Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

When four of her employers go out of town without informing her, or paying her, sassy domestic worker, Blanche White, is forced to write a few bad checks that land her in hot water. She might be headed off to prison. Fortunately, a commotion surrounding an unfortunate event involving the county commissioner enables Blanche to make her escape from the courthouse without notice. What will she do? Where will she go? She finds herself in the home of a wealthy family, disguised as a former worker. Blanche figures she can make some money in the meantime before she’s found out and then move on with her life. But she’s chosen the wrong house to get lost in. Things are not what they appear to be in the household. So when two murders happen within her short stay at this hideout home, Blanche will need her quick wits to get away safe, and to uncover who did away with her newfound friend.

This book immediately drew me in. It was creative right from the start, which hooked me. And then Blanche’s personality, which mimicked some women I’ve encountered in real life and in the movies, entertained me. How can I explain her character? 🤔 It was a little like a mix of Octavia Spencer’s character, Minnie, from The Help, and Madea from one of Tyler Perry’s movies. One of my favorite characters was Mumsfield, a mentally challenged man with a big heart, a love of cars, and an instant attachment to and wholesome affection for Blanche. Mumsfield, although autistic, was very keen in many ways, and there was just so much to love about him.

I would not characterize this book as a cozy mystery because it contains some mature themes and serious subject matter; material that’s best suited for adult readers. It was not the comedic mystery that I thought it would be based on the cover. The setting was the Deep South, and if you are particularly sensitive about outspokenness regarding racial inequalities and prejudice, I’d think twice before picking up this one. Blanche can be a bit salty with her tongue, and other characters are not shy about expressing their feelings about minorities and using condescension in their tones. Nonetheless, the mystery aspect was top-notch, and I was both impressed and surprised by the outcome.

The audible narrator’s performance given by Lisa Reneé Pitts was OUTSTANDING!! She imitates male and female voices, dialects and accents with ease. As the villain, her maniacal laugh was priceless. I look forward to listening to other books she’s narrated.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary audio download of Blanche on the Lam. All opinions expressed about it are my own.

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Éclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫—3.5 Stars

Winnie Johnson has just inherited a vintage ambulance and a brown and white tabby cat, Lovey, from her elderly deceased neighbor, and friend, Gertrude. This is not what Winnie was hoping for, and she realizes that her bakery, Delectable Delights, won’t be salvaged financially after all. The increase in rent on the bakery by her landlord is too much for her to keep it running. When her neighbor, Bridget, unwittingly gives Winnie the idea for her emergency dessert squad service, things begin looking up. Using the ambulance to get delectable desserts with whimsical names like NEVER GIVE UPside Down cake, into the hands of people who are experiencing varying situations in life, can be a real hit. But in the midst of all the excitement with her new business, a dear friend on Winnie’s street is murdered, smothered with a pillow in his home, and Winnie feels an obligation to help find out who killed him so that her elderly friends on Serenity Lane can sleep better at night.

The Emergency Dessert Squad is a fun idea and it made me chuckle thinking about the ambulance coming to the rescue of people going through rough times and needing a sweets fix. There are desserts for celebrations too and that’s how Winnie meets a potential beau, Jay Morgan, a man who is not put off by her choice of friends. Winnie is an interesting character in that she’s a young woman but prefers elderly companionship. Her best friend, Reneé, and the men she usually meets have a difficult time understanding this. But Winnie doesn’t care. She loves the older ones who’ve embraced her and made her feel welcome in Silver Lake. I loved this aspect of Winnie’s personality. She readily defends her senior friends and lets her male acquaintances know that they can take a hike if they can’t understand why she prefers them as friends. Lovey the cat is a hilarious animal character in the book. She’s friendly with most people, but no matter what Winnie does to warm up to her, Lovey responds with an audible hiss. One wonders why Gertrude entrusted the cat’s care to Winnie.

Overall, I liked this cozy. Although at times I felt like the dessert squad and Winnie’s love life overshadowed the murder mystery in the book, it was still pretty good. I personally didn’t think the murderer was too hard to figure out, likely because there weren’t a whole lot of suspects, but it was still entertaining finding out the person’s motivation behind the killing. The audio narrator did a good job with the book. It took me a little time to warm up to her voice for some unknown reason, but once I did I determined she was okay.

Thank you, Tantor Media, for a free audio download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Have you read any books by Laura Bradford? What did you think dear readers? Have a wonderful day!!