Cover Image: A Longer Fall

A Longer Fall

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This was part of a new series by Charlaine Harris. I really enjoyed this well-written book. I really enjoyed following Lizbeth during this adventure. I highly recommend.
**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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Lizbeth (Gunnie) Rose is a gun-for-hire in a post-apocalyptic, western-inspired alternate version of the United States. At nineteen, she is well regarded for her skill with a gun and keeping her head during stressful events. While I should have started with the first book in Charlaine Harris's new series, An Easy Death, I jumped right into A Longer Fall and never really felt penalized for it. 

Harris has once again developed her characters into interesting, dimensional beings - this time in a world that has twinges of the familiar, but is centered in the unreal. I mean, there are Russian wizards. And the United States is divided into multiple, new "countries" including the pre-Civil Rights era country of Dixie - where racism and prejudice run rampant. Paired with Lizbeth losing the box she was meant to guard, a train explosion, magic, and a dash of sex, A Longer Fall was never boring. It might be not enough or too much on social issues, depending on your taste, but it was just right for me. 

I can't wait for the third book, The Russian Cage and I've already started An Easy Death. Another winning series from Ms. Harris!
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This was a nice fast read. I really liked the world building and magic elements. I didn't love the book, but it is great if you're looking for something easy to read in one day.
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I think I was expecting this to be maybe more in the style of the Southern Vampire novels.  Something about it just didn't click with me, and I ended up not finishing it.  It may still be great for others.  Definitely worth a try.
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Charlaine Harris’s GUNNIE ROSE series has already merged Old West, Russian magicians (called “grigori” in a nod to Rasputin), and alternative history; the setting is mid-twentieth century North America, in which the United States has fractured into multiple nations, including the “Holy Russian Empire,” with Tsar Alexei at its head, taking over what used to be California and Oregon. In A Longer Fall (2020), the second book in the series, the pre-civil rights era deep South gets pulled into the mix. Lizbeth Rose, a 19-year-old gunnie (gunslinger), is traveling by train with her new security crew from Texoma, the Texas region Lizbeth calls home, to Louisiana. Their crew of five is in charge of transporting and protecting a crate that contains … well, they don’t know, but it’s vastly important for some reason, and apparently everybody and their dog wants what’s in that crate. It’s all nice and boring — other than a gunfight that’s over as quickly as it began — until the train blows up. Their train car tumbles sideways, people with knives and guns and smoke bombs attack, and Lizbeth and her crew try desperately to save the precious crate from being stolen.

Now Lizbeth is stuck in the small town of Sally, Louisiana, trying to figure out how to complete her mission when all of the other members of the Lucky (or not) Crew are dead or injured. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, she immediately runs into Ilya (Eli) Savarov, the handsome grigori that she met and clicked with in the first book, An Easy Death … thus enabling Lizbeth and readers to enjoy a side of romance along with the grimmer task of tracking down the missing crate. But Eli’s own mission in Sally overlaps with Lizbeth’s in ways that Eli can’t or won’t explain.

Lizbeth’s task is made more difficult by the townspeople’s racism and sexism. While blacks are no longer slaves in Dixie, there’s segregation and widespread prejudice. Women are expected to fall within a certain mold; Lizbeth, to her deep disgust, finds that in order to be accepted in hotels and restaurants she has to wear a dress and nice shoes rather than her jeans and boots, and hide her guns in a purse or under her skirt.

I felt like A Longer Fall had a lot of potential that it didn’t quite reach. While the novel starts with, quite literally, a bang, the whole middle section of the story dragged badly, with Lizbeth and Eli just going from place to place, eating at restaurants (southern food impresses Lizbeth and she spends an undue amount of time describing her various meals), and having mostly-pointless meetings and lots of sex. What seems to be a friends-with-benefits relationship ends up much more fraught with feelings, but it’s never entirely clear why a deeper attachment has developed between Eli and Lizbeth.

