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The Conspiring Woman (Victorian Bookshop Mysteries Book 4) Kindle Edition
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The writing is as crisp and enjoyable as ever, Georgia as irrepressible as usual, and the secondary cast wonderful. I did not give it 5 stars because I was disappointed with how things wrapped up and how we got there. First, Blackford is missing for a good chunk of the book, off in America tending to his business affairs there. We left the last book with him not willing to marry Georgia due to her middle class status, despite the obvious attraction and fondness between them, and Georgia refusing to be his mistress, knowing that can only lead to heartache since he will eventually have to marry to produce the ducal heir. This tension is left hanging for a good part of the book and I missed the interactions between Georgia and Blackford. Then, when he returns, the book fails to capture the entertaining interactions revealed and developed in the prior installments. Something was just missing. Spoiler: Blackford proposes to Georgia because his visit to America showed him that a new world order is coming about. This rationale fell flat and was, quite frankly, not very inspiring on the romance side. Also, Blackford did not seem as emotionally connected as he had in prior installments. Georgia agrees to marry after some soul-searching, but the sense of romance, enjoyment in each other’s company, and physical attraction that was in prior books was just not there. Georgia continues to hunt for her parents' killer. She resolves that issue and—Spoiler-- the killer dies after a few surprising revelations. But even that resolution seemed forced and unsatisfying. We never really understand his motives and the manner of his death seems over-contrived. Finally, the resolution of the mystery that moves the book alone also seemed forced.
All in all, I enjoyed the book but this is probably my least favorite of the series. It was good to see how things concluded, but the whole thing seemed forced on a number of fronts.
As with many series, a fair amount of time was taken up with backstory (sort of like this: "She knew the Smiths because they lived next door to the victim on her previous case, when the evil so-and-so killed thus-and-so" and that sort of thing). There was a great deal of this which bogged down the forward movement of the story. And speaking of backstory, I guess that's why the madman Count Farkas showed up out of nowhere about 3/4 of the way into this book--the author had to lay him to rest. BUT he had almost no connection to the rising action, which was disconcerting. I definitely had a feeling of "What the hell?" And I thought the protracted suspense of Georgia's (somewhat maddening) uncertainty about becoming a duchess was ok, but seriously .... who would dither about accepting, especially when the suitor was as charming and kind-hearted as Ranleagh. I was surprised to see that this book is consistently rated with 4 to 5 stars. Go figure.
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