Monthly Archives: July 2011

Katrina Thomas. Love at Morley Cove. New York, NY: Avalon Books, 2011.

The Hills, or at least the Outer Banks, are alive in this romantic tale of a young librarian who takes a temporary position as a nanny in a wealthy resort owner’s home. Reine Jonson has never been rich, but lately she’s struggling more than usual. Her ancient car needs repairs, and she’s trying to save up to begin a graduate program in the fall, so when Stephen Morley offers to hire her, she’s glad to have the money. What she doesn’t count on is Stephen. Mr. Morley never smiles. He doesn’t joke or laugh, either, making him an awkward surrogate parent for his late brother and sister-in-law’s three children. Each one is a rambunctious troublemaker under the age of ten: there are snakes on the tea trays, sticky fingers on the tablecloths, and small voices often raised in piercing childish mirth. Grieving, busy Mr. Morley is vexed to discover that none of the nannies he hires wish to stay for more than a week. Reine arrives on his porch just as the latest in a long line of au pairs is making her dramatic exit, and the children take to the reserved, understanding librarian immediately. Despite her misgivings about his demeanor, Reine is more than a little moved by the handsome Stephen’s dark eyes–but what, if anything, does he feel for her behind his grim mask?

There are few places more beautiful than the sea-swept shores of North Carolina, and readers will find themselves transported there by the description of the scenery as well as Reine and Stephen’s breathless romance. For an even better experience, slip this book into your beach tote and take it with you on your sandy, salty vacation!

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Dare, Romance/Relationship, Thomas, Katrina

Laura S. Wharton. The Pirate’s Bastard. Kernersville, NC: Second Wind Publishing, 2010.

Edward Marshall’s life in 1741 is a classic tale of the self-made man: by the age of twenty-four, he’s risen from a lowly orphan in Barbados to a master shipwright in  Brunswick, a bustling port town in the great colony of North Carolina. A possible lumber deal with the wealthy merchant Thaddeus Jenkins of Wilmington means that Edward will achieve even greater success; it doesn’t hurt that Jenkins has a beautiful daughter, either. In addition to being extremely pretty, Miss Sarah Jenkins is also smart and adventurous, and Edward is soon head-over-heels in love. But an old seaman in Merchant Jenkins’ employ, Ignatius Pell, thinks he knows Edward from somewhere else, and he  threatens to ruin the young couple’s future happiness by revealing  a dark secret Edward thought he left behind on Barbados. For Edward is not Edward Marshall, but the illegitimate son of the infamous pirate Stede Bonnet and his French mistress Anne Marie, a redheaded lady of the night who passed her crimson locks and steely blue eyes on to her baby son before she tragically died.

Ignatius Pell certainly has a long memory, and trapped in his twisted brain is the location of a rich treasure buried by Bonnet in the islands before his untimely death at the hands of the law. Since Edward has convenient access to many ships and may have a bit of the pirate spirit in him, Ignatius proposes that they set sail in search of the treasure, unless Edward would rather that Miss Jenkins and her father learn of his sordid family tree. What follows is a seafaring adventure of the best kind, but reader beware: just like quests for pirate treasure, pirate tales rarely end in a predictable, or peaceful, manner.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.


Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Brunswick, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Wharton, Laura S.

David Shaffer. The Harry Caine Mysteries.

  • Paid in Full. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2005.
  • Burned. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2005.
  • Dead Right. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2007.
  • Wake-Up Call. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2008.
  • The Double Lie. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2011.

Harry Caine is a detective of the old school: he likes his drinks strong and his women frisky, and he makes his own rules.  When this series opens, Harry is closing his private investigation agency in Silicon Valley.  After a misadventure at sea, Harry makes West Palm Beach, Florida his home. He opens a new agency, hires an assistant, Mona, and takes on cases that have him on the move from California to the Caribbean to North Carolina. Only the novels with a North Carolina setting are described in this blog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2010-2019, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Series, Shaffer, David, Uncategorized

Michael Parker. The Watery Part of the World. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2011.

