One last set of beach reads as we say goodbye to summer

Red Rose by Mary Balogh

Class Ebook Editions Ltd., 2016 
Format: Ebook

From the Book Description: 

Red Rose is the digital reissue of a previously published and long out-of-print novel by New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.

Edward Marsh, Earl of Raymore, is a connoisseur of beauty, whether it be music or art or women. 

When he inherits two wards, however, and decides to marry them off as soon as possible during a London Season, he finds one of them virtually unmarriageable. Rosalind Dacey has none of the delicate, blond beauty of her cousin, and a pronounced limp resulting from a childhood riding accident has robbed her of grace and self-assurance. She resents what she sees as Edward’s ruthless, high-handed tyranny, and he is infuriated by her outspoken stubbornness. 

Their volatile quarrels soon lead to passion of a different sort, however. And Rosalind possesses talent as a pianist that draws Edward secretly and against his will to listen, enthralled, to her daily practices in his music room…

What I Thought

A straightforward Regency romance with a satisfying Happily Ever After ending. That probably undersells it a bit, but sometimes a reader just wants a comfort book, especially at the tail end of summer when the days are flying by and beach time is becoming an ever-more-precious commodity not to be squandered on unpredictable disappointments.

Mary Balogh reminds me a bit of Georgette Heyer in that she writes engaging but ultimately consistent romances. You don’t always know how it will end up turning out all right, but you are reasonably certain that it will. Balogh doesn’t break the rules of the Regency romance genre and that’s pretty much what I look for in a last days of vacation read.

Who Would Enjoy This Book

  • Romance readers looking for a non-explicit romance with which to wind down their summer

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton

Blackstone Audio Inc, 2011  
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Graeme Malcolm

From the Book Description: 

“In the isolated villages in the north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the chimney sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until the day that Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager’s fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. The entire town of Lochdubh is certain Pete is the culprit, but Hamish doesn’t believe that the affable chimney sweep is capable of committing murder. Then Pete’s body is found on the Scottish moors, and the mystery deepens. It’s up to Hamish to discover who’s responsible for the dirty deed–and this time, the murderer may be closer than he realizes.

What I Thought

I first discovered M. C. Beaton through her historical fiction novels, which she wrote under her maiden name Marion Chesney. A good Chesney historical romance is a lovely way to wile away a summer afternoon, so when I learned that Marion Chesney also wrote mysteries under the name M. C. Beaton, I decided to see how her sense of humor and eccentric characters fared in a murderous Scottish village. 

I was not disappointed. Macbeth’s utter lack of ambition (after all getting promoted would force him to leave Lochdubh); the tug-of-war between Macbeth and his superior officer (who very much wants to close the station at Lochdubh, which of course Macbeth can’t allow because it force him to leave Lochdubh); Macbeth’s on-again, off-again romantic entanglements with women (who all insist on leaving Lochdubh); and of course the oddly charming characters that populate this lethal little town provide a humorous backdrop that keeps the tone of this cozy mystery series light enough to be entertaining, despite the death toll.  

Fun fact: Although most of her U.S. publishers now distribute all of her work (mysteries and historical romances) under the name M.C. Beaton, she has actually used several pseudonyms throughout her long career, including Marion Chesney, Helen Crampton, Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, and Charlotte Ward. So if you are looking at an older edition in a used book store written by any of those people, you are really holding an M.C. Beaton. Enjoy! 

Who Would Enjoy This Book

  • Readers who enjoy cozy mysteries


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