My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was excited to read a fellow historical suspense author’s book—I LOVE historical suspense, especially since it should move faster than books in its overarching genre of historical fiction. There are some really good things about this book and some detractors, so I’ll lay them out clearly.
• The second half of the book was intriguing and exciting, with important things happening constantly. I wish that had been the case through the whole book, but I was so glad when it really picked up in the second half. It was hard to put down at times because of that.
• The author clearly did her research. I loved the historical details, like the wallpaper and how it indicated that Cathy was spending too much money. What they ate was important too, and I particularly appreciate these details because I’ve done so much research into the time period. Those are great ways to bring in historical relevance without clobbering us over the head with it. I enjoyed every aspect of the historical details.
• The lack of over-explaining is something I particularly appreciated. I can’t stand too much description and big info dumps, and this author avoided those things well. Her style is very much to the point.
• Cathy is a great character—she’s the kind of character I most enjoy, and she was nicely layered. I felt a certain amount of sympathy for her, even though she didn’t deserve it, and I liked that the author created that feeling.
• The first half of the book was slow to the point that I started getting impatient. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it dragged, but the buildup did go on for too long without much “payoff,” and that was a bit difficult for me to take. It may not bother you as much.
• Sometimes, in trying not to include too much detail and keep the pace fast, too many details were cut, which sometimes led to a feeling of a chapter being unfinished. Sometimes at the end of a chapter, it felt like I was skidding to a halt because it ended so suddenly and lacked the filling out it could have used.
• Action areas ended up skipping parts that mattered, making for confusing reading. Sometimes the reaction would come before the action, which ruined the whole thing and forced me to reread.
• The ending was confusing. The second to last chapter was either from another character’s POV or showed a mental break in our main character. The last chapter was equally confusing since it didn’t make sense after the previous chapter. I’ve seen a number of reviewers make the same comment, so I’m not sure what the goal was here.
• The ending also had a bit of an “I’m the unbeatable villain and nothing can stop me” feel. Parts of it were unfortunately not believable and were over the top, which went against the rest of the book’s realistic feel.
You might think this should be more of a 3-star review, but I truly enjoyed the second half of the book so much and I liked the first half too, to the point that I wanted to rate it 4 stars.
Overall, I think I’ll give this author another shot. I’ve read good things about her book The Companion, so that’s what I’ll read next when I get the chance.
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