Thomas Thorne is finally ready to confess his feelings for his business partner and best friend of twelve years, Gwyn Weaver (he has no choice, really), but ends up drugged and naked in his bed with a murdered woman by his side.
None of his friends believe he did it, but someone obviously has a grudge against him. A grudge so big, they're willing to dig around his past, dredging up painful memories, and putting everybody he loves, putting Gwyn in danger.
This book obviously marks the end of the Baltimore-based books (we're moving to California next with Taylor's adoptive sister, Daisy) and it was lovely seeing all the old friends and faces again. The only two missing were Grayson and Daphne, but they were there in spirit as the others fought against time and death itself in order to figure out who and why was making Thorne suffer and how to stop them.
I've been curious about Thorne since he first appeared on scene and I'm glad he didn't suffer a character transplant in his book as some of the previous seemingly larger-than-life heroes. He was compassionate and loyal, willing and able to do anything to protect those he loved and cared about, and I was glad the tough exterior he was known for was just a cover for the marshmallow-y inside.
It's a real pity about the heroine, though. I didn't like Gwyn. There've been plenty of KR heroines who's gone through what she's been through, but somehow she felt she was different, somehow special and unique, making her way too whiny for my taste. She was also incredibly selfish. Someone wanted to hurt Thorne, but she always seemed to make everything about herself and her feelings.
As the story progressed, and she finally pulled her head out of her ass about Thorne and their relationship, I actually started to like her, only to grit my teeth at her inability just to tell everything up front. I didn't get the secret keeping and I hated she told Thorne the truth about her past only when she feared it would come out anyway.
The suspense also left much to be desired, which is surprising for a KR book. It felt like it was all over the place, the twists and turns making it rather convoluted and disjointed. The main villain was rather disappointing, since he couldn't keep his hands firmly on the reins, but trusted all those other people to do his dirty work. People make mistakes. The more people, the more mistakes. It made him appear weak and quite a caricature, unintentionally similar to the Bond villains of old with much talk and not enough action.
It made the positive ending a given, instead of making the reader tremble alongside the characters.
This book definitely wasn't what I've come to expect from Karen Rose, but hopefully it's just a fluke.