Category Archives: Mecklenburg

Mecklenburg

D. D. Ayres. Irresistible Force. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014.

irresistOfficer James Cannon is on a mission to find his missing partner. Bogart, James’s partner, was kidnapped a month ago, and James has a lead on his location. Even knowing that going out on his own could land him in trouble, James can’t help but confront the kidnapper when he sees Bogart come running out of a cabin in Lake Gaston, North Carolina.

Shay Appleton is a wounded woman. Dealing with an abusive ex who just doesn’t know how to let go has taken its toll on Shay. However, her adoption of a stray dog, Prince, and escape to a cabin at Lake Gaston have brightened her life – the fact that Prince will make a great watch dog is just an added bonus. This bright spot is threatened when Officer James Cannon, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, shows up claiming that Prince’s real name is Bogart and that he is a trained police K-9. Faced with this threat, that is more painful than the thought of her ever-present ex, Shay has no idea what to do.

Shay’s reaction to losing Bogart touches James for some reason he can’t explain. When he realizes that Shay’s tale of Bogart being abandoned at a shelter is true, James decides to bring Bogart back for one night so that Shay can have time to say goodbye. James and Bogart walk into a scene that convinces James that Shay needs more than a guard dog. Shay’s abusive ex has found her and has shown himself willing and able to follow through with his threats.

As James and Shay’s lives intertwine, it becomes clear that Shay has more to fear than just her ex. Also, James may have to confront his own personal fears when it begins to look like Shay has stolen more than just Bogart’s affection – she may just have stolen James’s heart as well. When sealed records from Shay’s past are unveiled, will Shay trust James with her story? Is James willing to risk his reputation within the police force to protect Shay?

Irresistible Force is the first novel in a series about lawmen, their loyal K-9 partners, and the women they both fall for.

Check out this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Ayres, D. D., Mecklenburg, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Tyora Moody. When Perfection Fails. Wyandanch, NY: Urban Fiction, 2014.

whenperfectionReverend Jonathan Freeman and his wife Lenora have been married for twenty years and they are the couple that other couples look up to in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lenora owns her own bridal shop where she plans extravagant weddings and provides the wedding dresses. Her husband Jonathan is just as successful, and has recently became the pastor of Victory Gospel Church. Victory Gospel Church was his father’s church and is one of the premier black churches in Charlotte. With the passing of the elder Reverend Freeman, Jonathan has inherited the church and responsibilities that come along with being the pastor of a prominent church family. However, there is even more greatness in store for Jonathan. The mayor has asked that Jonathan run for Charlotte City Council District 2 seat. The lives these two lead seem like ones to envy, but outsiders don’t get to see the turmoil that takes place behind closed doors.

Jonathan is struggling with his new role as pastor of a “mega-church,” and whether to take the mayor up on running for the city council seat. He hasn’t even brought it up with Lenora yet as he knows that she is busy adjusting to becoming the first lady of such a big church. Jonathan just doesn’t know if his marriage will be able withstand an entrance into politics. When Lenora learns of Jonathan’s political aspirations from another source, will she stand by his side as their family is pulled even more into the spotlight?

Lenora is dealing with her own secret – a secret that has been buried for decades. Lenora feels the strain that her marriage has taken and knows that revealing this secret will only place more burdens upon her relationship with her husband. Nevertheless, when faced with the reality that keeping this secret is threatening her life and her family, Lenora knows she must come clean in order to protect the man she has loved for years and the blessed life that God has given her. Will Lenora’s revelation cause more harm to her family and her relationship with her husband than keeping the secret? Is Jonathan willing to stand with Lenora just as he constantly requires her to stand with him?

When Perfection Fails is the third novel in the Victory Gospel Series. If you are new to the series, check out our blog post on the first novel, When Rain Falls.

Check out this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Mecklenburg, Moody, Tyora, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational

Chalmers G. Davidson. Cloud over Catwaba. Charlotte, NC: Mecklenburg Historical Society, 1949.

In the Catawba Valley of North Carolina in 1815, a girl of sixteen is old enough to marry, and Priscilla Brevard would be a catch for any man.  Priscilla’s father, Colonel Jonathan Brevard is a wealthy foundry owner in Lincoln County.  Her mother’s people are solid, God-fearing Presbyterians, and they all are longtime members of the local church where plain living and high thinking are the norm.  But Priscilla is just back from school in Charleston, South Carolina.  There she learned French, studied literature, and developed a taste for finer things. The fancy churches and casual attitude toward religion of her schoolmates shocked her, but in truth, Priscilla herself lacks the religious convictions of her family and neighbors.

