Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
I liked this installment so much better than the previous one in the series.
Keira, Lady Darby, has decided to go visit her brother Trevor in time for them to attend their aunt and uncle's annual Hogmanay Ball. It is a huge tradition in Scotland to ring in the new year.
But right at the a pivotal point in the evening a young man staggers up to announce that an old caretaker at a cemetery has been killed and the bones of one of the Laird's ancestors has been removed from his grave by grave robbers.
And thus Keira, who writes to enlist the help of Sebastian Gage, is thrust back into a mystery.
What I liked about this one:
- All the stuff about Keira's notoriety has been toned down. It is still there of course, but in the first book the repetition of it and Keira's own preoccupation with her reputation made her out like some cross between Dexter and Hannibal Lecter. I get that she was unfairly reviled but it seemed in the first book we were bludgeoned over the head with it. In this one, we still get the general gist of her status as an outcast, tolerated in large part because of her family, but I didn't feel harangued by the notion.
- The romance development. For adults, Keira and Gage could give awkward teenagers a run for their money. Talk about inept courtship. LOL. But this book moves the romance forward in definitive and believable ways. In retrospect the restraint the author took on the romance front in the previous two books feel less like a slow build to a satisfying romance and more like a deliberate, yet somewhat clunky, repressing of the romance. The progression of the romance in the series felt more like it was part of some pre-set script rather than an organic development. The writing for the romance element in this book felt more natural and integrated to the story than the deliberate suppression of it did in the previous books. But that is ok. We've turned a corner with these two. There was some nice angst there, some more awkward revelations (this time it felt cute rather than annoying), some telling of personal secrets etc. And I don't blame Keira for being skittish, even though her reasoning was dumb.
- The family stuff. Once again the writer does healthy family relationships proud. Like Keira's sister Alanna, her brother Trevor is staunchly supportive of her. He gives her some excellent romantic advice and opens her eyes to some things about their father that helps her let go of some of her resentment of that parent. And I also like that he is also fully involved in the investigation, helping out Keira and Gage as more muscle when they venture into dangerous places.
- The mystery & Investigation. I loved the mystery. It felt like a real mystery. Who was stealing the bones & ransoming them back and why? The red herrings and false roads they travel feel believable. At one point Keira and Gage are sure they understand what is going on and have identified the culprits. They are half right. Keira, in much chagrin muses "We felt stupid.." once they realize how very wrong their conclusions were and they have to regroup. I like how the author led us down the false path, it felt like a logical conclusion rather than a thrown-in macguffin just to prolong the mystery.
- Minor characters. Like the Marquess of Marsdale in the first book and William Dalmay in the second book, the author creates tantalizing and interesting minor characters. In this one it is Bonnie Brock Kincaid, the sexy and dangerous outlaw who outwits Keira and Gage. By today's standards he'd be something like a mafia don. I liked his interactions with Keira and underneath all his threats and menace you can tell he kinda liked her. And I liked the small moment of Keira's genteel snark when she wondered why he let people call him 'Bonnie' since it didn't seem exactly scary.
- The narration. I listened to this on audio as well. And I enjoy this narrator. Her Scottish Brogue has improved leaps and bounds since the first book. I wonder if she practiced?
What I didn't like:
Minor quibble: Ugh, I wanted to see one last scene with Bonnie Brock. Keira had done him a solid and I wanted to see his reaction. Bummer. Maybe he'll turn up again?
Good book. Looking forward to the next one, thank goodness I stumbled across this series just in time for a next installment to come out.