Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.
Four-year-old Noelle is a handful. Such a handful in fact, no family in the county wants to raise her and they keep returning her to her embittered uncle, until one day he snaps and decides to acquire a live-in governess for the girl. And he's adamant in accomplishing his goal, even if it means he has to marry the unsuspecting "victim".
This was a story about a spoiled brat of a child in need of a good thrashing, a brooding hero in need of a good smack on the head with a shovel, and a saint of a heroine that heals them both with her love and brings all of them together as a family just in time for the holidays.
It made my teeth ache with all the sugar, but it accomplished its goal of making me go "awww" in the end.
It was definitely too short, making the plot appear hole-y. The characters never really got the chance to shone through and this severe underdeveloped failed in making me know them and empathize with them, which caused huge disbelief in how easily it was all resolved (all thanks to love).
Daphne Wyndham has spent her twenty years on Earth in perpetual fear of her father and his vicious, violent temperament. But that doesn't prevent her from helping those less fortunate in any way she can...And hang the consequences.
But there's suddenly something she wants for herself. And that is the brooding, enigmatic Pierce Thornthon, who also happens to be the one man his father fears.
Pierce Thornton hates Harwick Wyndham, the Marquis of Tragmore with a vengeance. A vengeance that he's about to fulfill by ruining the Marquis once and for all. And the only thing preventing it, are the feelings he harbors for the man's lovely, defenseless daughter...
A nice little story of domestic abuse, hard divides between social circles and ranks, and one's ability to rise above it all.
It offered no superlatives, just the safe formula Andrea Kane is known for in her historicals. An instantaneous connection between the two protagonists that quickly blossoms into love, the hero using a unique pet name for the heroine, and slight suspense sub-plot thrown into the mix to bring the two of them together, captained by an avaricious villain willing to risk it all to gain the upper hand.
The trials and tribulations seemed pathetically easy to overcome, the trust between hero and heroine never wavered, and the villain got his due in the end (again, rather easily solved).
It was cute and sweet, yet nothing to write home about.
While bored out of his mind in the middle of a London ballroom, Jonas Dante sees her. Intrigued by her seeming indifference, he follows her, only to discover the lady is named Bellana Harper (formerly known as Bella Baker) and is a jewel thief.
Bella has no choice but to employ her nimble fingers once more. Her old husband dies without an heir, leaving her without any solid means of survival. To top it all off, her no-good half-brother knows where she is, and her former protector (in her more nefarious days) is gunning for her for a crime she didn't commit. She doesn't have the patience to deal with the arrogant pirate, but she quickly finds out she doesn't have any choice in the matter, as the infuriating man saves her life...And offers her temporary protection on board his ship, promising to disembark her in Cornwall as they sail past.
But there's no time to stop in Cornwall (or anywhere else, for that matter), for his brother-in-law carries on board a peculiar rumor. A rumor about a wolf hunter and a possible raid on Simon Dante's supposedly secret lair.
If you ask me to pick a favorite out of this series, you'll find me at a loss (I only know which is my least favorite). But if you ask me which of the four is the most suspenseful/dramatic/intense, it would have to be this one.
It's the last in the series, true, and so it packs an added emotional punch when the destruction is revealed and when the story of what happens is told (not in its entirety, mind you).
The first part of the story established the character of Jonas Dante, the eldest of the Pirate Wolf's children, who so far has only played a very marginal (sometimes for comic relief) role in the books. I couldn't say I was overly impressed with the guy, having come to know his father and brother before him, yet there was something larger than life in him. Tall, broad, scowling, with his thick mane of red hair...The depictions and descriptions sure were vivid. But he was also a little too rough around the edges, even after his softer side (he takes after his mother in artistic talents) was revealed. He was rather dissonantly brusque and rude.
Yet the heroine worked well in that context. She wasn't a fainting virgin or a wilting flower. She was sarcastic, ungrateful, calculating and manipulating...Yet the two worked perfectly together.
The romance wasn't worth its name, since in the end they more or less came to a mutually beneficial agreement than anything else, and there wasn't anything overly "romantic" about their interactions in and out of his cabin...But once again, it worked rather well in context of both their personalities.
But what made this story shine, was the second part so aptly and chillingly promised in the prologue. The treachery and betrayal, the horrifying scenes of destruction, the cold vow of vengeance and the execution of the plan. It was a bit too easy at times, but it sure got the goose bumps erupting and the blood flowing.
