Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Family Jewels by Kate Christie & Tactical Pursuit by Lynette Mae

The Rainbow Reader Welcomes Special Guest Reviewer
Fellow Lesfic Aficionado and Humorist-In-Training

This week, Michelle tackles perception,
Family Jewels by Kate Christie, 
and Tactical Pursuit by Lynette Mae

Book:  Family Jewels
Author:  Kate Christie
Publisher:  Bella Books

Perception is a funny thing—while we use our senses to identify any number of things, it is our collective life experiences which shape how we perceive the world around us. 

Don’t worry, I am not going to go off on some existential rant about perception. I simply find it interesting that people can perceive the same event in vastly different ways. Some find Cupid to be a perfectly acceptable personification of love and romance. To me, a short, chubby kid in a diaper wielding a weapon hardly screams romance. 

Interpersonal relationships be they with friends, family members or romantic in nature, can thrive or wane depending on the perceptions held by the individuals involved. Years ago, my friend Liz ended a relationship because the person she was dating hated Jazz music and she perceived that as a significant character flaw. Another friend, Maria despises anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter. My perception is that Liz needs to lighten up a bit and Maria would do well to embrace what I consider to be an especially brilliant culinary amalgamation.

Then again, many people participate in Easter egg hunts where they search for colorfully dyed eggs which have been hidden outdoors. First of all, my hunting and gathering begins and ends at the grocery store. Secondly, I store my eggs in a relatively modern invention called a refrigerator. Hiding perfectly good food outdoors, searching for it, and then eating it once it has been found seems like a rather circuitous and potentially health threatening route to take simply because one has a taste for hard boiled eggs.

For the record, Maria and I have remained friends but Liz is still single, and continues her yearly trek to the Newport Jazz festival hoping to bring home a compatible Jazz aficionado.

In Kate Christie’s book, Family Jewels, the start of the new year has not been kind to Elizabeth Starreveld. Elizabeth, or Junior as she is called by her friends, barely finishes ringing in the new year with her girlfriend Maddie and her best friend Dez, when Dez confesses that she and Maddie are romantically involved. Junior is forced to work through the pain of losing both her girlfriend and her best friend while facing the added burdens of coming to terms with the declining health of her seriously ill mentor and dealing with strained family relationships. Junior has always perceived herself as being different from the rest of her family. While her sisters busied themselves playing dress-up and learning how to cook, Junior was roaming the woods and developing her love for all things botanical. Despite the fact that they have very little in common, there is one thing that Junior and her sisters do agree on. None of them are interested in following in their father’s footsteps and working at the family Jewelry store; a business that has been in their family for generations.

When Junior came out to her family shortly after high school, it created a chasm in her relationship with her father. As time went on, it grew deeper and despite her attendance at Sunday family dinners, Juniors relationship with her father was strained at best. He ignores her and she tries to ignore his obvious disappointment of her. When her father proposes that she accompany him on a business trip to a jeweler’s convention, Juniors first response is to decline. However after hearing that the trip would include a visit to Holland to see the tulips, Junior quickly changes her mind. While she and her father have different reasons motivating them to take this trip, they both discover that spending time together reaps greater benefits than either had anticipated.

Family Jewels includes numerous descriptive passages which allow the reader to accompany Junior as she experiences the beauty of the Netherlands. It is quite evident that Kate Christie has either done a tremendous amount of research, or she has been to the Netherlands herself. On more than one occasion, I could swear that a caught a whiff of tulips in the air.

Or maybe it was my new plug in room freshener.

The pacing in the beginning of the book is a bit slower and much of the storyline includes the kind of dyke drama one would expect a twenty-something to be experiencing. The pace picks up after Junior and her father embark on their trip, and the story mellows into an enjoyable journey through the streets of Antwerp and the Netherlands. The writing is clean and there was only one formatting error, a rare occurrence in the world of e-books.

Kate Christie takes her time developing the main characters in Family Jewels. While Junior’s character develops throughout the book, Kate does an admirable job by quickly inviting the reader into her world in such a way the reader can relate to her and her growing pains. Junior’s character immediately brings to mind people I have known, and readers may even see a bit of themselves in her character. While aspects of Junior’s character are revealed from the beginning, her father’s character develops more slowly. Ms. Christie initially provides little detail about Mr. Starreveld, encouraging the reader to cultivate their opinion based solely on Junior’s perception of him. As the story progresses, the author skillfully allows this character to become more multi-dimensional, allowing the reader to gain a deeper understanding of,  and empathy for, his character.

Family Jewels is more than a simple story about the relationship we have, or think we have with a family member. It is a story about how our perception impacts not only how we choose to interact with that individual, but how it often serves as a reflection of how we perceive ourselves. 

I give Family Jewels a solid 5.1 out of 6.0 on the Rainbow Scale


Book:  Tactical Pursuit
Author:  Lynette Mae
Publisher:  Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC

Let me just put this out there. Ordinarily, I am not a fan of sequels. First of all, my experience has been that oftentimes the sequel is not as good as the first book. And, secondly, the author has to walk a tightrope with the sequel, balancing the need to provide enough information so that those who haven’t read the first book aren’t lost, while not providing too much information and thus boring those who did.

Luckily for all of us, Lynette Mae is a talented tightrope walker.

I wonder if she has that listed on her resume?

Tactical Pursuit continues the story of Devon James and her friend Mac McKinley, characters first introduced in Lynette Mae’s debut novel, Faithful Service, Silent Hearts. Devon is working as a police corporal and SWAT officer in Florida after years of serving in the military. She is dedicated to her job, one that she does quite well. Her life has taken on a comfortable rhythm of work and spending time with her friends save for the nightmares that she still experiences ten years after leaving the military. When a chance encounter with rookie officer Jessie Kilbride leaves her flustered and more than a bit tongue tied, Devon begins to wonder if she is ready to make room in her life for something other than work.

As a mutual attraction between Devon and Jessie begins to grow, Devon must face demons that she has tried to leave in the past. It is an arduous task, especially in light of the connection that exists between the prime suspect in a string of recent crimes and a ominous adversary from Devon’s days in the military. Devon’s safety and that of the people she holds dear hangs in the balance as an elusive, maniacal killer seeks revenge. Devon will need to call upon every ounce of the skills she has honed over the years and rely on assistance from friends past and present if she is to have a future with the woman she loves.

In her book, Tactical Pursuit, Lynette Mae combines characters who are well developed, an interesting and fast paced storyline, and romantic elements to create a book easily able to stand alone on its own merits. That being said, this reviewer does recommend that those who have not already done so, read Faithful Service, Silent Hearts.

Lynette’s considerable breadth of knowledge about law enforcement is peppered in passages throughout the story, but the reader does not need to be able to distinguish a Glock from a glockenspiel in order to fully enjoy this book. The plot has moments of heart pounding action, which are offset well by the inclusion of romantic moments and scenes which illustrate the deep friendship shared by Devon and Mac.

Tactical Pursuit draws the reader in from the first page and keeps hold of the reader through the final page of the book. The pacing is steady throughout and the cast is a well rounded collection of both main and supporting characters. Tactical Pursuit is a solid offering from author Lynette Mae, who once again proves her skill as a talented storyteller. 

I am standing at attention and saluting as I give Tactical Pursuit a solid 5.3 out of 6.0 on the Rainbow Scale.


  1. Great review Salem. Not much into detective books but will certainly check out Family Jewels!

    1. Hiya Nicole! Thanks for stopping by TRR. The kudos go to guest reviewer, Michelle Brooks for this one. Hope you enjoy!