2 out of 5 stars.
Last week, I presented a spotlight on this book, Masked to Death, the 5th in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series by Christina Freeburn. Today, I’m reviewing the same book.
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A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.
Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising toward Davy Jones’ Locker.
I was really excited about this book when I first read about it. It sounded great. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed in the actual thing.
The mechanics of the book, like grammar, sentence structure, etc. were fine, which is why it gets 2 stars and not just 1. The rest of the book is unfortunately, not nearly as stellar. In fact, I felt it was pretty horrid. Mostly because of the characters, but some of the plot twists also got to me. I try very hard to find positive things to comment on when I review because I know the author worked hard at writing the book. Unfortunately, aside from liking one character and one scene, I really just did not like this book.
Now, I admit, I have not read the other books in the series, but I found the characters annoying, shallow, and the only one I really liked was Garrison. I thought Garrison was kind and compassionate, yet he had the ability to stand up for himself, which many of these characters seem to lack.
Faith needs a backbone. I understand wanting to please people all the time. I’m guilty of that myself; I struggle with trying to be a people-pleaser everyday, but sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself and live your life. Not the life that everyone else wants for you. It’s possible to do that and not be disrespectful. It’s called boundaries, which Faith seems to be very much lacking.
Maybe Ted is a better character in the other books, but his indecision in this one, the coddling of his daughter even when she’s being Royal Brat #1 (applause for brother Bob who finally called his niece on her behavior and warned her she needed to straighten up or she might not be in their wedding after all! Someone had to stand up to her!), and his seeming lack of interest in carving out time just for him and Faith (with one or two exceptions) makes me not like him at all and I want to tell Faith to dump him.
Throughout the book there is talk of a mental illness, but we don’t have any idea what type until the end. There are very vague hints, but even knowing people WITH this mental illness, I didn’t guess it (I’m not saying which mental illness because I consider that to be a spoiler). Even at the end, it’s simply thrown at us with no real explanations. Ms. Freeburn misses a terrific opportunity to deal with the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, particularly the one involved.
Another thing that was a little bit annoying (tho’ admittedly not as much as the characters were) was that even though this cruise was supposedly taking place during Mardi Gras, aside from the one masked ball, we hear nothing about the holiday. Why make an emphasis to say it’s happening during Mardi Gras and then not actually incorporate more than one Mardi Gras themed event? Why didn’t the cruise ship stop at some of the islands that celebrate Mardi Gras/Carnivale?
There are plenty of positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but I just could not see the positives in this book other than Garrison’s character and then Bob standing up to his niece for being such a brat.
Maybe you’ll have better luck with it.
** I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. **