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Antiquities expert Annalisse Drury and tycoon Alec Zavos are at an impasse in their relationship when Alec refuses to clear up a paternity issue with an ex-lover.
Frustrated with his avoidance when their future is at stake, Annalisse accepts an invitation from an acquaintance to fly to New Zealand—hoping to escape the recent turbulence in her life.
But even Annalisse’s cottage idyll on the family sheep farm isn’t immune to intrigue.
Alec sends a mutual friend and detective, Bill Drake, to follow her, and a local resident who accompanies them from the Christchurch airport dies mysteriously soon after. A second violent death finds Annalisse and Bill at odds with the official investigations.
The local police want to close both cases as quickly as possible—without unearthing the town’s dirty secrets.
As she and Bill pursue their own leads at serious cost, the dual mysteries force Annalisse to question everything she thought she knew about family ties, politics, and the art of small-town betrayal.
HALL WAYS REVIEW: In Copper Waters, Marlene Bell is back with the fourth installment of her Annalisse Series! The New Zealand setting allows for another amazing armchair travel adventure – which is one of the things I like best about the Annalisse Series. Bell always does a great job of putting readers right in the scenes. The descriptions of not only the natural elements, but also the look and vibe of the buildings and town, add an extra dimension of enjoyment. And language lover that I am, the sprinkling of Kiwi terms and sentence constructions are a fun bonus. Oh, and it’s always excellent to (vicariously) live the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous!
I have read two of the prior three books: Stolen Obsession (which has since been considerably revised), and Spent Identity, so the significant backstory given to readers in Copper Waters bogged things down for me; I want the here and now, not the then and there! I wonder if it was almost too much detail for new-to-the-series readers. But, on the plus side, it does allow the book to stand alone, and when reading the blips from Anna’s prior adventures, without a doubt, it gets one’s attention and piques one’s curiosity. (Admittedly, I feel the need to go back and read Italy-set Scattered Legacy.) Seriously – how can one gal be embroiled in so much delicious drama?
Copper Waters isn’t the same level of action and suspense as the prior books, and readers spend a lot of time inside Annalisse’s ruminations about the present, the past, and her future – with or without Alec, the boyfriend who continues to offer a ring despite Anna continuing to decline the marriage offer. Not that I blame her this time around. That sub-plot, and a contributing factor in why Anna bolts to New Zealand, are one of the interesting parts of the story.
I found that in this book, likely due to the amount of internal dialogue, I started to understand Annalisse a little bit better, and hallelujah, I think she’s maturing at last. I loved having Bill Drake back and as a more central figure. He’s a character I’d like to learn more about and one who could carry a series on his own, I think. There is plenty that happens outside Anna’s thoughts, too, and the focus on the mystery / whodunit was more enticing for me than any romantic elements. Characters and situations are not all that they seem, and kudos to Bell for an unexpected and extraordinarily chilling resolution.
I enjoy this series and am interested in seeing what happens next (a horse racing scandal, perhaps?) and maybe even what happened before…not only is Bill Drake intriguing, but I’d love to go waaaay back to what started it all and get a prequel about Anna’s BFF Samantha. There are all kinds of possibilities, and from a writing perspective, I am enjoying watching Bell, a gifted storyteller, hone her craft. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
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HALL WAYS AUDIOBOOK REVIEW of Fallout series, book one, Survival, narrated by Kyle Tait.
Survival by Lisa Harris, starts off with a tragic, emotional, and action-packed first chapter after “The Quake” hits and its chaos in the small town of Shadow Ridge. I thought our main character was going to be Garrett McQuaid, the top lawman of Shadow Ridge and patriarch of the McQuaid family, but we jump to day 264 post-Quake, and it’s Garrett’s sons, Jace and Levi, who have been deputized and are trying their best to keep the town safe. (Garrett pops up briefly later in the book, but I was left wanting more and really hope he comes back into the spotlight in one of the other books in the series.)
Speaking of wanting more – readers be warned: there are a lot of unanswered questions in Survival, but isn’t that just how it should be? I can’t imagine the frustration of lack of information nearly a year later – no idea of what really happened, and very little communication from the outside world.
All of the unknowns are what add tension to the book, and given the quality of the story, I have no doubt that author Harris will give readers what we need as we continue with the series. I am okay with this because Survival doesn’t end with an annoying cliffhanger. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
“I know the right answers, but I don’t know if I believe them anymore.”
As we settle into the second half of the story, the faith element comes in heavier with Jace trying to find answers. I like that the message of believing in God and going to church aren’t all one needs to do to get back in the spiritual saddle again. Harris organically incorporates Jace’s wavering faith into the story via a powerful conversation with the town pastor, Matthew. The exchanges between Jace and Matthew seemed authentic. Maintaining one’s faith is often a challenge when life is particularly challenging, so it makes sense Jace would seek guidance. There is a Moses analogy that we all should remember.
Initially, I found myself wanting the details of what must have been absolute chaos right after “the Quake,” and for that matter: what was it?! But then I realized that is not what the author wanted to write. She focused on the relationships and adaptations of what is likely to be the new normal; hence the name of the series being called the Fallout series. We are seeing the fallout as it settles over the people.
Back to that resolution… while not a cliffhanger, the epilogue takes a bit of dark turn, providing a delicious different direction for the story after we’re feeling all warm and fuzzy about everything. Nice, Lisa Harris. I’m IN.
ABOUT THE NARRATION: WOWSA! There could not be a better narration than Kyle Tait. His southern drawl, and how he perfectly and consistently drops his Gs (goin’ comin’ lyin’)? It’s like buttah! Smooth and a delightful pairing to Harris’s amazing story. Pacing was perfect, not a glitch in the diction, and I listened at regular pace which is almost unheard of. Tait’s delivery elevated my reading experience, and I’ll seek out other books he’s narrated.
Book One, Survival
What would you miss most if the grid went down? While not as essential as toilet paper or air-conditioning during a Texas summer, I think the McQuaid heroines from this series would love a bit of self-care—and so would I. – Author Lisa Harris
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