The suspense and the action were perfectly executed with the pacing spot-on to keep the reader on the edge of the seat and turning pages to see what would happen next, hoping all would be well in the end.
There were casualties, even among the beloved characters, so the story ended on a rather bittersweet, yet hopeful note of endless possibilities for more happy endings.
If you like your pirates/privateers, intrigue, mystery, suspense, wonderful characters, vivid imaginery, and fiery romance, this is the series for you.
With his Valour at the bottom of the ocean, Gabriel Dante sails the former Spanish galleon, now renamed Endurance back home to Pigeon Cay as they come across a ship sailing in a fixed circle and flaying the yellow flag announcing it's a plague ship and others should steer clear. Doing his seafaring duty, Dante orders his men to sink it, but after the first broadside, he notices a lone survivor...A slender, pale, yellow-haired waif standing on deck.
Despite his survival instinct, Gabriel decides to save her, towing her behind his ship in a boat in order to prevent possible contagion, but a storm changes his plans once more when he's forced to save the girl from drowning.
Despite the crew's superstitions and fears, Evangeline "Eva" Chandler isn't contagious or a witch, but merely searching for her missing father, and Gabriel, despite his better intentions, decides to help her...And soon they're embroiled in decades long intrigue involving a ghost ship disappeared during a hurricane carrying a treasure many would kill to possess.
This was yet another wonderful addition to the Dante saga. It had a much more dramatic story arc than the previous two novels, and the romance seemed a bit of an afterthought, but the ending slayed it with the culmination of the suspense/mystery sub-plot and that final action-y confrontation.
The prologue was reminiscent of Through a Dark Mist as the reader is thrust in the middle of the action, while travelling back in time to establish the story and characters with the first chapter.
As I said, the plot had a pretty dramatic flare with a displaced girl searching for her father, surviving the plague on board a ship and almost blown to smithereens, only to be rescued (twice) by a rather snarly, bruised pirate, but thanks to the characters (both main and secondary) and their interactions, the story worked very well.
The plot unfurled slowly and leisurely, yet the pacing never suffered, flowing easily, picking up the pace or slowing down when needed.
I liked the two leads, especially the heroine who was no wilting violet no matter what happened to her (holding strong even under duress), while the hero remained a slight enigma throughout the story. Even that worked in the book's favor, maintaining the sprinkle of mystique and intrigue no matter what.
The romance (mostly the quick resolution toward the end) might've seemed added as an afterthought with all the other things going on, but it also strangely worked well into the canvass of the plot. I liked the fact the hero and heroine were rather evenly matched, maintaining a nice balance of power without Eva appearing much weaker (unless physically, of course) than Gabriel.
What I liked most was the ghost treasure ship part of the story. It could've been done as a treasure hunt, instead of the way it was presented, but it offered enough mystery and intrigue to keep things lively, and provided that added incentive for the suspense to unfold and the action to kick in.
This was a wonderful mix of well-developed characters, mystery, suspense, and action with that added sprinkle of romance to tie it up nicely.
P.S. And there's another discrepancy in the time continuum of this series. It's set directly after the end of the final battle in The Iron Rose. But The Iron Rose is set in 1614 (it says so in the book) and this one (it's in the first sentence of the prologue!) in 1623. Something doesn't add up.
Juliet Dante, daughter of the notorious Simon Dante, comes to the rescue of an English envoy ship about to be blown to smithereens by the Spanish. On board is the twelfth duke of Harrow, Varian St. Clare, who saves Juliet's life and then gets knocked unconscious by a blast...Only to wake up on board of Juliet's ship, the Iron Rose and bound for the secret island where the pirate wolf reigns...
I liked this one. The story flew nicely, the tempo was spot-on, increasing with each and every chapter, the action sequences were gripping, the sea battles intense (especially the heart-wrenching last one), and it was nice seeing old friends again and learning of their life beyond their story.
The only major problem this book had were the two leads. There was a glaring imbalance of power between the two from the beginning. He was injured and then spent chapter upon chapter coming across as a weak, spoiled English aristocrat, while she, unlike her mother, spent the majority of the book in full bitch mode.
I like my heroines strong and spunky, yet Juliet's bravado and obstinacy truly grated on my nerves. There's a difference between a strong, self-assured and resilient woman and a pig-headed, obstinate, unbending bitch.
I didn't like her, and I especially didn't like the imbalance of power between the two in their "romance", as the hero was forced to do all the work, while she kicked and spat almost the entire way.
