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Lilac Lane is the second book in the Stutter Creek series, but the third I have read, as I ended up reading these in the wrong order. But that didn't really matter, as each book works fine as a standalone and focuses on one couple in particular. Characters from the other books in the series make appearances, which is quite nice because after a couple of Stutter Creek books it feels like you are returning to a place you know which is inhabited by very likable characters. This one has been my favorite of the three I've now read/listened to.
It concentrates on Ella and her son, Nick, who are hoping for a fresh start in Stutter Creek after escaping the abusive behavior of husband and stepdad, Anson. The relationship between Ella and her son was touching and a very enjoyable element of the story. The romantic relationship between Ella and the local wildlife biologist, Chet, was believable and nicely done. The romantic elements remained very 'mild'. Lilac Lane was heavier on the suspense than on the romance. But there wasn't any overly bloody or gory violence either. Ann Swann did a good job of creating a creepy atmosphere and building up the suspense.
The narration by Mindy Grall was excellent. She had a very pleasant voice, nice intonation, and good tempo to make this into an enjoyable listening experience. All her characters sounded credible, including the 10-year-old child and the male characters. This was the first time I listened to Mindy Grall. I would definitely listen to more books narrated by her, and I'm pleased there was a change of narrator from book 1 to book 2. There were no issues with the quality of the production.
Overall, an easy and enjoyable listen which should particularly appeal to listeners who like fairly clean, almost 'cozy', romantic suspense stories.
Audiobook was provided for review by the author.
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6 of 9 people found this review helpful
Where does Lilac Lane rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
Yes, the suspense is built slowly before exploding into a series of dangerous events.
What does Mindy Grall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Good inflection and emotion behind the words, just didn't care much for Chet's voice--personal preference.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
When Nick came to his mother's aid
Any additional comments?
I listened to Lilac Lane on the way home from a book conference on audiobook, and the story made the drive home seem much shorter.This is the second book in the series, and although I hadn't listened to the first book, Stutter Creek, this book stood on its own. The narrative chronicles the lives of characters Ella and her ten-year-old son, Nick, as they move from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the town of Stutter Creek--specifically ending up in a rented house on Lilac Lane. As Ella flees her mother's house, escaping the continued threat of abuse from her ex-husband, Anson, and also the overbearing parental advice of her well-meaning mother, she struggles to come to terms with her newfound independence and focus on repairing the damage little Nick has suffered emotionally and physically at the hands, and voice, of his former stepfather. On the first night, in the aging house, both Ella and Nick hear strange noises coming from the attic. After calling the police, she discovers a raccoon party has been taking place overhead. Chet, the locale wildlife officer, arrives on the scene the next day, sparking an emotional connection with both Ella and Nick as he completes repairs on the house to keep the little bandits from invading again.Loathe to start another relationship, Ella struggles with her commitment to her son, helping him heal and become more confident and happy, as well as the new business venture she has embarked on--the purchase of her very own drugstore/diner in town--while she fights to keep her attraction to Chet on the backburner. Strange noises and the movement and appearance of items inside the house persist even after Ella's new hero completes his repairs. Has Ella discovered a group of the most sophisticated and intelligent raccoons on Earth...or does something far more sinister lurk about her attic?
I really did enjoy the story. I loved the strong female lead and admired her dedication to her young son. I'm not a fan of cookie-cutter romances or graphic details of sex, so this book was perfect for me (I believe some things are best left to the imagination, but that's just my opinion and preference). It was refreshing to find a story about a woman who didn't fall victim to her hormones and rush into a man's arms--especially when her son needed her most. She tried to be smart about starting a new relationship, focusing on her new business and her little Nick, which I loved. Her strong will and justified caution when it came to matters of the heart really appealed to me. The romance was light and sweet, and I enjoyed that part of the book as well. The danger was heart-pounding and the action scenes well written. Some authors fall down when it comes time to write a high-action scene, but Miss Swann definitely delivered in that respect. The relationships between Ella and the other characters were well executed, especially between Ella and Nick, which prompts the reader to form a bond with them and care about their well-being. The sprinkling of supporting characters did a good job playing their role without becoming intrusive on the primary focus of the narrative--the interactions between Ella, Nick and Chet.This is a spoiler-free review, so I won't reveal any of the dark details about the latter half of the book, but will only say I was impressed in a big way with Ella's efforts to come to her own rescue, avoiding the crumple into a helpless heap when faced with danger and possible death.
As far as constructive criticism, I'll have to say the narrator did a good job, but I didn't like the way she did Chet's voice. Something about it grated on my nerves, which I know can be chalked up to personal preference yet again. There were some elements of the story I found to be unbelievable, such as the cluelessness expressed by Ella regarding an item she finds in her house. I just cannot believe she wouldn't see the truth behind that incident immediately. Ella's mother also misses the disappearance of a major clue, one which I would've thought she'd put to use before the consequences are discovered later, given the nature of past events. Characters/events from the first book were introduced in a way that initially confused me, but I attribute this to my start with the second book in the series. There were also a few feats of strength I would think might be beyond human capability, but must remind myself of the fictional element of the story, a world in which the author gains license to stretch the limits of the everyday and mundane. These are small issues, though, which did not detract from the pacing or storytelling elements of the book, making this an emotionally-stirring and suspense-inspiring work I would definitely recommend! A stellar job by Miss Swann, earning her 4.6 stars from this reader :)