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Sunday, January 12, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell (Mystery)


SPENT IDENTITY
Annalisse Series, Book 2
by
Marlene M. Bell

Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Light Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: December 11, 2019
Number of Pages: 378


Scroll down for the giveaway!






A body, a disappearance, just another hot summer in upstate New York.

It’s July when antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury reaches her family’s small-town farm to consult with the trusted aunt who raised her. She learns that her beloved homestead—the one she expects to inherit—is for sale. While Annalisse reels at the betrayal and her shattered dreams, the Walker Farm ranch manager discovers a corpse in the barn. Officials close the suspected murder scene, and Annalisse seeks refuge with her aunt at Alec Zavos’s rural estate in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Then Aunt Kate vanishes.

Annalisse solicits the help of Greek tycoon, Alec Zavos, even though their rocky romance has dissolved into routine separation. What began as hope on Crete nine months ago has eaten away at Annalisse’s hope for a future with him.

In Spent Identity, Annalisse and Alec come together for the second time and find themselves in the center of not one mystery, but several. Where is Kate, and why sell her farm now? Is the dead man a coincidence or a clue to the aunt’s disappearance? John Doe’s identity may hold needed answers to solve the puzzle before Kate’s unstable health issues make her rescue impossible. The clock ticks, and a vengeful murderer is in charge…

WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER FOR SPENT IDENTITY:

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photo credit: Kristine Hall @hall_ways


I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review. 

When the previous book in this series, Stolen Obsession, toured with Lone Star in 2018, I did not have the opportunity to read it. Garnering so much fanfare from the team definitely got my attention, so I was super excited to get a chance to read this book for this tour. Although the author does a great job of incorporating previous events into this story so that new readers won't feel lost, I do want to return to the first book simply to understand more of the nuance that is certainly difficult to capture when you start from the middle. While I enjoyed the story, I'm quite sure I would have felt more connected to the characters and their romance had I obviously began with the first book. 

From the very beginning, a disarming tone is set up that suggests not everything is what it seems. Something is dead, but no one is quite sure what. When the body is found, questions surface about identity and whether the actual ID card discovered can be trusted. And then suddenly, Kate vanishes. So many crimes are going on, but are they all connected or just coincidences? Escalating crimes follow, bringing more danger to the mysteries. Walking through the perspectives of Annalisse and Alex allows the truth to unfold right along with the reader, so every twist and turn is shocking for everyone and incredibly difficult to pin down until the final reveal. 

While at times unsettling, I enjoyed just how much action and adventure Annalisse finds herself in considering her everyday career as an antiquities appraiser. While I personally haven't determined how I feel about Annalisse, her character is a testament to how lifelike she has been written. She could be charming, annoying, resilient, fragile, or fickle. She has strong emotional responses and reactions, yet I found myself either wanting her to trust her instincts more or acknowledge the possibility that if a clue looks like a clue it more than likely is a clue. 

The tension is fantastically built as the characters move to new locations to find out more information; however, the pacing tended to slow down once they arrived and casual conversation ensued or romantic trysts were attempted. I found myself baffled at times by the lack of urgency when the violence and upheaval was taking a dramatic uptick. But in the end, it seemed to speak once again to how authentic the writing reflects our own reactions at any given moment. 

"The scent of honeysuckle from pots on the porch quickly replaced her concern for something dead nearby."

Echoing the reflections of fellow reviewers, the author's descriptive writing is phenomenal at setting the entire scene, especially when it comes to the olfactory sense. Whether it's the body decomposing in the barn, Kate's signature lavender sachets, rank body odor, or the fresh scent of warm pastry, every aroma emanates off the page, leaving you scrunching your nose or taking a deep breath! The imagery is beautiful or nightmarish, but remarkably well done.

Overall, this was a fast paced, engaging, and easy read that will resonate with  readers who enjoy their mysteries with a little more edginess. I look forward to the next book, Calico Raven, to discover what Annalisse will find herself thrust into next!






Marlene M. Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested on her website or www.texassheep.com. Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in beautiful East Texas with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large and lovable Maremma guard dog named Tia, and Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats who believe they rule the household -- and do.
 Website║ Facebook Twitter  LinkedIn ║ Goodreads  Amazon Author Page  BookBub   Blog



$350 PRIZE PACK / ONE WINNER
Autographed copy of Spent Identity & companion notebook, Mary Poppins-style bag (18x13” tapestry carpet bag with leather trim, handmade in Israel), $100 Amazon gift card, and 18” freshwater pearl necklace. 
JANUARY 7-17, 2019
(US ONLY)


a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions!

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3 comments:

  1. You found the right word for what makes this book different: edginess! And you nailed it with Annalisse. She's very human and realistically written, so sometimes she's endearing and sometimes she's annoying and all points in between. Thanks for the review!

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  2. Thank you for reading Spent Identity and your review comments!

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  3. Another nice review pointing out something different about the story and the characters. Good job!

    ReplyDelete