For about ten years, this book represented the end of Rick & Sam's story, and I think it was a good finale. The romance gets to a resting place that serves as a HEA, the conflict is crazy over the top (and will make it hard to match), and the characters have come a long way in the chronological year since they met in Flirting With Danger.
I'm pretty excited that this isn't the end of Rick & Sam's story, though, so I'll be reviewing Barefoot in the Park next week after its released. I'll be holding off my on series review until I've read the final book.
I really love this book. It's my second favorite in the series--my idea of favorite is for readability factor--the plot is just a smidge less entertaining than Billionaires Prefer Blondes, but the stakes are about as high as Flirting with Danger.
We find Sam returning to the idea that she could help museums recover stolen artificacts--which would allow her to use her black hat expertise and skills on behalf of the white hats. Rick is less enthusiastic since he knows it might bring Sam danger from thwarting other thieves, and the two conflict over how much danger she should put herself in and what lines she should break. Sam also investigates the theft of Donner daughter Olivia's anatomy project which allows the mood to be a bit lighter in some areas.
The plot of Sam working in museum recover doesn't just bring her conflict with Rick, it also brings conflict with her surrogate father, Stoney. Stoney isn't in this book much (which is a plot point) and his absence is keenly felt. Stoney was left interested in retiring than Sam and this factor remains a thorn in their relationship. Aubrey plays a bigger supporting role here and I find him really entertaining.
One of the small recurring bits about Rick and Sam arguing about Aubrey's sexuality hasn't really aged very well. They go back and forth based on what trait Aubrey exhibits as part of one "team" or another. This was definitely more common a decade ago, so I'm not taking any points off. I have high hopes that it won't show up in the next Rick & Sam books because it's really just not funny.
It's like watching the Chandler jokes on Friends about whether or not he was gay -- and yeah, that was funny in the 1990s. It's just not anymore. Like I said, I'm not going to take any points in this last 2007 outing. I just hope it's gone going forward.
The new cast of possible museum thieves bring us some interesting supporting characters, and Wild Bill Tombs is...colorful. I also like that Kate and Tom are back--their normalcy is such a lovely contrast to Sam and Rick--and their kids are great too. Olivia reminds me of my own niece, Olivia.
This was a great finale to the series, but I am so excited to see where Rick & Sam go next.