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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Treasure-Hunting Mystery/Romance Intrigues But Doesn't Satisfy

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Liv Connelly has always been fascinated by the story of the Patriot, a schooner that vanished without a trace off the Carolina coast in 1813.  No one knows what befell those aboard the missing vessel. Liv's especially curious about the fate of the ship's most famous passenger, Theodosia Burr Alston, the beloved 29-year-old daughter of Aaron Burr.  What happened to "Theo"?  Did she drown in stormy waters?  Was she taken captive by greedy pirates?  Theories abound.  Liv wants the truth.  Although crippling asthma and a paranoid, anxiety-ridden father keep her grounded, she longs to comb the ocean floor for clues, to solve the mystery for herself.

Her obsession with shipwrecks leads Liv to two men, both graduate students in marine archaeology.  Whit Crosby and Sam Felder couldn't be more different—the former is spontaneous, unpredictable; the latter calm and controlled.  The friendship between the three is exciting but rocky.  

Thirteen years after they all meet, Liv is married to Whit; the couple has been estranged from Sam for years.  That all changes when they need his help on a dive.  Sam's return brings a tornado of emotions for Liv.  Sam's obviously looking for a second chance, not just with Liv but at fulfilling their shared dream of finding the Patriot.  With her business in the red and her marriage on the rocks, it's time for Liv to finally decide what—and who—she really wants.

It's difficult not to be intrigued by the mystery at the heart of The Last Treasure by Erika Marks.  I'd never heard of the Patriot before picking up the novel, but now I, too, wonder what happened to Theodosia and her fellow passengers.  It's a puzzle, the possible solutions of which kept me reading this book despite not feeling overly connected to its players.  I'm not fond of love triangles to begin with—I especially dislike them when those involved are fickle, selfish, and just not all that likable, a description which fits Whit, Liv, and Sam.  This, coupled with a loosey-goosey plot that focused more on romance than mystery, made The Last Treasure a bit of a disappointment for me.  I wanted to like it a lot more than I actually did.  Oh well.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:



 If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a few F-bombs plus milder expletives) and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Last Treasure from the generous folks at Penguin.  Thank you!
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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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