The Perfect Daughter by Alex Stone
Jess Harper has always trusted her mother to help her make the right decisions. In the past, things have gone wrong, proving that Jess needs someone to guide her...but now Jess is falling in love and her mother doesn't approve of her choice. He's a plumber. He took Jess's time and focus away from her mother. Then he was missing, presumed dead, and the police were interviewing Jess.
I was fascinated by the relationship between the two women, especially since it wasn't immediately clear which of them was the unreliable narrator. The plots moves from past to present, gradually revealing what's happened over the years. And what happened to Adam.
Well-Offed in Vermont by Amy Patricia Meade
Instead of moving into their rustic farmhouse in Vermont, Stella and Nick Buckley find themselves staying at a primitive cabin with no electricity, no running water, and a horrible hide-a-bed that's jutting with springs. They won't be allowed in their new home until the sheriff finishes investigating the murder victim they found at the bottom of their well so the two decide to investigate on their own.
I really wanted to like this one. The mystery element was intriguing, but by the end of the book I couldn't stand the protagonists. The banter and chemistry between the two was never quite convincing and they were critical of every other character they encountered. Stella describes everyone as wearing ill-fitting clothes and has a hatred of even the idea of flannel or hand knit sweaters. Nick compares them all to unattractive public figures. I get that the "fish out of water element" was supposed to be interesting, but they came across as mean-spirited.
Escaping Dreamland by Charlie Lovett
The cover copy promises not only a contemporary author trying to track down an elusive children's book from a century earlier, but also the the stories of the three authors who wrote the book in 1906. I wanted to love this book, but it took me a while to warm up to the characters and I wound up setting it aside for a week because I couldn't figure out how the people I was reading about connected to anything else that was going on. Eventually, things started to tie together and make sense and from that point on I was hooked....at least on the historical scenes. I loved the information about the book packagers who put together series like the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys (the events predate Nancy Drew) and the details about life in New York at the turn of the last century. And I really appreciated the author's note at the end explaining which events and characters were real. But the modern day author and his refusal to admit that he grew up reading children's books annoyed me the whole way through.
Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.