Once I hit the three-quarter mark the plot started progressing more rapidly, but the ending carries its own set of problems. A “white Savior” theme that had been simmering since the mid-point of A Longer Fall reached full boil, complete with what’s arguably a resurrection scene. If that was intentional symbolism, it was oddly done, particularly since there’s such an incongruence between a public message of brotherly love and nasty private behavior. And after this brief pause for a rousing rendition of “All You Need is Love,” the plot jumps straight back to killing people. It’s cynical and muddled, and prior plot and character development wasn’t enough to fully justify the final twist. In fact, a lot of the key plot turns needed more foundation-building, fleshing out details and exploring motivations more deeply, to make them really work. As it is, the plot relies too much on coincidences and a critical bit of deus ex machina action to move it along.

While the main plot is wrapped up in the end (although I can’t help but wonder how permanent the magic-driven resolution will be), the romantic relationship is left hanging. It’s seemingly dead but since there’s at least one more book pending in this series, it’s safe to assume Eli will be back again. I’m still interested in seeing where the series goes next — the Holy Russian Empire is my guess — but my expectations are tempered.

One final comment: It’s never clear what the title of A Longer Fall has reference to, and when I contacted Harris to ask, she demurred (“I’m having too much fun reading all the guesses”). Since I haven’t actually seen any guesses about this title online, even after searching, I’m hoping some other readers of this book will share their thoughts and ideas!
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A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris is the second book in the historical western fantasy Gunnie Rose series. Yes, this series is a rather weird mix of genres with a western setting in an alternate version of the United States that not only houses gunslingers but also those that can wield magic.

As with most fantasy series this second book has picked up after where the first had left off so it’s best to read the series from the beginning for the most enjoyment. In the first book of the series readers were introduced to Lizbeth Rose who is a gunslinger in an obvious man’s world making her work that much harder to succeed at her chosen job.

This time around Lizbeth Rose has joined an all new crew in what should be an easy job but of course things are never easy in Lizbeth’s world. All the crew was supposed to do was transport a crate but soon Lizbeth finds herself in the middle of a massacre as the crate is stolen away from the crew.

Ok, I will first admit that I picked up this series in the beginning strictly based on author only since I’ve never been a huge western fan but having read a few different series from Charlaine Harris and enjoying them curiosity killed the cat so to speak. When finished with the first book I was impressed at the originality of mixing all sorts of genres into this series so I just had to come back for book two and this one was just as action packed and entertaining as the first… this again coming from someone not a huge fan of a western but Ms. Harris has made it fun.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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I really tried to get through the first book within the Gunnie Rose series, but the voice and tone of the story wasn’t grabbing my attention. A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris, second in the Gunnie Rose, improved upon what I found lacking with the first installment.

While I like Gunnie Rose’s tenacity, she’s not a character I would add to a list of favorite main characters. There’s something stoic and one-dimensional about her character that if it wasn’t for the vast and slightly complicated world, I wouldn’t have attempted to read any of the stories that are within the Gunnie Rose series.

I think with A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris is where I’ll rest my fascination with anything Charlaine Harris for a while. I really thought that with this new series my love for Harris’ writing would be revived. I was wishing that could jump into another one of her series with the same amount of vigor as I did with her Sookie Stackhouse series. Sadly, her Gunnie Rose series turned out not to be my cup of tea even though I thought the concept was ingenious and wholly unique to the urban fantasy genre.
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A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris, pages. Saga Press, 2020. $27. LGBTQIA
Language: R (79 swears, 3 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13
Nineteen-year-old Lizbeth has a job to do, and, as a gunnie, she is not afraid to shoot some people to make sure the job gets done. Unfortunately, the job gets botched anyway, and Lizbeth is stuck in the town Sally pretending to be Eli’s wife until she can finish what she started. Or maybe teaming up with Eli will be a fortunate turn of events -- it could go either way.
As the second in a series, readers really need the prequel to understand the relationships and background of what is going on with Lizbeth, Eli, and their jobs in this book. I have not read the first book in this series, and I found that there is a lot of action but not many reasons to care. Maybe Harris wrote the first book to endear readers to the characters, but I didn’t feel compelled to care if Lizbeth and Eli succeeded or not, which made for a lackluster story, especially alongside what I felt like was an inadequate climax. The mature content rating is for nudity, mentions of rape, and sex; the violence rating is for blood, threats, shooting, and murder.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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I enjoyed this book more than the first in this series. I did like the first book, but I found it took me a little longer to get into than others I have read. This one I was able to feel more invested in quicker. I don't enjoy the characters quite as much as I enjoyed those in the Sookie Stackhouse series, but I still think they were fun and interesting to follow. I was initially a little unsure about the events toward the end of the book (about 75% of the way through).  It felt a little too convenient and easy.  However it resolved itself satisfactorily for me. The relationship between Eli and Lizbeth seemed more natural in this book than it did in the first book. I am looking forward to the next installment of the series.
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It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
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I’ll start off this review by being honest. I have been angry with Charlaine Harris ever since she let the Sookie series end with a whimper, instead of a bang. Characters fizzled out and relationships ended up being a big meh. Also, there was so much unnecessary detail bogging down those last books: the main things I remember from the second to last book in the Sookie series was detailed accountings of Sookie putting her hair in a pony tail, laying outside to tan, and baking a sweet potato pie. I remember those scenes because I was bored and frustrated and wondered how we had fallen so far. And I swore I wouldn’t trust Harris again.

Then along came the chance to request an advance copy of A Longer Fall by Harris. I had avoided her Midnight series, because of the afore-mentioned grudge. But this cover is eye-catching, and the story concept sounded intriguing, so I requested a copy from NetGalley and was approved for it. The beginning of the story didn’t blow me away (Lots of people in the story got blown away, more literally, though. Yikes.), but I kept reading.

And that’s when it hit me. I was basically reading Sookie’s story all over again. Granted, I found Lizbet much less interesting than Sookie. I had a difficult time engaging with her, or really with any of the characters. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on understanding the plot or setting by skipping the first book, but I’m going to presume I missed out on character development, because there was very little in this story. Lizbet, for instance, was tough, or determined, or gritty–but that was it. Oh, and she liked baths and ice cream and coffee a lot too.

But this was still remarkably similar to Sookie’s story, which I realized when I started paying attention to the underlying patterns. Wherein Sookie, I mean Lizbet, uses her Faerie, I mean grigori, heritage to help her fight alongside exotic tattoed and long haired European Erik, I mean Eli, who is jealous of her ordinary, but secretly-in-love-with-her-friend, Sam, I mean Dan, after gay coworker Lafayette, I mean Jake, is murdered in Louisiana, I mean Dixie, in the first few chapters of the story. Don’t forget all the baths and the ice cream. Also chess pie. All with a side of paternalistic white saviorism.

Have I mentioned that Lizbet really liked ice cream? and baths? Because we get to hear about that. A lot. There didn’t seem to be a mundane detailed that wasn’t described in minute detail. There was an entire paragraph I highlighted, in amazement at how completely unnecessary it all was: Lizbet needed to go up to her room to find something, for the plot to move along. But instead of just saying, “oh, I ran upstairs for XYZ and then found the thing,” she instead gives us an entire paragraph about how the hotel coffee is good, and she likes it, and she drank it, but then she had to go brush her teeth, because she didn’t like coffee on her breath. This felt like that coworker who corners me at events and tells me every excrutiating detail about their lives, and I find it incredibly mind-numbing and frustrating, until it becomes so over-the-top ridiculous it amuses me.

Aside from being pretty slow reading, though, because of all the pointless description about the marvels of indoor plumbing and ice cream and eating at diners, etc etc etc, the story was mildly enjoyable. I didn’t hate it. So why did I DNF halfway through the book? I had two reasons. One was simply that I saw the patterns from Sookie recurring, and that gave me a pretty good idea of where Harris was going to go with these characters, which seemed to be exactly where she’d gone before, that I had hated so much. Despite us being told repeatedly that Lizbet and Eli have feelings for each other and some kind of connection, the story also seems to be setting us up for disappointment. Not that I really cared, because I didn’t really buy into their relationship. Even their sex scenes were lackluster. I’m not complaining about lack of detail, but about lack of passion. The sex is described like “well, he was there, so we did it, because we’d done it before and it felt good, but whatever. and then we did it again another day. but whatever.” Lizbet seemed less interested in it than I did, and so it didn’t evoke any emotions from me other than meh.

