Review: Declan’s Cross by Carla Neggers

Declan's Cross by Carla NeggersFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, hardcover, paperback
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: Sharpe and Donovan, #3
Length: 317 pages
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date Released: September 1, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

For marine biologist Julianne Maroney, two weeks in tiny Declan’s Cross on the south Irish coast is a chance to heal her broken heart. She doesn’t expect to attract the attention of FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan—especially since a Donovan is the reason for her broken heart.

Emma and Colin are in Ireland for their own personal retreat. Colin knows he’s a reminder of everything Julianne wants to escape, but something about her trip raises his suspicion. Emma, an art crimes expert, is also on edge. Of all the Irish villages Julianne could choose…why Declan’s Cross?

Ten years ago, a thief slipped into a mansion in Declan’s Cross. Emma’s grandfather, a renowned art detective, investigated, but the art stolen that night has never been recovered and the elusive thief never caught.

From the moment Julianne sets foot on Irish soil, everything goes wrong. The well-connected American diver who invited her to Ireland has disappeared. And now Emma and Colin are in Declan’s Cross asking questions.

As a dark conspiracy unfolds amid the breathtaking scenery of Declan’s Cross, the race is on to stop a ruthless killer…and the stakes have never been more personal for Emma and Colin.

My Review:

saints gate by carla neggersDeclan’s Cross is the third book in Carla Neggers’ Sharpe & Donovan series, and just like the first two books in the series, Saint’s Gate and Heron’s Cove (reviewed over at Book Lovers Inc. here and here), the suspense part of this romantic suspense story involves both a case from Emma’s past as a art recovery expert for her family’s firm from before she became an FBI agent and a mystery out of her grandfather’s murky past.

The case also explores more of Father Finian Bracken’s backstory in Ireland and naturally uses the investigative talents of both Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan. As well it should, as they are both FBI agents.

Emma and Colin came to Ireland to get away from their jobs, but their jobs have found them. It seems as if the past and present have both collided and sought them out, when the last few days of their vacation are interrupted by a message from Maine. Someone from home is coming to a small village in Ireland on vacation, and is planning to pursue an internship in a few months.

It shouldn’t be their business, except that Julianne Maroney is leaving Rock Point to get away from a broken relationship with one of Colin’s brothers. The place she is coming to in Ireland, Declan’s Cross, is the site of the first of a series of unsolved art thefts; and the thief is still active and still taunting Emma’s grandfather. Last and finally, the person who is supposed to meet Julianne at Shannon airport is missing.

Julianne’s plan was to mend her broken heart by finally finishing her master’s degree in marine biology as far away from Rock Point, Maine as she could get. Her acceptance of an impulsive offer to open a marine substation in tiny Declan’s Cross with the woman Lindsay Hargreaves is seen as the act of a young woman looking for a quick way out of her troubles. Then Lindsay turns up dead, and it opens up an investigation not just into her death, but into a crime that has haunted Declan’s Cove and the Sharpe family for ten years.

Some troubles just refuse to stay buried.

Escape Rating B: One of the things I enjoy about the Sharpe & Donovan series is that even though this is romantic suspense, not only is the emphasis on the suspense rather than the romance, but Emma Sharpe definitely does not play into the submissive female stereotype. She’s an FBI agent and she does not lose her gun or need to be rescued. The romantic tension in the story is about how she and Donovan will balance their careers and the different secrets they have to keep from each other.

I also like the way that the cast of characters has been expanding over the three books so far. There are two romantic side plots in Declan’s Cross; one involves Colin’s brother Andy and Julianne (Colin has two other brothers, this has possibilities!) and the other involves Father Finian’s garda friend Sean Murphy and Kitty, the woman who owns the inn. There are a lot of past issues that come out and affect the present, including the romances.

One thing that fascinates me; every story so far has involved, not just Emma’s past working for her grandfather’s art recovery firm, but an actual case that her grandfather worked on back in the day. I wonder how many of his old cases are going to come back to haunt her new FBI team? While her boss’s comment about wishing he could do a Vulcan mind-meld on the old man was hilarious, the team does need to get some cases that aren’t generated from her grandfather’s storied past sooner or later.

That being said, I still had a great time watching Emma and Colin work out more of the kinks in their relationship and investigate a murder while trying to work both around and with the rules since they did not have jurisdiction in Ireland. There were plenty of hints about the future and I’m looking forward to more.

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