3 out of 5 stars.
I would like to thank Carina Press for providing me with an ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.
Okay, so to start with, ‘Permanently Booked’ isn’t the first book in the ‘The Ladies Smythe & Westin’ mystery series, it is the second… but it was the first one in that series I read.
Usually that means I will drop a book like a hot potato and be adding it to my DNF pile so quickly I could give myself a paper cut – if it was a paper book. I am not a fan of book series if I don’t start with book one.
BUT!!! I fell into enjoying this book within the first few chapters and was only a little miffed (at myself, not the book) for not having read ‘Cardiac Arrest’ (the first book in the series) first. Why had I not heard of this entertaining series?
‘Permanently Booked’ survived my critical opinion of entering a series half way because it is a very engaging and totally engrossing story. I can’t say it is my idea of a perfect cosy crime as I did find the pace a little too slow… but I will say that if you came across it and had not read ‘Cardiac Arrest’ first, it’s okay. There are enough brief catch ups for you to not feel left out of the loop. That is my main bug bear when not starting a series at the beginning – too many comments back to the first book that it makes you feel left out. ‘Permanently booked’ doesn’t make you feel left out. It welcomes you with open arms and throws you right into the story, chucking small explanations of previous events at you over its shoulder as it carries you away. That’s a fab thing and shows good writing!
Now, please forgive this little bit of constructive criticism, but I do feel it needs to be said. There were some horrendous ‘continuity glitches’ in this book, but it was an ARC and therefore should never be considered the final finished product. However, I do feel a need to mention them in case they slip through and do make it into the final edit it as I can say here and now they would totally ruin the whole series for me if that was the quality of writing/editing used.
Things like a ring being slipped off a finger and popped into a handbag, only to be on the finger again in the next paragraph. Or, speaking of handbags, Summer handing out her last flyer and then, in the next sentence, digging in her bag through all the flyers while trying to find something… Not good. And these were only a few examples of the half a dozen clangers I came across.
However, as this was an ARC, I didn’t allow them to mar my judgement, or lower my score. But, to be honest, if I had bought this book and found them in there, a single star out of five would have been too generous. Sorry, but good writing like this needs to be backed up by good editing… don’t let the author down! I have my fingers crossed or Ms Mathews that the final version of the book currently being sold contains none of these issues.
Okay, I can stop sounding mean and get back to it. Yes the pace as a tad too slow for my liking… and yes there were those above mentioned issues. But please also remember how engaging and engrossing I also said it was as that shows a good mystery in the making. Loved the setting, found the characters varied and interesting – though did often get confused who was whom with all the names beginning with G, but this could be down to the slow pace and my lack of reading the first book.
All in all I enjoyed ‘Permanently Booked’ and can see a lot of fun and entertaining potential in this series.
Would I recommend this book to others?
It’s not in my top five new favourites… but it would still get a mention. Though I would be mentioning it as book two in a series and recommending people start with book one and go from there, even though I’ve not read book one. That is simply because I do see a lot of potential in this being a fun little series to collect and enjoy and so feel people should start at the beginning and enjoy the ride!
Would I buy this book for myself?
Right now? Probably not. For the moment I see it more as a ‘library book’ potential to me… but this is simply based on the one book, not the entire series. If I was to see another book from the ‘The Ladies Smythe & Westin’ series IN my virtual library then yes, I would borrow it and check it out. Would I buy them? Not until I had read a few more and ensured the final version of the book a lot smoother than the ARC I have just read… if that makes sense?
As I keep saying, I really do see a lot of potential in this being a fun little mystery series… but I would want to read a few more before I put my money where my mouth was and actually buy them. Sorry.
In summary: A good second book to a potentially entertaining new mystery series. Though I do hope the continuity issues I found in this ARC didn’t make it into the final edition of the book.
Until next time,