Midnight In Ruby Bayou
by Elizabeth Lowell
Book 4 of Donovan
From the length of this post, it felt like I was reviewing the entire book. I'm not, this is just a progress update. But... well, things happen.
I've really been enjoying this series with the witty banter between characters and the interesting fact sheets about precious gems and their histories. The suspense might be a bit lacking at times, but the romances have been fun. So despite the fact that this series isn't the best in romantic suspense novels, I still really like them.
I've yet to write my thoughts on Pearl Cove yet, but I'll get around to it at some time. But I've got a lot to nitpick about it just as I've now got quite a bit to quibble over Midnight in Ruby Bayou--and I'm not even near the 50% mark yet.
Sure, it's running along smoothly with great writing and again with the fun banter (although I'm not really understanding much of Faith Donovan's humor as I had been her twin sister, Honor). Owen Walker is a hoot and kind of interesting to be around.
But there are two frustrating factors right now that are getting me to the point of being kind of disappointed in this book. Or maybe three.
1. This reads too much like an unbalanced romance novel. The romance, the romantic/sexual tension, the monologues in our protagonists' minds... all too much so far. I know some people prefer more romance over the other sub-genres sprinkled into a romantic suspense novel, but I like more of a balance of murder mystery, crime thriller, and romance.
In this case, I don't need to know twenty times within a chapter that Faith smells like "gardenias and woman" and that it's driving poor Owen crazy. I got it the first time he monologued it. The two are ready to pull each other's clothes off and go at it like bunnies--I'm not surprised, but really, do it already! Otherwise, go put your minds to something a little more useful... like finding out who's trying to kill Faith, 'cause that is kind of important.
2. The secretive nature of people in authority on the "good guys" side has always irked me. Especially if their caveat is that, "It's for your own good. We don't want you worrying about little things that don't concern you." I've read one too many YAs where keeping information a secret from the youngsters who are itching for an adventure usually ends up getting someone killed, because they don't have all the information they need to make a wise decision on how they will act. So they either go digging for information and get themselves killed; or they act on lack of information and then get themselves killed. Or get someone else killed. Either way, someone dies and there's tragedy all around that could have been avoided had our characters just communicated with each other.
The deal here is: I understand that the Donovan men feel they need to keep their baby sisters safe and sound. It's obviously a natural male trait or something with their male dominance egos or the like. I don't know. But I thought that they would have learned better from the incident in Amber Beach with Honor. Withholding information and telling the girls to get out of Dodge doesn't go over well. So I get it--keep the girls in the dark so they don't have to deal with atrocities in life.
Except that, we all know that "not talking" about or ignoring, doesn't make the atrocities go away. You can pretend that the girls won't ever be affected by the problem if you just don't talk to them about it. But that is probably the biggest lie the Donovan men will ever tell each other... over and over again. And it only makes the sisters on the receiving end less prepared to accept the problems when and if they inevitably occur.
And in this case, the information that big brother Archer and Sir Bodyguard Owen Walker are keeping secretive may mean the difference between life and death for Faith. Maybe if Faith knew about the burglarizing and subsequent torture/murder of a woman who ended up staying in Faith's cancelled B and B room the very night that she should have been sleeping there, she'd think about being more careful for herself rather than giving everyone a hard time about having a bodyguard. Maybe if Faith were informed about how big this entire deal with her rubies is getting, she'll actually agree to take precautions about her safety and go stay in a modern hotel with proper security measures. Maybe you guys should also tell her about the homeless guy who was killed in a professional manner a block away from her shop just moments before someone broke into her "well-secured" building and trashed the place, too.
But the men are keeping her in the dark about everything like she's some child who can't handle the truth of life; and then they expect her to just go along with everything they've planned without a fight. As if they had no idea what kind of a stubborn and irrational Donovan she really is.
Earth to Archer: Please flashback to the first book when Honor was involved and tell me if that was a good idea to keep her in the dark? She listened to you damn well when you told her to return home and disregard the initial mission... didn't she? /sarcasm
3. The third point in this book is kind of counter active of the second point, mainly because I've come this far to give Faith the benefit of the doubt that she would be more sensible about her safety if she had more knowledge of what's really going on around her.
Except if I'm going by her questionable judgments about security measures and the like, I'm inclined to think that she'd still turn out to be a TSTL girl who's too stubborn for her own good. There's a fine line between being able to take care of yourself just fine, thank you very much; and becoming too ignorant to realize when your life is in danger and you need professional help. Like a trained guard.
Faith works with extraordinary and priceless precious stones and gems. She designs and sets jewelry for high-end customers, and I'm willing to bet that one piece of jewelry she works on could potentially be worth the value of a couple trinket stores in the mall, maybe more. So what bugs me about her is that, if she works with items that expensive, why does she shirk security measures like a dog hides from thunder booms? This isn't a matter of pride or being able to take care of yourself; this is a matter of being sensible to the fact that, even if you think you can take care of yourself, without the proper combat training you couldn't possibly defend against an armed robbery.
Archer is right on one respect. If someone had even the teensiest knowledge of what was in Faith's inventory and had enough motive to pull it off, it would only take a few moments of shoving a gun at her back while she's walking carelessly to her car, and then forcing her back into the shop to steal all her wares. Whether or not she'll be left alive to tell the tale is another story altogether.
So... I just don't understand why she's so stubborn about having a security guard hanging around. Or having a bodyguard help her in the transport of a priceless ruby across the country. Honey, it's not like you're working with paper origami and postcards.
I don't begrudge the Donovan men for wanting to keep their baby sister safe by forcing a security guard on her who will watch her door and her back. Obviously, Faith is too flippant or too naive to realize the true dangers of our modern society. I only begrudge them from keeping her in the dark when the information really DOES matter.
Anyway, I've probably already written enough to cover a full blown review here. But I got rolling and couldn't stop.
Mainly, I have hopes that the men will stop hiding things from Faith and keep her in the loop. And I really have hopes that Faith will wise up and start taking the security of her own life as well as the precious gems she works with into account. While she might be able to take care of herself on a domestic level, a business level, and on every other level in existence, and she might have ideas about proper security for expensive jewelry, she seems too nonchalant about it, like a naive girl who thinks that there couldn't possibly be anything going wrong for her to worry about.
I can just see her looking all innocent and asking, "Why would anyone try to steal my work?" and not realizing the most glaringly obvious response.
In a way, I could blame her older brothers for keeping her in the dark about the reality of life. Maybe she's been shielded for so long against the evils in the world that she doesn't realize just HOW evil the world can get. But I'd just be kidding myself, because Faith is a full grown woman with resources and a thinking brain of her own.
Honestly, she should know better if she's going to be running her own business.
The book reads pretty quickly, so I've no doubt I'll have it done soon. But this was an update on my thoughts so far.
This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in July 2014.