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Three times is not a charm!
on March 19, 2011
This is my third read of Ms. Nelson's (see previous reviews) and by far the most disappointing. What a reader would expect from this author, especially since she has shown that she does have some strengths as a writer, would be growth. Growth in her writing style, growth in her lack of character development, growth in her story resolutions, but unfortunately she severely missed the mark with her second book in the Medlov Crime saga.
However, let me begin with the highlights: I have made a big deal in the past with the seemingly insurmountable number of grammatical errors in her books, but I've found this book to be a much better improvement. She thanks her copyeditor in the beginning of this book which means she is having someone look over her work. However, I wouldn't thank the copyeditor too much as there still are overlooked errors. But as I said it is a large improvement over the last two novels. Additionally, the sex scenes continue to get better and better! I think Ms. Nelson creates them with just the right blend of finesse and steaminess without being crude or over the top.
Now onto the not so brilliant parts of the novel: There is no consistency between how the previous novel left off and how this one began. In our last novel, Royal had seemed to come back after her devastating attack and was finally happily married to Dmitry, which seemed to be setting a preface for this storyline. However, this novel is entitled ". . . Rise of the Queen," but what rise are they taking about? Is it just that she finally got out of bed?! The novel begins with Royal suffering from PTSD which in turn has her self-medicating and alienating herself from her family, including now 3-year old Anya. I had always thought that the way Dmitry's Closet ended just seemed too tidy for Royal's character after her ordeal, now in DRF we're having a more realistic response to the attack, but it doesn't seem to flow in concordance with how DC ended. Nonetheless, I tried to overlook that as people respond to tragedy in different ways and figured things would start to fall into place as I continued reading. Not the case. I presume the ending of the story is supposed to be designed to "set her on her throne" but it completely does not sync with what we've been lead to see in Royal's character in this book. I would have been more satisfied, and the story more believable, if she had used her anger from her attack to harden and fuel her as she "rose through the ranks." Instead she quits her valium and alcohol binges, cold turkey, in one day, despite the fact that this has been going on for more than two years and goes back to being a good wife and mother. She should be thankful for a daughter who has seemed to come off unscathed from three years of neglect that continues to love her unconditionally and seems to still want to be with her mother, despite the fact that Dmitry (and the house staff) has practically raised her alone. And after getting her life back in order she's able to commit a brutal act herself without as much as a blink of an eye. Where was the buildup to this new Royal?
I was further disturbed by the characterization of Dmitry. He is now this shell of a former mob boss, who does nothing with his time except look after a lethargic Royal, who additionally has not been intimate with her husband in the 3 years that has taken place since the last book. He does not come off as a man who once had so much control others self-sacrificingly did his biding or ruthlessly killed and tortured his opponents. Yes, he "hung up his hat" so to speak in the last book, but after reigning for over 10 years you don't just shut it off and live happily ever after. This is obvious in his decision to return for one last job in which he smoothly transitioned back into head boss. His character does too many flip flops for me.
Then comes the pointless character of Victoria. How is it that Dmitry is so powerful and has so much reach throughout the world but doesn't get the intel that she's a cokehead?! This, by the way, totally does not blend with her character, or further develop her disposition, or have any point to the overarching storyline of the novel. Bottomline, her character could have been her character without that pointless vice. It made her seem ineffectual. Her worthless attempt at seducing Dmitry made me laugh and seemed so impractical to the whole story. And oh, heavens! Don't get me started on the whole Victoria/Anatoly fiasco! Here is a woman who tried to break up your father's marriage, could have killed Royal and is under the influence while in the presence of your little sister, who she's being paid to care for, but you let her live. But not only let her live, you hire her! So much for being a big, bad mob boss! This is mostly why I don't like Anatoly's character. His decision-making skills are worse than his father's!
Other reviewers, have mentioned the farce of a friendship that develops soon after for Royal and Victoria. By far, one of the most fallacious storyline choices Ms. Nelson made within this novel. What would have "upped the ante" is if Victoria and Royal had become bitter enemies and that played out in the novel. The character of Dorian, from DC returns, but for what? He's character seemed to make no sense in his goal for vengeance for a woman he never personally knew. He would have been better put to use if he and Victoria teamed up to bring down the Medlov family. Now that might have really been a storyline!
Additionally, things are revealed in the novel that don't get resolved or explained, such as facts surrounding Dmitry and Royal's marriage. Why mention it if you're not going to take it anywhere? Or how Dmitry and Royal seemed to be working together in the final showdown (or did I miss something?). I would have liked to know how that managed to fall into place.
The novel is set in Prague, but you could have just easily inserted Chicago or Baltimore and not have known the difference. There's no discussion of the culture or what the city really looks like, except we know it was cold because they bundled up in fur coats. The entire novel practically takes place in the chateau! I don't know whether Ms. Nelson has actually spent any time in Prague but it seemed to be a pointless setting since it didn't serve to move the story along.
As in my previous reviews, this book was loaned to me, so I did not have any monetary obligation to finish the book (or the series), but thought I'd give an author, whom I saw some promise in, a try. Unfortunately, I don't know if I will be further partaking in the Medlov saga (on my own dime) if the author does not show any evolution.