I had very high hopes for Ms. Gruen’s books, as Water for Elephants is a great novel, one of those that was out-of-the-ballpark better than I thought it was going to be. Unfortunately, I expected this from Riding Lessons as well. The writing, yes, was very well done; but the story was so Harlequin-romancy that I couldn’t believe it was the same author. It was like Ms. Gruen was given a list of everything bad that could happen to a person and was required to include them all in the story.
As for The Spellman Files: I love quirky, against-the-grain, go-your-own-way types of characters, but I felt hit over the head with the lead character’s “issues.” I was certain it would contain much more sleuthing and spying, but they only sleuthed and spied on each other. There was no story, just repetitive car tailing and everyone annoying everyone else. I think I even bit my tongue in cheek.