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. So begins Ishmael’s adventures, and Michael Parker likewise takes the reader straight out to sea to meet Theodosia Burr Alston. Historically, Theodosia was the highly educated daughter of the infamous Aaron Burr. In early 1813, Burr had returned from voluntary exile in Europe, and Theodosia was eager to join him. Sailing north to their reunion in New York, she sank along with her ship off the North Carolina coast, never to be heard from again. Which is of course where all the best stories begin. Parker’s Theodosia survives the pirate raid that scuttles her vessel, eking out a precarious existence on the Outer Banks with the help of a recluse named Whaley. Though far removed from the elegant lady she once was, Theodosia is still her father’s devoted daughter. Among the most valuable cargo on the ship were Aaron Burr’s personal papers; papers that, falling into the wrong hands, would certainly endanger his life. The pirate captain, a savage but educated man named Daniels, now possesses them. Theodosia is determined to steal them back. Badly injured in attempting their recovery, she flees to nearby Yaupon Island.

Sail forward one hundred and sixty odd years to 1970. Yaupon Island is “six square miles of sea oat and hummock afloat off the cocked hip of North Carolina.” Its population is three: two old, white sisters, Whaley and Maggie, descendants of the remarkable Theodosia, and Woodrow Thornton, the many-greats grandchild of the man who saved her life. Why does Woodrow stay on that hurricane-battered spit of sand, his children wonder? All to care for two crazed white women who don’t treat him any better than a handyman? Maggie and Whaley, different as night and day, are certainly more than a little mad in their own ways, but possibly from sorrow and disappointed hopes more than anything else.

Parker flashes back and forth between these two tales like lightning on the shoals, filling his watery world with historical figures, heartbreak, betrayal, and the raw desire of the human heart to outlast every attempt at drowning.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Dare, Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Parker, Michael

Dixie Land. Return to Serenity. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2007.

Maggie and Ross Harrington, the main characters in Land’s previous novel, Serenity, are back in this sequel, Return to Serenity.  Maggie and Ross are now married, and they are raising Maggie’s son, Tyler, as their child even though Tyler’s father is Maggie’s dishonest, drug-abusing ex-fiancé, Michael.  Maggie and Ross are happy–they have become a true family and the network of friends evident in the first novel are present in this one too.  Because friends Caroline and Charlie are willing to mind little Tyler, Maggie and Ross are able to slip away for a romantic vacation in the Caribbean.

That vacation is Maggie and Ross’s last moment of bliss before problems from the past come back for another assault on the couple. Ross’s ex-wife Melanie has cancer, and she asks Ross and Maggie to take in her daughter (who is not Ross’s child).  Melanie’s request opens old wounds, but Melanie is not a threatening or frightening person, as is Tyler’s father, Michael.  Michael will stop at nothing to get Maggie and Tyler back. As in the past, Michael manipulates Maggie’s friends to get information on her, and while he appears to be using the courts to get Tyler, that is just a way to distract Maggie while he puts his true plan in motion.


Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Land, Dixie, Suspense/Thriller

Z. K. Burrus. Senestre on Vacation. Livingston, AL: Livingston Press, 2011.

Thomas Senestre delights in sarcasm (if he delights in anything), even if his acerbic commentary remains mostly unvoiced. Recently promoted by default to Lieutenant in the Jackson City Police Department, he knows he leads a tepid life at best; that of a rather inept, single, insomniac policeman eking out existence in a cramped, cockroach-infested apartment. His closest friend and drinking partner is the city undertaker, which seems to fit Senestre’s personality perfectly. So Senestre drinks. And snarks.

This existence is rudely interrupted by a plea for help from a woman claiming to be a friend of his wayward mother. Adora Phelps is being stalked, or thinks she is, and begs her friend’s policeman son to come do some snooping of his own. Suspicious and feeling vaguely put-upon, Senestre nonetheless answers her summons to the small Outer Banks town of Pantego, where he encounters irritating locals, the batty Adora, and water (which he hates). Is Adora truly in danger? Will Senestre unwittingly learn who his absent father was? Will he ever manage to fall asleep?

Z.K. Burrus’ brooding debut novel bites its way to a grisly, suspenseful end. Set in locations based on Elizabeth City and Manteo, North Carolina, local readers may not recognize their sunny home state through the sleep-deprived, cryptic eyes of Thomas Senestre, but they will surely chuckle over his dark witticisms.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.


Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Burrus, Z. K., Camden, Coast, Dare, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Pasquotank, Suspense/Thriller

Carolyn Guy. Autumn Bends the Rebel Tree. Vilas, NC: Canterbury House Publishing, 2011.

