, too.  Thank you.” 

He looked too pleased with himself.  She had a vague feeling she’d just been out maneuvered.  Was he here to get closer to Jane, or had he thought of a way to get closer to her, too?

Zephyra nodded to Kaylee.  “He wants minestrone.”

“Trying to get rid of me.  I get it.”  He looked amused as he turned to Kaylee.  “What have you got for me today?”

The girl’s blush deepened.  Only twenty, she was in culinary school with big dreams of becoming a celebrity chef.  “You ordered minestrone, right?”

“I grew up in Italy as a boy,” Conan told her.  “Your soup looks like something my mother would have made.”

“Zephyra taught me how to make it.”  Kaylee ladled it into a cup and passed it to him.  There was no way she could know Conan was a boy hundreds of years ago, and his mother might still be alive.  He moved his tray to the salad section where Trent waited on him.  The young man had a frown pulling at his brows as he glanced at Conan. 

“Is something wrong?” Conan asked.

“It’s probably nothing, but the guy at table three keeps staring at Kaylee.  He’s been here a few times lately, and it’s like he’s obsessed.  I don’t like the way he looks at her.”

Conan turned to study the customer, then glanced at Zephyra.  He nodded to the man.  “Is he a regular?”

Zephyra shook her head.  “He only started to come recently.”

Conan ordered the chopped salad, then returned to where Zephyra stood.  “He doesn’t take his eyes off Kaylee.  When she goes home, does she have a roommate?  Someone she lives with?”

“No, she’s alone in a small apartment a few blocks from here.”

“Close to us?  We should keep an eye on her.”  Conan lived above his pizzeria, and she lived above the eatery.  

Zephyra bit her bottom lip, nervous now, too.  The man’s gaze was too intense.  “I’ll come sit with you the minute the line slows down.  We’ll talk.”

With a nod, Conan went to the cash register to pay for his food, then found a small table near the man who only focused on Kaylee.  The man ate slowly, only taking a bite of food occasionally.  He had a newspaper that he glanced at now and then as if he’d come here for a leisurely lunch.

When the line of customers slowed down, Zephyra handed over the buffet to her assistants and went to sit with Conan.  “What do you think?”

“He’s making me worry.”

They were both studying him when Jane and her group of friends rose from their table to leave.  Jane stopped when she saw Zephyra sitting with Conan.  She frowned.  “This young man approached me, but he was a stranger.  I shooed him away.  Do you know him, dear?”

“Yes, he’s a friend.  Actually, he has family connections to you.  That’s one of the reasons he came here.  To meet you.”

Jane turned a sharp eye on him.  “Really?  Are you a distant relative?”

“Very distant, but I heard about you, and since we live in the same city, thought I’d look you up.”

Jane gave a naughty smile.  “And I told you that I don’t trust young men who try to charm old women.”

Conan laughed.  “Something like that.  But I understood where you were coming from.”

Zephyra motioned for Jane to join them, and she did, taking the seat across from Conan.  “Explain yourself.  How are we related?”

“Your grandfather was a distant relative of my mother.  Sort of complicated.”

Jane gave him a look.  “I study genealogy.  Did you know our local library is one of the best in the country?”

“I did, but I have a family Bible that lists everyone with a bloodline to me.  So, I wanted to meet you.”

Jane’s gaze rested on him, her expression thoughtful.  “Are you part of the Bianco family?”

Conan hesitated.  “Have you heard of us?”

“An ancient family.  My great-grandfather told me about you.  You visited him before he died.”

“Someone in my family did,” Conan said, correcting her.

She shook her head.  “No, it was you.  You visit everyone in your bloodline when their time is near.  My grandfather, my father, my mother…You come to comfort them, to be with them.  They all talked about you.  Grandma thought you were our family’s guardian angel.”

He glanced sideways at Zephyra.  “I’m no angel.  My parents taught me that family was everything, to respect my heritage.”

Jane cocked her head to the side, contemplating him.  “A kind thought.  How long do I have?  I’d rather do something fun with you than have you sit by my hospital bed.”

Conan grew serious.  “You’re the last of our line.  You never married, never had children.  Neither did your brother.”

Jane waved that away.  “You’re still alive.  Why not make children of your own?”

Conan’s eyebrows shot up, surprised by her directness.  “No one will have me.”

With a snort, Jane waved that away.  “You came a month before my brother died.  He was gay, you know.  He had such a crush on you.  He gushed on and on about you.”

Conan stumbled for a minute, then said, “Did I make his last days better?”

