I started reading these books as my summer reading. As the summer is ending, I've made it through the series. While the earlier books are ok, individually, I find that as a series, they are odd. In one book the heroine inherits a puppy from a dead friend. The puppy disappeared in the next book. However, in the following book, there is a reference that a neighbor, took the puppy, and there is the implication that the neighbor doesn't have the financial resources to care for the animal in the repeated comments about the low paying receptionist. One book refers to a relationship between two characters as that of cousin, yet by the next book, they are sisters. One character is referred to with a nickname, then as Mrs. Harrington in a following book, and the writing doesn't acknowledge the relationship/interaction of characters in the previous book? When there is a change from Weezie to Mrs. Harrington.... There are numerous other oddities, that also leads one to wonder about the editing staff. NO ONE is catching these errors?
The plots are also becoming generic formula fiction.., murder, argue with husband, go off on tangent, solve murder, husband forgives. Honestly, a trip to any attorney will dispel the belief that murder is the only crime.
Why are her tires always bald? Even with a NEW van? Isn't someone able to purchase an event center, and in possession of a new van, able to purchase tires? The navigating the roads with inferior equipment is getting old.
I've also noticed the language has changed, both in reading level and use of profanity. The earlier books make reference to the church, and I enjoyed the comments about church history and church life, familiar to someone in any organized religion. As they went on, these references decreased, and an element of crudeness, for lack of a better word, started to creep in to the writing. ANd, the cooking references have become almost non-existent. I liked the various tips and hints in the earlier books.
I feel the entire series is disjointed in terms of continuity. Characters are introduced, a relationship with the reader is encouraged, and then they disappear... what happened to pregnant Peggy Sue? Maguire Perkins? Did he go to college? Recover from mono? Jullian Teller's adoptive parents? One has the impression, despite the claims that all is well, that he fled as soon as he could, and never looked back, since he spends holidays in Aspen Meadow. What happened to Dusty's family? (someone couldn't have given her mother a job, and access to furniture?). Eileen was dating that murder... yet Fatally Flaky implies that there is a Mr. Druckman, as the author refers to the Druckmans' vacation in a way that implies a nuclear fmaily.
Details are also missing... so, what about the $180,000 in gold coins found in the deposit box? Was it linked to money laundering? What did Arch, and Gus, inherit from the Jerk? Arch went from a driving nightmare to being given a car to drive? AND, driving with friends in the car? What happened to Tom's cabin? Other than a loan to pay for the kitchen...
One almost has the feeling each book was written by someone different, who was given a script, and no details about the previous books.
Crunch Time seems almost as though it is a draft, and a poor draft. It is also disjointed. The characters grate on one's nerves. They aren't refined. The first chapter dialog presents a change in all the characters from the previous books... the characters are acting out of character. The language patterns are different, and everyone just seems to whine. I generally look at the recipes first, and even they fell short of the previous books.
I am not stupid. I do not have the IQ of a paper box. I read, even fiction, to be entertained, but to be entertained intellectually. I want smart snappy dialog, and words with 3 or more syllables. I want a clever plot. A bit of educational material (the church history and cooking hints). These books are starting to mirror the Janet Evanovich ones: crude language and plots, and a low vocabulary. There is no longer anything entertaining about them.
For anyone looking for a well written series, no sex or profanity, I suggest the Elm Creek Quilt Series. They are wonderful.