By Niki Turner
The premise is simple: If you ask yourself "what do I wish the author had done differently in this book" and can't come up with anything, the book gets five stars. If there are minor things, it gets four, and so on...
So what does Curtain Call, by Lisa Richardson and Jennifer Allee get, according to this new review paradigm?
I read the first book in the Charm and Deceit trilogy, Diamond In the Rough, when it first came out and loved it. I fell for bad-boy-hero-with-a-heart-of-gold Grant Diamond (because I always like those kinds of heroes), and had a crush on clever Pinkerton agent Carter Forbes, so determined to capture Diamond for the murder of Forbes' sister. You know the way you feel about Loki when you watch "Thor"? That love/hate/sympathy thing? My feelings toward Forbes were very similar.
Anyway, At the close of book one, I knew I HAD to read book two.
And then life got weird (it has a habit of doing that when you least expect it) and I missed book two, Vanishing Act, entirely. Boo.
But there are benefits to being friends with authors... Lisa sent me BOTH books. Yay! (Because there are very few things worse than missing a third of a trilogy.)
Unfortunately, I neglected to send Lisa my current mailing address, so my package crisscrossed the nation a few times before it landed in my mailbox, and then I had to read Vanishing Act first, of course. (That's my really long, roundabout way of explaining why this review didn't occur sooner.)
This third and final tale in this trilogy—Curtain Call—is the story of Carter Forbes' younger sister, Emily, and Dr. Samuel DeKlerk, bereaved brother of the murdered woman from book one.
1. The protagonists are the kind of people you want as friends... compassionate and determined to see wrongs made right, no matter the cost to themselves. Personally, I took great interest in reading about Emily's prosthetic (she's an amputee), because my great-grandfather lost both legs in a train accident on May 1, 1906. He learned to walk again (and ride) and eventually became the treasurer of El Paso County, Colorado.
Samuel's mission as a post-Civil War physician has him trying to help many of his patients through the horror of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in an era when such a thing wasn't really acknowledged. Both of them are willing to sacrifice personal comfort in order to serve the less-than-fortunate. Like I said, folks you'd want on your "friend" list.
2. As a mystery, this one is at the top of the list. I didn't figure out "whodunit" until it was revealed at the very end, and the conclusion was both totally plausible and obvious... an ideal mystery ending, and perfect for the end of a trilogy built around an unsolved murder case. Kudos, Jen and Lisa!
3. Don't just buy Curtain Call. Buy the whole three-book series. Vanishing Act is also excellent, with lots of Civil War history and a wonderful "take" on the heroine's chosen profession. Plus, if you fell in "like" with Carter Forbes, Vanishing Act is HIS story.
4. It's a credit to the writing ability of these two talented authors that you cannot tell where one "voice" begins and the other ends, but you can see the strength created by their collaboration.
Altogether, very well-written fiction.
I do hope they plan to do more in the future!
Niki Turner is a writer, former pastor's wife, mother of four, and grandmother of three. She has thus far been unsuccessful at coming up with catchy taglines for her writing, her purpose in life, or what she hopes to achieve in the future. Suggestions are welcome