Rich-girl sleuth Francesca Cahill returns for another adventure in early twentieth-century New York, this time attempting to exonerate her fiance of murder. Much to the dismay of her parents and most of polite society, Francesca is engaged to a self-made, wealthy enigma of a man, Calder Hart. She alone can see the goodness and vulnerability in this former rogue, and her faith in him is severely tested when his former mistress is murdered and he becomes the number-one suspect. Francesca dedicates herself to finding the real killer, in spite of much opposition. Calder attempts to distance himself from her until he realizes that no matter what he has or hasn't done, and no matter what is said of him, Francesca will loyally stand by even as things go from bad to worse.
Very rarely do I dislike a book as much as this one. I couldn't stand the man character AT ALL. She is in love with an absolute, well, the only way I can think of to describe him is D-bag, to be quite blunt. She is proclaimed to be super intelligent and have amazing judgement, yet, the reader is forced to swallow this romance. Francesca spends over half of her dialogue defending her "true love" and at least 3/4 of her inner thoughts defending him to herself and the reader. Yuck. I skipped pages and pages and pages (something I oh so rarely do) because it was so repetitive and unenjoyable. Now, aside from the romance that bugged me, I was completely unimpressed by Francesca's sleuthing skills. It wouldn't be a big deal, except that her character is famous for her ability to solve crimes, but I saw absolutely no evidence of her crime solving prowess. In fact, she was so blinded by her personal life that she missed out on a ton of important clues and she was totally off base in a bazillion of her assumptions. She didn't even have the slightest inkling of who the killer was until said person was waving a gun in her face. I know it is easier for the reader to figure out whodunnit than it is for the characters, but I had the killer pegged so early it wasn't even interesting. Also, the final showdown, a scene I always look forward to in mysteries, was a zzzzzzz fest.
Not only did I find the storyline lackluster, but the writing as well. My apologies to the author, but contraction removal alone does not authentic period dialogue make. Period dialogue is tough, if the author doesn't know what they are doing, the reader will see right through you and your dialogue. I, personally, am a super crappy historical dialogue writer, which is why I stay away from it. All in all the book felt clunky, badly paced, and completely uninteresting. There was a very distinct feel of been there done that-a total no no for a mystery. There were a few side story lines that I really enjoyed but since they took up a total of probably 40 pages, they weren't nearly enough to save this book for me. I absolutely hate assigning this rating, but I have no choice. 5-Don't Even Bother
Tell me what you think! Have you read this book, or any of the other Francesca Cahill mysteries? Have you read anything by Brenda Joyce? Do you think I am totally off base in my review? Hit the comments and let me know!
If Deadly Kisses were a movie, it would likely be rated R for some strong language and brief but strong sexual content
***FTC Disclosure: Deadly Kisses was provided free of charge by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***
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