Scarlett Wakefield is in stark, mysterious Edinburgh for a field trip with her classmates (and, of course, some teachers) from Wakefield Hall. In a completely unwelcome coincidence, her former classmates from St. Tabitha's -- including her two ex-best friends, who despise her -- are there as well.
Staying in the same building.
For an entire week.
Callum McAndrew, the twin brother of murderee Dan McAndrew, is also in Edinburgh. From the moment he and Scarlett reconnect, it appears that their chemistry is still there, despite the tragedy in their past.
Of course, the fact that Scarlett has a boyfriend -- one that she's madly in love with -- is a slight complication. But then, she hasn't seen him in months, not since he took off on his motorcycle for parts unknown.
So, yes. It's a trip that would be confusing and difficult enough WITHOUT that whole someone's-trying-to-kill-her thing.
I loved the first two books in this series.
The third, not so much.
And now, with Kiss of Death, the fourth and final book, I find myself wishing that the series had been a duo rather than a quartet.
That isn't to say that Book Four didn't keep me reading. It did.
That isn't to say that I didn't read the whole thing in one sitting. I did.
Some of the things I liked so much are still here:
- Scarlett and Taylor's love of athleticism: The fact that they work at being in shape, that being in shape allows them to do things that other girls aren't physically capable of, and that they genuinely, healthily enjoy food.
- The fact that Lauren Henderson doesn't give away spoilers about the previous books unless they're totally relevant to the current story -- both because that'll be nice for readers who start here and move backwards, AND because it means that there isn't a thirty-page infodump at the beginning of the book.
- Scarlett is still a likable narrator, and the Girl Vs. Girl Social Pecking Order/Infighting is both enjoyable and believable.
But, overall... it was just... lacking. Lacking in the spunky verve of the first two books, lacking in the suspense and romance, and lacking in the energy, period. Some of the lethargic feel can be chalked up to Scarlett's general emotional state, but not all of it. Kiss of Death just didn't POP! like the first two.
In addition, there were a couple of storylines that felt like they were unplanned and possibly even just added to make the threads come together. I'm going to attempt this without spoilers, so the following won't make much sense unless you've read the book:
- First: Plum. Ultimately, I gave the Plum storyline a pass, because there was an effort at foreshadowing it earlier in the book, and because I think Plum Saybourne would be a good-enough actress to pull it off in the earlier books. It would also give her a reason (inner misery and turmoil) to be such a megabitch all of the time. However. I remain somewhat skeptical.
- Second: Taylor's Romance. This one, I couldn't make work from any angle, and in some cases, it didn't make sense on multiple fronts. Which I don't want to go into because they're in Major Spoiler Country. The only logical explanation that worked for me was that there was a necessity to [VAGUE SPOILER] give Scarlett's cast-off someone to lurrrve so that any Team _____ fans wouldn't get mad. [END VAGUE SPOILER]
- Third: Scarlett's suspicion of Taylor. This part falls into the We Could Have Saved A Whole Lot of Trouble If You'd Just Spoken Up category, and also, Taylor's TOTALLY proved herself multiple times in the past, therefore, Scarlett should have at least tried to get answers before assuming Major Guilt. I dunno. It could be argued, I think, but that was my take on it.
Anyway, all that aside: I TOTALLY LOVED THE FIRST TWO BOOKS*, and I wholeheartedly recommend them.
So much that there's no way that I'll miss the upcoming** (and totally different) series.
**Well, you know. Upcoming next year.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.