“You’ve made all of my family’s last days better.  You’ve always been there for us.  You even offered money that some of us didn’t have for funerals and gravesites.  Over and over again, one generation after another, you came.  You’re as handsome as everyone said.”

“I’m glad you think so.”

Jane nodded at Zephyra.  “Why aren’t you trying to charm our wonderful chef?  You and she would make beautiful babies.”

Zephyra’s jaw dropped.  “Jane!”

The old woman chuckled, pleased with herself.  “Yes, dear?  And may I ask how old you are?  I’ve come here for fifteen years, and you haven’t aged a day.”

Uh-oh.  She might have to move soon.  “Great beauty products.”

“If you say so, but you and your friend both look thirty.  Probably have for a long time.  You seem like kind people, or…whatever you are, so why not connect and find happiness together?”

“We only met a short time ago.”  Conan wouldn’t mention they came together watching over her.  “Right now, we’re trying to decide if the man at the table by the wall is a stalker.  He never takes his eyes off Kaylee.”

Jane turned to look at him.  He must have felt their gazes on him, because he caught them staring and stood to leave.

Conan waited for him to walk out the door before he stood, too.  “I’m going to follow him.  If he goes to his car, maybe I can get his license number.  Don’t save my lunch for me, but you owe me a meal, Zephyra.”    

Jane watched him go.  “He’s a protector.  You could do worse than him.”

“I’m happy with my life just the way it is.”  But Zephyra was impressed that he’d go out of his way for Kaylee.

“Safe is nice, but you have a chance for so much more.”  She patted Zephyra’s shoulder before leaving, too. 

Zephyra headed to the kitchen.  She, Kaylee, and Trent cleaned together, and after they left, she stayed to bake fresh bread for tomorrow’s sandwiches.  She didn’t climb the steps to her apartment until after five.

Someone banged on her door at six.  She was stretched on her couch, reading a book, but got up to see who was there.  She cracked the door to find Conan holding a covered, foil pan, grinning at her.

“You owe me a meal, remember?  But I brought one to share.  Chicken alfredo from my restaurant.  I can tell you about your mystery man while we eat.”

She was curious what he’d found out, so opened the door and invited him in.   Conan headed straight to the kitchen and set the pasta dish on her counter.  He lifted the box on top of it.   “Salad.”  He put a bag next to it.  “Bread sticks.”

The aroma of cream sauce and garlic filled the room, and Zephyra realized she was starving.  She’d only had a cup of soup and nibbled on salad at lunch. 

When she licked her lips, Conan lifted the foil to dish up.  “It’s as good as it smells.  I’ve had years to perfect the recipe.”

She didn’t doubt that, so went to a cabinet and pulled out two plates.  Ten minutes later, they were seated at the long, narrow table that separated her kitchen and living room, eating and sipping wine. 

“This is really good,” she told him, mopping the last of the sauce from her plate.

He leaned back in his chair and emptied his wine glass.  “The man didn’t lead me to his car this afternoon.  He walked straight to a condo near the riverwalk and disappeared inside the building.  He had to use a code, so he must live there.”

“He never noticed you following him?”

“All he saw was a black dog.  A few people tried to catch me, but they were easy to dodge.  I’m not sure he’d have noticed anyway.  People stepped aside when they saw him, he looked so angry and upset.  I think we spooked him enough that he might make a move of some kind.”

“Should we call the police?”

“And tell them what?  He hasn’t done anything.  I’m going to shift again and keep watch on him tonight.  I just hope I can stay awake.”

“I’ll come with you.  We can take turns napping if we have to.”

“You have to work tomorrow.  I can sleep in and let my assistant run the lunch crowd.”

“I’ll pull on my magic for energy.  I want to help keep Kaylee safe.”

“Okay, then.  When do you want to leave?”

“Now.”  The air was nippy but not cold.  She waved her hand to lock her door when they stepped outside, then they headed to an alley across from the man’s condo. 

He shifted first, his body stretching and morphing, then her body shrank to become a white cat.  They padded to the front of the alley, where they could hide in the shadows to watch the man’s condo, and laid down together to stand guard. 

The sun set.  Even with fur, they moved closer together to keep warm.  The feel of Conan stretched beside her was reassuring.  She snuggled closer.  Stars sparkled above them before the man left his condo and began to walk to where Kaylee lived.  They followed him.  He stood outside her apartment building, looking up at her window, for a long time.  There was no movement, no hint that she was home.  Finally, the man left the shadows to venture inside the building.  They ducked in after him before the door shut behind him.  He never looked back, going straight to the stairs. 