The second reason I didn’t finish was because of my growing discomfort with the tone of the writing regarding minority characters. While Harris has obviously tried to create a strong and liberated heroine in Lizbet, and reinforces that kind of attitude with comments aimed at domestic violence and conservatives meddling in the sex lives of those around them, women are the only disadvantaged group that gets respectful treatment. Rogelio, the Mexican character, is defined by his handsome face and general uselessness every time he’s mentioned. And as previously mentioned, the gay character was temporary and disposable, like a background kiss in a Star Wars movie.

And wow, the language choices from a supposed professional. She repeatedly uses terms like cr*pple and g*mp to refer to handicapped people. African American characters are repeatedly called “blacks” and N*gro. Perhaps this is partly based on some misguided need to evoke a setting by letting the characters use specific language (which still isn’t necessary), but Harris refers to St Moses the Black in her acknowledgements, saying he was one of the first “blacks” to achieve sainthood. In that case, she’s clearly speaking in her own voice, and still using language in a way that is less than ideal. And there is never any reason to include any variant of the N word in books. Good authors don’t need to lean on hateful language to set the tone; that’s just lazy writing.

African-American characters in this story are also described as emotionless and “deadened” and other language that removed agency from them. But I assume that removing agency from them was part of the point, because I was definitely getting white savior vibes from the writing. So I checked out a few other reviews, and confirmed that I am not the only one who’s noticed this or minded it, and that it only gets worse as the story progresses. And that’s when I called it quits. I wasn’t loving the story enough to slog through an abundance of boring descriptions and problematic content that was only going to get worse. So I quit.

I should have known better after the way the Sookie series piddled out. And knowing that Harris is a nice (older) white lady from the south. What was I thinking? I was lured in by a pretty cover and a clever concept. Lesson learned. Again. And this time I mean it.

Thanks anyway to #NetGalley and Saga Press for allowing me to read an advanced copy of #ALongerFall for free. This is my honest opinion.
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I was really looking forward to this sequel, and it did not disappoint! Lizbeth has recovered from the events of the previous book and has joined a new crew. They are looking for a crate and she’s just the gunny to help them. The problem is that this job is going to take them in to Dixie, which is somewhere that Lizbeth has never wanted to go. Slavery is a thing of the past, but Jim Crow is alive and well. Along the way, and old acquaintance, Eli, shows up with an interest in the same crate. They work together in pursuit of the crate, but could it turn in to something more? 

Everything was as wonderful in this second book of the series as it was in the first. Harris does in this series what she has done so well in the likes of (one of my favorite series) Midnight, TX and the Sookie Stackhouse series, and the world building and character development are top notch. The difference in this series from her others is that along with the supernatural and romance that is expected, she adds in the twist of making this an alternate history. This series has been so enjoyable, and I can’t wait to find out what Lizbeth is up to next!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this story whose MC Lizbeth Rose is about as badass as they come. And Eli Savarov (Prince Ilya Savarov) really complements her in his role.

As far as the world building, the alternate history the author created is believable in the realm of what it is meant to be. I'm guessing that if I had read book 1 first (sadly, I didn't but will now) I would've understood their alternate universe even quicker. The story began with action when Lizbeth's new crew was hired to take cargo and deliver it to Dixie, but things went awry quite quickly (no spoilers!). The crate (cargo) goes missing so now Lizbeth's job is to find what they "lost." No one knows what is in the crate, and for me it was a need-to-know!

There is so much magic, death/resurrection (but you won't know who), disappearances. It's a good thing that Lizbeth is so intuitive and quick on the draw as well. She does have to defend herself and others she cares about when she is searching for the crate.

I hope that others will read this book but start with book 1. I do think that although book 2 is easily understood on its own, it's likely it would be even more appreciated after reading book 1.

*NOTE: Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery / Saga Press for a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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An alternate 1920s American South, complete with racial tensions, railroad travel, and conventional roles for women, forms the backdrop for this delicious mystery/thriller/urbanfantasy/romance in true Charlaine Harris style.

Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie, a hired gun, and she’s part of a crew who have been employed to transport a mysterious, crated object and in the process prevent anyone from stealing it. Their method of transportation is railroad, and it comes as no surprise that the train is sabotaged, resulting in much bloodshed, and in the wreckage that follows, the leader of the crew, badly wounded but holding on to the box, is murdered. 

Lizbeth teams up with an old flame, Eli Savarov, a magic-wielding “grigori” wizard otherwise in service to the Holy Russian Empire. They’re forced to remain in the town of Sally, Louisiana, until the box is recovered and the mystery solved. Step by step, they are drawn deeper into the layers of oppression, from the social pressure on Lizbeth to dress and behave like a submissive woman to the casual lynching of blacks.

The first person narrative echoes the “Sookie Stackhouse” novels in tone and diction, but that is part of their charm. Both Lizbeth and Sookie convey savvy, sass, and depth of emotion in deceptively simple language. They’re not the same character, however, and neither are they the author, who demonstrates her deep understanding of Southern American culture with all its shadows and strengths.

A fast-paced, engaging read with quirky world-building and compelling characters that left me hungry for the next installment.
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I love reading Charlaine Harris books, but this one brought some mixed emotions out for me.  I loved the character, Lizbeth.  She's pretty awesome.  A kick-A kind of woman that you'll love reading about.  I love this reimagined world with such an eclectic mixture of genres.  I found the beginning exciting, and then the story just slowed down terribly.  There is still a lot of action happening, but it was just a bit off for me.  I will, however, continue reading the series to see what happens next!
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Lizbeth Rose, recovered from the events and injuries she sustained in An Easy Death, is hired by a new crew. Gunnie is a gunslinger in dangerous modern America, one in which the country split into independent nation-states. The split was precipitated by the assassination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Even the Holy Russian Empire has a foothold in what was formerly California and Oregon. The crew is protecting a crate being sent into Dixie, one in which there seems to be much interest. The long train ride has been mostly uneventful until the very end when a gunfight erupts, and the train is blown up. The crew leader is injured but alive and is left to guard the crate while Gunnie tries to help survivors. When she returns, the crew leader is dead, and the box has disappeared. Surprisingly, an old friend, Ilya (Eli) Savarov, a "Grigori" (magician) who has his own interest in the crate, one that he refuses to disclose. Gunnie and Eli join forces to search for the container. Gunnie never wanted to go to Dixie, and the reality is as awful as she imagined. Slavery no longer exists, but Jim Crow, racism, sexism, and religious fervor are the norm. An unaccompanied woman, wearing trousers at that, can't pass under the radar in Dixie. Posing as a married couple, the two hope to find the crate and fulfill their respective missions.

I have been a fan of Charlaine Harris' particular blend of genre-bending fiction for a while now. I enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse series (at least the majority of them) and particularly liked the Midnight, TX, and Harper Connolly series. The blend of alternate history, action, magic, romance, and an appealing lead in Gunnie kept me interested and involved throughout. I am already looking forward to the next in the series. I hope that Eli and Lizbeth can work out the differences in their relative "stations" in life and make a go of it. Since Eli is out of favor with the other Grigori so it might be possible. The differences are more in her head than in his, I think.

Thanks to NetGalley and Saga Press for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-4.5 rounded up to 5
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I’ve been looking forward to this second book of the Gunnie Rose series for a long time—after all, I loved An Easy Death and couldn’t wait for round two with Lizbeth, our badass gunslinging protagonist who makes a living as a mercenary in a post-apocalyptic, western-inspired alternate version of the United States. That said, I’m glad I kept my expectations somewhat in check, because A Longer Fall was probably not what it could have been. Entertaining, yes, but I wouldn’t say it takes the story or characters to the next level the way a sequel should.

When our story begins, Lizbeth has just signed on with another crew to escort a convoy and its cargo from Texoma to a town called Sally in Dixie. It was supposed to be a routine job, but enroute to their destination, their train was ambushed, many travelers were killed, and a precious crate with its mysterious contents was stolen. Her employer dead and her friends gravely injured, Lizbeth sets off on a mission to hunt down their attackers and discover what it was they stole that was important enough to kill for. That, and she’ll need to recover the box and make an actual delivery in order to get paid.

With the arrival of Eli Savarov, a grigori wizard from the Holy Russian Empire—and Lizbeth’s sort-of old fling—she knows she’s on to something big. Turns out Eli already knows about the missing crate, and he’s in town to find it too. Teaming up, the two of them pose as a married couple to investigate, Sally not being the kind of conservative place to tolerate a single, unaccompanied woman poking her nose around in their business. In fact, the town isn’t really too tolerant of anything, with sexism and racism very much alive and well in its people.

And well, that’s really all there is to the story. Up until the final few chapters, we mostly follow Lizbeth and Eli around town as they try to turn up any clues about the stolen cargo. Considering how dazzled I was by the setting in the first book, seeing so little of it this time around was a bit disappointing, and it was due to the limited scope of the story. While good sequels tend to build upon previous books, further developing the advancing the overarching plot of the series and its characters, A Longer Fall keeps us mainly in a holding pattern. In a way, it feels lacking in its “sequel status” and comes across half-hearted.

Speaking of which, I just didn’t feel whatever it was that was supposed to be between Lizbeth and Eli. Their relationship was downright bizarre, and calling it a romance doesn’t feel quite right. Hardly a chapter can go by without us being constantly reminded that the two of them have no future, even as they go at each other like rabbits. If there was supposed to be some tension, I just didn’t feel it. And I kept waiting, hoping that their strange dynamic would build up to something worthwhile, and well…I won’t spoil how things turn out, but let’s just say I was far from satisfied.

Then there was the ending, which felt so incongruous that I could probably take up a whole page just describing how surreal it all felt. First was the crate. Funny enough, I had been forewarned by other reviewers about this, but apparently I was still inadequately prepared because I literally let out a snort of incredulity the moment Lizbeth was confronted with the contents of the crate for the first time. Even more random was the novel’s overall resolution. After spending nearly three hundred pages with all manner of violent and brutal characters in this merciless blood-soaked world, I suddenly felt like I was thrust into the middle of one of my kids’ PBS cartoons. Just a really weird, jarring way to tie everything up.

And yet, despite what might seem like my trashing of the novel, I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy myself or that this was a bad book. Because it wasn’t, really! I had a good time with it, and it was a fast read—perfect for when you’re in the mood for something mindlessly light and fluffy, perhaps.

Thing is, I had expected something a little more substantial. A Longer Fall didn’t quite deliver in that sense, mostly coming across like “just another book in a series” but it was still very entertaining, and at no time did I feel like it wasn’t worth reading or that it was wasting my time. To be honest, I actually had a lot of fun with the story, even if it meant a few chortles at its expense. At the end of the day though, I’m looking forward to more of Gunnie Rose and here’s hoping the next book will have more oomph.
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Lizabeth joined a new crew hired to escort a chest to the town of Sally in Dixie. Right outside of town, a train is blown-up, the crew is attacked, and the crate is stolen. Lizabeth wakes up to see a face from the past who is in town in relation to the crate's arrival. The two team-up and hunt down the crate, creating chaos and consternation all over town before they leave. A nice follow-up to An Easy Death!
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I am enjoying this book. It's exciting enough to hold my interest. It is about Lizbeth (a gunnie) who was hired to protect a chest. The rest of her crew gets killed and the chest gets stolen. Then a piece of her past shows up who is also concerned with the contents of the chest. So they team up to track it down. I like Charlaine's writing style. It's not overly wordy. Although I did not read the first book in this series, there is enough background information to get the picture without retelling the whole first story. I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher. My opinions in my review are entirely my own.
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Another fabulous book by Charlaine Harris! I just really love this series about a gunnie named Lizbeth. I loved the first book, and I really enjoyed this one too. It was great that the author brought to life things that really matter- women's rights, African American's rights, how we can't be a judge and jury just because we don't like someone, etc. I am so rooting for Lizbeth and Eli in the next book! Can't wait!
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