Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Deadly Love by Brenda Joyce

3 Stars. (Historical Romance)

This was a good introduction to the Deadly series although I was hoping for a little more.

I've read a few of Brenda Joyce's books before and have mixed feelings about her work. I really enjoyed two of her books in the De Warren Dynasty series and then couldn't stand most of the other ones. I had high hopes for the Deadly series mainly because I was really intrigued with a type of modern, Sherlock-Holmesesque type of romance that featured a woman in the lead crime-solving role. I was also very intrigued by the love-triangle that is featured for the nine book series.

I generally liked the book which centers around the abduction of a little boy who lives next door to Francesca Cahill the heroine. The story is set it New York in 1902, which was also fresh because most historical romances are set in England. I liked getting to know America in the 1900's because a lot of their customs and expectations differ from the staunch class divisions in England society. Of course some things remain the same, but it seemed like women were slightly more free to do and act as they pleased...although that's not saying too much!

The mystery was intriguing and interesting enough to keep me guessing and reading. I was satisfied with who the perpetrator turned out to be in the end although I thought the eventual climactic scene could have been a bit ore climactic.

As for the characters: I waffled between liking Francesca and finding her pretty annoying. She's naive and sheltered and it isn't very endearing. She has a lot of preconceived notions about people, namely her brother, her father, sister and mother and although she's quick to accept new findings she takes everything to heart in a kind of selfish way. Whenever her little bubble is burst she takes it all on herself as if she's the only one affected. Her brother-in-law actually calls her out in a satisfying way towards the end when he tells her to mind her own business. He tells her she's a child and couldn't fully understand the ways marriages work and how relationship are formed - which is totally true. I don't have much love lost for the brother-in-law, but I agreed with his assessment. She's twenty years old, and I understand that she's been sheltered, but she's also a woman of means and education and has a lot of political and social opinions. She supports reforms and improvements to the city so I expected that all her knowledge would lend her a bit of sophistication which she lacked. All in all though Francesca was good enough, I just hope she matures in the next books.

Rick Bragg was an interesting guy, although I'm not sure what I think of him just yet. I knew going in that there would be a love triangle between Francesca, Rick and his step-brother Calder Hart, who Rick hates. I of course am looking forward to getting to known Calder, because I suspect it'll be a little bit of the good vs. the bad. Calder, I hope will be a bit more dark and seemingly dangerous. I liked Rick for the most part, but didn't feel like I got to know his character all that well. Joyce did a good job of incorporating good secrets and intrigue into both the mystery plot, and how the mystery was affecting the characters involved in solving the crime. Good twists throughout.

The writing itself was another irritation. In some places it was good, in others the sentence structure was repetitive and it felt like Joyce either couldn't find good synonyms or had a bad editor. Either way it got distracting and as I read I found myself replacing words with others so that it read better...that weird right?
There were also some cliche sentences, but I wasn't fully sure if they were meant to be phrases that would have suited the time period, or just the way Joyce chose to express herself.

This all may sound harsher than I meant it because I did actually enjoy reading the book and plan to keep reading the series. I just hope that the issues I had with the first in the series will get resolved as the books go on.

Mainly, I hope Francesca grows up a bit and removes the "wide-eyed, innocent" veil from her eyes. The world is complicated woman and it's high time you realized that. Nothing is every easy and her judgments about people and their relationships with one another and the way certain characters chose to react in times of stress made me want to jump in the book and have a serious talk with the girl.

Interesting mystery, good pacing and enough to keep me guessing. I'll read the next ones, if only to fall in love with Calder. 

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