When confronted with the choice of marrying a talented young preacher or a planter who will build her a beautiful house in nearby Mecklenburg County, Priscilla chooses the planter.  Alexander McIntosh is the son of a successful planter. When he turned twenty one, his father gave him land and slaves, but Alec’s oversight of his holdings has been perfunctory.  He didn’t feel a desire to work, to drive himself, until he gave himself to Priscilla.  She is his goddess and he will build her a temple to match her perfection.  The mansion, “Priscilla’s Price,”  is soon widely recognized as the most elegant, distinctive house in the valley.  But that is not necessarily a good thing among people who value frugality and piety.  As the years go by, Priscilla as cause to reconsider her fateful decision.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1940-1949, 1949, Davidson, Chalmers G., Historical, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Piedmont

Jon Sealy. The Whiskey Baron. Spartanburg, SC: Hub City Press, 2014.

 “I got greedy and thought I could get away with something.”

Mary Jane Hopewell (born Wesley Hopewell, Jr.) has been a ne’er-do-well since he came back from the Great War.  Unlike his brother who married and became a church-goer and steady worker at the mill, Mary Jane didn’t work much, preferring to spend his time drinking and scheming.  Not long after Mary Jane moves in with a widow, Abigail Coleman, he thinks he has hit pay dirt.  The widow has some of the most productive land in the county, land that she uses to grow corn.  She sells a good bit of that corn to the local whiskey baron, Larthan Tull, but she also keep some to make her own moonshine.  The widow’s moonshine is very good.  Knowing that, Mary Jane starts selling it around the county.  Tull has been looking the other way, ignoring this small scale incursion on his turf, but when Mary Jane reaches out to Aunt Lou, Tull’s distributor in Charlotte, Tull has to act.  The murder of two young men outside Tull’s inn is just the opening move in a bloody chess game between two cold, focused men.

The fictitious Castle County, South Carolina is home territory for Tull and Hopewell, but business takes them both to Charlotte to make deals with Aunt Lou.  This novel reminds readers that state borders are historical lines on paper, but culture and business flow across them–for good and ill.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Sealy, Jon

Kim Wright. The Unexpected Waltz. New York: Gallery Books, 2014.

theunexpectedwaltzKelly Wilder Madison finds that she has walked into Canterbury Ballroom in Charlotte, North Carolina, when she meant to walk into the grocery store next door. At fifty-two, she has recently lost her older husband and has no idea what the next step in her life should be. Kelly never thought of making that next step dancing. But Kelly has never believed in accidents either. So when she is offered a free introductory lesson, she takes it and decides to come back for more.

After spending the past twenty years of her life, “pretending to be a whole lot nicer, stupider, and more conservative than she really is,” Kelly must step out of her comfort zone in order to succeed in an activity that requires her to stand out, take big steps, and risk it all. Soon, Kelly realizes that she enjoys the demands put upon her by dance and is feeling more herself than she has in years. At first, Kelly is reluctant to venture into the group class. When she does, she begins to make friends in this new world, which reminds her that there was more to her life before she settled down and became a homemaker.

On the road to rediscovering life, Kelly bonds with Carolina, a young mother in hospice. Carolina shows Kelly that it is never too late to begin anew. Also, Kelly forms an attachment to her dance instructor, Nik, who she longs to protect like he’s the son she never had. Free-spirited Elyse, who has been Kelly’s best friend since their days of youth, also inspires Kelly to breakout. These connections all help Kelly to regain confidence in herself. She gains the courage to confront the fact that she failed her marriage as much as it failed her. She also develops the strength to face the man who got away. Finally, she learns to embrace the little moments that can lead to life changing experiences.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Wright, Kim

J. J. Murray. A Good Man. New York: Kensington Books, 2013.

goodmanSonya Richardson likes a quiet life.  After ten years in the WNBA and some wise investments, Sonya has a nice income stream and a lovely home in Charlotte. But she’s living in that big house by herself and feeling a bit lonely and bored.  Out of the blue, her publicist calls to ask her to star in  “Hunk or Punk,” a reality TV show in which a bachelorette must pick a partner from dozen men vying for her hand.  Sonya knows better than to get involved, but when her publicist signs the contract, Sonya has no choice but to be “the Nubian princess” at the center of the show.

But Sonya is her own person.  Her unscripted behavior–taking off her uncomfortable shoes in the first episode, the odd “challenges” she gives the men, her unwillingness to dump suitors on schedule–make for interesting viewing. And Sonya is not the only surprisingly element in the show.  John Bond, a widower from Burnt Corn, Alabama, is the token white suitor.  John is an assistant deacon at the AME church in Burnt Corn, a deeply religious man who has been mourning his late wife for fifteen years.  He and Sonya connect in ways that the producers could not anticipate.