I wished there was an apology scene or some grovelling thrown into the mix in the end.
Granted, I didn't care much about the two protagonists or the romance aspect of the story, but the rest more than made up for it. I'm also looking forward to Juliet's brother's stories.
P.S. Something else pricked me in this story—the glaring continuity error of Lucifer, the hulking black, scimitar and loincloth loving behemoth Simon Dante rescued all those years ago. In Across a Moonlit Sea Lucifer communicated through sign language and grunts, since, according to Simon, the Spanish had cut out his tongue. In this book, the man spoke without problems. Which one is it? Was the tongue thing a lie? Or is the speaking part in this book a mistake?
Simon Dante, a French count with a British mother, prefers to spend his time on the deck of his ship, Virago, battling the Spanish on the high seas, instead of being a man of leisure in the court of Queen Elizabeth. Then one day, he's betrayed by his fellow sea hawk and left to die in the circle of six Spanish zabras.
Dante and his crew put up a fight, remaining afloat long enough for a merchant ship, Egret, to sail by, captained by Jonas Spence and helmed by the man's daughter, Isabeau "Beau" Spence.
Sparks fly immediately between Dante and Beau, mostly thanks to the "unorthodox" way his crew come to stay on board the Egret, and later due to the palpable attraction between them. But they've both been burned before, so trust doesn't come easily...Even as they sail toward England and embark on a quest to help Sir Francis Drake in ruining King Philip's plans of war.
I love Marsha Canham's books. Simply love them. The narration is evocative, painting incredible vivid pictures of characters and their surroundings no matter which era the story is set in. This one was no different...The sea was brilliantly blue, the storms frighteningly loud, the battles at sea gripping (you could smell the gunpowder and hear the thunderous roar of cannons), and the battle of wits between the two sexes intriguing, engrossing and inspiring even though the outcome was predictable.
The set-up might sound formulaic—Marsha Canham always pits two headstrong leads against one another with the hero always towering over the heroine, at the peak of physical condition, dark, handsome and extremely arrogant and his heroine loving to antagonize him, matching him word for word as they both try to fight the passion and attraction blazing between them—but each story is an entity of its own (even if they're part of series or trilogies) with characters so distinctly different (albeit similar in physical descriptions), and romantic couples never encountering obstacles and woes similar to those before them (except for the fighting against the inevitable part), that the reader notices the initial formula or template, and then promptly forgets about it as they're swept along.
This story was no different. Both Simon and Beau were strong, self-sufficient characters, stubborn and afraid to trust the unknown, but they both became even stronger as a couple. Their verbal battles were amusing and rather arousing as they served as foreplay for what was to come. But even as they succumbed to the inevitable, they never lost those individual character traits that made them tick, keeping up with the battles of wits and words long after their fates were already set.
I loved them separately and I loved them together; the sparring and the loving equally wonderful to read.
Then there was the supporting cast (with an additional romance thrown into the mix) with two motley crews of seamen, friends and confidantes, a father talking to his daughter about itches that might need to be scratched, a hulking Cimaroon with his two gleaming scimitars, a gunman with unsteady sea legs constantly falling in love...And added to all that was Sir Francis freaking Drake.
The action sequences were breathtaking and intense, culminating in the singeing the King of Spain's beard in the port of Cadiz serving as backdrop to a much smaller battle brewing in the peripheral vision since the prologue.
This book offers a remarkable mix of a wonderful cast of characters, intense battle sequences, and a delightfully epic romance.
Aurora Huntley has spent more than a decade as a virtual prisoner in her home due to her overprotective brother and dangers lurking outside her little world. Her family is besieged by privateers and burglars trying to get their hands on the legendary black diamond that's supposed to be in her family's possession. Yet it isn't, and they have no idea where it is.
Still, dangers abound, and Aurora's brother, Slayde, decides on an ultimate protection for his sister—marriage. But Aurora doesn't want to get married, despite the suitability of the suitor, so she devises a cunning plan—she'll get a man to compromise her, thus ending her forced betrothal.
Little does she know that the man doing the supposed ruining is the Romeo to her Juliet, the last remaining descendant of the Bencrofts, her family's archenemies. Julian might have been the black sheep of the family, but he's still a Bencroft, and he's still in the search of the black diamond that's supposedly brought ruin to his family. But Julian isn't searching for the diamond out for its monetary value, his reasons run deeper, and he's willing to bring Aurora along on the journey.
