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With Neighbors Like These By Linda Lovely: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

IN THE July 31 ISSUE

FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andKathleen Costa,
andMysteryrat's Maze
SECTIONS

by Kathleen Costa
& Linda Lovely

This week we have a review of With Neighbors Like These by Linda Lovely, along with an interesting guest post by Linda about senior sleuths. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

With Neighbors Like These: An HOA Mystery By Linda Lovely
Review by Kathleen Costa

The H in “HOA” Stands for…Homicide?
Kylee Kane is a retired Coast Guard investigator living in the South Carolina Lowcountry on a boat…old habits? She hopes her experience will translate to a career as a private investigator despite the missions being very different. She has also been taking care of her mother, Myrtle, who, despite being a cancer survivor and struggling with her post-chemo recovery, is quite the adversary when she has a cause to champion, and the threat she might have to live with Kylee if she doesn’t take it easy doesn’t really affect a change. Ted Welch is a close friend who’s been more like family since he lost his own mother when he was eight years old, and growing from gangly to GQ handsome is not lost on Kylee’s attentions. Ted’s business, Welch HOA Management, offers advice and support for over a dozen HOA groups, including Myrt’s HOA, but they’re like referees, the actual decisions are in the hands of the individual HOA boards and sometimes sans any resident input or vote. Hence the conflict. Myrt’s threat to file a lawsuit against a recent HOA decision has been met with a just as threatening letter found in her mailbox. What happened to “love thy neighbor”?

With Neighbors Like These Earns 5/5 Bambi-s…Engaging Cozy with an Edge!
Myrtle Kane enjoys living on Hullis Island, a very rural gated community, with a variety of floral and fauna to enjoy, however when the fauna, more specifically the deer population, becomes a nuisance, drastic measures are taken. The HOA board voted to have a deer hunt to rid the area of the pest. Several residents have started a “Save Bambi” campaign setting out food for the starving herd, but others, like Dan Finley, has resorted to a contrasting approach: vandalism and intimidation. He blames those “deer huggers” for the damage the deer have done to plants he uses for his landscaping business. Is he responsible for the threat against Myrtle? Kylee and long-time friend Ted Welch decide to monitor Finley trying to catch him in the act of vandalism and report to the local sheriff. However, things become much more complicated. “The Twin” has revenge on their mind and a body count to manage starting with Finley. Will Kylee’s investigator skill uncover the motive and halt the killer’s plans?

“H” in HOA stands for Hurray! Linda Lovely has started her new “cozy” series with an engaging edge. She focuses on several neighborhoods and conflicts among neighbors that appear out of control. Many readers can identify with the ins and outs and far outs of Home Owner Associations and neighbors, but as murders multiply incorporating more than one community, so does the tension between neighbors. Ted’s business reputation takes a hit as the local sheriff insists these neighbor vs neighbor conflicts could have been better handled, not a surprise since the sheriff and Ted, themselves, have a conflict…but what they don’t know makes the drama intense, complex, and deliciously exciting all the way to the last page. Revenge in its many forms, for sure. Linda’s writing style is descriptive and her use of different first-person narratives allows readers to engage with both the investigator and the killer. The chapter titles provide the heads-up when changes are made in the first-person narrative along with date and time for readers to easily navigate multiple perspectives and passage of time. I like having a strong, mature female lead, like Kylee, in which I can more easily identify, and the fact she gained legitimate skill in her professional capacity through the Coast Guard adds a nice realism. Even her senior-citizen mother offers another no-nonsense character I like. Ted, with his international experience, also adds to the depth of the personalities. The story is a longer length (326 pages) than many books I’ve read, but this provided ample time to create the island terrain and residents, provide several ups and murderous downs, delve deeper into the rich characters, set up conflicts and various avenues of interest, and explore a more intimate relationship between Kylee and Ted. This just made my Top 2021 surprise delights!

Be a Big Linda Lovely Fan!
Linda Lovely has penned nine mystery/suspense novels that seem to meet any reader’s preference. Along with the premier novel in her HOA mystery series, With Neighbors Like These, she also writes the three-book cozy Brie Hooker Mysteries, the two-book traditional Marley Clark Mysteries, the two-book romantic thriller Smart Women, Dumb Luck, and a stand-alone romantic suspense novel, LIES: Secrets Can Kill, set in 1938.

Facebook—Linda Lovely, Author
Website—Author Linda Lovely

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Heroines Over Age Fifty—What Progress?
By Linda Lovely

In an unnamed series, the criminal investigation heroine ages six years between the first and later novels, but stays in her forties. During the same time span, another series character packs on twenty years.

Why? Did the author or publisher fear that allowing the heroine to pass the half-century-mark would decrease her appeal? If so, it’s sad. Nobody seems to mind that Michael Connelly’s character Harry Bosch is approaching seventy.

When I wrote my first novel almost a decade ago, it featured a fifty-two-year-old, physically-fit, sexually-active heroine. Then I started contacting literary agents. One advised me to forget that age group and write heroines in their twenties and thirties.

Linda Lovely

Her logic? Older readers could recall what it had been like to be thirty, but younger readers couldn’t possibly identify with a middle-aged character. In the agent’s view, this shrank the potential market and chances for publishing contracts.

Another agent suggested cozy mysteries as the most viable option for older crime fiction heroines. Here, amateur sleuths, including women in their fifties, sixties, and seventies, continue to flourish. Typically, these women use their wits to catch bad guys, and have little or no need to be agile, weapon savvy, or physically fit. If romance blooms, sexual desire is seldom mentioned.

