THE FAMILY GAME by Catherine Steadman
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars
BOTM pick from December (’22)
THE FAMILY GAME was wildly entertaining! Harriet (who goes by Harry) was orphaned at age 11. Today, she’s a successful, newly published author who’s engaged to the man of her dreams. The one wrinkle is that Edward is estranged from his uber-wealthy, mysterious, old money family, and Harry hasn’t met them. Yet. When they do meet, it’s clear that the Holbecks want Harry to help bring Edward back into their fold. Edward’s intimidating father slips Harry a tape containing what sounds like a shocking confession, which gets her wrapped up in a deadly family game.
The first half of this book was a slow burn, but I was riveted. I loved watching Harry’s dive into this bizarre family’s world. The last part was crazy fast-paced and heart-pounding as Harry uncovers the disturbing secrets revealed on the tape. Yes, it was over the top, but so fun to read! I was left with a few unanswered questions, but overall it wrapped up with a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended!
THE LAST PARTY by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was a BOTM club pick for November (’22), and unfortunately it was a struggle for me to get through. It’s about two detectives investigating the murder of a has-been singer in Wales.
What I liked:
• The Welsh setting. I love reading about Wales, and I don’t come across many books set there (maybe I’m not looking hard enough!).
• The relationship between the two main characters, Ffion and Leo. They were two flawed and compelling characters, and I enjoyed their exchanges.
What I didn’t like:
• The story was very slow-paced with too much filler and too many time jumps.
• The victim was repugnant and I didn’t care why he was killed.
• There was a huge (HUGE!) cast of characters to keep straight, and most were unlikable or dull.
I’ve read and loved previous books by this author (I LET YOU GO is one of my all-time favorites), but THE LAST PARTY wasn’t for me.
AT SUMMER’S END by Courtney Ellis
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Being a woman artist in the 1920s was far from easy. Bertie Preston is thrilled when an invitation arrives from the Earl of Wakeford, asking her to spend the summer painting at his estate, Castle Braemore. She’s surprised to find a family still suffering in the aftermath of WWI, especially the earl who fought in the war, and now remains isolated in his chambers. The family is also hiding painful secrets that Bertie will soon uncover.
I was drawn to this book by the nod to the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. Bertie is a unique and compelling character for the time, a woman wanting to live independently as an artist. AT SUMMER’S END is a beautifully written historical romance that brings post-WWI England to life.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.