As a second book, this is a great continuation of the world Suzanne Enoch began to build in Flirting With Danger. While I don't think I'm as invested in the mystery because it doesn't affect Sam and Rick personally, it's still a really good plot that keeps me guessing.
We open almost where we left off in Flirting in Devonshire with Sam and Rick still figuring out what their relationship looks like with no around trying to kill them. Sam is setting up her security business, and Rick is trying to help (though his help is often more like trying to do it for her). When they end up back in Palm Beach, Sam begins to investigate the murder of a man who was on her verge of asking her for help.
Because the murder mystery here is someone who we don't know, who Sam only meets briefly, and Rick doesn't know that well either, the stakes are low. In fact, to get Sam and Rick really arguing about what boils down to a private investigation, they make a bet to see who will get to the murderer first -- Sam or the police. It feels a little forced. Not in a bad way, but just enough that you can see the effort. This is something that doesn't happen in the rest of the series which is definitely a good thing.
The supporting cast here is a really plus -- we get the return of Stoney, Castillo, and the Donners with the addition of Rick's ex-wife, Patricia, and the Kunz family: Charles and his adult children, Laurie and Daniel. We also get the introduction of Aubrey Pendelton, a walker who assists Sam and returns in subsequent books.
The plot is great, the characters are great, and the romance...it's great with some qualifications. I'll get into the spoilers, but I think the conflict between Sam and Rick feels slightly artificial. Sam was going to consult with Charles on personal security, and it's not crazy that she feels guilty about his murder which happens only hours after she met with him for the first time. What Sam proposes, initially, is really the equivalent of what a private investigator would do. I don't really understand Rick's issue with that or why he comes down on her so hard for it.
I mean, maybe it's related to wanting her to stay wholly on the right side of the law, and I guess he's afraid straying even near the line might encourage her to go over it. They've only been together for a few months, so the trust is fragile. I get it -- I think sometimes, though, Rick just feels like he's overreacting. I mean, it's not insanely in your face. I was just trying to figure out why I don't love this book as much as the rest of the series (I still love this book) but I think it's because the romantic conflict doesn't feel organic.
It's still a great book, though, and I heartily recommend it.
Sam and Rick both overreact a lot in this book and they both go around each other to investigate Charles' murder -- and the fact that Rick bets against Sam getting to the bottom of every thing before the police and then actively investigates as well is just evidence of the fact that Rick can't give up control. This isn't a critique of the writing, this is a character flaw of Rick that's going to come back again and again.
I don't like the argument we get into the first 25 or so pages. They're in England, and Sam wants to back to Palm Beach to look at an office to rent. Rick basically tells her no, they'll go back in a week when he's ready. He's used to women living on his schedule, so I don't hate the idea that this argument exists -- I just don't love that Sam stabs Rick's tires, uses his credit card to buy her ticket, and almost...runs away. She basically flees the whole thing in the middle of the argument. If she'd really wanted to go without him, she could have. She could get into the car and go. Rick could try to stop her, but Sam's a strong woman. I wanted to see more evidence of that.
I mean, I like that Rick goes after her and that he makes attempts to be vulnerable with her. I just think that, at times, in this book, the arguments Sam and Rick feel like a writer deciding we need an argument here and then proceeding accordingly. It's never bad -- I promise you that. It's just never real.
This all happens because the mystery isn't tied to them, and without that, there's no internal conflicts happening. In the next three books, the mystery gives them both opportunities to make choices that the other isn't going to love, etc. We'll get into it with the next book, which I think has the best romantic conflict in the entire series.
This is a good book -- even the stuff that bothers me a little bit costs the book only half a star. On Goodreads, I've even rounded it up to the full 5.
Don't Look Down (Samantha Jellicoe, #2)
Overall Response As a second book, this is a great continuation of the world Suzanne Enoch began to build in Flirting With Danger. While I don't think I'm as invested in the mystery because it ...