Tag Archives: Annalisse Series

Review & Giveaway: Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell

SCATTERED LEGACY: MURDER IN

SOUTHERN ITALY
Annalisse Series, #3
by
MARLENE M. BELL
 
Genre: Mystery / Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: November 4, 2021
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
 
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To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, high adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules a getaway trip to show Annalisse his mother’s Italian birthplace, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The key to it all might be a gifted set of rosary beads where Annalisse can use her skills for appraising artifacts to uncover the truth. She leads Alec toward answers that are unthinkable—and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

Link to the video trailer on YouTube
Review

Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell is an exhilarating read filled with suspense, history, romance, and beauty. While I have not had the pleasure to read the first two books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters’ backstories through Bell’s excellent exposition skills and shifts in point of view. With each passing chapter, my resolve to go back and read the first two books grew stronger when a particular tidbit stoked my interest.

From the beginning, you have to wonder how Annalisse isn’t a private detective instead of an art gallery owner. But then you realize that as an antiquities valuator, she must use excellent observation skills and have the talent to find obscure details through deep research. The opening chapter gives us a sneak peak of her complicated life, which makes you a little less jealous of her cushy job and amazing boyfriend who is about to whisk her away to Italy.

Bell wastes no time throwing us into the action. From an attempted burglary to the family name being dragged through the tabloids, our lovebirds jet off to Italy in the wake of a strange message that involves a blackbird of some sort. There is a lot of intrigue percolating and while you have to assume that all of the strange events are related somehow, we definitely do not have enough details to tie them all together yet.

The author has a nice pace to her writing and allows us to luxuriate in the beautiful sights and scents of walking through Bari. She somehow makes a meal as simple as bread with sliced meats sound utterly delectable. But don’t worry, our travelers also partake of other authentic fare such as seafood, soups, bread, and pasta when they’re not finding dead bodies or getting tailed by the mafia. While Bell spares no details on the setting or Annalisse’s inner conflicts, I’m glad that she treads lightly when describing murder scenes.

While you do not have to read the first two books to enjoy this one, I would say that if you can, do it. I definitely plan on reading them as I await the next installment of the series. Spoiler: There’s a bananas cliffhanger ending that made me groan in disbelief. So exciting!

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named, Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.

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Review & Giveaway: Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell

SPENT IDENTITY
Annalisse Series, Book 2
by
Marlene M. Bell
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Light Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: December 11, 2019
Number of Pages: 378

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A body, a disappearance, just another hot summer in upstate New York.

It’s July when antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury reaches her family’s small-town farm to consult with the trusted aunt who raised her. She learns that her beloved homestead—the one she expects to inherit—is for sale. While Annalisse reels at the betrayal and her shattered dreams, the Walker Farm ranch manager discovers a corpse in the barn. Officials close the suspected murder scene, and Annalisse seeks refuge with her aunt at Alec Zavos’s rural estate in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Then Aunt Kate vanishes.

Annalisse solicits the help of Greek tycoon, Alec Zavos, even though their rocky romance has dissolved into routine separation. What began as hope on Crete nine months ago has eaten away at Annalisse’s hope for a future with him.

In Spent Identity, Annalisse and Alec come together for the second time and find themselves in the center of not one mystery, but several. Where is Kate, and why sell her farm now? Is the dead man a coincidence or a clue to the aunt’s disappearance? John Doe’s identity may hold needed answers to solve the puzzle before Kate’s unstable health issues make her rescue impossible. The clock ticks, and a vengeful murderer is in charge…

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My first thoughts on the cover of Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell were how beautiful and eerie it was at the same time. There’s something classy about the red roses in the vase and the envelope with the calligraphy ‘A’ on it, but the wilt to the roses and the shattered and crooked title stamped on top of them clues the reader to the sinister story within.

As much as I liked the irony of the farmhand reading a crime novel while stumbling across a crime scene, I thought that the tone of the prologue didn’t quite match the rest of the book. I’m having trouble explaining this – I have typed and deleted my thoughts three times now – but here goes. Ethan is from New Zealand and he is the first character we meet. Although the narration is from a third person perspective, the tone has an across the pond feel, probably because Ethan’s thoughts are on the page as well. I probably didn’t explain that very well but it obviously stuck with me and I wanted to address it.

In the first chapter, the tone changes with the introduction of our protagonist, the lovely Annalisse. It isn’t until she interacts with the opposite sex that you realize how her beauty outshines her pretty name. I liked the contrast of her being this take charge, independent woman who still needs reassurances and shared confidences with her closest relative, Aunt Kate. Kate is also the picture of strength, even at her advanced age and ailment. She amused me most when she moons over Annalisse’s boyfriend, Alec, one minute and then pragmatically dismisses the thought of him the next.

From the moment that Ethan, Annalisse, and Kate try to identify a dead man in the barn, confusion set in on me and I couldn’t shake it for most of the book. There were so many male characters mentioned or in motion (two dead and at least six others interacting with Annalisse), that I felt like I couldn’t keep everyone straight. The name found on the dead man was significant to Kate, but the deceased was not that person. Alec was easy enough to keep straight, but between his security detail/friends that show up to try to solve the mystery, I got a little lost. And it made me a little squirmy that even Alec’s friends seemed to kinda have the hots for Annalisse too.

But character confusion aside, I was truly riveted with the twists and turns. I had two or three theories in my brain and not one of them were even close to the ending. But even more fantastic than the big reveal at the end, I appreciated Bell’s use of exposition throughout to prepare us for what a bad ass Annalisse is. I had not read Stolen Obsession, so I would have been confused with Annalisse’s cool head in the midst of crisis and experience with weapons had there not been snippets of details from book one of the series. I also really enjoyed the thought process that the “team” let the reader in on so that we could try to solve the mystery alongside them. And don’t get me started on the messages from the unknown person/killer. The creativity and the danger behind each “gift” sent a tingle down my spine.

Since I plan on going back to read the first book, I recommend you do the same if you have not already read it. I think that seeing how Annalisse and Alec first meet and the trials that they go through together will make you more invested in seeing them through a difficult time in their relationship. I’m looking forward to book three.

Marlene M. Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested on her website or www.texassheep.com.Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in beautiful East Texas with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large and lovable Maremma guard dog named Tia, and Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats who believe they rule the household — and do.

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Autographed copy of Spent Identity & companion notebook, Mary Poppins-style bag (18×13” tapestry carpet bag with leather trim, handmade in Israel), $100 Amazon gift card, and 18” freshwater pearl necklace. 
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