They watched him climb the steps to Kaylee’s floor and followed discreetly.  He knocked on her door, waited, but no one answered.  He paced for a while before going to the end of the hallway where a heavy drape was pulled across a deep window.  He slid behind the thick material, disappearing. 

Conan nodded to the window at the other end of the long hall.  Sliding behind its drape, they jumped to stretch on the deep window ledge.  They were smashed even closer to each other with the limited space.  Conan curled around her, and she fell asleep. 

Footsteps woke her.  She blinked awake and stretched a paw to look through a crack in the curtain.  Kaylee was home and turning a key in her apartment door when the man rushed at her from his hiding spot.  She turned and gave a small squeal when he barreled into her and knocked her inside the foyer. 

Conan sprang into action immediately and raced to the open door.  She streaked after him.  The man had Kaylee pinned to the wall and his hands were groping her body.  He stopped and stiffened when he heard the low growl behind him.  Turning, he jerked with alarm when he saw Conan baring his teeth. 

He shoved away from Kaylee and spread his arms, smiling.  “Nice dog.  Everything’s fine.”  He reached into a pocket, and his hand gripped the handle of a small gun.

Zephyra launched herself at him, screeching and scratching.  She clung to his shoulder, digging her sharp claws into his face.  He was fighting her off when Conan sank his teeth into his shin.  The man yowled and tried to shake him off, too, while Kaylee called 911. 

The man was still struggling with them when the police arrived.  The minute they stormed through the door, Conan and she raced out of it.  They ran down the stairs and out of the building. 

They waited in an alley across the street until the police led the man to a squad car, his hands cuffed behind him.  Then they sauntered down alleyways back to her apartment.  Shifting before she waved the door open, they climbed the steps to her private residence. 

Conan’s nose was bleeding where the man had kicked at him to stave off his attack.  Zephyra’s neck was encircled in red where he’d tried to grab her to toss her off him.  They headed to the bathroom to treat their wounds.  They’d be gone by morning, their magic healing them faster than usual.  But they were really uncomfortable now. 

Conan got his bleeding stopped and helped her smear ointment on the back of her neck.  They were both tired.  He turned to her with a smile.  “Thanks for going with me.  I’m going home now so you can get some sleep.”

She reached for his hand.  “I’d sleep sounder with you next to me.”

He went still, staring at her.  “Are you sure?”

“We make a good match, a black dog and a white cat, like yin and yang.”

He pulled her to him and bent to kiss her.  Jane’s words flitted through her mind.  “Safe is nice, but you have a chance for so much more.”  So true.  She and Conan could have many happy lifetimes together.

Balance

Okay, I’m a Libran, which might mean that I like balance a little too much. I just finished reading Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews. And I loved it…like I always do. And I gave it 5 stars, because the writing is wonderful, but my true score would have probably been 4.5 because there was SO much action, I lost some of the characterization that I love in her earlier books.

There’s something about the last book in an action series. It has to be bigger and badder than the books that came before it. But for me, that means there’ll be even more action with bigger battles and bigger odds, and less characterization and relationships. Ruby Fever had these, and I enjoyed each and every single one of them, but they were overwhelmed by one battle after another.

Now, to give Ilona Andrews credit, she comes up with so many different kinds of battles, that it’s entertaining. Her protagonist, Catalina Baylor, is a siren, who constantly has to struggle to keep her magic under control. But when she’s stressed, the siren turns into a harpie with black wings that pop out of her back, and then her magic turns deadly. Under that much pressure, the harpie is even harder for Catalina to control. Her fiancée, Alessandro, is a warrior type mage who can THINK of a weapon, and it’s in his hands. He’s gorgeous and deadly. But the villains coming against them are nothing to sneeze at. Arkan is trained in the Russian military fighting techniques, and he can snap his magic so that no one can move for 15 seconds to defend themselves. Really deadly.

Catalina’s brother-in-law is a telekinetic who can summon a whirling weapon with blades. He can topple trees, destroy buildings. Her sister and aunt can crush minds. Her friend, Cornelius, can communicate with animals. Which doesn’t sound deadly until he summons thousands of rats to attack or pats the head of a deadly beast summoned by an enemy from a different dimension. Every battle is different in an Ilona Andrews’ novel. And that’s what I enjoy about them. And the battles in this book were WONDERFUL.

But, I did get a little overwhelmed by battle after battle, and I missed a little more character interaction. But I can never go wrong with Ilona Andrews. When I want a good read, she’s guaranteed entertainment..