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Review: Rose Gardner Mystery Box Set #3

Rose Gardner Mystery Box Set #3
Rose Gardner Mystery Box Set #3 by Denise Grover Swank
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have reviewed each of the titles in this volume individually. Here they are together! Parts of these reviews may contain minor spoilers.

RIPPLE OF SECRETS:
WHAT THE WHAT?!
Ripple of Secrets has to be the most pivotal novella in the Rose Gardner Mysteries! So much important content is revealed by most of the major characters. It’s such a wonderful writing technique for Denise to be able to switch into the minds of the other characters as she present’s their first-person POV’s. Be warned, there’s one scene that involves sexual trauma that should have been labeled as a trigger warning. I didn’t expect it, so there’s that.

Denise is crafty, if not a little bit evil! It ends on a cliffhanger, too. You MUST read this before Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments is released in April!

THIRTY-FOUR AND A HALF PREDICAMENTS:
Between a rock and a hard place… Rose is in a pickle now!!

Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments is not only a wild ride, it changes everything for the rest of the series, which I hope goes on for a LONG time!! I might have said this about the Ripple of Secrets novella at some point, but that simply laid the groundwork for what happened in this book and beyond! If you are a fan of the Rose Gardner Mysteries, you cannot miss this book. Too many important things happen. It’s not a one-off “mystery of the book” story, but explores Rose’s past with information that has ramifications on her future… especially where JR Simmons is concerned.

Spoilers may follow. You have been warned!

Things are changing for pretty much everyone. In a nutshell, this is my takeaway on what goes down: Neely Kate has to deal with a devastating loss. Rose, Neely Kate and MILDRED (yes, President of the Busy Body club) form a surprising alliance in an effort to solve a mystery… and hilarity ensues! Hilary continues to be as uppity, nosy, and harassing as ever. Kate is as mysterious as she is persistent… I just don’t know whether or not to trust her. Skeeter demands his time with the Lady in Black and she gives him a piece of her mind. Rose uncovers dirt from her mother’s past that put her in danger. Then all hell pretty much breaks loose as Joe and Mason both have their own problems to deal with.

Predicaments gives all of my favorite characters a bit of face time, while also upping the ante with the JR Simmons mess (and it is a mess, given that it stretches decades and crosses lines with pretty much everyone you can think of.) The ending comes with a few revelations that are both shocking, yet somehow expected given the situation in which Rose, Joe, and Mason have gotten themselves entangled. My one issue, and not enough to take even a fraction of a star away, is that I believe Joe and Mason should have let Rose know exactly what they were doing from the beginning of their “partnership” to take down JR so that her own actions wouldn’t interfere with their plans. I believe what happens at the end has far more to do with Rose’s meddling than it does anything Joe or Mason were doing behind the scenes.

Predicaments is funny, exciting from start to finish, and just all around fantastic. May I give this book 11 stars? 20? 100?! This book explored more into the mythology that has been a low roar behind everything since the second book. AND I LOVE IT! Thank you, Denise, for giving your fans a chance to read this story in advance! *****FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND STARS*****

I received an early copy for review, but let’s be honest…I was going to buy, read, and review this bad baby whether or not I got a review copy! *fangirl* 🙂

THIRTY FOUR AND A HALF PREDICAMENTS BONUS CHAPTERS:
Drop everything and read these bonus chapters now!!!
If you thought that Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments left you in a whirlwind, then you need to read these bonus chapters STAT! As I always do, I’ll spare you the synopsis. Summarizing these would just spoil everything. This point of the series is a great time to get alternate POVs of integral characters. Notably missing from these POVs are Joe, Rose, JR, and Hilary… not that I’m complaining. Skeeter’s chapters are BY FAR my favorite. His reveal so much that aids to his character development, as well as uncovering even more scum on JR. Carter Hale’s chapter is my next favorite, because we’ve seen so very little of his character. I loved getting a glimpse into his backstory, and his contentious relationship with both Mason and Skeeter is sure to prove entertaining in the upcoming novel.

You don’t HAVE to read these before Thirty-Five is released, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. November 3rd is just around the corner, so don’t waste any time. *****FIVE STARS*****

THIRTY-FIVE AND A HALF CONSPIRACIES:
All aboard the love train!

Just when you think Denise Grover Swank cannot possibly out-do herself…she goes and does it time and AGAIN! Thirty-Five and a Half Conspiracies brings together just about everything the series to a head. It’s fast-paced, stressful, and, at times, heart wrenching. For me, this installment’s theme was facing the consequences of your actions. By the end, even everyone who wins still loses…and I love it!

