Please note that I gave this book 2.5 stars and rounded it up to 3 stars for the purposes of this review.
Trigger warning: rape.
I read this for Romance Book Bingo: Love is Murder square.
So book #2 definitely does not work as well as book #1 does. The story-line felt very rushed (the hero declares his love for the heroine before they even make love, proposes marriage after they make love for the first time) and the serial rapist/murderer did not work real well. The two leads had no real chemistry and I was more happy to see the return of Tess and Ben then to spend anytime with the new heroine and hero.
Our heroine (Grace McCabe) is a famous murder mystery writer. She comes to visit her sister Kathleen who has relocated back to their hometown of DC. Kathleen is going through a contentious divorce and is working as phone sex operator during her nights when she is not teaching by days. Now I weirdly found this charming. Considering our environment today, someone calling up someone who is willing to just talk about their sexual fantasies seems pretty PG-13 right now. Unfortunately, a hacker who has somehow (it is never explained) hacked into the phone sex company’s phone and computer listens in whenever Kathleen takes a call. Kathleen has become the perfect woman to him, and he wants a relationship with her. Yeah relationship in this case equals rape. Eventually Twisted Don Juan shows up and rapes and murders Kathleen. This causes Grace to interact more with Kathleen’s next door neighbor, DC detective, Ed Jackson.
We got to know a little bit about Ed in book #1. I found him endearing and weird in that book, and off-putting as anything in this book. No worries, Grace irritated the life out of me too. Ed pretty much falls instantly in love with Grace as soon as he sees her. When he finds out she is his favorite mystery author he is pretty much in heaven. When Grace’s sister is found raped and murdered by an unknown assailant, Ed decides no matter what he is going to find the killer.
These two as romance leads really doesn’t work. I don’t know if it was Ed’s insta-love that put me off, or the fact that Grace takes a phone call while at Ed’s and talks to his mom off screen about everyone in his family. It was weird and dancing towards creepy.
Also, I am five years old, but Ed’s description of a big tall mountain man, with a big red bushy beard did not appeal to me at all. I just kept thinking every-time Grace kissed him she probably got a mouthful of hair. Also the sex scenes were vanilla/boring. I never got the feeling that Grace was in love with Ed. He was there for her at a terrible time in her life. But his insta-love thing would have had most women running the other way.
Secondary character development in this one is really lacking. Having Ed’s family off-screen was a big miss. Roberts should have included them. Or heck have Ed call them back after the weird personal phone call his mother had with Grace. Grace’s parents come into town to bury one daughter and just disappear. It was an odd choice. Most families, or at least mine would have been calling me day and night asking me to check the locks on the doors and windows. The serial rapist was lame as anything. I also hated Tess being involved with this and her maybe taking over counseling for the guy. At least the ending throws that random plot out of the window though. Speaking of Tess, her and Ben’s re-appearance was great. I wish we spent more time with them.
The writing was so-so in this one. I just felt everything that worked well in the first book, just didn’t work well here. I think us going back and forth between Ed, Grace, Tess, Ben, the serial rapist, the potential and actual victims in the book made it feel crowded. As I said in my first review, this was a great look into what makes Robert’s “In Death” books work so well now. She definitely got some practice in. This one sadly was just not a home-run. There’s a side-plot about the real Kathleen that gets dealt with too quickly. I wish that Roberts had dealt more on the fact that the sister that Grace thought she knew, wasn’t who she thought she was.
The setting of DC unlike with the previous book is just confined to Ed and Grace’s homes. I do not ever want to read again about someone renovating their house. It’s boring. At one point I was all why are we spending time on them talking about dry-wall? And then I realized I didn’t care and wanted to finish the book.
The ending was lackluster. There is no real oomph to the reveal like in book #1 since readers are informed of who the bad guy is in this one earlier on.
This has nothing to do with the review, but I was so surprised when I went to check this out via Overdrive and had my Kindle sending me a message saying this book is in your library. Color me shocked. I apparently bought this back in 2011 and I have no memory of reading it. So take that little factoid as you will if you feel like taking a spin at this series.