Monday, March 30, 2009

Review- Secrets and Sins by Rosalyn Wraight

Secrets and Sins
by Rosalyn Wraight
Aug 11, 2008
Contemporary/ Mystery/ Lesbian
Ebook version

Buy it Amazon, Fictionwise, DLSIJ press

The day before lesbian detective Laura McCallister's vacation, an elderly man, Tobias Faraday, is found dead in his estate, a victim of an apparent poisoning. While all the evidence clearly points in one direction, a deathly cold hand, clenched to her shoulder, steers her in another. She is led through a maze of riddles and codes, secrets and sins.

She looks into Faraday's cloudy eyes with a vow to determine the truth. What she didn't expect is that he would end up peering into her own. The investigation becomes excruciatingly personal, leaving her struggling to face her own secrets and sins.

Who killed Tobias Faraday? Is it really as simple as it seems? And what does the painting in his sitting room--crafted by her lover of ten years, Holly Crawford--have to do with it all? Can she solve the mystery without getting mired down in her own fears and pain? And, can she do it in time for her and Holly to catch that plane to Maine?

Secrets and Sins is a nicely done old-fashioned whodunit set in contemporary times. While having the aura of a retro mystery due to the age of the victim and his way of acting and speaking, a carry over from a time past, Secrets and Sins moved along at a fast, modern day pace with all the uses of contemporary technology mixed with traditional detective work.

McCallister, as everyone calls her, is getting ready to go on vacation with her live-in lover/ partner Holly when she’s called to a murder scene. It looks all cut and dry as to who the murderer is so she and Holly manage to get to the airport in time to have their vacation. Not so fast though…McCallister has a gnawing, bad feeling in her stomach about this case and Holly, realizing that her lover will not be able to relax, tells her to forget about the holiday for now.

It turns out that old man Faraday, the victim, was a mystery buff and has set up an elaborate puzzle just for McCallister, leaving a series of clues along the way for her to follow and decipher to help her know what really happened. Along the way, McCallister also finds out things about herself that she’d rather not have to think about.

I really liked this story. I’m a huge fan of the mystery genre and it’s what I mostly read before getting into romance and erotica. On that level this book was very entertaining and well done. As a mystery, Rosalyn Wraight managed to keep it fresh by adding in many twists to the plot, keeping the story from being totally predictable.

As McCallister gets the clues left to her by Faraday, so do we the readers and the step by step process kept me curious as to how it all pans out. Moreover, I liked the idea that the victim has set up all the clues prior to his death somehow knowing what might happen making it a game of wits with McCallister whom he admired, even in his death. Then there’s the private romantic life of McCallister…

Sorry folks, but if you would read this book for some girl on girl action, this book doesn’t have it. Nor is this a romance really, either. What was very satisfying though was that the romantic relationship between McCallister and Holly was woven throughout the story offering a glimpse into home life and heart of McCallister who is a no nonsense detective.

The interactions between these two are very sweet and loving and it’s very clear that these two women have a very close, intimate relationship in which they are very supportive of each other. So while not a hot and steamy romance, if you are looking for a story that depicts an intimate, loving lesbian relationship as part of a larger story then Secrets and Sins will satisfy.

As a character, McCallister is very appealing. She soft in the right areas, as in her love life and interactions with her friends, but she’s tough when it comes to work. She’s in charge and lets people know it, but at the same time, she knows how to delegate the work, trusting her underlings to do the job while at the same time teaching them.

And she smokes. Oh boy, but I love a character who unabashedly smokes. She smokes and drinks coffee throughout this book, constantly needing a smoke break to chit chat things out with her reporter friend or just because she needs to clear her head. It’s my quirk, but the whole politically incorrectness of it is a turn on, especially for me, an ex-smoker.

While for the most part I really enjoyed this book, there were a few niggling points that took me out of the story several times. One of them is Ms Wraight’s overly descriptive language sometimes. Not flowery purple prose, but wording that felt awkward and stilted and which just felt odd. For example:

“…her hat tipped to block the sunshine that tried desperately to burn off last night’s rain.”

“Once satisfied, she continued on until the study’s doorknob succumbed to the twist of her hand.”

“As the car’s clock readied itself to flash three-thirty, she again drove the car in the direction of the Faraday house.”

“Then, like a bullet from her gun, she sped to the kitchen in search of a screwdriver or a knife.”

Fortunately these kinds of sentences were mostly in the beginning and a nice flow in the writing kicked in for most of the book, keeping me from ditching it. Another niggling point was that the name of the supposedly Japanese gardener who taught young Faraday about orchids in the 40’s, was called Kim Su. Sorry but Kim Su is not even close to being a Japanese name. This also threw me out of the story. One other thing that was a bit too much for me was the fact that almost everyone else in this story is gay or lesbian. The coroner is gay and another main character, a reporter, is also a lesbian. What are the odds really?

Still though, I liked Rosalyn Wraight’s story telling enough to buy the first book in this McCallister mystery series, which is touted as an erotic book. I have the feeling that Ms. Wraight can write a very nice erotic romantic mystery type of story based on how deliciously she wrote the relationship between McCallister and Holly in Secrets and Sins.

Sex rating: Dry panties- no sex in this book. Just hints of these two characters might have a hawt, juicy sex life.

Grade: B+


JenB said...

Kim Su...that sounds Korean to me.

This book does sound interesting, but I think I'd have the same problems you had with it.

And I love a character that smokes too! It's supposed to be a turnoff, but I think it's cool. :)

MB (Leah) said...

Yeah, I think unless you're really into mystery/suspense and pure lesbian as the romance, it'd probably not be your cuppa.

The funky wording was not that much and was mostly in the first few chapters, which was weird that it wasn't throughout the book. But I was happy it wasn't.

I'm going to read her one that stated it's erotic just to see if it's hawt or not. :D

I'm having a hard time finding any f/f, f/f/m stories these days. So I'm reading lesbian. But I do get off on mystery, so that worked for me.

JenB said...

Mystery...blehhhhh...guess that answers whether or not I'll be reading this. In order for me to enjoy a mystery, it has to have lots of other elements too.

Cool review.

MB (Leah) said...

Jen, I know you don't like mysteries or suspense. I was kind of surprised that you commented. But it was sweet of you anyway. :D

JenB said...

I was hoping maybe the sex and romance overpowered the mystery. :P