Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mai Tai One On by Jill Marie Landis


Publisher's Blurb:

Book 1 of The Tiki Goddess Series
Six months ago, if anyone would have told Em Johnson she'd end up divorced, broke, and running the dilapidated Tiki Goddess Bar on the magical North Shore of Kauai she would have told them to shove a swizzle stick up their okole.
As if all that isn't bad enough, when an obnoxious neighbor with a grudge is found dead in the Goddess luau pit, suspicion falls on Em and the rest of the Goddess staff. With the help of a quirky dance troupe of over-the-hill Hula Maidens, Em and the cast of characters must ban together to find the killer and solve the mystery before the next pupu party.

Mai Tai One On is the first book of a new series, and it is a quirky, fun, delightful escape.  Part mystery, part chick lit, and 100% enjoyable, Mai Tai One On takes place in beautiful Kauai at a run-down old landmark bar called the Tiki Goddess.  Owned by Em's Uncle Louie, who may or may not be suffering from senility, it is a tourist hot spot and local watering hole.  Em's arrival is a second chance for both her and the financially floundering bar.  After a humiliating and painful divorce back in Southern California, Em has started to come into her own managing the bar.  She has earned the respect and affections of her uncle, the new bartender running from a shady past, and a troupe of wacky "seasoned" ladies who are members of the Hula Maidens.  After a universally disliked neighbor is murdered and dumped into the Tiki Goddess' luau pit, Em and the Maidens decide to conduct their own investigation after the local police focus on Sophie, the new bartender with secrets.
Adding to the cast of characters is Roland, the hunky police detective who moonlights as a fire dancer.  Although the sexual attraction between Roland and Em is present, it is barely touched upon, and is secondary to the mystery and Em's adventures.  Readers who enjoy books without overt sexual scenes will love this enjoyable mystery lightly tinged with the beginnings of a romance.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series.


Monday, June 27, 2011

No One To Trust by Julie Moffett


Publisher's Blurb:

SWFG: Single, White, Female, Geek.
That's me, Lexi Carmichael, a reformed hacker who was gainfully employed by the National Security Agency. But a series of extraordinary events led me to leave government life behind for a fresh start with a brand-new company and an incredibly sexy boss, Finn Shaughnessy. It may not be kosher to have the hots for your boss, but he seems to have the hots for me, too. If only things didn't get so complicated...
Darren Greening, a genius researcher from Flow Technologies (our first client!) is missing, and his bosses think I'm involved. And they aren't the only ones—the man who nearly snapped my neck in the parking garage thinks so, too.
Now I'm caught in the middle of a complex and dangerous case. I'll have to use all my geek skills and a little help from my friends to solve the mystery of Darren's disappearance before Neck-Snapping-Man makes a return visit...

No One To Trust is a great mystery combined with a little romance and a whole lot of smart chick empowerment, with a generous dollop of laugh-out-loud humor.  Lexi Carmichael is a breath of fresh air - she is smart, funny, self-deprecating, and insecure.  As a former computer hacker and a supersmart woman with a photographic memory, Lexi is also socially awkward.  Adept at reading computer code, she has difficulty reading social cues, which results in her brusque (but charming) honesty.  In a world full of disingenuous people with their own agendas, the men in Lexi's life are attracted to her.  The fact that she is attractive and doesn't realize it adds to her charm.  But the thing I most liked about Lexi is the fact that she is a late bloomer.  At twenty-five, her poorly developed social skills and lack of experience, have made her acutely self-conscious.  She is hyper-aware of her appearance, her clothing choices, and her awkwardness in romantic situations. Her discomfiture is so well-written and honest that as a reader I could feel her embarassment, and I was having flashbacks to my own early-twenties.
 Part of Lexi's charm is that her big heart and good intentions result in finding herself in situations that are wacky and laugh out loud funny.  But through it all the reader is cheering for Lexi to figure things out.  Her best friend Basia is her polar opposite, and attempts to guide Lexi through dating and social minefields with sometimes outrageous results.  She is determined to teach Lexi to get in touch with her sexuality and this results in some truly funny situations.  There are three men in Lexi's life, and while she's not sure how it happened, she is starting to realize that all three are romantically interested in her.
While this is a character driven story, the mystery is well-written and engaging.  Trying to locate a missing scientific genius keeps Lexi and her sexy Irish billionaire boss, Finn, occupied as they sift through layers of sometimes baffling clues. 
As the second story in the Lexi Carmichael series, this is also a stand-alone book.  I have not (yet!) read the first one, but was able to keep track of characters and plot, and never felt like the author was obviously catching me up as a reader.
Laugh out loud humor, a believable and likeable heroine, a well-drawn mystery and three hot guys - what's not to like about No One To Trust?  Enjoyable, fast and fun - highly recommended.