Two New Books

Well, I didn’t catch up by the end of the year, but I’m working on it. Here are two 2020 releases (if nothing else, the year did produce some good books!) I’ve enjoyed in the last couple of months.

In Lowcountry Boughs of Holly, number ten in Susan M. Boyer’s Liz Talbot series, Liz and her partner (and husband) find themselves investigating the death of a Santa Claus murdered during the annual Christmas celebration on their island home of Stella Maris. Since the tiny Stella Maris police force has no detective bureau, Liz and Nate are on call to fill in, in the unlikely case that their services are needed.

There’s no doubt as to the identity of Santa Claus, despite the fact that his wallet, watch, cell phone and red Santa gift bag are missing when the body is discovered in a rowboat washed up on the shore. Liz and Nate know C.C. Bounetheau—they’ve worked for him before, and the experience left them no desire to work with his wealthy and prominent (but decidedly unpleasant) Charleston family. What on earth was C.C. doing on Stella Maris in the first place? It might have been a robbery gone wrong, but a whole list of possible motives—and suspects—quickly turn up.

Meanwhile, Nate is planning a blow-out Christmas trip for the whole family—Liz’s parents, her sister and brother, and their spouses—but he won’t tell anyone where they’re going. Or, Liz worries, how he’s going to pay for a trip for eight over Christmas.

Lowcountry Boughs of Holly involves old family secrets, a few more recent puzzles, and a wandering reindeer named Claude. It’s another excellent entry in a series I have enjoyed very much.

Natalie Meg Evans’ The Paris Girl is the sequel to The Secret Vow. The books follow the lives and loves of Katya and Tatiana Vytenis, born Russian princesses, refugees from the Russian revolution, now deeply involved in the fashion industry in Paris. When The Paris Girl opens, it’s 1923, Tatiana is engaged to a marquis and working as a mannequin for Maison Javier, in which Katya is a partner. But some terrible truths about her fiance’s family send Tatiana’s life spinning in an unexpected and frightening direction. Spoiled and self-obsessed as the novel begins, Tatiana grows up at last, but it’s not easy.

I’ve enjoyed several of Evans’ novels, but my favorites are set in Paris and in the fashion industry. The Dress Thief is set in the late 1930s, as the characters wait for the beginning of war, and The Milliner’s Secret in the early years of World War II. A few supporting characters tie the books together, although only The Secret Vow and The Paris Girl are closely related.

If you enjoy deeply emotional historical fiction and an amazing sense of time and place, pick up anything by Natalie Meg Evans. You won’t be disappointed.

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