Okay, I enjoy cozy mysteries. Some of my favorite authors have created clever older sleuths who use their noggins. Yet, I’m stubborn. That’s why With Neighbors Like These, the first book in my new HOA Mystery series, features a fifty-year-old heroine, who is a retired Coast Guard investigator.

I don’t think I’m the only older author/reader who wishes more crime novels would showcase smart older heroines who can kick butt, if required, and earn appreciative glances if they’re wearing swimsuits or evening gowns. (Think machine-gun-wielding Helen Mirren in RED.)

Thankfully, we have many younger strong-willed, kick-butt heroines thanks to trend-setting authors like Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. But, using various search options, I was unable to create a list of mysteries that featured age fifty and above heroines with the skill sets and toughness of Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone or Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski. All the lists I found lumped together amateur sleuths like Miss Marple with take-charge heroines like Sophie Littlefield’s character, Stella.

A little history. In 1926, Agatha Christie introduced Miss Jane Marple, a character in her mid-sixties at her first appearance. The heroine is portrayed as a nosy, sexless spinster. When Christie began publishing mysteries, people aged fifty and above accounted for just 5.4 percent of the U.S. population.

By 2010, this over-fifty population segment grew to thirty-four percent, and it continues to climb. True, some of today’s seniors may still fit the Miss Marple mold, but they are outnumbered by healthy, young-at-heart contributors to society—many quite capable of defending themselves and/or protecting others in the pursuit of villains. These potential heroines need not be restricted to deduction as their main crime-solving tool nor do they need men (of any age) to rescue them.

Statistics back this up. To remain physically fit, today’s seniors exercise twice as much as their peers in prior generations. According to a Newsweek article, about a quarter-million seniors actively train as athletes. Masters sports, born in the 1970s, allow individuals to compete against others in their age groups into their seventies, eighties, and beyond. The U.S. Masters Swimming program alone counts more than 60,000 members.

Today, many women are also retired veterans with military training and expertise. In 2018, women represented 16.5 percent of active-duty service personnel. In 2004, when combat operations were underway in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense reported 236,342 female service members.

Mature women aren’t “sexless” either. A recent University of Michigan/AARP poll found forty percent of age 65-80 participants reported being sexually active. Another study claims up to eight-six percent of women in their fifties are sexually active.

What about mental acuity? More than five million Americans age 55 or above own businesses or are self-employed, and this age group is outpacing younger groups as entrepreneurs.

If we’re looking for real-world heroines, there are ample role models from athletes to jurists. Laura Sophiea competed in four triathlons at age fifty-seven. At seventy-two, track legend Philippa Raschker, who holds 70-plus world titles, returned to compete in seven events at the National Senior Games. At age sixty-four, Diana Nyad swam 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida.

Then there’s the remarkable Supreme Court Justice Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who demonstrated rare mental acuity up to her death at age eighty-seven. In 1999, following colorectal cancer treatment, the justice began working out and continued her exercise regime through subsequent medical ordeals.

One of Linda’s nieces

While not as famous, I’ll put my age-fifty and above nieces in the potential heroine category. Both hold doctorates, work full-time, and have families. They also run, bike, scuba dive, swim, and paddleboard. (They’re pictured here.)

For my own reading pleasure, I’d love to find a compendium of mature, take-charge heroines. I’d also recommend such a list to younger women, who might benefit from reading about potential older versions of themselves—women who remain vital, contributing members of society, and enjoying life to the fullest.

Readers, please share any fictional character you think deserve to make the fifty-and-over, kick-butt heroine list!

To enter to win either an ebook or print copy of With Neighbors Like These, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “neighbors,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 7, 2021. U.S. residents only for print copy, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email and you want a print copy please include your mailing address. MAKE SURE YOU STATE IF YOU WANT PRINT OR EBOOK COPY. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase this book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

A journalism major in college, Linda Lovely has spent most of her career working in PR and advertising—an early introduction to penning fiction. With Neighbors Like These is Lovely’s ninth mystery/suspense novel. Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense, or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. Her work has earned nominations for a number of prestigious awards, ranging from RWA’s Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense to Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nancy July 31, 2021 at 7:56am

Reading the book With Neighbors Like These might help take your mind off your own quirky neighbors! It sounds like a fun and enjoyable read!

Reply

2 Glen Davis July 31, 2021 at 9:00am

Sounds interesting! Count me in!

Reply

3 Carl July 31, 2021 at 12:26pm

I’d love to have a print copy of With Neighbors Like These. Please enter my name in the draw. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

Reply

4 Mary Holshouser July 31, 2021 at 2:38pm

There are areas around here who
have deer hunts to cut down the
population. there is always a
lot of pros and cons. should be
interesting. thanks
txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

5 Dianne Casey July 31, 2021 at 4:25pm

Sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the chance. I prefer a print copy.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Reply

6 Sherry Brown July 31, 2021 at 5:13pm

Thank you for the chance to win your wonderful giveaway!!!!!

Reply

7 KarenM August 1, 2021 at 11:23am

If you have not read the Anne George series featuring the two Southern Sisters Patricia Anne and Mary Alice you have a treat in store.

karen94066 @ aol.com

Reply

8 Teresa Warner August 1, 2021 at 1:41pm

A new author for me, sounds good! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

Reply

9 Donamae August 1, 2021 at 2:17pm

Thank you for the chance here’s hoping
Sounds interesting Wisconsin has deer hunting

Reply

10 Linda Lovely August 3, 2021 at 10:47am

Thanks to everyone who commented–and for the wonderful review!

Reply

11 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
August 10, 2021 at 12:40pm

We have a winner!

Reply

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