I had very high hopes for this book as I am a great fan of Ellis Peters. But unfortunately, this read isn't up to those standards.
Not because of the historical setting, which was interesting and I believe thoroughly researched.
Because of the characters. Because of Lucy and Owen.
It's not credible that their relationship remains the same from start to finish. The initial mistrust between them should have given way to something different and better, considering everything that happened between them in the meantime. Yet, we reach the end of the novel and their reactions are as guarded and as defiant as they were when they were strangers to each other.
The result is that they don't grow. They don't learn.
And that to me is a major failure in the book.
I will however give this series another chance by reading its,second book in the hope that the above mistake were due to the author's inexperience.
I keep reading this series for its well-depicted historical context and interesting mystery, but I'm still disappointed with Ms. Robb's weak character development.
Not just between the protagonistsLucy and Owen, where it seems trust is lacking and anger or misunderstanding quick to fuel in spite of ten years of living together and 4 children.
Also between such occasional characters like Hubert and his mother, where it's not credible that adoration should turn to hate or indifference as fast as Ms. Robb depicted.
This author falls into the trap of describing a relationship rather than letting the characters show it through their words and deeds. The result is that Ms. Robb says one thing, the characters say quite a different thing and she's forever apologizing for her characters misbehavior. Like with Lucy and Owen, the author has to remind readers how much the two love each other when in fact he's often angry at her for being too independent and she's weary because he doesn't show too much affection. There's no complicity between them, no sense of being partners and no amount of Ms. Robb's assurances can ever change that.