Review: “Agnes and the Hitman” by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Review- “Agnes and the Hitman” by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

A review by Vanessa.

Cranky Agnes is a cooking columnist with an anger problem. She just wants to feed everyone she meets, write her next cookbook, and throw the wedding of the century for her goddaughter. If the men in her life would stop pissing her off, she wouldn’t have an anger problem. There is only one man she trusts, the old mobster Uncle Joey, and it’s him she turns to when a deranged dognapper shows up in her kitchen. But Uncle Joey knows why this sudden string of crazies is showing up at Agnes’s recently purchased (in need of major rehab) beautiful Southern home. So he calls the only man he can trust with Agnes’s safety: his nephew Shane, the government employed hitman.

Shane is too busy with a hit gone wrong to abandon work and rush to protect some little girl his uncle knows; but since it is the first and only time Joey has asked for help in 25 years Shane decides to honor his request. Imagine his surprise when Agnes turns out to be a cranky, comely, take-no-prisoners lady who cooks like a dream and knows how to defend herself: with her best heavy non-stick frying pan of course. Shane can tell something more is up than what Uncle Joey is willing to admit, and he is not going to leave until he can make sure that Agnes makes it through and gets everything she has earned. With an upcoming mob-wedding looming on the horizon, a ticked off rogue hitman on the loose, and the previous homeowner causing all kinds of problems, Agnes and Shane will have to work together to make it through.

As a follow up to my last review, I decided to review the follow-up collaborative novel by the Crusie/Mayer team; and as expected they did not disappoint. The excellent combination of situational humor, action, and searing romance wins again. Cranky Agnes is a totally lovable lady with a relatable dark anger simmering under the surface that makes her both multidimensional and captivating to read. She is both caring and unforgiving, with an attitude that brooks no argument but somehow still manages to inspire loyalty and support from the good people who care for her. Shane is a sturdy, reliably dependable contrast to Agnes. He is a steady, straightforward, problem fixer, which is a contrast in itself considering that Shane is a hitman.

It’s interesting to consider that he ended up in a violent lifestyle, even though his mobster uncle Joey sent him to military school to keep him away from the violent life of a killer. As per usual, the two leads are accompanied by a fascinating and varied supporting cast of characters. The old world Southern mafia is an amazing setting for the backstory, juxtaposed with Agnes’s modern world of cooking. The two blend well and make for a driving story arc that will keep the reader turning pages. The love interest between Agnes and Shane is incendiary, exploding at just the right moment and in the best way possible. Love it!

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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BLOG TOUR: Review of “Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers” by Lynda Renham

Fudge Berries and Frog's KnickersA review by Amanda.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to review Fudge Berries and Frog’s Knickers.

Poppy Wellesley is a rich, entitled socialite, and happily so. She is the daughter of Sir Rupert Wellesley, Minister for Family and has never wanted for anything in her entire life. That is, until her dear daddy is arrested for fraud and all of their accounts are frozen. Poor Poppy finds herself without her allowance, a place to live, and most devastatingly, her fiancé. On the advice of her father’s financial manager, Poppy takes what little money she has available and reluctantly buys a houseboat. It’s tiny, dingy, and not at all what she’s used to – which might be a good thing, after all.

The title of this book caught my attention right away, sounding intriguing and potentially hilarious. I was not disappointed! Poppy is not the most sympathetic of characters. She makes snap judgments based on appearances, is completely spoiled, and has a tendency to babble, oblivious to how her words affect the people around her. Her closest friends, Chelsea and Camilla, and a wannabe paramour, Lord Balthazar Wyndham-Price (affectionately called Lord Balls) try their best to be supportive and include Poppy in their own lavish lifestyles. Silly and spoiled themselves, they are still very loyal and are some of the few people who don’t abandon Poppy when her money disappears. Even Poppy’s fiancé, Roddy, ends their engagement once the news about her father breaks. Roddy has a gambling problem and his father has threatened to cut him off from his inheritance if he doesn’t marry “well” – i.e. someone with money. He’s fallen in with a bad crowd and owes money to the wrong people, like mobster Jack Diamond. Roddy is, for lack of a better term, a pompous jerk. He continues to lead Poppy on, while dating someone more “appropriate” at the same time. Troublingly, Poppy finds herself attracted to her new neighbor, Taylor. This is a problem because he’s poor, and because she suspects that he is a drug dealer. Still, he does help Poppy out of the many pickles that she finds herself in. Taylor found me fully on his side when Poppy thanks him for rescuing her and his response is “You don’t need rescuing.” Beautiful!

This book was a delightfully fun read! The only real drawback is a bit of confusion with the formatting. Most of the story is a first person narrative a lá Poppy. Occasionally, it switches to third person views from other characters, like Roddy or Jack Diamond. Some of these POV changes are announced mid-chapter with the character’s name, to let the reader know whose perspective we’ll be getting. However, this is very inconsistent and sometimes the wrong character’s name is listed. For example, the first time that the narrative changes the heading says Jack Diamond when it is actually Roddy’s point of view. Other than that, I adored this story and will be on the lookout for more romantic comedies by Lynda Renham. Fans of Bridget Jones’ Diary or the Confessions of a Shopaholic series might enjoy this book.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Poppy Wellesley is rich. In fact Poppy Wellesley is very rich, so when her fortunes change from riches to rags Poppy has to start a whole new life. Put yourself in her Guccis as she swaps her penthouse apartment for a run-down houseboat on Regent’s Canal. Meet her dippy friend Chelsea, the infamous Jack Diamond (see The Dog’s Bollocks) and her hunky boat neighbour, Taylor. Will Poppy hold on to her millionaire fiancé or will Pug-face Pandora steal him from her? Can she avoid the advances from Balls (Lord Balthazar Wyndham-Price) or does she find true love on the canal? Fudge Berries and Frogs’ Knickers is a romantic comedy roller coaster ride that will put a smile on your face and a cheer in your heart.
Author Bio 
Lynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. She has had several poems published as well as articles in numerous magazines and newspapers. Recently she has taken part in radio discussions on the BBC.She has studied literature and creative writing and has a blog on her web page: www.renham.co.uk

Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

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