A journey that will be more rewarding than either of them ever suspected.
Yes, yes, yes. If Legacy of the Diamond was a bad start to the "story", this one is a great ending.
First of all, Aurora, the rather self-centered brat from Legacy received a personality transplant and I actually liked her. She was lively, spirited, stubborn, resilient, and adventurous, a perfect other half of Julian, the hero.
They complimented each other, they were each other's equals, no matter what, and the budding friendship, partnership and romance that developed were wonderful to read. It didn't feel rushed (despite happening in a mere week), both characters were nicely developed, and the flow of the story gave the reader ample time to get to know both of them, and ultimately understand what drew them together.
The rest was also very well done. The pacing was excellent, the mystery intriguing, I loved the treasure hunt styled following of the clues, and the suspense scenes were well-written and gripping, offering one jolt after another when all was revealed.
I didn't see the other danger coming, and was pleasantly surprised by it.
The resolution to the utterly stupid family feud was beautifully done, and the finale with the affirming epilogue was just the right icing on this particular cake.
The black diamond, a gem of unfathomable wealth and beauty, has plagued the Huntley family for generations. It prompted the feud with the Bencrofts, it supposedly brought a curse upon the Huntleys...and now resulted in Aurora Huntley being kidnapped and held for ransom.
Slayde Huntley is more than happy to give up the diamond if it means saving his sister's life...Only it's not his sister that he saves, but Courtney Johnston, a sea captain's daughter whose ship had been attacked by pirates and whose father had been forced overboard. Aurora, on the other hand, had merely been in London for a short trip with a longtime family friend...
This book was a huge disappointment.
From the characters (the heroine and the hero's sister acted like children instead of young women and the hero was a curse-believing idiot for the better part of the story) to the suspense which could've worked if the story wasn't overburdened with the drama and angst of the characters. As it was, the big reveal of who the villain was, came as a huge surprise (the only plus of the book), while the motive ended up sounding rather idiotic, and the whole thing was resolved too quickly (a matter of pages).
It wasn't badly written, but was unfortunately weighted down by the characters and poorly developed suspense plot.
Someone is threatening her father's life, because the renowned jockey wouldn't throw a race, so Nicole Aldridge, willing to do anything to save her father's life, masquerades as a boy in order to seek employ with the Marquis of Tyrenham.
Little does she know, Dustin Kingsley would recognize her for the woman who's stolen his heart during a short conversation on the bank of the Thames and that the aristocrat will do anything to keep her father and her safe.
Unfortunately, this doesn't hold a candle to its predecessor. Not in characterization, romance (if you want to call it that), nor suspense.
The characters were unfortunately mere sketches, not truly developed beyond the initial story needs, the romance was rushed, hasty, and too instantaneous to be plausible, even less believable, and while the suspense could've been the saving grace of this novel, it was pushed into the background, playing second fiddle to the "romance". There was no real intrigue or intensity, and no real feel of peril.
I feel Dustin deserved more.
Six years ago, supposedly for causing a woman to commit suicide, Trenton Kingsley, Duke of Broddington, has moved to his estate in the Isle of Wight, into self-imposed exile. Now, he's back, determined to forever ruin the man he deemed responsible for the ruination of his life, Baxter Caldwell, the brother of the dead woman. Trenton is willing to do anything to accomplish his revenge, even using Caldwell's younger sister, Ariana, as a pawn.
Ariana Caldwell has grown up on stories about Trenton Kingsley's ugly character, but even though she's supposed to fear him, she doesn't. There's something in him that draws her in, convincing her all he needs redemption for whatever happened six years ago, and she's willing to provide it.
But someone doesn't want Trenton to be happy and that someone is determined to accomplish what the incident in the past has obviously failed to do. Utterly ruin Trenton Kingsley, no matter what.
It might sound presumptuous, but hey, it's my review. This story was a psychological drama disguised as a romance. And it worked. All of it.
The characters were engaging and realistic, deeply-layered and nicely drawn and developed. The story progressed at a perfect pace for the relationship and romance to grow slowly and organically; as Trent and Ariana slowly grew to know each other so did the reader and it is from that knowledge (mostly through observation, since words can sometimes be deceiving) that the romance, no, love, blossomed.
