REVIEW: MRS. SAINT & THE DEFECTIVES, BY JULIE LAWSON TIMMER

Markie, a forty-something divorcée who has suffered a humiliating and very public fall from marital, financial, and professional grace, moves, along with her teenage son, Jesse, to a new town, hoping to lick her wounds in private. But Markie and Jesse are unable to escape the attention of their new neighbor Mrs. Saint, an irascible, elderly New European woman who takes it upon herself, along with her ragtag group of “defectives,” to identify and fix the flaws in those around her, whether they want her to or not.

What Markie doesn’t realize is that Mrs. Saint has big plans for the divorcée’s broken spirit. Soon, the quirky yet endearing woman recruits Markie to join her eccentric community, a world where both hidden truths and hope unite them. But when Mrs. Saint’s own secrets threaten to unravel their fragile web of healing, it’s up to Markie to mend these wounds and usher in a new era for the “defectives”—one full of second chances and happiness.

snow sparks mini

From the beginning of Mrs. Saint and the Defectives, I was annoyed but intrigued by Markie’s new start that includes a bossy and intrusive next-door neighbor, Mrs. Saint.

Just when Markie had moved on a bit with her son and her new at-home job, Mrs. Saint was there, showing up and trying to control everything in their lives, including bringing a dog, adding chores for Markie’s son Jesse, and even asking for numerous favors from Markie to assist with the group of “defectives” that Mrs. Saint has added to her community.

As time passed, however, Markie did find some benefits from the quirky community, although she was often frustrated by the vagueness of the old woman, who kept secrets…but seemed to expect Markie to reveal all of hers.

As the story concluded, we learn a lot more that fills in the blank spots in Mrs. Saint’s story…and offers an unexpected layer to her history. 4.5 stars.

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “ALL THE COLORS OF NIGHT”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a book that has been languishing on my Kindle for a while:  All the Colors of Night, by Jayne Ann Krentz.

***

Intro:

“Why kill me?”  Sierra Raines said. “I’m just the go-between.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Raines,” Parker Keegan said.  He aimed the pistol at her.  The weapon shook a little in his hand.  Keegan’s eyes were wild with lust—not the sexual kind; a different sort of madness, but just as dangerous.

***

Teaser:

Her responses were growing increasingly curt.  Her eyes flicked back to Sierra, who had just put the camera back on the stand. (p. 61).

***

Synopsis:

North Chastain possesses a paranormal talent that gives him the ability to track down the most dangerous psychic criminals. When his father suddenly falls into a coma-like state, North is convinced it was caused by a deadly artifact that traces back to the days of a secret government program known only as the Bluestone Project. North knows his only hope of saving his father is to find the artifact. He is good when it comes to tracking down killers, but to locate the relic he’s going to need help from a psychic who knows the shadowy world of obsessive collectors, deceptive dealers and ruthless raiders.…

With her reputation in ruins after a false accusation, antiques expert Sierra Raines is looking for a fresh start. She turns to the murky backwaters of the paranormal artifacts trade, finding and transporting valuable objects with a psychic provenance. When North Chastain approaches her for help, Sierra takes him on as a client, though not without reservations. North represents the mysterious Foundation, the secretive organization established to police the underworld populated by psychic criminals and those, like Sierra, who make a living in the shadows of that world.

North and Sierra soon find themselves at the scene of the Incident, which occurred decades ago in Fogg Lake. The town and its residents were forever changed by the disaster in the nearby Bluestone Project labs. The pair unearths shocking truths about what happened that fateful night, but they are playing with fire—someone in town knows what they’ve discovered and will do anything to make sure the secrets stay buried.

***

What do you think?  Are you drawn to the story?

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE LAST NIGHT IN LONDON”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a book that has been resting on my Kindle for a while:  The Last Night in London, by Karen White.

***

Intro:

Prologue – London, April 1941

The cool, clear night shuddered, then moaned as the fluctuating drone of hundreds of engines eclipsed the silence.  A wave of planes like angry hornets slipped through the darkened sky over a city already wearing black in preparation for the inevitable mourning.

***

Teaser:

Eva stared up at this beautiful man, wondering if finally her luck had changed.  Or if she blinked, would he and the cape and the shoes all disappear? (p.60).

