Over the years here at the Hot Pink Palace of Bitchery, my fortitude has been tested. I’ve read books about reindeer shifters and suffered through hours of Nick Viall trying to form a coherent sentence. My constitution strengthened by rum, I’d describe my loins as exceptionally girdy.
My aunt has been recommending JD Robb’s (aka Nora Robert’s) In Death series to me forever, but I’ve always been intimidated by the length of the series. Then Secrets in Death came out and sounded good, and I thought, fuck it. I’ll start with the 45th book in the series.
I’m not scared.
So opened this baby and got started.
The book opens with the heroine, Eve Dallas, meeting a woman she doesn’t particularly like for lunch. This other woman (the one Eve doesn’t like) is Garnet DeWinter, a medical examiner and Eve is a homicide detective. They mention some secondary characters who I don’t know, but overall I get the gist of it. Eve thinks the Garnet is a stuck up bitch; Garnet points out that Eve is wearing $5000 boots.
It’s about this time that I realize (although I had previously known and then forgotten) that this book is set in the near future. Like the 2060’s or something.
Spoiler alert: we survive the current presidency.
Which also makes me wonder how much $5000 boots would really cost forty years from now? I feel like that doesn’t translate well.
Anyway, when she walked into the restaurant, Eve noticed that a gossip reporter, Larinda Mars (isn’t that an awesome name?) is eating there and makes a mental note to avoid her. Suddenly Eve hears a kerfuffle and there’s Larinda, bleeding out all over the place. She and Garnet try to save Larinda, but to no avail. Eve immediately gains control of the scene and calls for reinforcements. It’s right about here that I realize that Eve is tough, cool-headed and extremely competent. I really like her.
Now, I will say that while we get some details about Larinda bleeding to death, this isn’t a particularly gory or scary book. It’s a romantic mystery, not a romantic thriller, and those of you looking for less chills and more who-dunnit will be happy with this one, though other books in this series may be very different.
So then we learn that Eve’s husband, Roarke, owns the restaurant. Roarke apparently owns a lot of New York City.
For the record, I don’t know if Roarke actually has a last name or it’s like a Cher situation.
It doesn’t matter though, because OMFG. Roarke is hot.
I will read 44 more goddamn books for Roarke.
Robb/ Roberts has this amazing way of fleshing out characters using the tiniest details. Even though I know very little about Roarke, I pick up on a few things immediately: he’s Irish, he’s rich as hell, he’s powerful, he has criminal ties, he’s sex on wheels, and he doesn’t feel the need to control/ dominate/ or otherwise stand in the way of his badass wife. He’ll hold her purse while she gets shit done.
A little later we get a sex scene that while brief and not super descriptive left me all:
If this is how hot the sex is between characters who have been together for 45 books, count me the fuck in.
The rest of the book is Eve, with help from Roarke and her fellow cops, trying to figure out who killed Larinda. Turns out, despite the murder practically happening in front of her, that’s tough because a lot of people wanted Larinda dead. Like a pretty impressive number.
Along with being a gossip reporter, it turns out Larinda was also blackmailing a whole bunch of people. She tried to blackmail Roarke once but he put a stop to it like a boss and I was all:
Also Larinda had really extensive reconstructive surgery–extensive as in “starting a new life,” which adds to the mystery.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved it for that one sex scene alone, but it held up super well for immersing me in a long standing series that I hadn’t read before. I had zero trouble picking it up and starting from scratch. I didn’t know who everyone was, but I was able to intuit a lot without info-dump.
I also thought ($5000 boots aside) that the fact that it was set in the near-future wasn’t particularly jarring. There were hints (mostly slang terms for technology) that we weren’t in Kansas anymore, but it still felt very contemporary.
And the mystery was solid. Also this is a mystery–the reader gets clues and can guess at the outcome right along with the heroine. It’s not a thriller where we are along for the ride, but have no means of intuiting the end. There were lots of suspects and leads for Eve to chase, and I loved it. Given the lack of gore and scary bits, it also felt like a safe place for my brain to be (despite, you know, murder).
And finally, the main characters are so well developed and so well written that I didn’t need the previous books. Roarke is…well you already know my feelings on him and I’m going to be scribbling Elyse Roarke (does he have a last name? Is that his last name?) on my planner for awhile, but Eve was equally well written. She’s tough, but protective of those around her. She clearly cares deeply, but takes no shit and gives no fucks. Both of the main characters are remarkably nuanced and well developed, even with the expectation that the reader knows them well.
So yeah, books one through three are already on my e-reader because I have a lot of catching up to do–not because I have to, but because I love these characters and this world so much I need to go back.