Karen Gould

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Smashwords book reviews by Karen Gould

  • Making the Rules on Sep. 30, 2010

    This book has a lot of action, great characters, and some romance (but not steamy sex scenes - if you're looking for that, this isn't the book for you). All this and an actual interesting plot too! I've been a Doranna Durgin fan for years, and she consistently delivers all the things I like in a book, and she doesn't disappoint in this, her first self-published book, either. This is the third book in Durgin's "Hunter Agency" series. (Well, actually the fourth, but "Survival Instinct" didn't feature Kimmer and Rio as this one does.) It's been a while since I read the first two Kimmer and Rio books ("Exception to the Rules" and "Beyond the Rules", and I've forgotten some of the details, but I enjoyed this anyway. So, I think this book can be read without having read those two - but if you have read them, some of the details in this one are more meaningful. The first two were published as Silhouette Bombshells, and are available as ebooks from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Search on "Doranna Durgin") On a personal note, I was devastated when they canceled that "Bombshell" line, because it's the only "category romance" line I'd ever liked. And I was quite looking forward to this book, as well as a couple of others. I'm glad it finally saw the light of... er, eInk!
  • Hostile Witness on March 27, 2011

    Excellent plot and characters, and even though I like "legal mysteries," I didn't feel the story was so law-oriented that it would put off people who don't. The writing was crisp and well-paced. I saw some things coming well before the characters did, but other things surprised me, so all in all, it deserves the title "mystery." But it wasn't so much a clue-hunt as an excavation of secrets. Some were close to the surface, some were buried more deeply. At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and intend to buy the rest of the series, and probably Ms. Forster's other books as well.
  • The Heart of Dog on April 21, 2011

    I've been a fan of Durgin's writing for many years, and have also followed ConneryBeagle's journey - from triumphs in the agility arena to the challenges to his health and well being from allergies and unfriendly dogs. I would have bought this book even if the stories were horrible. But, of course, they're not, and I knew they wouldn't be - I'd read many of Doranna's stories when originally published in various anthologies, and loved the idea of having them all in one place. And it's clear Connery's author friends didn't offer their second best to this anthology, either. I had not read any of them before, and was blown away by the variety and quality of all of the stories. I'm happy that purchasing this book will help Connery - having a great read on top of that? Total bonus!
  • Dun Lady's Jess on Jan. 25, 2013

    What would a horse do if she suddenly found herself in a totally unfamiliar world, and suddenly possessed of human intelligence - not to mention, a human body? Many authors would fumble in telling such a story - either anthropomorphizing the thought processes of the horse, or underestimating the confusion inherent in the collision of "horse-think" with "human-think." Not Doranna Durgin. Her "horse in a woman's body" is a *horse* trying to understand what's happened... and also trying to understand why she can now think about abstract concepts like "understanding." This was Durgin's first published book, yet it has all the elements that have made her one of my favorite authors: Vivid characters, sparkling prose, snappy pacing, and an engaging and multi-faceted plot. The "horse in a woman's body" part of the story is just that - only part of a story that includes adventures in alternate dimensions, crafty villains, stalwart friends, and acquaintances of uncertain loyalties. All this and a bit of romance, too. I've read this book in the original version, and the slightly revised version. Both are excellent, the "revision" consisting of minor tweaks and smoothing of occasional awkward passages, rather than wholesale revising. I wholeheartedly recommend it (and the whole series, when available) to any reader who likes "action adventure" stories that don't skimp on characterization or a rich (but not overly expository) sense of "place" - and who enjoy a bit of fantasy enlivening the mundane world.
  • Deadly Gamble: The First Charlie Parker Mystery on March 27, 2013

    This is a nicely-paced light read that falls somewhere between the "cozy" and the "detective" mystery novel. Charlie Parker actually is a partner in a detective agency, but she's not really an investigator. She handles the "business" end of the agency - accounting, taxes and other necessary office management - while her brother Ron does the investigating. But when an old friend needs help, with brother Ron out of town, Charlie takes her friend's case and starts investigating on her own. As some have noted, "Charlie Parker" isn't fully fleshed out in this book. But that's okay with me. This is the start of a "series" novel, and one thing I've learned about series novels is that they work best (for me) when the character is developed over several books. So, although "Charlie" is something of a charcoal sketch in the first book, that sketch is well done enough to satisfy me for a first-in-the-series book. Leaving something for the reader (that would be me!) to learn about Charlie in the next book (and the next, and the next), is what makes each new book engaging. I generally won't read beyond the third book if I don't see some further development in the character. Which is why I just bought the next two! I like "Charlie" a lot, and have high hopes for her future development. This would be a five star read for its entertainment value, but I had to take off one star for the abrupt and less-than-sufficiently-foreshadowed resolution.
  • Daddy's Little Killer on June 29, 2013

    Reading the description, I wasn't sure I could find this character sympathetic... which would, of course, affect my enjoyment of the book. But... it was free, so I took a gamble, and boy, am I glad I did! I got the first two books free, after finishing the second, I immediately hopped online and bought the rest. True, not a huge spending spree - they're only 99 cents right now, but still, I had to read the rest RIGHT NOW!! Oh, wait... you want an actual review? OK. This series, starting with the first book, has great plotting, excellent characterization, and zips along quite speedily. The secondary characters are also drawn with some depth and nuance. They're not cardboard cutouts who only exist for the main character to interact with, as is the case with many detective series. The mystery is engaging, and the resolution didn't come out of left field - it flowed naturally from the "facts" included in the book - not all facts are included early enough for you to figure it out on your own, but you'll be right there with Helen (and the rest of the gang) as the story develops.
  • The Quiet Ones on July 17, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book! I've read all of the author's "Darkwater Bay" series books - but series books are different because the author has the freedom to develop a character more slowly, book by book. And also can have an ongoing story arc that develops book by book. I like that about series books (and I thoroughly enjoyed the Darkwater Bay books), but I also like stand-alone books, where all the character development and story has to be complete by the last page. The Quiet Ones had all the elements I look for in a good read - good characterization, an engaging plot, and a relatively brisk pace. (Or as I like to say, the 3 Ps - people, plot and pacing.) The book starts with Emma as a serious 15 year old, whose life seems to get more complicated - and difficult - by the day. Add to that personal issues that make it hard for her to trust anyone, and it's no wonder the police wonder what she's hiding... But her maturity and sense of responsibility soon wins the respect and support of several people, even though she's not always sure that they're on her side. It's a mystery, but not an "action" mystery so much as an in-depth look at the people at both the center of it, and the people trying to solve the case, and how their interactions play into solving it. If you're looking for "bang-bang-shoot-'em-up" this isn't the book for you. But if you want to get inside the heads of all the people involved in solving a horrific crime (and, yes, with a tad bit of romance thrown in), buy this book. Now. Clear your schedule, because you probably won't want to stop reading until you see how everything comes out.