A Just Clause (Booktown Series #11)

A Just Clause (Booktown Series #11)

by Lorna Barrett

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Overview

A Just Clause (Booktown Series #11) by Lorna Barrett

Just when things are getting back to normal in Booktown, Tricia and Angelica have their lives turned upside down by a shocking visitor from their past in this latest entry in Lorna Barrett’s New York Times bestselling series. 

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, is in for a surprise when her ne’er-do-well father, John, comes to town—and promptly becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a woman with her own scandalous past. Even Tricia’s faith in the old man is shaken when the Stoneham police break the news that her father is a known con man who has done jail time.  

But what about bestselling thriller author Steven Richardson? Is it a coincidence that he arrived for a book signing just before the crime or that the victim was found with a signed copy of his latest bestseller?  

From merlot to murder, Tricia is determined to clear the family name before another body shows up and ruins Stoneham’s first—and highly anticipated—wine and jazz festival.

INCLUDES RECIPES

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399585913
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Series: Booktown Series , #11
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 418,416
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Lorna Barrett is the New York Times bestselling author of the popular Booktown Mystery series, including Murder Is Binding, Bookmarked for Death, and Bookplate Special, which was an Agatha nominee for Best Novel in 2009. Lorna lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband and three felines.

Karen White has been narrating audiobooks since 1999, with more than two hundred to her credit. Honored to be included in AudioFile's Best Voices and Speaking of Audiobooks's Best Romance Audio 2012 and 2013, she is also an Audie Award finalist and has earned multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards.

Read an Excerpt

One

Tricia Miles almost always felt a thrill to host a book signing at her mystery bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue, especially when it involved a favorite author. Tonight that author was Steven Richardson, known for writing New York Times and USA Today bestselling thrillers. Stacks of his latest hardcover, A Killing in Mad Gate, sat on a table at the front of the store. The weather was perfect for a signing: drizzling and gray. Now all she needed was for the guest of honor to arrive.

Tricia's assistant, Pixie Poe, checked the big pink watch on her left wrist. "He's late," she sang. To honor the author, Pixie had chosen a fuchsia floral dress that had been made at least six decades before, and, despite her rather chunky frame, the dress not only fit as though it had been made for her, but was actually quite flattering, giving her an hourglass figure that she seemed to enjoy flaunting.

This month, she was again a blonde, and when she smiled, her gold canine tooth flashed. She'd been smiling a lot that evening—every time she glanced at the modest diamond solitaire on her left hand. Her newly minted fiancé, Fred Pillins, was a nondescript kind of fellow who matched Pixie in years—about fifty. He stood near the back of the store, camera in hand, trying to look inconspicuous—except that his fond gaze rarely strayed from Pixie. He seemed to enjoy the view. He must have taken at least a dozen candid shots of her since his arrival some twenty minutes before. That was when the signing was supposed to have begun.

In addition to the Tuesday Night Book Club members, nearly two dozen of Tricia's customers from a fifty-mile radius had shown up to welcome the author. Tricia was glad she'd not only ordered a cake with the book's cover printed in edible ink from the Patisserie but a big plate of assorted cookies to go along with the sparkling punch she'd made from her sister Angelica's recipe.

Angelica approached, looking stupendous in a tailored ivory suit with matching stilettos, holding a paper cup filled with punch. "Your author was aware of the time of the signing, wasn't he?"

Tricia sighed. "Yes. But he was driving up from Boston. Thanks to the rain, who knows what the traffic is like. I'm sure he'll be here soon-and if not, I hope he'll at least call me." Tricia squinted at her sister. "Remind me again why you're here?"

"Moi?" Angelica practically cooed.

"Oui, tu. You're not exactly a thriller reader."

Angelica sighed patiently. "I want to see if there are sparks!"

"Sparks?"

"Yes, between you and Steven."

Tricia eyed her sister coolly.

"He kissed you on the Celtic Lady cruise."

Tricia frowned. "I have kissed three men since then."

"Daddy, Antonio, and Mr. Everett don't count," Angelica said, citing her stepson and Tricia's elderly employee and friend.

"There will be no sparks."

"She said in denial," Angelica muttered.

Tricia's frown deepened to a glare. "Instead of sparks, you might see my temper explode."

