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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review - The Divine Circle of Ladies Rocking the Boat

For our final Halloween read, I just couldn't put off this book any longer. I am still one behind in the series. Let's forget
 about the coming cold weather and take a the Bermuda Triangle...on Halloween...with a group of five witches who solve crimes...what could possibly go wrong?

Author:  Dolores Stewart Riccio

Copyright:  December 2009 (BookSurge) 306 pgs

Series:  6th in Divine Circle Mysteries

Sensuality:  Mild, occasional swear word

Mystery Sub-genre:  Paranormal Amateur Sleuth

Main Character:  Cassandra Shipton

Setting:  Modern day, Norse Goddess Cruise and Plymouth Massachusetts

Obtained Through:  Purchase

I must provide a disclaimer right up front - this is my favorite paranormal mystery series.  I think it rocks!  This series started long before a paranormal mystery was the "in" thing. 

Let me introduce you to the five phenomenal women who are the Divine Circle:

Cassandra, the viewpoint character, is an herbalist and reluctant clairvoyant.  

Phillipa, a cookbook author and poet who reads the Tarot a little too accurately.

Heather, an heiress and animal lover.  She makes magical candles and runs the local pet rescue.

Deidre, recently widowed who makes dolls for sale and magical amulets besides being a mother of four young children.

Fiona, the eccentric librarian who dowses with a crystal.  Don't let her "mature" age fool you!

The story is as much about the dynamics of women's friendships as it is about crime solving and their Wiccan faith.  In this novel Heather talks everyone into a Halloween cruise to Bermuda to lift Deidre's mood out of her mourning.  She recently lost her husband and needs a diversion.  

So the ladies are out for some great cruise food, entertainment and lazing about.  Unfortunately this very same ship had a newlywed disappear on the cruise just a year prior and it happens again during this cruise.  Cassandra gets a psychic flash of the young bride's last moments and knows their is a serial rapist and murderer on the cruise.  Unfortunately the vision didn't provide  the killer's identity.  The ladies rally trying to protect those they fear maybe in danger while trying to unveil who the murderer is.  In this novel one of the circle will be in dire danger not once, but twice.

Deidre, who was the reason for the cruise, realizes that she has developed the ability to see and even talk to the dead when she has the deceased bride from last year in her cabin.  And that is just the beginning.  Hang on to your socks or reading glasses.  The highlighted characters on the cruise are all suspect and a bit eccentric, including a novelist with his overbearing mother.

As often happens with these five ladies, they nurture those around them.  Cassandra has an affinity for teens from troubled homes and she finds Rikyu Ogata who is being raised by his uncle, Ken Ogata the Japanese Tea Master.  While Fiona joins the uncle for a formal Japanese Tea, Cassandra forms a friendship with Rikyu that finds him joining Cassandra and her grown children at the holidays after the cruise.

This series has steadily built a fan base because of the expert character development.  You truly grow fond of these women and feel for their individual challenges, root for them to prevail, and miss them when it is done.  The plot is well thought out and brings the plausibility factor up.  

The climax was an edge-of-your-seat ordeal (at least for me!)  The wrap up puts a smile on your face and makes you want to pick up the next one to stay in the company of these amazing women.  Give this book a try, I think you will be surprised at how good a paranormal mystery can be.

There are some recipes in the back for Halibut Spetsiota, Baked Beef Barley Mushroom Soup, and Pear-Ginger Crisp.  I think I am going to try the Pear-Ginger Crisp for Thanksgiving!

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susied said...

This is my favorite series, too, though I am way behind in reading. I love the friendship all these ladies have and the sense of place in Plymouth, too.

A.F. Heart said...

Hey there Susied,

thanks for the comment. I agree about the great sense of place Ms. Riccio infuses in the series. She manages to do the same with the cruise. Very talented author.

Now I just have the most recent to read in the series and I will finally be caught up. I can't wait to read the next one!

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