TRIGGER WARNING (HIGHLIGHT WORDS BELOW):
GORE. PAST RAPE.
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Publisher: William Morrow
Release date: February 28th 2017
It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.
First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.
But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.
It was easy to pretend.
Till Death has an interesting concept and good writing, but it fails at being a good Mystery novel. The characters are somewhat flat, the plot predictable, and the main focus of the story ends up being the romance between the two main characters, Sasha and Cole, and not, you know, the actual mystery.
Jennifer L. Armentrout is a good writer. I’ve read a lot of her YA and New Adult books and loved them, which leads me to think mystery just isn’t her genre. She focuses a lot on the wrong things, the pace dragging along to give room for steamy scenes instead of plot and character development.
Sasha as a main character and narrator is a bit difficult to like. She very much sticks her head in the sand and tries to pretend everything is fine, which can be understandable after everything she’s been through. But her habit of running away from things she doesn’t like is very frustrating as a plot device, as it’s used to create drama. For the other characters, they very much seem like cardboard pieces. They aren’t layered or developed at all.
The romance aspect actually had a lot of potential in the beginning. I was looking forward to reading about Sasha and Cole reconnecting after a decade, and discovering all the ways in which they had changed as they worked to solve what was happening. Sadly, we didn’t get that. They very much pick up where they left off, like they hadn’t seen each other in two days instead of ten years.
With that, the romance between the two of them becomes the focus of the story. For a mystery book, that is not a good thing. It just doesn’t work well for the actual mystery/murders to take a back seat to Sasha and Cole’s second chance love. Too much time is spent on them and their relationship, while the murders and investigation falls to the wayside.
The mystery also ends up being super predictable. There is no tension to speak of while reading, and the set up and reveals fall flat. This is mostly because, again, there is a lot of focus on the romance, so there isn’t enough time to build things up. Readers can easily guess who is the culprit during the first half of the book, which takes the fun out of reading.
I’m sorry to say Till Death is a disappointment. It doesn’t work at all for me. I’m sure Romance fans who like a little murder in their stories will very much enjoy this. And as I’ve enjoyed Armentrout’s writing in the past, I’ll definitely read more of her work. Just maybe not her Mystery books.