A Good Man takes readers behind the scene of reality TV with funny situations and crisp dialogue. It’s clear that Sonya and John are strangers in that strange land, but their faith and their self-knowledge guide them, and even some of the people around them, to a true happily-ever-after.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Courtney Giardina. Tear Stained Beaches. Florham Park, NJ: Take Two Publishing, 2013.

Haylie met Chase when she was a senior in college.  Chase, then a law student, had been captain of the college soccer team and was known around campus for his good looks and good character. When Haylie and Chase become a couple and eventually marry, Haylie feels that her life is truly blessed.

But trouble enters their life after Chase takes a job in Charlotte. Haylie has difficulty finding a job, and she finds little support from the women in her upscale neighborhood, who think that her career aspirations are a bit odd. Meanwhile, Chase becomes ever more absorbed in his work–staying late, bringing home paperwork, and being inattentive and short with Haylie.  Just when Haylie thinks she can come to terms with this, it gets worse.  Chase texts at all hours of the day and night, and he starts taking many more trips–without Haylie. Haylie fears that Chase is having an affair. When her suspicions are confirmed, she flees to a small island on the Carolina coast. There she finds a woman she can confide in–someone who offers sisterhood in a way that Haylie’s Charlotte neighbors did not. But this friendship brings with it unexpected pain.

Written in the first person, Tear Stained Beaches, takes us inside Haylie’s mind. Happy memories are interspersed with an linear plot that takes Haylie from the first moments of attraction through betrayal and to a life that she builds on her own. This realistic, generous novel comes with book club discussion questions and a Q and A with the author at the end.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Giardina, Courtney, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Kathy Reichs. Bones of the Lost. New York: Scribner, 2013.

Bones of the LostThings just aren’t going Temperance Brennan’s way. At the opening of Kathy Reichs’ sixteenth installment of her best-selling Temperance Brennan series, Temperance is stuck tapping her toes in a very uncomfortable pair of Louboutin pumps at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. She was called for jury duty and even though her role as medical examiner will exempt her from selection, the inexperienced prosecutor makes Brennan jump through all the hoops first. Because losing more than half a day wasn’t enough, Brennan locks herself out of her car with her purse and cell phone inside. After several unsuccessful attempts to jimmy open the lock and an awkward exchange with an overeager parking attendant turned vigilante, an unwanted savior arrives.

Police detective Erskine “Skinny” Sliddell appears and gives Brennan a lift back to the Medical Examiner’s office. But not before filling her in on the latest case. Early that morning, an unidentified teen was killed in a hit and run. Although the girl didn’t have any form of ID for herself, she was carrying John-Henry Story’s U.S. Airways club card. Story was a businessman who died when a fire broke out at his flea market six months ago. Or at least, Brennan determined that the remains found at the scene fit the profile for Story. Sliddell speculates that the Jane Doe was involved in prostitution, based on her possessions, her estimated time of death, and her location. When Brennan returns to the Medical Examiner’s office, she examines the Jane Doe’s body. Because of the nature of the case (young, innocent victim and brutal death), Brennan struggles to not let her emotions overrule her logic, especially when she rules the supposed accident to be something more sinister. The Jane Doe wasn’t killed by accident, she was murdered.

Brennan is already busy though. She has four sets of mummified dog remains from Peru that she must certify as human or nonhuman. U.S. Customs seized the remains from former Marine, Dominick Rockett upon his reentry to the country. Rockett has a history of smuggling smaller antiques and trinkets out of South America. His usual inventory consists of inexpensive jewelry, crafts, and home wares. But apparently Rockett is expanding his market.  The two crimes run parallel at first, but as Brennan investigates with a keener eye, she identifies that both cases involve illegal trafficking of goods and that some of the implicated figures overlap.

Meanwhile, Reichs weaves in elements of Brennan’s personal life into the story. Her daughter Katy has enlisted in the army as a means to recover from the grief of her boyfriend’s unexpected death. Katy soothed her mother’s anxieties by reassuring that she would never be sent into combat. Then the US Army lifted the ban on women in combat and sent Katy to Afghanistan. But Brennan gets the opportunity to visit Katy overseas. Her estranged husband Pete, who is pressuring her for divorce papers, pressures Brennan into traveling to Afghanistan to help out an old buddy’s nephew who is accused of shooting two unarmed villagers. Pete wants Brennan to exhume the bodies and take the stand as an expert witness. With the promise of seeing Katy, Brennan boards Turkish Airlines to do a little extra detective work. And, as it turns out, Brennan owes Pete a huge thank you. Going to Afghanistan helps her lace the evidence together and reveal a surprising conspiracy at work.

