“The whole head is sick. And the whole heart is faint.”
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.
Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review!
This book isn’t as exciting as I presumed. It’s a solid novel with a pleasant blend of murder and romance, but not much more. Although there is a love triangle, it’s executed well, and each character is fleshed out and realistic. The slow-pacing of the story is a tad tiring at times, but the simplistic writing is charming. Overall, I was quite satisfied with the ending of this novel, and admired the consistency and development of all three main characters. None of them are perfect and it’s nice how they each acknowledge one another’s mistakes and discuss how it affects their current relationship stances.
A love triangle with two valid contenders? Perhaps it was just me, but I thought it was blatantly obvious which male lead would steal her heart in the end. Although both interests and Valentine had moments where I wished nothing more than to sock them in the jaw, I didn’t mind the love triangle. The romance does intrude on the mystery more times than I would’ve liked, but this is the primary focus on the novel, so I suppose its understandable. The murders and mystery are founded on a sea of love and betrayal, so it’s befitting how the characters place an importance on where their heart is leading them. Nevertheless, the drama did feel periodically needless. I admired how all three of them were multi-dimensional and expressed genuine human emotions. My favorite of the bunch is Rowan, and I thought he was the sweetest pea ever. At first glance, I imagined I would dislike him, but this proved not to be the case as the story progressed.
The Gothic atmosphere is palpable. The best aspect of this book in my opinion, is the setting. Historical Fiction is a genre that has truly grown on me as of late. I love the way authors can forge their stories around historical events, or simply install them in previous time periods. I love the setting Black crafts, and the eerie tone to the story is tangible. How the atmosphere often changes to reflect the characters’ moods and excursions is also a nice addition to the writing. The pacing did drag a few times, but the writing is so amiable that I never felt bored.
Ultimately, this is a pretty satisfactory debut. The mystery, though it could’ve been less predictable and delved on more than the romance, is enticing enough. Valentine and her love interests are quite dynamic and the sinister atmosphere is engrossing. All the elements could have been executed a bit better, but none of them fell completely flat. I will definitely be looking out for future works by Black!