Book Review: Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell

We’re starting 2020 with another fantastic read provided by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. LSBBT is made up of Texas-based book bloggers supporting Texas books & authors. You know what they say about our state 😉 Not only is everything bigger, we have an overdeveloped sense of country—ahem—state pride. As a big-city to rural roots transplant myself, I loved the premise of Spent Identity. Before I share my review of Marlene M. Bell’s sequel to Stolen Obsession, a little info about the book!


Annalisse Series, Book 2

by Marlene M. Bell

Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Light Romance

Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing

Date of Publication: December 11, 2019

Number of Pages: 378

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A body, a disappearance, just another hotsummer in upstate New York.

It’s July when antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury reaches her family’s small-town farm to consult with the trusted aunt who raised her. She learns that her beloved homestead—the one she expects to inherit—is for sale. While Annalisse reels at the betrayal and her shattered dreams, the Walker Farm ranch manager discovers a corpse in the barn. Officials close the suspected murder scene, and Annalisse seeks refuge with her aunt at Alec Zavos’s rural estate in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Then Aunt Kate vanishes.

Annalisse solicits the help of Greek tycoon, Alec Zavos, even though their rocky romance has dissolved into routine separation. What began as hope on Crete nine months ago has eaten away at Annalisse’s hope for a future with him.

In Spent Identity, Annalisse and Alec come together for the second time and find themselves in the center of not one mystery, but several. Where is Kate, and why sell her farm now? Is the dead man a coincidence or a clue to the aunt’s disappearance? John Doe’s identity may hold needed answers to solve the puzzle before Kate’s unstable health issues make her rescue impossible.

The clock ticks, and a vengeful murderer is in charge…


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4 of 5 Stars

Few books have frustrated, flustered or forced me to the edge of my seat as much as Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell. I was happy to discover Bell’s first book in the Annalisse Series, Stolen Obsession, almost two years ago. Aside from the gorgeous cover art, I quickly fell in love with the cocktail of historical artifacts (my secret love) and murder mystery romance. Stolen Obsession had excellent pacing, characters, and the banter between Annalisse and Alec was the stuff of Old Hollywood films. I was excited to see where their adventures would carry us next. 

In a refreshing twist, Spent Identity shifts settings from the high rises of New York, to Aunt Kate’s peaceful sheep farm. Annalisse is taking a break from her lonely lifestyle of luxury and going back to her roots. She craves the peace that comes from her aunt’s farm and Kate’s advice on what to do about her dwindling relationship with Alec. After all, Aunt Kate always knows what to say, and there’s also the pleasant distraction of New Zealand farmhand Ethan. But Kate has troubles of her own, between her son selling the farm against her will and the dead body Ethan discovers in the barn. Thus begins a whirlwind race to solve several interweaving mysteries, filled with unexpected twists and turns. With no way to discern friend from foe, Annalisse is determined to save her aunt, their home, and her relationship with Alec.

Happily Ever After doesn’t exist in real life, not without work and communication. Both of these relationship pillars are sorely lacking between Annalisse and Alec Zavros on the outset of Spent Identity. When we last saw our title characters, they had given into weeks of sexual tension and dove headfirst into their steamy relationship. Fast-forward nine months later and Annalisse faces the reality of dating a former playboy/billionaire workaholic. Alec’s initial attempts to suddenly compensate for his absences were frustrating to read, not helped by Annalisse so easily giving in. Will he truly change his tune? Or is he giving her what she wants for now?

A highlight and delight, in contrast, came from my new favorite character, wannabe sleuth, Ethan. Ethan adds both a needed sense of flirty fun and an added layer of mystery. I also couldn’t help but see actor/musician Brett Mackenzie every time Ethan came onto the scene. Still, as fun as Ethan was, I felt his side of the love triangle was unnecessary. I didn’t enjoy Alec’s irrational jealousy of him, especially since Annalisse never seemed to take Ethan seriously as a potential suitor. Part of me hoped to see Ethan become Annalisse’s comedic sidekick as she unveiled the mystery. Instead, Ethan constantly gets left behind in favor of more angst from our star couple.

An exploration of what happens after happily ever after, Spent Identity carries our heroine on a personal journey that will radically impact her future. Marlene M. Bell has once again delivered an inspired suspenseful romance and a worthy sequel to Stolen Obsession.

**I was provided with a copy of Spent Identity by the author and this is my voluntary and honest review.**

book trailer


Marlene M. Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested on her website or Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in beautiful East Texas with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large and lovable Maremma guard dog named Tia, and Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats who believe they rule the household—and do.








Autographed copy of Spent Identity & companion notebook, Mary Poppins-style bag (18×13” tapestry carpet bag with leather trim, handmade in Israel) $100 Amazon gift card, and 18” freshwater pearl necklace. JANUARY 7-17, 2019 (US ONLY)






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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell

  1. Very insightful review, and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought the way the character of Ethan was handled could have been better. It was hard to tell if he was even going to be that third point in the love-triangle. Like you, I was expecting him to become the sidekick, helping to solve the mystery of the dead man in the barn.


    1. Oh, you too? Yes, that’s exactly how I felt! Every time I thought, oh, she’s going to use him over here. Or even when his loyalties were in question, I just kept expecting more. Especially with the fantastic intro she opened Spent Identity with his POV. If she brings his character back he should feature as the sidekick IMO, even if it’s just platonic. They were too funny together with his colloquialisms and her confusion and their mutual love of sheep 🙂


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