Publication Date: September 2019
Publisher: Clare Sager
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Gorgeous writing. Darkly twisted plotting. A great cast of fascinating characters. A swoon-worthy romance. And above all, a kick-butt heroine who positively LEAPS off the page.
Yes, A Sleuth & a Charlatan is a worthy sequel to book 1 of the Counterfeit Contessa series. In fact . . . it might actually be the better book! (It’s hard for me to judge clearly since I loved book 1 so hard.) At nearly 700 pages it is a massive, tour de force of a creation that never once lags in pacing or intrigue. In fact, I sped through this adventure faster than many a shorter novel, so eagerly was I turning the pages!
One concern I’d had going in was whether or not the romance would continue to captivate me. My personal preferences gear more to the slow-burn-build-up of a romance, and I often lose a interest once the two characters have made their professions and (ahem!) taken things to a new level (as these two did by the end of book 1). I knew I’d still love the book because the plot would keep me invested, but I wasn’t sure that I’d be all that invested in where the romance was going.
I was wrong. Quin and Atesh have SO MANY ODDS stacked against them, that just being madly in love doesn’t solve any of their problems. Quin is struggling with the reality of love, which was NEVER part of the plan. If she sticks around, her whole little world and the people who depend on her is threatened . . . but how can she resist what she feels for Atesh? And handsome, true-hearted, noble Atesh still doesn’t know the whole truth about the lovely Contessa who has stolen his heart.
Yeah, there’s plenty of drama in the works for these two, and the chemistry between them sizzles!
But there’s so much more going on in this story as well! A gruesome serial killer plagues the streets, and the brutal crimes creep ever closer to Quin’s door. The unfolding mystery Clare lays out for her readers is so beautifully constructed! I had so many theories spinning through my head, but I could not predict where this story would take me. And it’s all done with such deft skill, I was consistently amazed by the author’s abilities!
Just a Note: This book is definitely on the steamier side with a lot more sex than the previous book. But it’s not gratuitous or graphic. And it’s not one of those stories where you feel like all the characters have between them is sex—you definitely feel the bond and respect between the two, and sex is a natural extension of that bond. I don’t read a lot of sexy-times books (just not my thing), and I thoroughly enjoyed this read. So take that for what it’s worth!
So in conclusion—if you haven’t done yourself the favor of picking up the Counterfeit Contessa series yet . . . what are you waiting for???? Dive into this multi-layered, beautifully written adventure today!