I'd like readers to know a bit about the other books as well, as a sort of thank you to Harvest House. So here goes:
Blind Dates can be Murder
By Mindy Starns Clark
This is obviously the second book in a series that starts with The Trouble With Tulip.
From the back cover:
She's a sassy single woman full of household hints and handy advice for every situation...except matters of her heart. Her first romantic outing in months is a blind date--okay, the Hall of Fame of Awful Blind Dates--but things go from bad to worse when the date drops dead and Jo finds herself smack in the middle of a murder investigation.
With her neighbor Danny Watkins' help, Jo attempts to solve one complicated mystery while trying to figure out another--what on earth is going on with her love life?
This is labeled a smart chick mystery from Harvest House and is my kind of suspense. Even though there are real dangers involving Jo and her friends, the novel had a lighter feel to it that I thoroughly enjoyed, though I have to admit the ending frustrated me a little.
The Last Ten Percent
by Michelle McKinney Hammond
From the back cover:
Wondering what to do now, Tracy examines her priorities and choices. You'd think an intelligent woman with an impressive career, a coveted urban dwelling, and a closet full of the latest fashions could certainly find the man her dream desires.
But for Tracy and her four friends, there's more to happiness than simply finding Mr. Right. Adrian has always been the perfect Christian wife, yet even she finds that marriage comes with no guarantees. Muriel would just as soon lock her heart away where no man dare tread. Felicia could use a lesson in romantic restraint, and Carla wonders if God is punishing her for past mistakes.
As the future unfolds, these longtime friends discover that love comes in unique and amazing ways.
This is Hammond's first novel, though she has a number of non-fiction titles. I'd been really excited to read it because there has been talk around the internet from time to time about black authors and the uphill battle they face. I was all set to enjoy this glimpse into African American culture (a foreign concept to this rural Canadian girl) and that part did not disappoint me. Each of the major characters had distinct issues and personalities, but the book was really too short to give each one a full arc, so there were times I felt like bits of the middle were missing.
The biggest disappointment to me was the editing. I felt the entire book could have been much stronger if another editing pass had been made. As a writer as well as a reader, I'm sure my eye is much more tuned to those types of errors than many readers. I had to wonder if the editors brushed over it because of Hammond's previous non-fiction sales, treating her as an established author when in fact non-fiction writing is quite different. I was jarred out of the story on a number of occasions, which wasn't really the fault of the story itself.
All in all, I think this is the first novel I've written showcasing a black American culture and I did enjoy that glimpse a lot.
Seventy Times Seven
By Brandt Dodson
From the back cover:
Lester Cheek had everything a man could want...a beautiful home, a thriving business, and money to burn. But he was alone--very alone. Until he met Claudia.
The attractive and effervescent Claudia was everything Lester could hope for--she brought a joy into his life that his riches couldn't buy.
But then Claudia disappears...with no explanation and no trace.
Hired to find the missing Claudia, Colton Parker soon finds himself in a race against time to locate an international hit man and stop a murder for hire. But Colton must also wrestle with his personal demons...those that threaten to drive his young daughter away...and that can only be healed through forgiving past wrongs.
This is Dodson's second Colton Parker mystery. Aspiring Retail Magazine says: "Fans of Robert Parker's 'Spencer' novels will feel right at home. Recommended."
I don't read mysteries, and I enjoyed this.
So that was what was in my Christmas-in-September box. WooHoo!! Thanks, Harvest House.