Tag: American Setting

REVIEW: Amanda Flower’s A PLAIN DISAPPEARANCE, Or The Hammer and the Mouse

A Plain DisappearanceIf there’s one thing Miss Bates can say about the occasional cozy mystery series she follows, it’s that they remind her of a favourite autumnal sweater. Heather-green wool, hand-knit from Scotland, she’s waiting for that October chill to don it and walk the red- and gold-leaf-strewn streets of her native city. Thus is Amanda Flower’s Appleseed Creek series now that Miss Bates has read the latest and third volume: comfortable, familiar, endearing. It’s also lovingly written and in keeping with the sympathetic conventions of the cozy. On the other hand, it suffers from the bane of any series: familiarity breeding contempt … and the particular bane of the cozy, the reader’s increasing difficulty to sustain belief in the viability of that many people murdered in a small town and our heroine’s bad/good luck in consistently finding the bodies!  Continue reading to learn what Miss Bates thought of Flower’s latest

REVIEW: Debra Webb’s BRIDAL ARMOR, Or Snow and Spooks

Bridal ArmorThanks to Wendy the Superlibrarian, Miss Bates is a category romance fan, big-time! The two Sarahs, Mayberry and Morgan, are some of her all-time favourite contemporary romance writers. Nevertheless, she’d never read one from the Intrigue line and leapt at the chance … only to fall, dejected, from her elation. There was nothing inherently wrong with Debra Webb’s Bridal Armor. It delivered, as most category romances do, in most cases. “Ah, there’s the rub,” said Miss Bates, the problem lies in the concept of category.

Miss Bates learned her lesson: “Intrigue,” in the MissBatesian sensibility of reading preferences, just ain’t her cuppa. Pretty much the same reason the detritus of her popcorn bag were more interesting than the Jason Bourne movie on the screen. If you’re a fan, however, dear reader, there isn’t any reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Bridal Armor … as long as you’re not averse to reading a novel whose elements you’ve encountered countless times before. If the familiar is where you want to be, you’ll find your place here. Continue reading


Walnut“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” is from Leonard Cohen’s sublime song, “Anthem.” These words echo for Miss Bates every time she reads a Ruthie Knox romance. It was the case for her favourites, Ride With Me and About Last Night, as well as her most recent read, Flirting With Disaster.

Knox is good at cracking open her characters to expose vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and secret, deep shame. She especially likes to do this to her heroes, though her heroines are put through the wringer too. She builds them back up, bolsters them with a credible HEA. The “light” part, that’s the HEA; boy, does she ever love the cracking open, though: sometimes Miss Bates is so embarrassed for them, she squirms in Her Reading Chair. Knox splits them like a walnut, exposing the whirls and whorls of their personalities. The aftermath to this laying bare differs for hero and heroine: the heroine has to reach self-acceptance; the hero has to change. It was so in “Making It Last” (see Miss Bates’s review here), and it is so in Flirting With Disaster.  Miss Bates has more to say, if you’d like to continue reading