Indie Book Review The Verona Exchange by Lauren B. Grossman and Bernard Jaroslaw

For the handful of people who were following my blog way back in March of this year, you may (but most probably not) remember that I did a review for The Golden Peacock by Lauren Grossman. If you know nothing of it, I advise you read that review first, since this book is its sequel.

I know I should like Indie books, but it’s so rare to find an actual good one, probably because they are so much easier to publish than going through traditional publishing companies. However, that book was surprisingly good, and I gave it four out of five stars.

Well, a little over a month ago, Grossman published the second book of the series and she was kind enough to contact me to see if I was interested in receiving a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I’m not one to turn down a free copy of any book and I love that she emphasizes an ‘honest’ review (because many indie authors cannot take honesty), so I gave this book a read.

Release: July 16, 2018

Synopsis: Set a few years after the previous book, Rainee Allan is now happily married and living in London. Suddenly, the son that she gave up when she was in college calls her, and he wants to meet…in Venice. The only problem is that he is kidnapped just before their meeting and Rainee will do anything to get him back. Join in an exhilarating suspense as a mother tries to save her son, caught in a dastardly scheme involving Italy’s dangerous Red Brigade, the police, and Interpol.

Review

I am always cynical of sequels, as I find they rarely live up to the expectations set by the first book. However, with this one, I was pleasantly surprised. I had some minor criticisms, mostly revolving around the characters and the first fourth of the book, but once the plot thickened, I was completely invested in the story. So much so that I didn’t put it down until I finished it (for reference, I whizzed through this book in one sitting). It’s a short, fast-paced read. It strayed farther from a cozy mystery than the previous one, instead settling more in suspense and thriller territory. This book definitely feels grittier than the previous one.

It was also interesting to learn that the two main perspectives of the book—Rainee and her son Joshua—were done by the two different authors. I honestly couldn’t even tell until I read the ending acknowledgements, because the two narratives fit really seamlessly together.

Now, it wouldn’t be one of my reviews if I didn’t also talk about some of the failings of this book. First, the characters. I loved Rainee’s character in the first book, and I still did in this one. She’s more maternal, but demonstrates the same determination and stubbornness from the previous book. She often puts herself in danger for her convictions, and I love that about her.

Not all the characters were as good as Rainee’s though. Joshua feels a bit bland. Once we get into the action scenes, in the later half of the book, he really shines, but in the beginning I felt as if he is a caricature instead of a real person. He is good at school, lives a happy life, and is curious to meet his birth mother…and that is about it. I kept wanting to know more about him. What were his motivations? His deepest life philosophies? H was always defined by his situation, not the other way around. There was never really delving into his character. Similarly, a lot of the more background characters felt one-dimensional.

Though, I give this criticism a pass because the focus of this book is mostly on the mystery and action, not on character development.

The one thing I love of Grossman’s (and now Jaroslaw’s) writing is that she really knows how to add a twist. Although there are a surprisingly few amount of characters, I never saw the twist coming. I will keep the big reveal behind a curtain of words, for I would be the last one to want to reveal the best part of any mystery, but just know I was surprised and happy about it.

When it comes to this book compared to the first, I will admit I preferred the first more, not because this is a worse book, but because The Golden Peacock is more of a cozy mystery and this one more a thriller. I just happen to like cozy mysteries more than thrillers, that is all.

Have you heard of this series? What is your favorite Indie mystery series? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

 

P.S. Also, if you’re curious to read this book for yourself, here’s a couple links to the books (these are not affiliate links, btw, just here for your benefit).

Amazon

Smashwords

 

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