Book Reviews: Magnolia Palace, Finlay Donovan Knocks them Dead & The Bodyguard

Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

Goodreads blurb: Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter’s life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.

Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career—and with it, earn the money she needs to support her family back home—within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica’s financial woes, but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.

My take: 4 out of 5. There is clearly a trend in Fiona Davis’ books, historical fiction through the views of two women in different time periods. This does not differ from that script yet its equally enjoyable. As a big fan of the Frick Museum when I lived in NY I loved being transported to that fabulous place and the descriptions are quite beautiful. Also isn’t it wonderful when you finsih a book and you want to keep doing research? I wanted to know all about angelica, what was real and what wasn’t. I really enjoyed the story, and the twists and turns that I was not expecting. There are wonderful portrayals of women, with all their flaws and all their virtues and i felt that was really well done. Bonus points, I was reading this at the same time as watching Gilded Age and I think Im getting a slight obsession for the Gilded Age period, might need to get more books on the subject.

Finlay Donovan Knocks them Dead by Elle Cosimano

Goodreads blurb: Finlay Donovan is―once again―struggling to finish her next novel and keep her head above water as a single mother of two. On the bright side, she has her live-in nanny and confidant Vero to rely on, and the only dead body she’s dealt with lately is that of her daughter’s pet goldfish.

On the not-so-bright side, someone out there wants her ex-husband, Steven, out of the picture. Permanently. Whatever else Steven may be, he’s a good father, but saving him will send her down a rabbit hole of hit-women disguised as soccer moms, and a little bit more involvement with the Russian mob than she’d like.

Meanwhile, Vero’s keeping secrets, and Detective Nick Anthony seems determined to get back into her life. He may be a hot cop, but Finlay’s first priority is preventing her family from sleeping with the fishes… and if that means bending a few laws then so be it.

With her next book’s deadline looming and an ex-husband to keep alive, Finlay is quickly coming to the end of her rope. She can only hope there isn’t a noose at the end of it…

My take: 4 out of 5. As with the first Finlay book (and do read that one before you get into this one) this is an extremely enjoyable book to read. It is stressful and i get anxiety thinking of all the crazy things that happen to her, but it is fun and wonderfully genre bending. You get a little bit of mystery, thriller, comedy and romance all rolled into one. I really enjoy the relationship between Vero and Finlay and cant wait for the series. I also enjoy how we tie a mystery in a great bow at the end but another cliffhanger just gets thrown at you which makes you really want to read the 3rd book now. I read this in a book group with @thechicklitbookclub and it was great getting to speak to Elle Cosimano herself. A great tidbit she sent – they are finalizing the negotiations for Finlay (they found her) so we should be hearing casting news soon!

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Goodreads blurb: She’s got his back.Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindgerten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong??? Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out July 19, 2022

My take: 4.5 out of 5 This is an utterly predictable book, but a wonderfully predicable book that i devoured in one sitting (even if it meant an unintentional much later night that I had planned). I love the characters and their development and became way to invested in this love story. This is a wonderful beach read as it comes out in July. During the course of the book I kept imagining Jack Stapleton as so many different current leading men, and I really enjoyed that. It would have been a George Clooney or Brad Pitt type for me, but 20 years ago. But I also got a hint of a Chris (Evans or Hemsworth) and some of the antics of Tom Cruise. This would actually make a great film.

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