Adieu Richard & Rose.
If I had to rate this book on it's own merits, it would be more along he lines of a solid 3-star book. However I finally settled on rating this final(*) book in the Richard and Rose series as more a total series rating rather than just the one for this single book. That is because this book really doesn't stand alone. So much of what we know, understand and expect from these characters has been established already so the reading of this book is richer for that knowledge.
In the earlier books we've had R&R meet, fall in love, solve mysteries, have kids and most of all fend off some fairly vicious enemies. Even though this book still works through those same plot lines, it is mostly about their marriage and feelings for each other.
In this installment, R&R are on a yacht bound for Lisbon to visit Rose's younger sister, Lizzie. Lizzie is married to a handsome Portuguese Marques and she and Rose have not seen each other for ages. However all is not well at the outset. Rose is still recovering from a serious bout of child-bed fever she suffered from after the birth of triplet sons. It is clear that she almost died and Richard was beside himself with the possibility of her loss. This has caused incredible strain in their marriage.
In earlier books it was clearly established that Public Richard and Private Richard are two very different people. Public Richard is a cold, hard-as-diamonds bad-ass. Private Richard, who is still pretty spectacular in the kicking ass and taking names area, is incredibly emotionally invested in his wife. So in an effort to protect her and himself, he starts to wall himself away from her. He's afraid to lose her and will do anything he needs to keep her safe including stopping conjugal relations. This was actually a reprise of his reaction after the birth of their first child. But it is so much worse this time. Rose is beside herself trying to figure out how to repair the minute, yet serious rips in their marriage.
Added to this is the fact that mysterious accidents are happening around them. Although they have pretty much neutralized their enemies, there is still the uncertainty that their most recent nemesis may have a longer reach than they expect.
This book has a much more contemplative air about it than any of the previous books. A lot of it is Rose trying to reconnect with Richard and Richard being very anguished. This is very much an intimate look inside a marriage. At first I was dismayed, I didn't want the book to simply be a series of scenes where Rose and Richard were always angsting over their love. I wanted Action-Richard back; the guy who would shoot a villain in cold blood, without a blink, and pose the scene so that it looked like a suicide. Luckily the navel-gazing doesn't last too long. Events begin to over-take them with mysterious poisonings and other assorted mishaps and danger begins to coalesce around them. Richard begins to realize that you can't be afraid of what might happen, you have to love in the moment.
Once again R&R are a united front against a largely unseen enemy and their marriage begins to repair. I liked the moments of utter faith that they both have in each other. This is after all a romance novel and the triumph of love that we all read romances for is definitely here. But that doesn't mean we can't still have a bit of action too. The last several chapters are full of eventful happenings and it is especially gratifying to see Rose taking some decisive action and rescuing Richard for once.
(*)Although this is ostensibly the last Richard and Rose book, I do like the fact that in the Author's note, Ms. Connolly has left the door open for possible future sightings or R&R. They may wander into other books or we might even yet get to visit them again as star players. This is good to know. I have a real soft spot in my heart for this series and even though I have been completely fine with it ending (I really dislike when a series is past it's sell-by date), it is nice to know they might pop up unexpectedly somewhere.