Cover Image: Reserved for Murder

Reserved for Murder

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Member Reviews

A book themed B&B, a famous author, and a house full of guests, what could go wrong? Charlotte has a well-known author booked at her B&B, Chapters, along with a few super fans. Everything is going well until Detective Johnson shows up and tells Charlotte one of her guests was found dead. And it looks to be murder. On top of it all, her neighbor has a visitor, Gavin. There is more to Gavin than meets the eye and Charlotte wants to know what it is. Between Amanda (the author), her publicist Tony, and Gavin poking around, Charlotte has her hands full. Will she be able to get the answers she needs? 
This book is full of mystery and intrigue. The characters and plot were developed nicely. I was flying through the pages to find out what would happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and plan on grabbing the first book to this series.
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A solid mystery based on the cut-throat writing and publishing industry.  It was interesting to see fanfiction being mentioned as a factor in writing and publishing.  I enjoyed the characters.

However, the subplot involving spies and a short-lived love affair decades ago seemed far-fetched.  Also, I didn’t like how some characters voiced that a stalker ex-husband really loved his wife when he attempted to find out who killed her.  So what.  That doesn’t diminish the terror and danger of people who are being stalked.  They are constantly on alert, never knowing where the person will appear and what they will do.  They never get a break.  They are the ones suffering.  I just thought it made a little light of the problems of stalking and abuse.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a free copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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A lovely B&B, a woman looking for a new start after tragedy, a senior retired CIA operative and her adorable Yorkie , a decades old case of spy intrigue , a handsome mystery man and a present day murder are not quite what Charlotte Reed had in mind for a new quiet life.  Now, she and her friend Ellen and Yorkie Shandy are in the middle of a romance author's murder!

What a great book!  So many things to like -  Charlotte who is. a relatable main character, quirky and likable supporting characters, a mystery you can't put down (I couldn't!) and an ocean setting that is lush and very southern.  I would love to relax on the B&B's  porch under the outside fan, with a cocktail or sweet tea..  Having a senior retired CIA operative - Ellen - brought even more to the mystery..  Add in the handsome Gavin and you have a delightful and intriguing cozy mystery with an  international feel!

I received an ARC from NetGalley and the opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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Book tour gone bad

r/suggestmeabook: I want a cozy mystery steeped in publishing and fandom focused on solving a murder.From the publisher: Meeting your favorite author in the flesh can be the chance of a lifetime. But for one unlucky fan, her plum place in line at a book signing will lead to her untimely demise.

First, let’s get the disclosure out of the way: I didn’t read the first book, so some of my issues might be solved by reading it. But it won’t cure all the ills I perceive in this cozy mystery.

tldr: Flat characterization; tell, don’t show; hard-to-swallow situations

Victoria Gilbert has posed a good puzzle. Most of the clues are there at the beginning, although the key clue isn’t given until toward the end. If your taste runs to plot uber alles, then you may be fine with this story.

I’m a character junkie, and this book just didn’t give me my fix. There was very little to distinguish among the characters aside from the initial physical descriptions and names. I was constantly having that moment of “Now, who is this again?” among a cast of less than fifteen (I think), which is a magnitude lower than the epic fantasies I have less trouble keeping up with the characters.

They all have the same voice. Granted, you’re getting everything filtered through the first person protagonist, but even so, I’m spoiled by first person protagonists who have the gift of mimicking the people around them. Charlotte, the amateur sleuth and narrator, tells us often that she was a high school teacher, and perhaps that’s what we’re hearing—she flattens everyone out with the same speech patterns, making them all speak proper, grammatical English.

“Sounds like a good beach read,” Ellen said.

“Definitely perfect for that. And it is written pretty well. The English teacher in me can’t fault Ms. Nobel on her writing.”

Not only that, Gilbert repeatedly violates the common mantra for fiction: Show, don’t tell. Again, in a first person narrative, I expect to hear the thoughts and opinions of the narrator, but I also expect to have enough to go on to make my own conclusions. Instead, many of the characterizations are made up of conclusory statements and it feels unskillful to write a description of a person in a way that the actions don’t speak for themselves.

