Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: 'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

From the Back Cover:

The author of the New York Times bestseller Garden of Lies returns to Victorian London in an all-new novel of deadly obsession. 

Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.

Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.

But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker...

My Thoughts:

I was hooked on the description of 'Til Death Do us Part and had to get my hands on a copy. (Thanks NetGalley!) I was immediately drawn into this story of Calista, a matchmaking businesswoman who acquires a murderous stalker, and Trent, the scarred and brooding mystery writer who comes out of his seclusion to help her. Together they uncover a string of murdered young women in the stalker's wake and must stay a step ahead of him before he makes Calista his next victim.

Unfortunately, 'Til Death Do Us Part did not quite live up to my expectations. Though it did at first. I was loving the first half of the story. An excellent buildup of mystery with a truly frightening and creepy villain. I didn't even mind the multiple points of view as they were used rather cleverly to reveal little clues and heighten the suspense. But as Calista and Trent and their siblings get into the business of solving the case, there's a lot of rehashing of things the reader already knows when they all sit down together to compare notes, and I found the story dragged during those parts.

But the real reason for the downgrade in enjoyment is that I thought it seriously lacking in the romance department. The plot focuses so heavily on the murders and solving them that the romance gets pushed to the back burner, even though the hero and heroine spend so much time together. I loved both Trent and Calista, and I loved them together as mystery-solving partners, but I really needed to see more sexual tension between them before they became lovers and then more tenderness and emotion afterward and on their way to a happily ever after. The consummation of their desire and the progression of their relationship after that felt almost clinical to me, with none of the passion and soul-deep love I've come to expect from a great romance.

I give the author big props for crafting the story in such a way that I did not figure out who the real villain was before the big reveal, and for incorporating a lot of creepy historical ambiance, particularly in the form of the Victorians' obsession with death and the rituals they created around it, but the love story itself really got short-changed here, and thus I can't rank it among my favorites.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

**Please Note: This review references an advance digital copy received from the publisher via NetGalley, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

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