Review warning: mild spoilers and
This is my first Josh Lanyon outside of the Adrien English series. I liked the Adrien English series, I still think about it. Especially
I can see his craft in the writing of Stranger on the Shore, but sorry folks, this just didn’t work for me. The first problem was the mystery, it just seemed completely silly to me. Actually, I think it was the Arlington clan that left me scratching my head. The second problem was the romance, or shall I say poorly portrayed romance between Griff and Pierce. And let’s face it, if the romance had been good, most other issues I had with the book could have been forgivable or at least overlooked.
Let me discuss the Arlington clan. (BTW, I grew up in a town with Arlington in the name, so it had a very homey familiar feel for me). The whole premise of the story was that Griff was going to write a book about the kidnapping of four year old Brian Arlington, grandson and eventual heir to the Arlington fortune. Little Brian was never found, and twenty some years later he is presumed dead. However, Jarrett, Brian’s granddad and the Arlington patriarch, seems to hold out hope that he might show up. You see, Brian’s father Matthew was killed 10 years after the kidnapping, and even though Jarrett also has other children and grandchildren, he wanted his fortunes to go to his eldest son and after that, the eldest grandson. Perfectly reasonable for a HISTORICAL
but this is a contemporary, and in the USA, so none of that peerage nonsense to muddy things. This was explained like this:
“When I made Matthew my heir I was following the precedent set by my father and his father before him, and yes, that precedent was based on English laws of inheritance. Winden House was built in an era when this country’s wealthy aped the English aristocracy. It was very common for the sons and daughters of the wealthy to head for England and try to marry into the nobility. In fact, two of the great ladies of this house were of English ancestry.”
Sure, that might have been the case in the 18th and 19th centuries, but by my rough calculations, Jarrett probably wrote his will in the 1960-1970 timeframe. Because much of the premise of the mystery revolved around the fact that Brian, if he were to miraculously reappear, would inherit this fortune, I was frustrated early on. Come on Josh Lanyon, there must be dozens of good reasons why someone wouldn’t want a kidnapped toddler to return 20 years later, stop watching PBS and think of some.
So what else didn’t work for me? Oh, how about the fact that Jarrett’s daughter is married to a former Hell’s Angel biker who killed someone (allegedly in self-defense). Ok, fine. Blue-blood family has a daughter with a wild side who runs away to San Francisco and hooks up with questionable characters. It just seems to me that if this daughter was really that non-conformist and wild, she wouldn’t be back hanging out and stuffy old Winden House. This setup seemed to be a farfetched way to introduce a thug into the storyline.
Also, get this, during the one-week period while Griff is staying at the Arlington estate to gather information for his book, Brian shows up. Yes, after 20 years out of the blue, Brian shows up. The proof that it is actually Brian and not an imposter looking for an easy fortune is the fact that he has Tiny Teddy. Forget DNA, he has a freaking teddy bear. And how else could someone other than Brian possibly have Tiny Teddy? Cough… ebay.. cough.
And don’t get me started on how the “mystery” was eventually resolved, because I would rather complain about the nomance (that is my own invented term for non-romance) between Griff and Pierce. Griff thought Pierce was a good looking, well dressed asshole of a lawyer. So he was sort of attracted to him, but convinced that he hated him. Eventually, when Pierce put the moves on him, Griff was game but kept his emotional guard up, convincing himself that it wouldn’t really mean anything.
“This was just one night. Twenty years from now he would probably not even remember it. Then Pierce’s mouth covered his, hot and tasting of Black Velvet, and Griff knew he was not going to forget this night. Not ever.“
The above are two consecutive sentences. The first he says that this hookup won’t leave him with any lasting memories. The very next sentence he decides he will NEVER forget this encounter. The only thing that separates those two thoughts was a Black Velvet flavored kiss! Sure, the kiss sounds awesome, but maybe there should have been some more filler between those two thoughts.
There were other issues, including Pierce surreptitiously pilfering a DNA sample from Griff and of the “I love you” declarations after knowing each other for less than a week. But I think I have ranted enough for one review.