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4.0 out of 5 stars Life Spins Out of Control for Sienna, 5 July 2011
Mark Baker (Santa Clarita, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Secrets of Harmony Grove (Paperback)
Sienna Collins is returning from a wonderful trip for her new PR firm. But instead of being hailed as a hero like she expects, she finds her bosses waiting for her to put her on suspension pending the outcome of a Federal Investigation. Sienna didn't even know she was being investigated, so this throws her for a loop.

A couple hours later, she gets a strange phone call from ex-boyfriend Troy. He is asking about some diamonds rumored to be in the family, but he sounds like he is suffering from the heat. After they get cut off, Sienna can't reach him, so she drives down to the Harmony Bed and Breakfast, a side venture she owns in Amish country. And that's where she finds Troy dead and all kind of strange rumors about what might have caused his death. How did Troy died? Why was he asking about the diamonds? And what might any of this have to do with the federal investigation?

Mindy Starns Clark is a master at the can't put down mystery, and this one starts off with a bang. The pacing isn't consistent in this book, however. Quite a bit of time is spent talking about the past. Some of it is important and powerful, but at times it feels like it slows things down. That's a minor complaint, and I sailed through the book in just a few days.

As always, Mindy has created real characters. Even when the plot got a bit slow, I still cared about the outcome and seeing Sienna come through the other side happy.

I don't know why I waited so long to read this book. It was a fun ride as always.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amish romantic suspense, 13 May 2011
Amazon Customer (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secrets of Harmony Grove (Paperback)
Overall, I really enjoyed this mystery set in an Amish settlement in PA. I've never read anything from Mindy Starns Clark before but I have enjoyed some Amish romantic suspense from Marta Perry. I'd have to say that I probably prefer Marta as her style is a bit lighter. But Mindy's mystery was incredibly complex. I could not guess who was behind everything, which is unusual for someone who devoured Nancy Drew and Famous Five mysteries as a child! For me, a good mystery is always one that I can't solve before the characters.

But this book was more than just your standard mystery novel. Sienna, the heroine, was trying to simultaneously figure out who had murdered her ex-boyfriend and where her grandfather's diamonds were buried. This brought an entirely different aspect into the story, where Sienna uncovered her family secrets and learned the truth about her grandfather and his first wife. These secrets laid roots in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and Mindy very delicately revealed some of the horrors of the Holocaust and how these had touched on Sienna's grandfather (an Amish man turned soldier) and his first wife (a German Jew). Sienna's grandfather planted a grove in memory of his deceased wife and it was fascinating to read about the history of it. This aspect of the story was woven through it very well and didn't overshadow the rest of it. Even for someone who is very well educated on the history of the Holocaust, I still felt that Mindy dealt with it in an incredibly touching and enlightening manner.

While I did enjoy the complexity of the mystery, it did seem a bit far-fetched in places. Yes, it was exciting and made me keep turning the pages, but on a couple of occasions I did wonder about how plausible situations were. I know I don't always look to fiction for realism but so many other aspects of the novel were believable that they made others feel a bit out of place. My only other complaint would have to be that while I found Sienna to be an interesting character, I never really connected with her. I could sympathise in places, but the way that a grown woman dealt with relationships kind of baffled me! However, I did enjoy the outcome of her romantic sub-plot; it wasn't predictable in the slightest.

All in all, I did enjoy my first Amish romantic suspense from this author. It was a refreshing departure from my usual romances and historical novels, and definitely a compelling read. While I didn't completely connect with the characters and found the plot unrealistic in places, I wouldn't hold that against this book and would probably read more from this author in the future. 8/10
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Secrets of Harmony Grove
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Starns Clark Mindy (Paperback - 1 Nov. 2010)
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