Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018, Revised 2022
Hold on for a heart-thumping adventure through exotic lands in this fast moving, romantic suspense mystery by Marlene M Bell.
I was already acquainted with the characters in Marlene M. Bell’s Annalisse series from reading and reviewing Scattered Legacy, the third in the series. Now I’m going back to the start, to meet our characters again for the first time in Stolen Obsession.
Annalisse Drury is an antiques appraiser. She’s reeling from the murder of her best friend Samantha, which may be linked to Samantha’s missing bracelet, an ancient piece that’s supposedly cursed. Although she doesn’t feel much like socializing, she’s at a gallery opening to support her friend Generosa (Gen) Zavos. When she sees a piece there that looks very similar to the cursed bracelet, she fears something horrible will befall her friend. Then Annalisse’s boss dies at the opening, and her fears come to pass. She enlists Gen’s handsome playboy son, Alec, to help convince Gen to get rid of the necklace before more troubles come.
The action starts rather abruptly right off the bat. It feels like Samantha’s murder needs its own story. We know that it happened, we know that it was traumatizing for Annalisse, but we don’t know any more of the details. How did Samantha get the cursed bracelet? What events led up to her death? Inquiring minds want to know!
The romance is an important part of the story, but not at the expense of the mystery and suspense. Annalisse is hesitant to trust Alec, almost reluctant to even admit that she’s attracted to him, even when he’s obviously attracted to her. But events place the two of them in a position where they have to rely on each other when Alec’s parents are attacked on a boat and Gen is kidnapped. They’ve got to work together and with the authorities to try to get her back.
And oh, the suspense! Annalisse and Alec aren’t sure who they can truly trust. They’ve got security, but something doesn’t seem right. Has the detective in charge of the investigation really sent them to help, or are they bad guys, too? The closer you get to the end of the book, the more frenetic things get. Not only are they trying to rescue Gen, they’re trying to save her life. She has a condition that requires medication, and the longer she’s without her meds, the worse it is for her.
There are things I would have liked more detail on, and toward the end, I tended to lose track of who exactly the different bad guys were – it felt like a couple of new ones popped up in the thick of the chase. Overall, though, this was a lot of fun to read! I feel like I have a little bit of an unfair advantage, having already read the third in the series. I know how some of the characters will grow and develop. Even if I didn’t have that little edge, though, Stolen Obsession is still a crackin’ good book. I look forward to reading the second in the series, and I hope there are more to come after the third!
Marlene M. Bell is an eclectic mystery writer, artist, photographer, and she raises sheep in beautiful East Texas with her husband, Gregg, three cats and a flock of horned Dorset sheep.
The Annalisse series — mysteries with a touch of romance — has received numerous honors including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery (Spent Identity) and FAPA (Florida Author’s President’s Gold Award) for two other installments, Stolen Obsession and Scattered Legacy. She also penned the first of her children’s picture books, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! based on true events from the Bell’s ranch. The simple text and illustrations are a touching tribute of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb.
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