Evelyn Grant is a homicide detective tasked with investigating the murder of a child who went missing from a party. With few leads beyond forensic evidence, Evelyn needs to rely heavily on Medical Examiner Ainsley Monson. Ainsley is unusual to say the least, and when their work relationship threatens to cross into a social one, Evelyn is not sure what to make of the ME and her strange behaviour.
As Evelyn and Ainsley spend more time together socially, everything becomes more complex for Evelyn. Can she juggle the demands of a case with little to go on, a social life that is increasingly complicated, and a budding relationship?
Evelyn is a typical Ellendale character. With complex layers, a cynical outlook, and a sweet side that we get glimpses of when all the planets align, Eve is exactly what I have come to expect from Ellendale, and I was not at all disappointed in Wildrose’s lead character.
Ainsley is an interesting character, and I still can’t decide if I like her or if she makes me uncomfortable. Written with an almost complete lack of social awareness, everything about Ainsley (including her job) makes her seem like a loner, and yet I got the sense she desperately wanted to be part of Eve’s social world.
I love that Max Ellendale carries her characters across her different novels by writing the stories in the same universe. The peripheral characters and the lead characters from Four Point appear as peripheral characters in Wildrose, and this is perfect for someone like me who fell in love with Ellendale’s thrillers, but wanted to try on her romance for size. Conclusion? Perfect.
The Writing Style
This book has a really meaty and difficult start in terms of content. This fades into the background the further you get into the book, and the mystery subplot is perfectly placed behind the romance storyline. Ellendale is so skilled at pacing a novel and keeping the reader hooked, and Wildrose is no exception.
This is yet another example of just how good Max Ellendale is at her craft. The characters have layer upon gritty layer of flawed perfection, and the story line is clever, complex, and creative. This book is not really like any other I have read, and Ellendale and Bruce get full marks for that.
This book starts with a fairly graphic crime against a child. If this is something you don’t have the stomach for, don’t read this book.
This book was an unexpected joy for me to read. It was my first experience reading an Ellendale that wasn’t a thriller, and it was her usual excellent work. The characters were fun, flawed and believable. I particularly enjoyed the arc of Evelyn and the growth Ellendale managed to write for her in such a short space of time. Unexpected but pleasant surprise to see some familiar characters making appearances throughout. My only complaint is that this book isn’t longer.
Excerpt from Wildrose by Max Ellendale
“Good. And you, Doc?” I lifted a brow at her.
“Surprise me,” she said, a half smile tugging her mouth.
I took my leave then muttered. “Yeah, I’ll surprise you alright.”
Jimmy poured out two more beers and the dirty martini I ordered for the slicer of corpses. When I returned to the table, I set the drinks out in front of their owners then took my seat between Angelina and Doctor Monson.
“Is this iced seltzer as punishment?” Monson asked as she plucked the stuffed olive from the glass and ate it.
“You wish.” I snagged Ang’s drink and took a sip of the sugary gross thing while I watched the doctor take a sip. “Absinthe.”
“What?” She nearly choked, sputtering as she set the glass back down. The rest of the table erupted with laughter.
“And with that, I’m out of here before this party gets cracked.” Moreno stood, saluting us before grabbing his jacket. “Adios freaks.”
“See ya,” I said, still snickering over Monson’s reaction. She glared at me from over the glass as she took another daring sip.
“Did you really?” Angelina nudged my arm.
“She’ll just have to drink it and see.”
“Better be careful there, Grant. You might be the next one to end up on her icy slab.” Tyler joked. “Or missing and found a week later in her freezer.”
“Very funny.” I scoffed at him, glancing back at Monson whose wicked eyes never left mine as she continued her eerie silence while sipping on the drink.
“Never know. Medical examiners could make the best serial killers. You hardly know me,” she said, again, offering that cheeky-half smile that barely pierced her stare. Angelina laughed openly, her gaze fixed on me.
“You’d never catch her,” she teased. “That’s beyond your skill limit, Eve.”
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