Browse the blog for other coverage on Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series. You can filter the search by clicking on and navigating through the author category in the top right-hand column. With this view you can see all the past authors we have blogged about and the number of entries available. Or click on the categories and tags below.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Mecklenburg, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Reichs, Kathy, Suspense/Thriller

Glen Hirshberg. Motherless Child. Northborough, MA: Earthling Publications, 2012.

Friends and recent mothers, Natalie and Sophie are enjoying a night out in Charlotte, drinking, listening to music, and meeting men. Natalie and Sophie seem like a typical pairing of opposites: where Natalie is coolly observant, Sophie is fun and free-spirited. At a bar, they meet a bizarre performer called the Whistler. The Whistler is fixated on Natalie. He first saw her, secretly, the night before working a shift at a Waffle House. After that brief encounter, the Whistler decided that Natalie is his “Destiny,” that she is bound to be his companion for eternity. So later that night, he turns both women into vampires. The next morning Natalie and Sophie awake in Natalie’s car, disoriented and not fully certain of the last night’s events. However, their ripped clothing and dried blood give them a good idea that things are not totally right.

Soon, Natalie and Sophie begin their inevitable transformation. Natalie recognizes the threat of the Whistler and his current companion, Mother. She asks her mother, Jess, to take her and Sophie’s children and to disappear. Natalie plans to go into hiding with Sophie. Sophie, though, is not keen on the idea of being separated from her child and she fights Natalie most of the way. But in short order Jess and the children and Natalie and Sophie flee their trailer park, Honeycomb Corner, heading in opposite directions with the Whistler and Mother at their heels. The Whistler is bent first on finding Natalie, and then, on finding the children to threaten Natalie into submission. Mother, meanwhile, is just bent on destruction.

Natalie and Sophie try to suppress the new hunger they feel growing inside of them that compels them to complete their transition. As they head further South, toward the alligator-filled swamps of Florida, both women long to reunite with their babies and return to their homes, ignoring their intuition that neither of them can go back to normal. Paths cross and characters collide in a thrilling final show down.

Motherless Child was published in limited release by Earthling Publications to celebrate Halloween. But the novel isn’t your standard vampire story. Hirshberg’s tale is an unusual amalgamation of one part buddy road-trip, one part action-fueled chase, and one part supernatural horror. In fact, the word “vampire” is hardly, if ever, uttered between the pages. Hirshberg taps into a few traditions, yet for the most part these are vampires quite unlike the broodier stock of recent pop culture. They use Twitter and they don’t have fangs–but they do delight in violence. These are vampires of a much more wicked constitution — one that would pale lovers of Twilight and related vampire romance.

Check out this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Hirshberg, Glen, Horror, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Wilton Barnhardt. Lookaway, Lookaway. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013

**Guest review by Arleen Fields**

 At the beginning of our new century, shrewd Charlotte socialite Jerene Johnston is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her family’s reputation and to secure her children’s future. Her radical daughter Annie, her gay son Josh, her preacher son Bo, and her insecure daughter Jerilyn don’t make this easy. The Johnston family proudly traces its lineage to Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, and Jerene’s husband Duke has abandoned all professional and political aspirations, preferring to reside in a world of nostalgia and Civil War reenactments.

Each chapter, focusing on one character’s story, is like a portrait hung in a gallery. In some of the paintings the character is front and center; in others the subject blends into the background as action takes over the foreground. The chapter about Bo provides insight into his character, but the scene of a melodramatic Christmas dinner is far more memorable.

Jerene’s children and husband are not her only worries. Her alcoholic brother Gaston makes his living writing popular Civil War novels, her sister Dillard has never recovered from a personal tragedy, and their mother Jeannette lives with the knowledge that she failed to protect her children. Add to the mix Josh’s best friend Dorrie, who’s African American and a lesbian, and Bo’s wife Kate who longs to return to the Peace Corps, and you have the perfect southern tragicomedy.

The title obviously refers to the song “Dixie” and there are other allusions as well. Characters are forced to look the other way when reality is inconvenient. Watching the events unfold is like driving by a gruesome car wreck or watching a reality TV show—we should mind our own business, but morbid curiosity prevents us from averting our gaze.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

For an interview with Wilton Barnhardt, see http://www.alumniblog.ncsu.edu/2013/07/23/wilton-barnhardt-im-nervous-about-being-in-any-camp/

A previous version of this review appears in North Carolina Libraries, vol. 71, no. 1 (2013)

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Barnhardt, Wilton, Mecklenburg, Orange, Piedmont