|Adrien English Mysteries: Fatal Shadows and A Dangerous Thing
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I had to threaten, browbeat, and bully LdDurham into reading this, but finally she was a good girl and did as she was told. I’ll be mature, refrain from saying “I told you so,” and graciously accept her heart-felt gratitude for my wisdom.
I first found Josh Lanyon through an advertisement on AFF.net (see, it does pay to advertise), browsed his webpage a bit, found the original version of Fatal Shadows and was immediately hooked on Adrien English. So when I discovered that there was an omnibus of the first two English novels being published, I actually bounced in my deskchair. Yes, bounced. I was reaching for my credit card with one hand even as I was using my mouse to click the “Buy Me” link. No second thought, no hesitation, just an overwhelming urge to possess a copy for my very own. I’m not even sure how much the ebook cost, because I didn’t pause to look.
How is it possible that the penny-pinching, hyper-critical CW could buy a book without checking the price? Because Josh Lanyon is made of awesome. That’s how.
I adore Adrien. There is something so realistic about his character, so “guy next door,” that he is much more comfortable and endearing than many of my other favorite sleuths, including Spencer (For Hire). Adrien is fallible, he jumps to conclusions, he faints, his voice shoots up on the scale when he’s excited or outraged, he makes lists, and he can’t cook. Pirates make him happy. He’s mouthy. He’s grumpy about the trash habits of his neighbors. He has weird friends (and employees) and his mother… well. And yet somehow he never loses that casual grace that makes him incredibly sexy. Adrien is perfectly imperfect, and even if the events unfolding around him, and often because of him, weren’t so exciting and scary, I’d still want to read it, just to follow Adrien through his days (and nights).
Jake Riordan isn’t adorable, but he’s definitely squee-worthy. He’s hard, cold, cynical, ambitious, a bit of an asshole, and has some serious issues, but he does try to be gentle with Adrien. Even when Adrien’s charging full-tilt into one life-threatening situation after another, which, in my opinion, really shows a remarkable forbearance on Jake’s part.
What lays between Adrien and Jake is the kind of romance I prefer most – not the happily-ever-after, we-were-meant-to-be romance, but what can happen between two people when they obviously find each other incredibly sexy and also kinda nice to be around… when they’re not driving each other nuts (or to the hospital).
There’s not much I can say about the actual stories, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I will say that the plots of both novels are perfectly executed, beautifully paced, and genuinely scary and creepy. However, Josh Lanyon has a wonderful sense of balance and excels at both mystery and romance, so I can still recommend this omnibus for those romance readers who would otherwise think twice about delving into the mystery genre.
I will, however, point out that I was very disappointed in one aspect of this long-awaited omnibus: the editing. It’s something I simply cannot fathom, that this omnibus can have been published with all the raw errors left in both stories that had been cleaned out of the print versions. It tragically reminds me of J.L. Langley’s Without Reservations, in which a fabulous story and a careful, creative, entertaining author has been plagued with editing oversights.
There’s a huge difference between technical mistakes and what is merely the stubborness of an author. Every author makes mistakes. I do it, LdDurham does it, apparently even Josh Lanyon does it. They are the kind of mistakes that an author can’t see because he or she is too close to the problem, yet they instantly leap out at the unsuspecting reader, totally throwing one off the flow of the story and making the readers say “Wait, what?” It’s inevitable that these mistakes exist. What is not inevitable is that they continue to be allowed to exist once an editor has taken a quick zip through a manuscript. I could understand and forgive this kind of sloppiness in fanfiction, because good beta readers are hard to find, but this isn’t fanfiction, is it?
In my opinion, Josh Lanyon deserved more attention than he recieved from whoever was in charge of editing. I mean, it’s not as though either of these books were new, and the mistakes didn’t exist in the originals – I know this for a fact, because I checked. Does editing mean something different in the world of publishing than it does everywhere else?
CarvedWood implored me to read this and begged, nay, pleaded that we review it. I, being the magnanimous person I am, agreed.
I am so glad I do this book thing with her.
Fatal Shadows and A Dangerous Thing are, in no uncertain terms, wonderful. I say this with complete and open enthusiasm.
I started reading Fatal Shadows without even looking at the small synopsis Loose Id gives. I didn’t need to; I knew I was going to buy it and read it. And actually, I am glad I did it that way because without knowing about the “hot and handsome LAPD detective Jake Riordan” I can tell you that the romance built so subtly, the attraction ignited so smoothly and naturally, that at its culmination it made total and perfect sense. And, boy, did I grin like a fool and cheer when it culminated.
But this isn’t at heart a romance novel. It’s a mystery. And what a delicious and exciting mystery too! We begin with so many motives and so many possible suspects, that I was immediately engaged in the investigation. I’m not a mystery buff. Far from it. I read the Stephanie Plum novels and that’s it. This mystery had me on my toes and on the edge of my seat, busily working out who the murderer could be and why.
The characters are all wonderfully drawn and easily visualized. Adrien English is such a comfortable and familiar character. This is a character that is easily loved and rooted for. Adrien is the person I want to be when I grow up, hands down. And Jake, although irritating, is never quite enough of a jerk to make me hate him. In fact, I could completely and totally understand Adrien’s frustration and obsession with him. He’s the kind of guy in your love life who is just going to screw you up, coming and going, and you really wish you could hate him for it.
The setting was great, but I might have been partial to that particular element since I live in Los Angels County and have been to many of the places noted in the book. (In fact, I squealed in delight when Adrien ends up in the Denny’s on Topanga Boulevard having eaten there not too long ago. I had this insane moment of wondering if I could have seen Adrien there before I remembered he’s a fictional character. That’s how well written he is.)
The writing is smooth and the story perfectly paced and rendered. There is not one superfluous scene and there is not one moment in which I felt rushed. This book flows so naturally and Adrien is given clues at just the right moments.
A Dangerous Thing is just that much better as the romance between Adrien and Jake builds. It’s such a natural and real relationship they have, in all its sweet, snapping, joking, and frustrating parts.
The mystery in this book, while a little more improbable, was even more exciting than in Fatal Shadows. I was so engaged in it, and the way clues were revealed was great because you really had to be thinking.
This book and its two stories are a must read. It’s funny, sexy, romantic, exciting, and engaging. I agree with CarvedWood that the typos should have been handled by the publisher a bit better. But as a first-time reader of these stories, I can assure anyone that the story just pulls you right through them without more than a slight puckering of the brow. I recommend this book to anyone who just wants to thoroughly immerse themselves in a fun and exciting read with a nice side of sexy romance.