Angelica shook her head. "It's never going to happen, my dear sister. You don't have a temper."

"I'll consider getting one."

The bookstore's door opened, the little bell overhead tinkling cheerfully, but it was not Richardson who entered. Instead, it was someone well known to Tricia and Angelica.

"Oh, dear," Angelica muttered, taking in the man dressed in an outrageous—for him—pink aloha shirt and holding a big black umbrella with a couple of broken ribs. Again, Tricia sighed and, despite a pang of dread, forced a smile. It had been five all-too-very-short months since she'd last seen her father, John Miles.

"Daddy! Whatever are you doing back in Stoneham?"

John struggled to close the soaked bumbershoot. "I came to visit my two best girls, of course."

Angelica's smile was even more rigid. "What a pleasure."

It wasn't.

Still, once he'd closed the umbrella, the sisters leaned in to give John a kiss on each cheek.

To say John had outstayed his welcome back in January was an understatement. Not only had he left the village owing money to nearly half the Chamber of Commerce's members—which Angelica had had to reimburse—but he'd left the Sheer Comfort Inn without notice and apparently with his suitcases filled with a number of the antiques that had decorated the place. Their father's deadbeat behavior had not only been unexpected—but unprecedented. That he'd left with no explanation was just as surprising.

Before the sisters could ask even the most basic of questions—like "When are you leaving?"—the bell over the door tinkled once again, this time admitting the long-awaited author, looking decidedly damp around the edges.

"Tricia!" Richardson called. He sounded winded.

"Steven—at last!" Tricia excused herself, leaving Angelica to deal with their father. She joined the author. "Are you okay? I was getting worried."

"I just ran from the municipal parking lot. Sorry I'm so late. The traffic outside of Boston was abominable, and then there was a wreck near Nashua that backed everything up for miles."

"I figured as much."

"Do you still want me to give a reading?"

"I think your fans would be disappointed if you didn't speak—but if you'd prefer to do a Q and A instead, I don't think anyone would object."

He nodded and pointed toward the table piled with his latest novel. "Shall I?"

"Yes, please," Tricia said, and gestured for him to stand beside it. She joined him to face her customers, who were mostly talking among themselves and scarfing down cookies and punch. "May I have your attention!" she called, but without much impact. "Excuse me; we're ready to start!" Her efforts weren't attracting much attention.

Pixie moved to stand beside her. "I'll take care of this." She raised her right thumb and index finger to her lips and let loose with a shrill whistle that was as effective as nails on a chalkboard for silencing the room. Tricia winced as everyone turned in attention, while Pixie studied her hand. "Damn. Now I've got to go freshen my lipstick."

Tricia plastered on a smile. "Ladies and gentlemen, won't you please take your seats? It's my pleasure to present a man whose books are well known, and loved, by all of us here tonight—"

"Not me," muttered a female voice from somewhere in the store, but Tricia had no clue who said it.

Momentarily rattled, she launched back into her introduction. "Author Steven Richardson."

A smattering of applause followed, and then there seemed to be a mad dash as everyone sought a seat at the front of the room, which had been rearranged so that the comfortable upholstered chairs of the reading nook faced the front of the store, with metal folding chairs set up in rows behind them.

It took another minute or two for the murmur of voices to quiet, then Richardson spoke.

"It's great to see such a welcoming crowd here at Haven't Got a Clue. Before I tell you about my latest book, A Killing in Mad Gate, I'd like to tell you a little about myself."

"Don't bother," came the same rude voice. Tricia searched the faces of the women that populated the small audience, but still wasn't sure who'd spoken. It definitely wasn't Grace Harris-Everett, who sat primly next to her husband, Mr. Everett, nor could it have been Mary Fairchild, her neighbor and owner of the By Hook or By Book craft store. Tricia wasn't as familiar with the rest of the ladies.

She circled back to the table that held the goodies, where Angelica was again ladling punch into her cup. "This really is good!" she whispered.

"Who's being rude to Steven?" Tricia asked.

Angelica took a sip. "No idea. Why would someone come to a signing if they didn't like the author?"

"I just hope there isn't going to be any unpleasantness."

John had ditched his soggy umbrella, and he sidled up to the table, grabbing a napkin and taking a couple of the cookies. "We should probably talk," he said, and popped one of the butter cookies into his mouth, chewing. He jerked a thumb in the direction of the back of the store.

Tricia wasn't sure she wanted to engage in conversation with her not-so-dear old dad. It was nearly seven thirty. Was he about to beg for a bed to stay the night? Luckily, she wasn't in a position to offer him one—thanks to the state of her home, which had been torn apart for the renovation of the second and third floors of the building she now owned, as evidenced by dust that had accumulated on the baseboards and had escaped Mr. Everett's lamb's wool duster. Unbeknownst to most of the village of Stoneham, Angelica owned not only the Sheer Comfort Inn, but the Brookview Inn. After he'd pulled a disappearing act, Tricia was pretty sure her sister wouldn't be issuing an invitation for their father to stay in either location. Angelica had been pretty steamed to have to not only clean up after him but come up with a reasonable explanation for his boorish behavior.

Still, he was their father.

The sisters followed John to the back of the shop.

"Daddy," Angelica began, and Tricia recognized that no-nonsense tone. "You left rather suddenly back in January, with many unpaid bills."

Instead of looking embarrassed, John actually grinned. "Now, that's not quite right—"

"Yes, it's definitely right," Angelica insisted, keeping her voice low. "I know, because I had to come up with excuses for many of the merchants in the village as to why you disappeared without a trace. You didn't even let Tricia and me know you were leaving the area."

"I was offered a wonderful business proposition—but it was time dependent, and I simply had to leave. But now I'm back and prepared to make restitution."

"Full restitution?" Angelica asked.

"Of course. Although there seems to be a little resentment from some of the local merchants. They said they had no rooms at both the Sheer Comfort Inn and the Brookview Inn, and yet the parking lots for both establishments were nearly empty."

Tricia knew Angelica had provided the staffs of both properties with a picture of John Miles and a warning to them not to give him a room should he ever show up again.

"Would I be able to stay with either of you?" John asked.

Tricia shook her head sadly. "My loft is undergoing a massive renovation. I'm not even staying here right now."

"Really?" John asked, sounding skeptical. "And yet I see no trace of work being done."

Tricia wasn't about to point out the dust. Instead, she jerked a thumb over her shoulder. "There's a twenty-yard Dumpster behind the building, just through that door."

John turned to Angelica. "I have a one-bedroom loft."

"I'd be perfectly willing to sleep on the couch."

"I'm sorry, Daddy, but it's out being upholstered," Angelica lied without batting an eye.

John's jovial features began to sag. "Where am I to stay? I have no other friends or relatives in the area."

"Why aren't you with Mother?" Angelica asked, rather pointedly.

"Ah, I hate to be the bearer of unhappy news, but . . . your mother and I have separated."

Tricia gave her sister a sidelong glance. This really wasn't surprising news. Not that either of them had heard a word about it from their mother after their ill-fated visit to Bermuda to see her five months before.

"Has she gone back to Rio?" Tricia asked.

"Uh, initially yes. As you know, things aren't quite as nice as they once were in Brazil. When we last spoke, she told me she had packed up and was moving back to Connecticut."

"When was this?" Angelica asked.

"About a month ago."

"And where were you at the time?" Tricia asked.

"In Las Vegas." John's good-humored smile had returned once more.

"Gambling?" Angelica guessed.

"Just for fun," John admitted. "Unfortunately, the business deal I spoke of only moments ago fell through."

"And that's why you're back here?" Tricia guessed.

"Er, yes. A man can always depend on his loving children in a time of crisis."

"What's the crisis?" Angelica asked, none too kindly. "You said you came back to make full restitution to the area merchants."

"Well, yes—"

"It's not a health scare, is it?" Tricia asked, and this time she was concerned.

"Oh, nothing of the sort."

"That's good," Angelica said, but her gaze was still sharp.

"Why don't we go over to the Dog-Eared Page and get a drink and talk things over," John suggested.

Tricia nodded toward the front of her store, where the author talk was still in full swing. "I've got a business to run."

"And I'm helping her," Angelica said.

Actually, Pixie was helping Tricia run the event, but she didn't contradict her sibling.

"I could go over and wait for you both, but there's a tiny problem. The proprietress doesn't seem to want to serve me."

So, his first stop after being refused accommodations hadn't been to seek out his darling daughters.

"That's because you left the village with a very large tab," Angelica said.

"What's a few dollars?" John said, shrugging.

"A few thousand dollars," Angelica corrected him. "Surely you didn't think the people you owed money to wouldn't come asking Tricia and me about your whereabouts and expecting to be paid."

"It's all a big misunderstanding," John insisted.

"I'm listening," Angelica insisted.

But before John could explain, the group of people at the front of the shop broke into enthusiastic applause.

"I've got to get back to work," Tricia said. "If you'll excuse me."

"And I've got to help her," Angelica insisted, and followed in her sister's wake.

By the time Tricia made it to the middle of the shop, Richardson had already taken his seat at the book table with pen in hand, while Pixie readied the books, handing them to him open at the title page, ready for him to sign.

"I'll take care of the cake," Angelica said, and marched around the goodies table. "Do you want me to wait until Steven has his picture taken with it before I cut it?"

"Let's not bother." The hands on the clock were already marching toward eight. "I'd better go man the register." Tricia turned, but Mr. Everett was already stationed behind the sales desk, waiting for the first customer.

She hurried over to him. "Oh, Mr. Everett, it's your night off. I'll take care of the sales."

"I saw that you were engaged, Ms. Miles, and I thought it best to cover all bases."

"You're a dear. Angelica's about to cut the cake. Why don't you get a slice for yourself and Grace?"

"I will, thank you."

Tricia watched her friend stroll over to the goodies table, but saw that her father was already there—stuffing his pockets full of cookies and speaking to one of the store's customers—Carol Talbot. The fifty-something woman's heavily lined features no doubt were the result of years of heavy tanning and reminded Tricia of an angry bulldog, which matched her personality. It was her body that was the envy of women decades younger. This evening she'd dressed in a form-fitting pink floral sundress with a bolero jacket, accented by a string of faux pearls around her neck. A cutthroat darts player, Carol had often played against Tricia on tournament nights at the Dog-Eared Page. Carol wasn't one of Tricia's favorite people, nor a regular customer, so it was surprising she had made the effort to attend the signing.

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A Just Clause (Booktown Series #11) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book! Keep them coming!
Anonymous 8 months ago
This might just be my favorite in the series! I love Tricia and Angelica! I've read them from the beginning and love how the relationships have evolved, especially how close the sisters are. Of course the sisters get wrapped up in another murder mystery, this time it involves one of their own flesh and blood and many family secrets are brought to light. When author Steven Richardson and their estranged father show up on the same night it sets the ball rolling for a wild couple of days. Already stressed from her home renovations and displacement she still finds time to investigate. I was not shocked when the killer was revealed but I was totally surprised by what transpires at the end. Excited to read Poisoned Pages.
Dollycas 11 months ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts We return to Booktown just in time for bestselling thriller author Steven Richardson’s book signing at Haven’t Got A Clue. Tricia is totally surprised when her dad walks into the signing. He left abruptly his last visit owing a lot of money. Before she has time to worry about him the signing is over and her dad has disappeared. Tricia and Angelica lock up the store and head to the Dog Eared Page for a drink, but see something down the street, a hardcover copy of Steven Richardson’s new book. Tricia picks up the book and looks around and discovers a body. It is Carol Talbot. She was at the signing and had altercations with both her father and Steven. This can’t be good. Both men are going to be prime suspects. I love this series! Tricia, Angelica, Pixie Poe, and Mr. Everett always make me feel right at home. All the characters are expertly crafted and continue to evolve. Tricia is renovating her space above her store after a fire. Angelica’s businesses are thriving. Pixie Poe is getting married and Mr. Everett and his wife Grace are blissfully happy. The Miles sisters learn more about their dad’s past and their mother comes to visit too. With Tricia and Miss Marple already displaced from their home due to the construction, Angelica just having her loft and most of the other lodging in the town full, it becomes a funny juggling act to accommodate everyone. What I like the best though is the way these sisters work together, take care of each other, and still try to everything they can for their friends and Booktown. This story is filled with plenty of drama too. The girl’s father goes missing and just when they track him down his is gone again. He really isn’t a nice man. Their mother has taken care of him forever but she had enough and kicked him out. He takes terrible advantage of his daughters and even their friends. Then, of course, there is the murder and then another murder. Could their father really have killed someone? The victim has a dark past, could the killer know her from then? Twists, turns, spins, this story has it all. The author sets a fast pace and doesn’t let up until all has been revealed. Lorna Barrett continues to delight me with her writing. Strong characters and fantastic stories. I am excited about the next installment, Poisoned Pages, it releases next month.
Jani8 More than 1 year ago
Things are looking brighter for Tricia Miles. She’s started eating real food, other than just salads and plain chicken breasts. Her sister Angelica is even teaching her how to cook! The renovation of the 2nd and 3rd floors of her bookshop being turned into her new home is coming along. However, it is a lot louder than she expected. And dustier! Then her father turns up and mayhem follows. Eventually her mother, who has hated Tricia since her twin brother died, comes to town and sparks fly!
csrsvivr More than 1 year ago
“A Just Clause” is the 11th. book in the “Booktown” mystery series and involves the family dynamics of our two main characters; Trisha and Angelica Miles. While murder is still the plot of our amateur sleuth Trisha, the biological family of the Miles girls plays a heavy role in the storyline of this installment. It’s an insight into the make-up of our girls, Trisha and Angelica and how they became who they are now. Ginny; Antonio’s wife and Sofia’s mother, has been promoted and put in charge of the 1st. Annual Wine & Jazz festival. Short on time and experience, has Ginny unsure if can pull off this festival and still have Angelica be proud of her; since she is her mother-in-law. The things that go on behind closed doors have some folks murdered. Our author continues to write this series as if we all are of the Miles family and it leaves us with a warm and fuzzy feeling. WELL DONE!
kayteerufus More than 1 year ago
"A Just Clause" is another super read from author Lorna Barrett. Tricia and Angelica are fun characters and I enjoy Tricia as the protagonist and sleuth. She is intelligent and has good instincts. I have been a big fan of “Booktown Mystery” series since the first one. These characters have grown so much and become family with each other and like friends to me. Lorna Barrett’s writing style and plotting are wonderful. Each book is better and that is saying a lot. Each book can also be read as a standalone, but I suggest reading the whole series. If you enjoy a tight mystery, great characters and a pleasant setting, A Just Clause is for you. Add in the family strife and you have a best seller. I love this series and this 11th installment is a winner. I cannot wait to see where the next book takes these entertaining characters! I was given a copy by the publishers. This review is in no way influenced by that and the opinions are completely my own
Linda-D More than 1 year ago
Once again, Lorna Barrett doesn't disappoint with this newest Booktown Mystery. It's not a good thing when Tricia and Angelica's father appears in town again. He's already stiffed and stolen from many of the merchants. When he is slapped by a woman who later ends up dead, it doesn't look too good for him either. As much as her father frustrates her, Tricia still would like to clear his name. But, it's not so easy. Her father's past is a bit shadier than she realizes. This Booktown Mystery is full of twists and kept me reading. I really enjoy the characters -- sometimes I have to remind myself they aren't real -- because they seem that way to me. This series continues to be my favorite series.. The only hard part is waiting for the next one!
