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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: Dark, Deadly Love

Dark, Deadly LoveTitle: Dark, Deadly Love
Author: Denise Agnew
Page Count: 1292 KB (full length novel, Kindle format)
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Paranormal historical romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

50 words or less: Alexandra Watson is a fine young miss from America, who, upon the death of her father, finds herself living in London with her childhood crush turned guardian, Sir Ross Havenwood.  Plagued by visions of violence and death, Alexandra figures nobody can understand her...except maybe Sir Ross...

Dark, Deadly Love is one of those books that would have been a lot more intense if it had been shorter.  Part of the problem of weaving together an actual historical timeline with a separate story is that the separate story has to move at the pace of the historical one.  That, I think, was the big issue I had with this book; to make the Jack the Ripper storyline fit with the romance, the romance had to bend and twist in ways that slowed the pace to a crawl and left the ending unsatisfying.

The supernatural element of the story was less than believable- both main characters had violent nightmares of crimes in progress- specifically, horrific murders and assaults perpetrated against women.  Alexandra sees them from the women's point of view; Ross sees it from the murderer's.  They form a bond over these shared nightmares that, coupled with Ross's brief stay with Alexandra's family when Alexandra was a child, form the basis of their romantic relationship. 

I'm all for dynamic, independent and opinionated female lead characters, but Alexandra Watson was just annoying.  She came from a background of privilege and moved into a different environment of privilege when her father died.  She dithers over how unfair things are and how outcast she is because she's tall or opinionated or independent or whatever, but beyond a few brief forays into charity work and what she sees in her visions she sits comfortably in her own little world.  There's never a sense that she is anything but a young woman who's used to getting what she wants.  She's been very indulged up until the point where we meet her in the story and nothing really happened to change my mind after that.

Ross Havenwood is similarly nondescript.  He feels guilty about pretty much everything- the failure of his first marriage, his first wife's suicide, his inability to do anything about the gruesome things he dreams about, etc.  He nurtures what he thinks is an improper fancy for Alexandra that's all wrapped up in his realization that part of being her guardian means seeing that she's married and settled down into an "appropriate" adult life.

Their drama is set against the backdrop of London in 1888 when Jack the Ripper is about to burst onto the scene; in order to cover the entire span of events of that episode of history, their relationship has to drag out just as long, with just as much indecisiveness and angst.  Story elements are added seemingly for the purpose of making the story longer (one of Ross's friends courts Alexandra for awhile, there's a side plot involving Alexandra's companion and one of the servants at Ross's estate, etc.) but they just added bulk to the story without adding depth.

Meh.  At the end of the day this story was long on agonizing and short on action.  Was it terrible? Nope, but I confess that my expectations were high and overall, not met.

Overall Grade: C-
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