Over two years ago, I read and reviewed "To My Senses" by Alexandrea Weis. It was a lovely book about Nicci Beauvoir, a New Orleans old-money debutante with an attitude whose life was dismantled by bad boy David Alexander. The book was atmospheric, humorous, sexy, and devastating. The ending of the book pulled the rug out from under me, and I was totally despondent for a few days. Then. I found out Ms. Weis was writing a SEQUEL. OMG, you mean this isn't the end? There is hope? Do I really want to know the "after"? There is no more apt title for what came next than "Recovery".
Warning: If you have not yet read "To My Senses" and think you'll be doing it soon, be advised that the entire premise of "Recovery" spoils the ending of its prequel. Just so you know.
Synopsis: After the tragic murder of David Alexander, the love of Nicci's life, she has gone on to achieve her dreams of writing a successful novel about their relationship. Nicci has not only used this effort to survive the debilitation of losing David, but also to help her survive Hurricane Katrina and it's after-effects on the city of New Orleans. It has been a hellish two years, and her wounds are still raw.
While in New York on a publicity tour, she is summoned to the home of a mysterious, wealthy man who claims to have been David's previous boss, before David left it all behind to become an artist. David's death was bad for business, and he is bent on solving the case of his murder. Because David's previous clients could be a tad shady, it was assumed that one of them had been the one to pull the trigger. After two years of investigation, however, it appears that David was killed by one of Nicci's acquaintances. Enter the rakish, distant (and of course handsome) Dallas August, who will accompany Nicci back to New Orleans, under the guise of her new boyfriend, to nail the bastard that took David's life.
How on earth could someone from Nicci's circle be a cold-blooded killer? And how will Nicci be able to convince her closest friends and family that she is in love with Dallas, when she is still grieving over David? On all counts, she gets more than she bargained for.
My thoughts: In many ways, this story falls into some very predictable, Harlequin Romance-ish ruts. Handsome but cold-hearted man, beautiful girl with baggage and moxie, both forced together under less than perfect circumstances. Add some sexual tension, some common goals, and POW. You can see it coming from a mile away, right? I rolled my eyes. But I knew better than to discount Alexandrea Weis's literary arsenal, so I kept reading. In honor of David.
This is more than a typical romance novel. Weis's post-Katrina New Orleans is damaged and broken, and we see it through the eyes of a local. Friends who died in the storm, entire neighborhoods wiped from the planet, businesses struggling to stay open but without power or inventory. The entire city is in a state of recovery.
Then there is the mission of finding David's killer. The options are limited, but it was anybody's guess on who and with what motivation. The climax in the book, where the identity is revealed, was intense. I wanted revenge. I felt like a blood-thirsty villager with a pitchfork and a shotgun.
But that Alexandrea! *shakes fist* What are you trying to do to me? Give me heart failure? She throws in a subtle question that is never answered, and plants tiny little threads of doubt (which to me were like big flashing lights), and leaves us at the end going "What. The. Hell." Can I just come down to your house, Alexandrea, and help you write the next one? I see the plot laid out in front of me as clear as day. Pray I don't have to wait another two years for it?
4 out of 5 stars