"Wonderfully suspenseful, charming story"
Carolyn Jewel's second book The Spare really shows her
growth as a writer. Her first book demonstrated her talent,
but there were a few nagging problems, as if she did not
fully know her hero and heroine and how they would react,
or she made them do things that seemed totally against
their characters. In this book, you see none of that. Her
craft is stronger, and a subtle deftness is in her prose
that makes this book so strong, so perfect.
The Spare is a touch more sedate, elegant, with a dram of
Paranormal/Gothic saying Jewel really has found her meter.
This book is just so "assured" and it lets the reader
settle into the spiraling story and enjoy it completely. It
really leads me to look forward to her third book.
Sebastian Alexander is "a spare" -- a younger son who never
thought to rise to the earldom destined for his brother. He
has pursued a career in the Royal Navy and had his life
mapped out. He loved the life at sea. But suddenly he is
beached. The "spare" is now an earl. Through a series of
mysterious events, his brother is dead. Sebastian is
wounded in battle and is recovering when news comes of his
brother's murder. He must come to grips with his fate and
the trouble surrounding his brother's death. There was a
witness to the crime, one who could supply the answers to
the dark riddles -- Miss Olivia Willow. She was there that
night, and was almost killed as well. She is the key to
Sebastian learning why his brother died.
Only opening that key is not as easy as he hoped. Olivia, a
vexingly beautiful redhead, cannot recall what happened
that night. Three days of her memory is missing. Haunted by
the ghost of his brother, Sebastian thinks this loss of
memory is too convenient, too suspect and he will not rest
until he unlocks the riddle of Olivia and knows everything
she does about that fateful night.
Olivia is very beautiful, but a "poor relation". She is
leery when the new earl invites her to his house party,
invited to "even out the numbers". This gives Sebastian the
chance to probe her story. Olivia is a strong character,
one the readers will immediately identify and love. She
lives on the edge of the gentry, but her poor means has
held her back, yet she carries herself with a grace,
serenity and ability to see past the surface of others.
It's in Olivia where I see the most maturing in Jewel's
writing. Olivia is just such a strongly defined character,
so believable that she quickly has the reader wrapped
around her delicate little finger. She is an outsider in
this wealth and tries to remain on the edge, not attracting
attention at the gathering. However, Sebastian will not
Their acquaintance begins as an adversarial one, though
both sense an attraction. As Sebastian's investigation
moves forward, he shifts from doubt to grudging respect,
then into love. Again, Jewel demonstrates the growth in her
talent by having such a strong relationship between these
two wonderfully crafted characters. Sebastian's growing
love for Olivia even has him fearing what he might learn as
he unlocks the truth hidden in her mind.
Jewel just goes all out in this utterly radiant turn of the
screw, where a ghost walks, romance sizzles and characters
are so bloody brilliant!
Posted November 29, 2004
Reviewed by Deborah Macgillivray
Posted November 20, 2006