03 June 2011

The Scent of Jade

By Dee DeTarsio
Published by Just Publishing
05 October 2010
Kindle edition courtesy of Dee DeTarsio

In a rut in San Diego, Julie Fraser decides to surprise her husband, Colin, by joining him in Costa Rica where he is on a business trip. Julie expects her vacation to be one of lounging by the pool and ordering room service. She couldn't be more wrong.

A string of mishaps is awaiting Julie on this vacation: she accidentally steals a jade idol believed to be directly related to global warming, finds herself lost in the rainforest, gets stoned, befriends a monkey, is rescued by a gorgeous local, discovers a love potion, and gets arrested, all the while trying to ensure the idol doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Julie's time lost in the rainforest isn't just a series of escapades, however. The reader also gets to know Julie in non-humourous moments as she reflects on her marriage and her life in San Diego.

DeTarsio has given us a bit of mystery, a bit of suspense, a bit of romance, and a lot of humour all rolled into one book. It's a quick read, due not only to DeTarsio's nicely paced writing but because you just can't leave at the end of a chapter. Wondering what was going to happen to Julie kept me going page after page after page.

This book is a step away from conventional chick-lit or women's fiction or however you want to phrase it. There is no shoe shopping, manicures, or pedicures; just a dirty stinky woman lost in the jungle (who would probably much rather be shoe shopping and having manicures and pedicures).

This is a fun book. And even though Julie was dirty and smelly through most of the book, she was a breath of fresh air to me.

01 June 2011

Royal Flush

By Rhys Bowen
Published by the Penguin Group
Berkley Prime Crime mass market edition / September 2010

In installment III of the Royal Spyness Mysteries, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter of the later Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch, granddaughter of the least attractive of Queen Victoria's daughters, half-sister to Hamish (present Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch), thirty-fourth in line to the throne, is forced to leave London for Scotland's Castle Rannoch after a failed attempt at a new business venture - escort services.

In previous installments of this series, the Queen has asked Georgie to keep on eye on the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson. Georgie arrives at Castle Rannoch only to find Mrs. Simpson and a group of Americans have taken over her home which is in close proximity to Balmoral where the Prince of Wales is summering. With her brother, Binky, laid up in bed and her sister-in-law, Fig, going out of her mind with the unexpected guests, Georgie finds herself investigating a series of mishaps that have her wondering if one of the houseguests is trying to kill members of the royal family.

As usual, Bowen does a delightful job with the dialogue in her books - the jibes at Mrs. Simpson and the Americans are an absolute hoot. Bowen portrays British society in the 1930s perfectly, particularly that of the royal set.

There's plenty of historical fiction in this book, but mostly there's a mystery to solve and my "favourite penniless heiress" does her best to solve it.