It’s always a treat to read and review for a known author and series. I first read Marlene M. Bell’s Stolen Identity shortly before it’s release and fell in love with the characters, the history, and the adventure. While I was often on the fence about the sequel Spent Identity, I felt her latest in the Annalisse Series returned closer to the format I had most enjoyed. And while I wasn’t quite as drawn in to Scattered Legacy, I still found much to admire and enojoy. Before I share my review, a little info about the book!
MURDER IN SOUTHERN ITALY
Annalisse Series, Book 3
by Marlene M. Bell
Genre: Mystery / Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: November 4, 2021
Number of Pages: 352 pages
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To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, high adventure, and the occasional dead body.
When Alec schedules a getaway trip to show Annalisse his mother’s Italian birthplace, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.
Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The key to it all might be a gifted set of rosary beads where Annalisse can use her skills for appraising artifacts to uncover the truth. She leads Alec toward answers that are unthinkable—and events that will change their futures forever.
Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
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Series Spoilers Ahead
4 of 5 Stars (rounded up)
I’ve been a fan of Marlene M. Bell ever since I discovered her first Annalisse novel, Stolen Obsession. The first book in this series remains, in my opinion, the best. From compelling cover art, fantastic pacing and characters, and one sizzling romance, Stolen Obsession harkens back to the fun glamor of classic Hollywood films. While the second in this series, Spent Identity, digs deeper into Annalisse’s deceptively idyllic past, the aptly titled Scattered Legacy shifts back into a more familiar setting.
Still reeling from the revelations of Spent Identity, we return to a haunted Annalisse and a somewhat desperate Alec. Both are ready to rekindle their relationship through a planned vacation, though their bond remains strained. When trouble from Alec’s family’s past drags them to Italy, their love is challenged in even more dangerous ways. And while Alec seeks to recover his father’s tarnished name, Annalisse must uncover the origins of an ancient rosary. But Annalisse isn’t the only one searching for the truth behind this forgotten legacy, and their enemies are closing in.
While the premise and mystery behind Generosa’s rosary was compelling, I struggled to find things to truly love about Scattered Legacy. Highlights for me include Marlene M. Bell’s fantastic description and dialogue. Bell often illustrates her scenes like a screenplay, and this helps her characters take on life in fun and exciting ways. This being said, the author made a surprising choice to shift the perspective from third to first present point of view. While Bell pulled this off with her usual aplomb, I would have rather seen her begin a fresh series (or spinoff) using first perspective, rather than switching midway the way she chose. And while I enjoyed learning more about Alec’s mother’s family past, I felt the mafia characters and inner dialogue weren’t half so believable. In this case, I would have preferred to keep a closer lens on Alec and Annalisse’s journey.
While Scattered Legacy draws our main characters closer, solidifying their bonds and sense of family, I felt disconnected from Alec and Annalisse’s relationship. At this point, I’d rather see Annalisse independent of Alec and searching for more treasure. Alec shone best in the first installment, but in this reader’s opinion, has only seemed to drag Annalisse down. His saving grace is his mother, Generosa. I loved reading Gen and Annalisse’s friendship, and every scene featuring them and the gallery were most compelling. Please keep in mind that while this is my opinion, there is much to love in this series for fans of mystery, adventure, and romance. What doesn’t appeal to me may be a selling point for you. I encourage you to discover the Annalisse Series for yourself. Fall into the whirlwind of Alec and Annalisse’s adventures in life and antiquities, and discover this lovingly crafted series from author Marlene M. Bell.
**I was provided with a copy of Scattered Legacy by the author and this is my voluntary and honest review.**
Link to the video trailer on YouTube
MEET MARLENE M. BELL
Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named, Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.
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THREE WINNERS (US ONLY):
1st SUPER GRANDPRIZE ($425 VALUE):
Patricia Nash leather bag; Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Puglia Region of Italy; Orecchiette Pasta from the Puglia Region; Weekly 2022 Engagement Spiral Calendar; Silver/Gold Italy Coin necklace on 18” silver chain; autographed copy of Scattered Legacy; $50 VISA gift card.
2ND PRIZE & 3rd PRIZE – Signed copies of Scattered Legacy.
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 12/10/21)
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Thank you, Jennifer, for your thoughtful review of Scattered Legacy. It was a gamble to change Annalisse’s point of view mid-series, but I was after a closer relationship between the reader and the book’s main character based upon previous reviewer comments. The abrupt adjustment may not be for every reader. I do appreciate your investment in the Annalisse series and always look forward to your reviews. Thanks again for joining the Lone Star Lit Book tour!
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Hey Marlene, thank you so much for the opportunity as always! I love seeing your writing evolve and grow with each novel. I think there are definitely benefits to 1st POV and I think a lot of readers didn’t mind so much, from other reviews I’ve seen 🙂 It’s always hard to please everyone, of course, and in the end you have to follow your heart ❤ Thanks again for sharing! Your books are a place of pride on my overflowing bookshelf 😉
Thanks for a great review — I appreciate how you understand that what didn’t work for you might be just what the doctor ordered for another reader. That balance really makes your assessment of the book and series top notch. I read the first 2 in this series and look forward to experiencing book three soon.
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Thanks so much Kristine! I always love revisiting Marlene’s books, I just wish I’d been able to connect with it more 🙂 But I definitely think there’s a lot mystery/suspense readers would love about this one. Hope you enjoy #3!