***

Synopsis:

London, 1939. Beautiful and ambitious Eva Harlow and her American best friend, Precious Dubose, are trying to make their way as fashion models. When Eva falls in love with Graham St. John, an aristocrat and Royal Air Force pilot, she can’t believe her luck—she’s getting everything she ever wanted. Then the Blitz devastates her world, and Eva finds herself slipping into a web of intrigue, spies, and secrets. As Eva struggles to protect her friendship with Precious and everything she holds dear, all it takes is one unwary moment to change their lives forever…

London, 2019. American journalist Maddie Warner, whose life has been marked by the tragic loss of her mother, travels to London to interview Precious about her life in pre-WWII London. Maddie has been careful to close herself off to others, but in Precious she recognizes someone whose grief rivals her own—but unlike Maddie, Precious hasn’t allowed it to crush her.  Maddie finds herself drawn to both Precious and to Colin, her enigmatic surrogate nephew.  As Maddie gets closer to her, she begins to unravel Precious’s haunting past—a story of friendship, betrayal, and the unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

***

What do you think?  I’m enjoying this one so far.

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE STRANGER BEHIND YOU”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a new acquisition:  The Stranger Behind You, by Carol Goodman

***

Intro: (Prologue:)

I have noticed in my professional capacity that when someone makes a point of saying that they’re not lying, that usually means that they are.

When the realtor brags that she hasn’t lied about the view, though, I have to admit that her claim is demonstrably true:  the view is spectacular.

***

Teaser:

Simon doesn’t say anything right away, and I’m afraid I’ve put him off with my self-pity.  Simon once told me he didn’t do pep talks.  I stare at Bot’s blinking blue light, wondering if I could ask her to weigh in, maybe program her to repeat supportive homilies. (p. 62).

***

Synopsis:

Journalist Joan Lurie has written a seething article exposing a notorious newspaper tycoon as a sexual predator. But the night it goes live, she is brutally attacked. Traumatized and suffering the effects of a concussion, she moves into a highly secure apartment in Manhattan called the Refuge, which was at one time a Magdalen Laundry. Joan should be safe here, so how can she explain the cryptic incidents that are happening?

Lillian Day is Joan’s new 96-year-old neighbor at the Refuge. In 1941, Lillian witnessed a mysterious murder that sent her into hiding at the Magdalen Laundry, and she hasn’t come out since. As she relates to Joan her harrowing story, Joan sees striking similarities to her own past.

Melissa Osgood, newly widowed and revengeful, has burning questions about her husband’s recent death. When she discovers a suspicious paper trail that he left behind, she realizes how little she knew about her marriage. But it seems Joan Lurie might be the one who has the answers.

As these three lives intersect, each woman must stay one step ahead of those who are desperate to make sure the truth is never uncovered.

***

I am loving this book.  Would you keep reading?

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a relatively new book from a favorite author:  The Night She Disappeared, by Lisa Jewell.

 

***

Intro:

June 2017

The baby is starting to grumble.  Kim sits still in her chair and holds her breath.  It’s taken her all night to get him to sleep.  It’s Friday, a sultry midsummer night, and normally she’d be out with friends at this time.  Eleven o’clock:  she’d be at the bar getting in the last round for the road.

***

Teaser:

Then a buzz passes across the room, and inside the frame of the double doors appear Scarlett Jacques and her gang.  They’re laughing among themselves and none of them has made any effort to look nice.  Scarlett’s faded-blue hair is tied back into two short pigtails. (p. 61).

***

Synopsis:

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.

One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?

With her signature “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Lisa Jewell has crafted a dazzling work of suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page.

***

Would you keep reading?  I love this author, so I definitely would.

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new downloads:  The Other Side of the Door, by Nicci French.

***

Intro:

(After)

I turned around and checked the door of the flat.  It was closed.  That wasn’t enough.  What if somebody arrived suddenly?  What if they had a key?  I pulled my sleeve over my hand so that I wouldn’t touch it directly and, awkwardly through the cloth, grasped the bolt and slid it across as quietly as I could.

***

Teaser:

She sat on the other side of the boat and put her feet against the body, pushing it away from her.  I took the shoulders and tugged.  The boat rocked violently. (p. 59).

***

Synopsis:

Who is more dangerous? An enemy, a friend, or a lover?

When Bonnie Graham arrives at her boyfriend’s apartment in London, she is horrified to discover a dead body in a pool of blood on the floor. But she doesn’t call the police. Bonnie hides the corpse and then carefully wipes away any evidence she was ever there.

