Last Breath by Mariah Stewart
Well... I'm not sure where to start on this one. Great story, as usual. This book is Connor's story. All the "Dead and the "Last" books that have dealt with the Shields family have created this mystique around Connor. He is the brother that was supposed to be out on that dock when Dylan was killed (this ended the Dead books, and was the story behind AnneMarie McCall's book - Dylan was her fiance). He is the brother supposedly wracked with guilt. All the books from the Dead books till now have been leading up to this one.
I found myself disappointed. Not in the story - that was, as usual, well-written, exciting, interesting. And on a subject totally out of the ordinary. But what disappointed me was that after all this buildup, Connor lacked the emotional depth that I expected. I was expecting (hoping?) for hidden dimensions to Connor's psyche. Instead what I got was an incredibly honorable man, full of love and warmth. The honorable part, I could deal with. The love and warmth part, I found didn't jive with the glimpses I've seen of Connor in other books. Don't get me wrong - he was a great guy. One any woman would love to have. But he just wasn't the Connor that I was wanting, needing, expecting after 6 or 7 books. Stewart hinted that there was more there; Connor's unwillingness to really discuss himself was key to that. But by just accepting this, Daria made it impossible for me to accept a full and complete relationship between the two of them.
And interestingly, Connor's book was the most relationship-driven book of them all. Stewart's books are usually heavy on the storyline and the suspense, light on the romance. While this was fairly light on the romance, Stewart did do an awful lot of relationship-building between Connor and Daria.
The story itself totally absorbed me; it was a truly fascinating look at ancient cultures and archaeology. And I didn't realize until the one conversation that Connor and Daria had about Dylan that I was missing something. I was missing the hard edge to Connor that I'd seen in all the other books about the Shields family. It was that lack of continuity of character that threw me - Stewart is usually such a master at this. You would have to be when writing about a family that arcs across many books such as the Shields family, even though each book focuses on a new family member.
Stewart did leave a door open (I hope) for more follow up to Connor and Daria with a potential story for Daria's brother, Jack. I truly hope that we get more than just a glimpse into Connor's psyche there, because I'm left feeling vaguely unfulfilled - like I had a mini-orgasm, but was so close to the peak of the big one that I feel cheated.