What worked most was the ambiguity. Ariana was the guide in the story, and the reader knew as much as Ariana did. The reader shared her apprehension, her doubts, her reasoning, and her thinking process. Who is Trenton Kingsley? What drives him? Did he really have a hand in her sister's death? What is the truth? What is a lie? What is an illusion? Who to trust?
The truth is hidden for most of the story, so the apprehension, the doubts as to the hero's true nature and/or intentions are real. The wondering, whether he's capable of what he's accused of, is incessant, even though instinct dictates there's more to it that meets the eye.
And in the end, it takes both observation, instinct and truth from his lips (as trust is finally established) to put the fears and doubts to rest, and for a man to finally find redemption and love.
But of course, that's not the end of the story. There's also an evil villain, their unwitting accomplice, and a nefarious plot to ruin Trenton (and Ariana in the process) out of pure spite, might I add.
The psychological torture was exquisitely done, finding both intended targets with chilling precision.
Intense, intriguing, chilling and alluring, this story is definitely a keeper.
On Samhain in 2008, Jacob and Bella are killed in front of their daughter's eyes and nothing will never be the same again. Families, friendships and alliances are broken, while the crazy Demon bitch Ruth and her Vampire mate Nicodemous continue wreaking havoc...Until they accost Jacob and Bella's daughter, ten years after her parents' deaths.
But instead of letting the pair kill her and drench themselves in her power over the element of Time, Leah does what she's been planning for quite a long time...Travel back in time to fetch her father's older brother, Adam.
When I read this series in 2009, there was no Adam book on the horizon, so I mistakenly thought Noah was the last book, and I was rather perplexed at how the main story arc about the crazy Demon Ruth was never resolved.
It is resolved in this one, though the story left much to be desired.
First of all, the resolution and the final battle came across as rather easy, almost as an afterthought, which left a rather bitter aftertaste after all the trials and tribulations the heroes and heroines of the series have been through so far.
There was no imminent threat of danger, no edge-of-your-seat, bite-your-nails gripping intensity and suspense. It was pretty much a given from the start and it left me rather disappointed.
The second problem was the rather hole-y plot thanks to all the obvious tweaking of timelines. And somehow it didn't really make sense. If Adam disappeared in all the timelines, then why did Jacob and Bella die in the first place only for Leah to go back in time and fetch him, creating a different timeline?
And who was the mysterious Demon female helping our many good guys and gals?
In the end, there were many loose ends left dangling and many questions left unanswered. But I'm quite behind in my reading, maybe I'll get my answers in Ms. Frank's other works.
And the third problem was the two protagonists. I never really warmed up to Jasmine (I still hate her guts, to be honest). She was a bitchy and selfish creature lashing out at almost everyone (except Damien) due to her own insecurities and no one really took her up to task. Even at the end of her story, there were many apologies and quite a bit of groveling that was needed on her part, yet they never came.
I don't have much to say about her counterpart, her mate/Imprinted/Bonded or whatever you want to call him. Adam simply failed to make an impression. After many great heroes that came before him, Adam was rather bland and without much personality, if you ask me.
But that's probably due to the fact the story (rather short for the "final showdown") was overcrowded with new and old characters, tweaking of time, and final-minute information.
The result was a barely lukewarm and very rushed romance that quickly stepped over the line into unrealistic and unbelievable.
Still, it was good seeing old friends, learning that quite a few dreams would be realized once Ruth was vanquished...And I'm looking forward to seeing them in future books and series in the Nighwalker realm.
Kane met Corinne on Samhain, after stalking her, burning for her for three days, but before he could claim her, his brother stopped him...Then, before he could receive his punishment, Kane was summoned back to her side, horrified at the changes in her. She was dying and the only thing that could prevent it, was his nearness...While the beast, under the influence inside him, raged to claim the woman he knew was his mate.
The prologue runs parallel to the beginning of the first chapter of Jacob, but told from his youngest brother, Kane's, perspective...The rest of the story is set just after Jacob ends and involves Jacob's younger brother, Kane, and the woman meant to be his (who almost wasn't because of all the lost lore), Corinne, Isabella's older sister.
I liked the premise of these two strangers thrust together in order for one of them to survive, while also battling the raging lust neither can really ignore.
Unfortunately, it was too short for the story to unfold organically (a normal novel would be preferable), or for the characters to overcome their rather flat and bland bonds. In the end, I had no idea what really made either Kane or Corinne tick, why he was in love with her (beside chemistry reasons), or where their story could really go (beside bed at least twice a year when they'll have no choice in the matter).
