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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 5 star ratings
3 reviews

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3.8 out of 5
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    Cognac Conspiracies

    I did not enjoy this one as much as I did the previous one. Mainly because of how much Benjamin Cooker changes when he runs into his first love at a little bistro in Cognac. Well, even his attitude before that. He doesn't seem to want to do this job, from the very beginning, before he even met the people involved, and pretty much left everything up to his assistant. That he runs into his old flame unexpectedly is interesting and you learn a lot more about his character, but the fact that she isn't wearing a bra while gardening when he arrives at her home for tea (plus the other times her breasts are mentioned) and the sexual tension is not necessary and turned me off of the character, especially since he's married and lies to his assistant about meeting up with her. This is made worse because he is very moody in this one, without the excuse of a cabbage soup diet. Jealous, rude, cantankerous. This is not the guy I liked in the last book. There was a lot of sexuality in this one, so much so that it distracted from the mystery and the murder. I felt like the murder was an afterthought, a side story. The story is more about two women using their sexuality and bodies to get what they want, and a jealous married man who behaved badly - even during very important parts, we had to hear about him looking at each woman with sex on his mind. I did, however, love the descriptions of Cognac and the property held by the Lavoisiers; liked reading of the drama that happens in this family (though I could have done without the subtle - and sometimes not so subtle - rumor that she had an affair with her younger brother and, at the end, lived as husband and wife with her older brother); and found the things that we learned about the making of cognac very interesting. As with the last book, there are some very tedious sentences i.e. "He took in the scents of pear, apple, kirsch, cherry, strawberry, cranberry, fig, apricot, plum, quince, muscat, lemon, orange, grapefruit, citron, and Mirabelle plums. He wafted fragrances of violent, mint, verbena, fern, moss, anise, fennel, linden, gentian, angelica, tobacco, lavender, and mushroom, along with some spicy aromas, including cinnamon, pepper, clove, ginger, nutmeg, licorice, and saffron." I liked Pierre - he was interesting and you could really feel how much he liked what he did, liked creating and experimenting with the product. I liked the friendship he began with Virgile, but not the innuendoes that it was more than just a close friendship between two people who were interested in the same kind of work. Note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Please remember that this review is my opinion based on my impression of the story.
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    Entertaining, Educational and a Fun Read

    The wine detective is in rare form as he travels to cognac country. The story is all too short for the depth of action it provides. The main characters were unusual and very interesting. The murder is unexpected, and the villain was hard to unmask until the very end. The authors show excellent understanding of human nature and human nature is at the base of the story. The descriptions of the French Cognac area are vibrant, and the drink and its manufacturing is a vital part of the story. It has a little sex, a little intrigue, a difficult mystery, and a lot of entertaining interactions between the characters. The book is entertaining, educational, and a fun read.
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    Cooker's not himself

    The descriptions of Cognac, the making of this fine liquor piqued my interest. The lush environs of Samson’s Mill even the details of the Lavoisier property captured my attention. I found the ending well done, wasn’t sure of the culprit given the scandalous references and harbored secrets of the various characters. I am a fan of this series, although I did find this particular installment veering off the road. I understand the authors need to not adhere to a formulaic style, however this narrative might have taken edgy too far. I wasn’t a fan of the implied incestuous relationship between brothers and sister. The sexuality throughout the narrative dominated the mystery aspect serving as a distraction becoming tiresome. Cooker’s behavior was shocking. His conduct when reunited with his former love seemed so unlike his usual refined persona. He becomes hyper focused on sex and bawdy thoughts commandeer his mind. His mercurial and impatient behavior is brazen sans a diet as the excuse. Cooker just isn’t his usual gentlemanly, well mannered behaved self. Looking forward to the next in this series with more mystery and less or no sexuality in the narrative with the charming Cooker acting more like the beloved Cooker I adore.

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