This is the fourth book in Shinn's Twelve Houses series. Each volume focuses on one of the six companions and this one follows the youngest--Cammon. The boy who reads souls. Heretofore, Cammon has been something of a delightful enigma. The scruffy little brother with a good heart, not an ounce of tact, and the ability to gauge a person's true intentions. In this volume, he comes into his own and it was a treat to be one up on the rest of the characters for once. To actually be inside his head. Cammon is still Cammon, but we do get a little more information on his background and abilities as a reader. When he is chosen to assess the true intentions of Princess Amalie's suitors, the inevitable humorous and dangerous consequences follow. In fact, this was the most predictable of the four novels so far. Although I was surprised (and perfectly delighted) with how much of it was Senneth's story. She is my favorite character and, in the end, all the books are about Senneth, the people she gathers around her, and the ways in which she binds them together. As in Mystic & Rider, her sheer strength took my breath away. Now that I think about it, it makes sense that we get so much of Senneth in this book as it becomes clearer and clearer as the story goes on how much Cammon relies on her. How, even when he disagrees with her logic, she has come to fill a space in his life that was empty until she walked into the tavern and freed him with a swipe of her knife. As always, Shinn's strength is her dialogue and her strong characters. They leap, gleefully and disreputably, off the page, making me wish I knew them. Wish I could talk with them and watch their faces. Become familiar and chummy with them. Until I was one of them. One of the six. No, seven now. That's the sign of a good book. That's the reason I'll read anything she writes. That, and finally having the satisfaction of watching Tayse cleave Halchon Gisseltess in half without blinking an eye. The good news: Ms. Shinn is in negotiations to write a fifth installment in the series. All is right with the world.
It's been years since I picked up a Mhairi McFarlane novel, and I'm not really sure why that is. I liked It's Not Me, It's You well enough (it's obvious she's quite a witty writer), but something about the execution felt off and I think I let that keep me from diving deeper into her backlist. Then came an offer to review her upcoming title If I Never Met You , and something about this one seemed to call out to me. As though it was time. As though Laurie and Jamie might be the ones. Spoiler alert: It was and they were. It was the perfect read for a couple of dreary, grey January days. While not perhaps as bubbly as I've Got Your Number , I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoyed that novel. They share a business setting, two individuals who are more than they know themselves to be, and a wonderfully slow burn romance. Readers who love Sarra Manning and Beth O'Leary 's The Flatshare should also take note. Comedy was tragedy plus