The meat of this book is about publicly outing JR Simmons as the monster he is, while trying to prove Rose’s innocence. As always with the Rose Gardner Mysteries, there’s layer upon layer of passion, sub-plots, and deceit. Rose as the Lady in Black is in full bloom and proves to be an unstoppable force. Neely Kate reveals more about her very colorful past and I’m VERY eager to learn more. I’ve got my own theory about her, but this isn’t the place for theories! Joe sets out to take down his father. Mason’s life is still very much in danger. Skeeter Malcom is a very welcome anti-hero with a heart of gold. Kate and Hilary are still as trustworthy as the average politician who promises you the world and gives you nothing. Not only is there a mysterious benefactor for Rose, there’s also a shady stalker.

Why did I call my review the love train? It’s simple: everyone (including the bad guys adoration of her Lady in Black persona) loves Rose. She’s got no less than four men desperate for her in one way or another.

My only two gripes are 1) The tidbits we’re fed about Violet, Hilary, and Kate are STILL dangling in the air with no resolution at the end of this installment; and 2) While JR has been captured, little happened to solve the smaller mysteries that make up the mythology of the series. At the end, I still wanted more, even though this is the longest novel of the series. However, that’s entirely okay! I trust Denise’s vision for the series. I am certain that the 9th novel with be every bit as action packed and satisfying.

Finally…both #TeamJoe and #TeamMason need to brace themselves. 😉

Thirty-Five and a Half Conspiracies is one heck of a fast-paced adventure that you cannot miss. I’m sure the six-month wait for Thirty-Six and a Half Motives will be well worth it. Even with my gripes, they’re not enough to take away from what is most definitely a satisfying five star read. Thank you, Dense! *****FIVE STARS*****

THIRTY-SIX AND A HALF MOTIVES:
An explosive finish to a masterpiece.
“It all started when I saw myself dead.” That’s how the Rose Gardner Mysteries began in Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. How could it possibly end well for Rose Gardner and her cohorts? It’s not easy to write a review for such a phenomenal story without revealing spoilers, but I’m going to do my best. I was given the task of summing up this final installment with one word: explosive.

Denise Grover Swank is at the top of her game in Thirty-Six and a Half Motives. She holds nothing back, makes some bold decisions, and by the end the fallout is unavoidable. You get the finish every character deserves in the JR Simmons saga that has ruined so many lives. All the dirty secrets and lies come to a head in one heck of a finale.

Plans explode. Relationships explode. There’s even literal explosions. Every character’s true colors shine through. While you don’t get answers to everything, there are answers for:
Mason’s relationship with Rose
The identity of Rose’s father
Kate’s real reason for pestering everyone in Fenton County
Why Hilary Wilder would follow Joe Simmons to the end of the world
JR Simmons’ endgame
The identity of Anna and what role she plays in the bigger picture
…and much more!

I normally give some sort of “MVP” of the book, but in this instance everyone who mattered was most valuable. Skeeter Malcolm is swoon worthy. Jed Carlisle is one heck of a fearless protector. Joe Simmons is the guy you always want at your back. Mason is the boyfriend everyone wishes they could have. Neely Kate is the bestest of the best friends a girl could ever hope for. Maeve Deveraux is the mother all of these characters have been missing from their lives.

The pacing is fast. I read the entire book in a handful of hours. There’s even a fair share of surprises that I’m not going to reveal here. I’m keeping this spoiler-free after all! Let me just say that I laughed, cried, and was left in shock MANY times throughout this 117K word masterpiece.

One of my favorite quotes expresses just how I feel about the Rose Gardner Mysteries and Denise Grover Swank’s writing as a whole: “She’s taught me life is meaningless without people to share it with.” I want to share this book with the world. Where can a story like this end? You’ll just have to read it for yourself.

SINS OF THE FATHER:
Catharsis, Humor and Intrigue
Sins of the Father is crucial reading for anyone who wants to bridge the gap between the finale of the Rose Gardner Mysteries (Thirty-Six and a Half Movites, book 9) and the Rose Gardner Investigations (Family Jewels – book 1 due November 2016). You get to see Rose, Neely Kate (NK), and Joe Simmons dealing with the massive amount of fallout from Thirty-Six and a Half Motives. While they don’t get their own chapters, both James “Skeeter” Malcolm, and Kate Simmons make an appearance, the later of whom is equal parts saddening and infuriating.

More than anything, I believe this novella could not be more perfect. It’s a very cathartic read for anyone wanting to know more about how the lead characters (sans Mason, he doesn’t make an appearance in this novella) are dealing with everything. The insight into the state of mind NK and Joe is heartbreaking. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms: for Rose it’s being strong and carrying on, for NK is anger, and for Joe it’s drinking and avoiding his problems. By the end of the novella I felt at peace.

Sins of the Father perfectly fills in the void left after Thirty-Six and a Half Motives. With that being said, I cannot be more excited for Family Jewels. *****5***** stars from this satisfied reader!

View all my reviews

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