Review: Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons (Rose Gardner Mystery #2) by Denise Grover Swank
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Crooked Lane Books. Thank you!
Publication: September 15, 2015 by Crooked Lane Books
Verdict: Good/Very Good
When Rose Gardner reports for jury duty in Denise Grover Swank’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, she figures she’s lucky to get out of a morning working at the DMV. Then, in spite of a disastrous encounter with the new assistant district attorney, Mason Deveraux, she’s picked as a juror on a murder case. As the trial progresses and with the help of one of her visions, she realizes that there’s more to the story, but there’s not a cotton picking thing she can do about it. Or is there?
As if things weren’t bad enough, Rose’s older sister Violet is going through a mid-life crisis. Violet insists that Rose stop seeing her sexy new boyfriend, Arkansas state detective Joe Simmons, and date other men. Rose is done letting people boss her around, but she can’t commit to Joe either. Still, Rose isn’t about to let the best thing in her life slip away in the second in this charming series from bestseller Denise Grover Swank.
Returning to the world of Rose Gardner and her flatulent-inclined canine companion Muffy was a welcome reading respite. Just two books in and somehow I’m feeling as though the Rose Gardner books are one of my comfort reads..(even with the murder mystery element!).
As can often be the case with a second book in a series, character expansion (rather than high-octane hijinks) is a central feature and the rosy bloom of a just-started romance starts to fade a wee bit. In Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons, the undeniable spark between Rose and detective Joe Simmons is in full-swing, but there are just few issues shadowing their relationship. Namely, tensions regarding trust and fallout from meddling family members. Furthermore, a bit of a bombshell regarding Joe’s background and upbringing is also dropped- a development that I really hope Swank explores further in book three! Additionally, we meet a new character: competent and straitlaced District Attorney Mason Deveraux. Mason is introduced in way that would suggest competition for Rose’s affections and he is given a fair amount page-time with our protagonist. While I hope that the subsequent novels do not become rife with love triangle drama between Rose-Joe-Mason, part of me is very curious to see what actually becomes of Rose and Mason’s roller-coaster friendship.
There are just some minor qualms I had with this second novel that bear mentioning. This is a minor issue to be fair, but I had problems with the constant use of the phrase ‘crappy doodles’. In light doses it may be a cute catchphrase, but I found the the author inserted this phrase far too often for my reading palette- to the point where it became a bit of a distraction/ annoyance. My other quibble with the book is that the murder mystery element here was definitely not as thrilling or compelling as the case trajectory in book one. Granted, book one’s case revolved directly around Rose and her fighting for her own innocence, but I kept hoping that more high-risk developments and exploits would happen here- especially with regard to the murder case’s build-up and climactic scene!
Overall, even with a few small bumps in this second novel, I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying this series. Echoing my thoughts from my reading of the first Rose Gardner novel, Swank writes fun, sexy and entertaining mystery so well. With a winning combination of kooky and easy-to-like characters and nicely paced stories with a good balance of the romantic and the suspenseful, the Rose Gardner mysteries are pretty darn charming.
I received this book as a hardcopy from Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.