Bonnie is a music teacher who spent a long, hot summer in London rehearsing with a band to play at a friend’s wedding. It was supposed to be fun, but the band members find the complicated knots of their friendships—some old, some new—unraveling as the days themselves unwind. What was meant to be a summer of happiness, love, and music turns deadly as lovers betray one another, passions turn murderous, and friendship itself becomes a crime.

Everyone tells lies. But is anyone prepared to tell the truth to uncover a murderer?

***

What do you think?  I love this author, so I’m eager to keep going.

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “ROCK PAPER SCISSORS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new books, which I am currently reading:  Rock Paper Scissors, by Alice Feeney.

Intro:

February 2020 (Amelia)

My husband doesn’t recognize my face.

I feel him staring at me as I drive, and wonder what he sees.  Nobody else looks familiar to him either, but it is still strange to think that the man I married wouldn’t be able to pick me out in a police lineup.

***

Teaser:

I keep my jacket on—I’m freezing—and watch as he locks the front doors with a giant old key.  I’ve never seen it before, but I’m so tired, maybe it was there the whole time and I just didn’t notice.

***

Synopsis:

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts–paper, cotton, pottery, tin–and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

***

Would you keep reading?  I am enjoying it so far.

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “A SLOW FIRE BURNING”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a new book:  A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins.

 

Intro:

Blood-sodden, the girl staggers into the black.  Her clothes are disheveled, hanging off her young body, revealing expanses of pale flesh.  Shoe lost, foot bleeding.  She is in agony, but the pain has become inconsequential, eclipsed by other sufferings.

***

Teaser:

Carla heard Daniel; he was crying, too.  “Leave her alone!  Uncle Theo!  Please!  Leave her alone!”

***

Synopsis:

When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him. Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim’s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of yet another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim. Three women who are – for different reasons – simmering with resentment. Who are, whether they know it or not, burning to right the wrongs done to them. When it comes to revenge, even good people might be capable of terrible deeds. How far might any one of them go to find peace? How long can secrets smolder before they explode into flame?
 
Look what you started.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “28 SUMMERS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a book I purchased a while ago:  28 Summers, by Elin Hilderbrand.

***

Intro:

Summer #28: 2020

What are we talking about in 2020?  Kobe Bryant, Covid-19, social distancing, Zoom, TikTok, Navarro cheerleading, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and…The presidential election.  A country divided. Opinions on both sides.

***

Teaser:

Summer #2: 1994

What are we talking about in 1994?  O.J. Simpson, Al Cowlings, LAPD chasing a white Bronco down the 405, the bloody glove, Mark Fuhrman, Marcia Clark, Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, Kato Kaelin, Judge Ito…

***

Synopsis:

When Mallory Blessing’s son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he’s not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It’s the late spring of 2020 and Jake’s wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.

There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?

Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother’s bachelor party. Cooper’s friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere—through marriage, children, and Ursula’s stratospheric political rise—until Mallory learns she’s dying.

Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.

***

I have had this book since July 2020,  but now I am excited to finally read it.  What do you think?

***

 

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “HOME FIRES”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a relatively new book:  Home Fires, by Fiona Lowe.

***

Intro: 

The scent of the rainforest—leaf mulch, mud and a spritz of eucalyptus—prickled Claire’s nostrils.  A fine mist settled over her, the chill sneaking around the tops of her woolen socks and skating along her bones.

***

Teaser:

Bec couldn’t remember exactly how or when she’d arrived at the hospital and she didn’t care.  There’d been road blocks and police cars and changing arrangements but none of it mattered. Nothing mattered when a nightmare of unfathomable dimensions had caught her up in its web. (44%).

***

Synopsis:

When a deadly wildfire tears through Myrtle, nestled along Australia’s breathtaking Great Ocean Road, the town’s buildings — and the lives of its residents — are left as smoldering ash. Eighteen months later, Myrtle stands restored, shiny and new. But is the outside polish just a veneer? 

For four women in particular, the fire fractured their lives and their relationships. Julie thinks tourism could bring some financial stability to their town and soon prods Claire, Bec and Sophie into joining her community group. 

But the scars of trauma run deep and as secrets emerge and each woman faces the damage the wildfire wrought, a shocking truth will emerge that will shake the town to its newly rebuilt foundations… 

With her sharp eye for human flaws, bestselling author Fiona Lowe writes an evocative tale of everyday people fighting for themselves, their families and their town.  

***

I am eager to read this one.  What do you think?

***