This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Mystery Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Midnight Ink
Released on Februrary 8, 2015
This was a book I picked up because I read the fourth book in the Auction Block series and wanted to come back and start with book one. This did read like a debut book, but was not a disappointment. What a startling opening line! It was fun to meet Wren, Death, and the others who would become series regulars along with a fun treasure hunt-style murder mystery that gets a little gritty.
Death and the Redheaded Woman opens on Wren encountering a dead body when she goes to sort the goods at the Old Campbell Mansion for auction. After giving her statement, she encounters new bounty hunter and private detective, Death (pronounced Deeth) Bogart who gets permission from the new owners to join Wren at the mansion so he can hunt for some old, lost family jewels. Unfortunately, they both end up in danger when a newer stolen cash of jewels were also hidden at the mansion and the thief wants them back.
As I mentioned, this is a debut novel. It reads like one as elements of the story are not always smooth or developed as well as they could be and some scenes are rough on the transition.
That said, I thought there was some shine to this one that continues through the series.
Wren and Death both have troubled pasts in their own ways though they are not wallowing in the present. Wren was hurt and humiliated when the guy she was dating turned out to be gay and was with her until he got the courage to come out to their small town. He is what some might call flaming gay. If I thought there was an iffy element it was how this was handled though I’m glad that she stood by him and Death also does, too. Now she and Cam are best friends, but she still hasn’t been able to live it down that she was fooled.
Death’s issues go much deeper. He’s lost all his immediate family members to death and while he was deployed overseas in the Marines, he was injured in an IED blast. He was heroic and saved others, but it permanently left him with a disability and PTSD. His wife left him and took their whole bank account when she did so when he got discharged due to the permanently compromised lungs he now has, he’s homeless and destitute and looking for a new start.
The pair are attracted and jump into working together on the mysteries of both sets of jewels. The romance comes on quickly, but wasn’t entirely unbelievable since they spend a lot of time together and seemed to be just lightly exploring their attraction at first.
The historical references through the homes and items Wren is working with in her auction house work and also the auction work itself were really neat and unique. Death’s bounty work and private eye work were also great side lines.
Most of the book is light. There is sexual banter and some hijinks over the top moments. But, there are some surprising gritty elements when it comes to the villains that cause lots of excitement at the climax of the story. The villains were the easy part since they were obvious to everyone. The real mystery was the location of the lost jewels. I was glad to figure out where one set was and got a nice surprise on the big reveal about the other set.
Between the personal and professional elements along with the romance and mystery, I was captivated. Definitely a series I can recommend to cozy mystery and light romantic suspense fans, alike.
Romance Roundabout #193 RS