Clarinda Darningbush enters the world at the turn of the 19th century, the youngest in a large family rooted in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Absent parents and dangerous surroundings means she grows up quickly, learning from her older siblings how to thrive in the unforgiving mountain environment. One day, she stops with her brother to speak with a handsome, blue-eyed stranger, and her whole world does a “dipsy-doodle.” Rufus McCloud is just as smitten as Clarinda, and soon they are happily married. Seventeen children and Rufus’ banjo music fill their joyful home on Levi’s Mountain to the brim, but tragedy comes to call. Left without her dearest love, Clarinda must weather life as a widow and single mother, struggling through the Great Depression and World War II with the help of her devoted children. Hooking rag rugs for trade, fighting off panthers and bears, and even building a new house when a devastating fire destroys their old home, Clarinda is the epitome of strength and courage. Throughout this bittersweet life of toil, she sometimes sees and hears her winsome husband, although she tells no one. Clarinda is sure that one bright day they will be reunited, and as spry as they were in youth, dance off together on the air.

A Boone, North Carolina native, Carolyn Guy has put forth what many readers are calling one of the most accurate depictions of North Carolina mountain life during the 1930s and 1940s that they’ve ever read. Bursting with Appalachian dialect, music, and customs, readers will find Clarinda’s resourcefulness and faith an inspiration as much as they will enjoy the humorous scrapes and stories of her large, warm family.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Guy, Carolyn, Historical, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Watauga

Mark Schweizer. The Mezzo Wore Mink. Hopkinsville, KY: St. James Music Press, 2008.

The Mezzo Wore Mink has some familiar elements–Hayden’s lovely girlfriend Meg, the quirky residents of St. Germaine, church politics, the discovery of a body in St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church, and another unsuccessful interim rector.  But there are new elements too and they take the Liturgical Mysteries series to a new level of zaniness.

It’s fall in St. Germaine, and mayor Peter Moss is worried about his re-election chances. The big issue is economic development, and although Mayor Moss has recruited new businesses, not everyone appreciates what they add to the local scene. The naysayers seem to be correct when a body is found in the garden behind the new spa and animals from the new fur farm get loose in the town. Mix in the theft of a head from the local cremation center and a Thanksgiving pageant called The Living Gobbler, and you know that this will be a fun read.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Humor, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Schweizer, Mark, Watauga

Dixie Land. Second Chances. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2006.

Grace Garrett is thrown for a loop when she stops by her husband’s law office one night and finds an office assistant, half-dressed, on his desk. Can it be that her husband of twenty-plus years has been carrying on with this young woman?  When the woman is murdered, Grace is not the only one who wants an answer to this question.

Second Chances follows Grace as she attempts to juggle her responsibilities as a mother, daughter, wife, and friend with her investigations into her husband’s life and the history of the dead woman.  There are many twists and turns before Grace learns the full story and builds a new life for herself off the foundations of her years as Mrs. Andrew Garrett.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000, 2006, Forsyth, Land, Dixie, Mystery, Piedmont

Tamar Myers. The Glass Is Always Greener. New York: Avon Books, 2011.

Abby Timberlake Washburn, proprietor of the Den of Antiquity in Charleston, South Carolina, is delighted when she is invited to a soiree in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is not just any party – Jerry Ovumkoph, the eccentric and elderly aunt of Abby’s friend Rob, is hosting her own going-away party. Rather than being a sorrowful event in which family members and dear friends share their happy memories of Jerry, she uses the occasion to express her disappointment in her family and to announce the minimal gifts she will leave them. She also makes the peculiar bequest of her enormous emerald ring to Abby, a complete stranger.

Therefore, when Aunt Jerry is found lifeless in the freezer, the people closest to her become the prime suspects. Unfortunately, it was Abby who made the discovery, and the fact that the prized ring was missing from the deceased’s finger does not help Abby convince people that she is no murderer. As theories begin to form with her at the center, Abby enlists the help of her mother, best friend, and former sister-in-law to get to the bottom of the situation. Along the way, she befriends Aunt Jerry’s family members, leading her to uncover upsetting Ovumkoph family secrets.

The Glass Is Always Greener is the sixteenth and final novel in Tamar Myers’ “Den of Antiquity Mystery” series. The series began with Gilt by Association in 1996, and the first eight novels were set in Charlotte before Abigail moved her shop to Charleston, South Carolina. It’s nice to see our intrepid heroine come full circle.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mecklenburg, Myers, Tamar, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont