April 24, 2012

Reader's Nook - Blood Orchids Book Review


A little about the Author - Toby Neal:
Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. Toby enjoys outdoor activities including bodyboarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking as well as writing. A mental health therapist, she credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series.

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei's intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she's being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei's quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first. 

My Review: 
This is the second book I've read that was written by a Hawaiian author, and I have to say their style of writing is different.  Having a SIL born and raised in Hawaii, I totally get the Island Vibe. The book transitions smoothly and not once was a lost. It is a murder/mystery with a small touch of romance. I couldn't stop reading and when I did it was because my eyes could no longer stay open. The characters are likeable and impressionable, Lei really does seem like she could be a real person. Toby was able to bring to life the islands in a not so glamorous way. 

The main character, Lei Texeira, feels like "damaged goods" and is always pushing the envelope. Never wanting to feel the way she did in her past, she recklessly puts herself in danger...all the time. She has something to prove, but not really to others more to herself. She wants to make detective and will do anything she thinks will help her get ahead. Even if it means almost losing her life. While I think she always rushed into things without thinking, which was kind of frustrating, I really like her character. She stood up to face her demons and was very human, she struggled, but in the end was able to overcome them. 

The romance in the book isn't overwhelming. I mean it's supposed to be a murder/mystery right? Toby Neal weaves it in there so smoothly and at the right times you hardly notice it at all. I think it was a given though, because as much as Lei has to go through she so deserves it. I think the match was made well and would love to read more stories about them both. I think it would be pretty interesting. 

Blood Orchids had me guessing, from beginning to the end. It left me scratching my head and some points when I just knew I have figured everything out. I could sense Toby Neal laughing as she knew I was totally wrong. This was an excellent book that you will surely love. Even if you aren't a huge murder/mystery buff, this book will be sure to please. 

You can visit Toby Neal and get to see what other great books she has written at her blog: HERE

If you'd love to read this book, which I know you do, go to the links below.
Available on Amazon.com as ebook and print: HERE
Available on Barnes and Noble, print only: HERE