A shadowy figure had sworn revenge against Lady Breanna Colby at the end of The Gold Coin, and has recently put the revenge plan in motion. A revenge that starts with threatening letters and gifts, terrorizing Breanna, and will end when both cousins, Anastasia first and Breanna last, are dead at his feet.
But the assassin didn't count with the fact Damen Lockewood's friend, an expert in finding people who don't want to be found, Royce Chadwick. Royce is very good at what he does, but now he has an added incentive to win—Breanna Colby.
This was another great suspense novel set in the Regency era with a very determined killer stalking his victim, terrorizing her with notes and gifts.
The romantic sub-plot was once more relegated into the background, which was good, since, as in the previous book, it didn't bring much to the table. It was once more rather forced, and quite jarring in comparison with the main arc of the story, deterring from the plot instead of enhancing it.
The second problem was the pacing. The second half of the story was too slow and plodding, decreasing the tempo instead of increasing it as the story came to a fold.
Still, the characters were nicely developed, the friendships sounded genuine and the connection between the cousins was nicely written.
When they were children, identical cousins, Anastasia and Breanna Colby, store to always be there for each other, to always protect one another.
Now, after ten years in America and after losing her loving parents, Anastasia is once more reunited with her beloved cousin, but the uncle with a foul temper, she'd come to avoid when she was little has turned into a tyrant...And possibly a criminal.
Anastasia, now a wealthy heiress, is still determined to protect her cousin, even if it means incurring the wrath of her uncle. But she has help in the form of her financial advisor (until she turns twenty-one), the fascinating, business-savvy Damen Lockewood, her cousin's Breanna would-be fiancé...At least if her uncle has any say in it.
Yet Fate has her own plans, but in order to get their happily-ever-after, Damen and Anastasia might have to help her along.
This book is worth reading for the suspense alone. There's mysterious cargo being smuggled out of the country, an entrepreneur with a volatile temper that's so deep in debt he's willing to do anything to get his hands on some money, shady characters, even an assassin...
The mystery was quite gripping, the guessing game intense, and there were some pretty tense moments throughout the story. The plot was tight, the pacing wonderful...
The problem was in the romance department. I wasn't really convinced and the whole "ordeal" seemed rather forced.
Still, the characters were nicely developed and the relationship between the two cousins, as well as the friendship between Damen and Breanna nice and genuine.
The killer hides gossip columnist and author Ethel Lambston's body where he thinks no one would find her, but even without the body, fashion designer Neeve Kearny knows something's wrong. Ethel wouldn't just pack up and leave without informing anyone...Or leaving her new clothes undelivered.
Then the body surfaces and Neeve's trained eye immediately notices something's off with the clothes. Someone else had dressed the dead woman...And whoever slashed her throat, did the same to Neeve's mother all those years ago.
This was a good, solid thriller with an intriguing mystery that wasn't revealed until the end, but it had major pacing problems (again, too many characters and too much time spent on some of those), and the motive for the first murder was just a tad too out there for me to understand.
Still, the protagonist at least wasn't an idiot trying to find the killer on her own, the little romantic sparks sprinkled here and there through the second half of the book kept things "lively", and kudos for the big twist in the end
Darcy Scott convinces her best friend, Erin Kelley to participate in the research for a documentary on personal ads by playing and answering a few of them. A couple of weeks later, Erin is dead, strangled and wearing mismatched shoes after one of her dates and Darcy, guilt-ridden, decides to find the murdered, no matter how many dates it takes.
There were simply too many characters in this book, most of which had little to nothing to do with the main story arc and just inserted into the storyline to keep everyone guessing. Which would be a good thing if the fact every single one of those characters had to have at least one paragraph dedicated to them and/or their inner workings and/or their friends/family didn't make this story rather choppy.
It felt all over the place and this jumping sideways from character to character made for a rather poor reading experience. Especially in the last chapter, during the big finale, when the story kept jumping from the killer and victim to the rescue party and back. The choppiness of narration diffused the suspense too much.
The main protagonist, Darcy Scott, also left much to be desired, merely augmenting the problems of the story. She wasn't exactly TSTL, but she was an idiot. What did she think to accomplish by going on all those dates? She wasn't a detective, she wasn't law enforcement, and she had absolutely no skills or idea as to what danger she was putting herself into. Case in point, she failed to see the killer as the guy was right there, in front of her nose, because she was just so nice.