Picture a molten lava chocolate cake. Rich, decadent and oozy...
Now picture it covered in supermarket icing shaped like the little mermaid, complete with airbrushed colours and lifelike coral.
That's how this book ended up working for me. The premise offered something richer, more sophisticated than your average modern cozy; the reality of the writing produced something more akin to the mass market confections that are a dime a dozen.
That's not to say it was a bad read - it wasn't. The MC - Lena - was likeable, if irritatingly naive and way too hero worship-y not to want to occasionally smack. Her boss, Camilla, is the quintessential famous British author of romantic suspense: smart, kind, resourceful, generous, wealthy. (The hero-worship, the perfection of Camilla and comments made about how special authors are in general (because they have imagination) lead me to suspect that Buckley indulges in a bit of hero worship herself.)
Two romantic interests are introduced, but no love triangle exists by the end of the book. Both men are, of course, gorgeous and, of course, one is boy scout good and one is bad boy good. Buckley gets extra points though for finding a more creative way of stringing out the romance than the tried and true tropes.
There were two plots running concurrently: the obvious omg-there's-a-dead-body one that is cleverly plotted and resolved neatly by the end of the book, and a longer more complicated missing-person plot that's left hanging (presumably because the author was offered a multi book contract).
There are many dark and stormy nights throughout the book, but the mysteries and the overall atmosphere fail utterly to evoke the romantic suspense novels of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, Victoria Holt or Phyllis Whitney. I'll likely give the second book a go, because I'm quite curious about the longer mystery arc, but my expectations and hopes will be lowered accordingly.
This book completes my Dark and Stormy Night square for 2016 Halloween Book Bingo.
ETA: Edited to correct some really unclear writing concerning characters.