Kuzlin More than 1 year ago
Tricia Miles has done it again! After a successful author reading at her bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue, she and her sister, Angelica, stumble across a dead body in the alley. But how is she supposed to investigate this when she is planning a bridal shower for her employee, Pixie; trying to cope with the renovation in her apartment that has her sleeping in a guest bungalow; traipsing poor Miss Maple back and forth to a store laden with dust from the renovation; and trying to control any additional mischief her father is causing. Add this to the fact that both the author, Steven Richardson, and her father had a spat with the victim at the bookstore and Tricia is certainly in a dither. This is a fun series and I love the interaction between the sisters. The mystery provided the reader with several suspects and interesting clues all leading to a surprising and exciting solution. Can't wait to see what mischief Tricia gets into next! Disclosure: I am voluntarily reviewing an Advance Reading Copy of this book.
LisaKsBooksReviews More than 1 year ago
Fans of the Booktown Mysteries will fall in love with this series all over again! With, A JUST CAUSE, author Lorna Barrett once again takes readers back to Booktown for more mystery, mayhem, and some serious dysfunctional family drama. I’ve been following this series since the very first book, MURDER IS BINDING (My sister was a fan and asked if I’d like to try it. Well, of course I did! What’s not to love about a town that’s got bookstores everywhere). It’s been fun watching the original cast of characters grow throughout the series, and just as enjoyable to meet and learn more about the characters who have been added throughout the series. Ms. Barrett certainly knows what it takes to keep her readers engaged. It very was hard to put A JUST CLAUSE down for any length of time. Every aspect of the story was wonderful. From the murder, to the investigation of looking for whodunit and why, to the dynamics of the eclectic characters, it was a fast paced book that that left me a bit breathless. Add to that a satisfying conclusion, and some tasty recipes, you’ve got a cozy mystery you won’t soon forget.
Shooter9 More than 1 year ago
This is the latest in the Booktown Mystery series. Tricia is undergoing a renovation of her apartment above her shop and has her unsettled. After a book signing in her store she and her sister Angelica find a body, which happens quite often to her. Not only are they dealing with that, they also have to deal with their Father and the problems he causes. This book is a must read.
KTempleton More than 1 year ago
A Just Clause is book 11 in the Booktown Mystery Series by Lorna Barrett. Although some details about the about the characters can be better understood by reading the previous books in the series this book can be enjoyed as a stand alone mystery. A Just Clause picks up just a few months after book 10 (Title Wave). Tricia once again is involved in finding a dead body, continuing her nickname of the village jinx. While dealing with her living space being renovated, Tricia is having to deal with some new and unsettling information about her father and her parents separation. Can Tricia and her sister Angelica help their parent reconcile? Can the sisters get past finding out about their father’s past and their mother’s refusal to put past issues behind her? Will Tricia once again get involved in the investigation and can she keep out of harm’s way My favorite characters are the main characters-Tricia and Angelica Miles. The sisters although successful business women do not have perfect lives which makes them more realistic. Their family issues make the sisters more relatable. Mrs. Barrett added enough red herrings in the story to keep you guess until the end of the book. In addition to the mystery of a murder or two, Tricia and Angelica are having to deal with some upsetting new about their father. Angelica continuously has to make restitution for their father’s “borrowing” and their mother has thrown Mr. Miles out and is refusing to take him back. As much as I like the sisters I find it hard to root for a reconciliation between them and their parents. However I was pleasantly surprised at the ending. I can’t wait to to see what happens in the next book with the family and how Tricia’s renovation turns out. I would definitely recommend this book to mystery lovers.
MandaLuvsToRead More than 1 year ago
Poor Tricia! Her stress level is already at an all time high when this latest murder occurs (another body for her to find, haha!). She can't live at home because it's undergoing massive renovations. Her father, with whom she has a rocky relationship, has exhausted his welcome in town by running up bills and disappearing, and now he's back. And then there's that body outside the bookstore. She's got good friends and a great sister to help her sort all of this out, and I liked this one even better than Title Wave. I appreciated the inclusion of the family dynamics. Family can be more complicated than any murder mystery and I found it very compelling. Great read.
TarynLee More than 1 year ago
In this 11th book of the series Tricia is hosting a book signing for author Steven Richardson who she met on a cruise in the previous book. During the signing not only does Tricia's father show up bringing more issues for the sisters but local Carol Talbot slaps a couple of the guest. When the signing is over Tricia and her sister head out for a drink to discuss their father. On the way to the bar they discover the body of Carol Talbot and the whodunit begins. The sisters father being one of the people that Carol had slapped lends to worry about where he disappeared to in the middle of the signing. Tricia also wonders what reason Carol had to slap author Steven Richardson. Did one of the two kill her and if so why? During the search for who could have killed Carol, Tricia learns her father isn't the man that she has always known him to be and wonders if she should reveal what she knows to her sister. Barrett delivers an engaging and cleverly plotted book. The reader is drawn in from the beginning and the story flowed well the rest of the way through. I quite enjoyed how she brought the relationship that the main character has with both parents to a head throughout the series and with this book to a bit of a resolve. I would definitely recommend this series and look forward to future books.