"The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery" by Raymond M Hall

The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery by [Hall, Raymond M]


John Moorcroft is a quiet unassuming young man who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and yet he is in Pentonville prison, waiting to be hanged for the murder of Sally Rowland!

Digby Rolf, the prison chaplain, escorts John to the hangman’s noose and witnesses his fall to oblivion. Digby’s Bible takes on a life of its own, falling open at a passage which Digby knows only too well, convincing him of John’s innocence.

After resigning from the prison, Digby begins his own investigations into John’s case, uncovering a multitude of conspiracies, which takes him through London's dark underbelly of the 1950's and into dangerous life threatening situations for which he is ill-equipped but ultimately leading to Sally’s murderer.

He is assisted by Summer, a young lady who arrives to stay at Mrs Pentley’s boarding house. Digby is so focussed on the case he almost misses the romance which is staring him in the face.

John Moorcroft may have been hanged and his body interred, but he cannot be at peace until the real killer is brought to justice. The Reverend Digby Rolf relies on his faith for guidance and protection, unaware that a guardian angel is always by his side.

This book began slowly with the accused awaiting execution. Digby entered, and the unexplainable bible incident happened. Snap! It captured my interest. For the most part, I became invested in his character. Some issues arose further into the story. He entered a seedy club, sat in a room, put money into a box, and engaged in a peep show? That contradicted his morals, in my eyes, even though he'd removed his collar and resigned. Summer's character seemed superficial, and I didn't connect to her. She endured sexual attacks with virtually no reaction or response. Although they confess an affection for each other near the end, I didn't feel any chemistry between them. The real murderer became known earlier in the book than I'd expected. I liked that John Moorcroft, wrongly convicted and executed, continued to be a character and played a role in the development. There was a moment in the final steps where the exposed villain held onto hope that he would avoid the noose, and it led to a satisfying ending. 


"I've Always Loved Women" by Rhani D'Chae

I've Always Loved Women by [D'Chae, Rhani]


Danny's life is changed when he begins a relationship with Kat, a woman trapped in an unhealthy marriage. When she decides to give her marriage another try, Danny realizes that his mission in life is to save women like her from the men who abuse them.

If you don't mind entering the mind of a twisted killer- after all, it's scary in there, then this is a read you'll enjoy. The title and the cover photo are contradictory, which drew my interest. Worried at first there would be content that would be too overwhelming for me, I downloaded it anyway and gave it a try. I'm glad I did. The fact that Danny wanted to save Kat from an abusive relationship and the way Kat kept stringing him along actually made me feel sorry for a man whom you will find committed some dastardly things in the name of mercy. I don't want to give away too much of this short story, so read it for yourself. 


"A LONG WALK HOME: A Christmas Novelette" by D.L. Finn


All alone on Christmas Eve, Kenzie was feeling the betrayal of her recent break-up. While the sky was heavy with the dark clouds of an impending storm, she walked home from work to clear her head. Lost in her memories, Kenzie was completely unaware she was being followed by a man with green-eyes. Was this not-so-human being the good or evil that lurked around her? On the most magical night of the year, will Kenzie be able to save herself from that evil or will she need some divine inspiration? The outcome will depend on whether she can find the strength to forgive as the storm not only rages outside, but deep within her soul.

Imagine a holiday scene: the setting of a battle between good versus evil, despair versus hope. I liked the presence of the angels watching over Kenzie and keeping her safe. Kenzie's emotional trauma caused by her boyfriend throwing her over for her best friend during her favorite time of year evoked some sympathy for her character. Her reactions and interactions with the friend who betrayed her felt awkward, and they both contemplated suicide over the same slimy guy- maybe pushed it a little far. I didn't like that the angels foretold happenings, and then they happened after you already knew they would. 


"The Duchess Deal: Girl Meets Duke" by Tessa Dare


When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:

- They will be husband and wife by night only.

- No lights, no kissing.

- No questions about his battle scars.

- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:

- They will have dinner together every evening.

- With conversation.

- And unlimited teasing.

- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

Although some reviewers complained that this book wasn't compliant with the era said to encompass, I still loved this story! The main characters' depth and imagination impressed. Witty repartee and chemistry abounded between Ash and Emma; their teasing banter made me laugh, and heated love scenes burned up the pages. Each had emotional wounds and sympathetic backstories that shaped their personalities and kept them from surrendering to their feelings; Ash's physical scars held him captive in a world of loneliness. Although he cast himself in the role of a monster, his kind tenderness and intellectual curse words won me over. Several whacky sub-characters also rose; even the cat had a persona that added to the amusement. Yes, it contained silliness, and I didn't always believe the era portrayed factually, but it entertained.


Someone to Wed (The Westcott Series Book 3) by Mary Balogh


When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life...

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past...

Alexander Westcott inherited a dilapidated estate, and even though he had considered recently searching for love and getting married, he realized he must wed a rich woman to revive his property and all the people who rely on him under the establishment. Wren Heyden believed no man would marry her for any reason besides financial gain because of a purple birthmark that covered the left side of her face. Since she was a wealthy heiress, she decided to purchase a husband, for she longed to be a wife and mother, not just a successful businesswoman. Alexander Westcott happened to make her shortlist of potential husbands; he found her offer of matrimony strange and offensive and refused to marry for money alone - there must be something else between them, a liking, respect, possibly an affection. Alex and Wren's characters and their arrangement captured my attention. The story, however, had difficulty holding it. Their conversations often repeated- what one person said replayed in the other person's thoughts, and often, it could be whole paragraphs of previously read material. Too many additional characters clouded the mix, and I kept thinking: this isn't your story, why do I have to read pages and pages about you? One character's entrance added some comedy, that was Harry Wescott returning delirious from the Peninsula. Another scene I enjoyed was when Alex stood up for Wren against her mother's henchmen. I was itching for a fight, but all they could do was dangle. I could have enjoyed this book much more with fewer characters and fewer pages. 


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