For example, several of the characters are described as having bad tempers (as part of the reason they might be suspects), and yet the most I saw any of those characters get huffy was one who bangs his fist on a table. Okay, I said “several,” and it turns out there were only two. Seemed like more, perhaps because it was repeated several times and I didn’t have the names connected solidly to the characters (see flatness, above).

“She had a real bad temper, at least back then. The hair-trigger kind. She’d be all fine and cheerful, but someone would say or do something that ticked her off and bam!”—Damian snapped the twisted towel through the air—”just like that, she’d go off on them.”

Likewise, almost all of the background information needed for the solution of the mystery is provided in talking head sequences. There’s very little sleuthing involved, and people divulge the information in long speeches with little prompting. Little of the dialogue was just for fun, and when it wasn’t about the mystery, it seemed to often run to the mundane. Some of it was to set an atmosphere (“Would you like a lemonade?” appears to be an exceedingly common question in the summer in coastal North Carolina), but my overall impression was there was a lot of filler.

Let me get to the trickiest part of this review, something I feel I have to raise, even though I’m not really qualified to weigh in on as a white, older, middle-class female. Yes, it’s about the depiction of Black characters (I think they’re supposed to be Black—more to come on that). I would have loved to refer you to a reviewer who could, but this is an Advanced Review Copy from NetGalley, and none of the other reviewers on Goodreads (when I checked) self-identified as Black or any other POC, so I didn’t have that option.

I fretted about what to do about this, and posted about it to solicit an opinion, and I can’t tell you whether the depictions are problematic. As I said in the previous post, I get that white authors have a dilemma—you don’t want to posit an all white world and erase POCs from the picture, but you also may be challenged in your depictions of those characters if you include them.

Let me be crystal clear on this: I AM NOT SAYING THE AUTHOR IS RACIST. I am saying that we live in a world that privileges whites, and that even the most well intentioned author in the world can miss the notes on this, because it is so very difficult to play the songs correctly. However, as one of the commenters on the post of doom mentioned, (I’m paraphrasing) even if there was no malicious intent (or even a positive intent), if the effect of the writing still promotes institutional racism, then there’s still an issue.

Anyway, the depictions made me raise my eyebrows, partially because of the way they were coded as Black. The flatness of character is a universal issue in the book, so it’s harder to say that they should have been excepted from the general shortcoming to be well-rounded. But the first one to come up, Alicia, is described as a “short, plump woman in her early sixties” without a job title, simply as having worked in the B&B forever. Because of the bigger problem of being trapped in my own whiteness in the world, I consciously process it, but I defaulted to thinking of the character as white.

But then there was this:

Pete and Sandy Nelson…always claimed I’d inherited Alicia along with the B and B. I suppose that was true, in a way, although it wasn’t a sentiment I liked to repeat out loud. Although I admitted that Alicia was integral to the success of Chapters, she was a person, and not some object my great-aunt could pass down, as she had the extensive collection of books that filled Chapters’s library and guest rooms.

I found it a little clumsy on first reading, but was pulled out of the story later when I processed that in the context of later statements, thinking, “Wait. Alicia’s supposed to be Black? What did I miss?” Am I supposed to realize that because she’s essentially Calpurnia for the B&B? Is it more racist to default to her being white if not specified? As you can see, it triggered my own concerns about how to be anti-racist, and I sought help in the afore-mentioned post and on Twitter.

It could be read as an attempt to be sensitive; it could also be read as an issue that it’s even been included. IDK.

Later, I was relieved when the narrator said this:

I frowned as I realized how little I knew about Alicia’s life before Chapters. Because you never asked, I thought, flushing with embarrassment. Perhaps I had treated her like something I’d inherited along with the house than a person with her own, independent life. At least, more than I liked to admit.

“So she’s going to show this as a character arc,” I thought. I can get behind that, even if I do still have some issues about how the two Black characters were coded, which, to my mind, raises questions about the extent to which they reinforce stereotypes.

But then the quoted sentiment was never followed up on. Perhaps in the next book? Maybe it’s supposed to be a flaw in the character, even if she’s supposed to be the heroine?

As I said, I can’t say anything about the Black experience or how Black readers might react, but it bothered me enough to raise it. I’d suggest referring the novel to a sensitivity reader specializing in race issues, as it may be an easy fix.

Wow. Glad to have gotten through that mess.

Last on my list of complaints is definitely the most idiosyncratic problem, and one I wouldn’t have downgraded the book on if it had been the only issue: things that I can’t suspend disbelief over. First there’s the neighbor who’s a retired spy. Again, I haven’t read the first book, so perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation for how she knows that, but the retired spy’s openness is just mind-boggling to me. I have relatives who were in various classified areas of the military, and they won’t tell their children, spouses, or parents any details, so I just can’t buy into anything but an absolute need-to-know.

Similarly, I have issues with the characterization of the police detective. She doesn’t sound like any I’ve known, but, of course, geography matters. All but one of the cops I’ve known were from large metropolitan areas in Texas, not a small-time PD in North Carolina. But it bothered me.

Believe it or not, the review is about to come to a conclusion. The writing is competent, but sterile, and the characters flat. I don’t get enough opportunity to observe the characters to determine who they are; the narrator or others mostly just tell me. Gilbert is good on plotting and descriptions of the environment, but that’s just not enough for me.
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Thank you Netgalley for the early release edition of Reserved for Murder by Victoria Gilbert. Charlotte Reed owns Chapters a literary themed Bed and Breakfast. Amanda Noble, a famous author, is staying there along with Tony Lott, who is managing the tour for the three fans who won a contest the publisher put on. One of the fans has an ex-husband who was stalking her. Detective Johnson calls Charlotte at 3 am one morning. Charlotte works with Ellen, a neighbor, to find the killer. Charlotte does pass on any information she uncovers to Detective Johnson. It seems like a very fun idea to have a literary themed bed and breakfast, with books in each suite. I enjoyed the book, hated when I had to stop reading for one reason or another.
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Great read by a favorite author of mine. The plot is well written and enticing to the reader. The author writes in a way that makes the reader feel like part of The story.
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Back to Chapters B&B, where Charlotte has an event involving a romance author and 3 die hard fans. When one fan is found dead, everyone is a suspect and Charlotte and her trusty neighbor Ellen investigate. There is a secondary storyline involving Ellen which also brings a romantic option into Charlotte’s life.  But overall, the main mystery seemed less interesting than Book 1 and I was able to figure out the main suspect halfway through. It’s a nice cozy mystery but it didn’t wow me like I hoped. Hopefully book 3 swings the pendulum in the other direction. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the arc.
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Written in a bit of an old fashioned style. Sort of two stories in one. I think I need to read the first book now!
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A fun cozy mystery set in the cut throat world of novelists (no pun intended!). The characters were fun and engaging, and I couldn’t wait to find out who the culprit was. A great read!
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Charlotte Reed inherited a B&B from her great aunt . The name of the guest house is Chapters and it has a library and hosts literary events , an author Amanda Nobel comes to visit with three of her avid fans. A murder occurs and Charlotte begins to investigate.

I had not read the initial book in the series, but did not find this an issue . All the aspects of this story, the book themed B&B and a cosy mystery / murder really appealed to me. Unfortunately I found it very lack lustre and missing something. I found the characters well rounded and likeable and the writing flows easily. The story seemed flat and did not leave me wanting to read chapter after chapter to find the murderer. I found it an easy read and ideal for a light read to pass away a few hours.

Thanks to Crooked Lane books and Netgalley for an arc copy.
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Having enjoyed the first book in this series I was looking forward to this one.  Overall I felt that it was just okay as if the author didn't really put a whole lot of effort into it. It was one of those books that I would look up in a few months and not remember if I had read it or not.  There was nothing particularly engaging about the story line. It was fine if you want a story to be just mindless entertainment for a few hours.  My main issue with the book was that the author gave one character an alibi at the end of the book that totally contradicted what our MC personally witnessed and recounted early on in the book.  I even went back and reread that section to verify this.  This makes me irritated when an author can't remember what they had written. To change a plot point completely is a let down to the reader.
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I have not read other stories in the series but did not find that to be a challenge. The book stood alone fine. I had difficulty keeping up my interest in this murder mystery though. It was all very quaint and easy to follow, just not as exciting as I’d hoped. It kind of reminds me of the TV show “ murder she wrote”. However, I did enjoy the book!
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I'm in between on my feelings towards Reserved for Murder. It was nice to be back with Charlotte & her neighbors, but something was just a bit "off". The story moves along just fine, the murderer is revealed at the end (perfect, so as to not have to read a story knowing the entire time who it was). The characters just seemed to be a bit at each other, disjointed in a way. I'm hoping Ms. Gilbert is not being pushed along as the author in the story was! A new interest in Charlotte's life will add to the next story, we will hope for the best with the next book. Thanks to NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books for the preread in exchange for an honest review.
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I highly anticipated reading Reserved for Murder because of how much I enjoyed the first book in the series. But  I was disappointed. Charlotte owner of Chapters Bed and Breakfast was welcoming a new author to spend the weekend there with three of her biggest have one of her fans murdered was an exciting plot. 
But the subplot was dull and not as exciting with Charlotte's ex-spy neighbor being involed
In espionage and bringing another innocent friend into it was not exciting.Bringing in a new character for a possible romance with Charlotte was intriging.

Thank you Crooked Lane Books and Netgalley the ARC of this book. I have this book a honest review
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Combine a B&B, book store, author, and a mystery and you have the potential for a great read. My goal with reading is to be drawn in to the story; immerse myself in the whole experience. That being said, I just could not get in to this book. I never felt drawn in to the story, but rather a casual observer of events. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC.
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It is a cozy murder mystery with a literary theme. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me.

The setting is based on a retreat and was well described. The mysteries are well written but it didn't engage me as such.
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I honestly couldn’t put this book down. What a whirlwind story, beginning with a wonderful stay at the lovely Chapters, and of course, ending in murder. 
There’s nothing I love more than reading a well written book filled with colorful characters who always make me smile. 
I’m anxious to see what will happen next.
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More Murder On The Books....
A Bed and Breakfast for booklovers - ‘Chapters’ - in a beautiful waterfront location providing relaxing and fascinating literary themed weekends - sounds idyllic? It most definitely does. Murder, however, is on the horizon. The second in the Booklovers B&B Mystery series - finds B&B owner, Charlotte, in the middle of a mystery again and suspects are numerous. A likeable protagonist with a colourful cast of characters, a desirable backdrop and an appealing theme. Escapist reading.
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I did not realize this is the second book in a series.  If I had read the first book, I believe I would have enjoyed this more.  I enjoyed the setting and the actual mystery.  I suggest reading the first book before this one.  Thank you NetGalley!
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A popular author is hosting a week-long retreat for herself and three fans at Chapters.  While the author is doing for her Romance series, murder seems to be the theme of the week when one of the three fans who are spending the week with her is murdered.  Charlotte and her neighbor Ellen are on the case and it turns out Ellen’s cousin has plans of his own as well.

With a slew of suspects, the ladies have their hands full trying to narrow it down to who had motive, means and opportunity.  Slowly and surely they work their way through the suspects and come up empty handed.  Will Charlotte be able to keep her suspicions from her guests or will she get too close and become the killer’s next target to silence her?

The second book in this series is just as good as the first…maybe even a shade better since I know the regular cast of characters.  This is also the second series I have read from the author and both are fabulous.  A true bibliophile with a series set in a literary themed Inn and the other set in a library, you can’t go wrong with either series from this talented author.
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