Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Cover Art: Reese Dante
Length: Novel (129 pdf pages, 25 k words)
Rating: 4 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: This book brought the intriguing mystery around the Fitzwarren family curse to a satisfying end.
***Since the Fitzwarren Inheritance books are closely linked, this review might contain spoilers to the other two books***
The Blurb: Surrounded by the tragedy of his family’s history, the last thing Phil expects is to be picked up by a gorgeous guy twenty feet up a climbing wall. What scares him even more is the way Lee fits into his life, the final piece to break the Fitzwarren curse.
The Review: Centuries ago, Phil Fitzwarren’s ancestor Belvedere had Jonathan Curtess killed at the stakes; before he died, Curtess cast a hex on Belvedere’s family which is in effect down to the present day. It’s this curse which Phil holds responsible for the untimely deaths of two of his brothers as well as for the fact that his newborn nephew is in hospital, fighting for his young life.
Phil has almost resigned himself to being the next on the curse’s hit list; even so, he takes great pains to avoid his fate. Although he loves extreme sports like wild-water rafting or rock climbing, he restricts himself to indoor climbing as a safe compromise. However if you’re too wrapped up in dark thoughts to pay attention to what you’re doing, you can get into a pinch even in the relative safety of an indoor climbing center. When Phil finds himself in a gridlock in the wall, Lee Curtis, a young employee of the climbing center, comes to his rescue. The attraction between the two men is instant and intense, much to Phil’s dismay; convinced to be doomed a victim to the family curse, Phil fears he’ll drag his new lover along into disaster.
For months, Lee’d had his eye on Phil Fitzwarren. Now that he’s finally about to attain his desires, he won’t be discouraged by his lover’s misgivings. Even more so once Lee meets Phil’s friends, two other male couples who all seem to think that together, they are destined to break the curse Phil is so afraid of. It is soon evident that Lee might in fact be the last missing piece to solve the puzzle. Phil may be adamant to protect Lee from sharing his personal doom, but Lee is just as stubbornly set on helping to deliver Phil and Phil’s family from their bane. And fate, to all appearances, works in his favor–since Phil, with his family’s fortune in ruins, most certainly is aptly named “the landless lord”, Lee must be “the one who seeks in danger”he’s certainly daring enough.
As a character, Phil wasn’t easy to take to. Ever since he properly entered the stage in book two, he kept being disgruntled and gloomy, afraid of the curse and pessimistic about his part in breaking it, prejudiced against Mark (whom he thought just another charlatan for a long time regardless of all evidence to the contrary) and Daniel (notably his best friend’s beloved). Lee was almost his diametrical opposite, optimistic, sweet, trusting and very open-minded about all the supernatural fortuities that had brought him and Phil together.
This book had to take all the loose ends left dangling by the first two, The Psychic’s Tale and The Soldier’s Tale, tie them nicely and bring the mystery to a convincing and satisfying end. A challenging task, which in regard to the curse, was beautifully solved. However, in the course of this, other elements of the story somewhat fell to the wayside, most probably due to the short format. Lee’s and Phil’s relationship relied heavily on the fated-lovers premise and outside of this, didn’t show a whole lot of development. They were firmly rooted in the Curtess/ Fitzwarren affair; I couldn’t see much of a common ground for them to base a relationship on otherwise. While this made a lot of sense in the context of the overall plot, it also left me a little dissatisfied.
Another issue I had with this book lay in the sheer amount of problems it had to solve. There were really a LOT of loose ends to tie, with Mark bearing the brunt of the work. At times, he struck me like a jack-in-the-box; sure, he is psychic, but some of the resolutions came to him too conveniently and right out of the blue. However it was nice to see all six of them working together. It was certainly no small feat to uphold six different “voices” toward the end, and to keep the character’s particularities apart enough so they remained recognizable. And I loved to meet Alice, Marks grandmother, again.
As a whole, The Fitzwarren Inheritance (“A Trilogy from a Trio”) was a fascinating project. Three different authors attending to a common plot idea, each taking a different approach in her respective unique voice and yet creating an almost seamless whole–as far as I’m concerned, the whole thing was brilliantly done despite a few minor flaws. I greatly enjoyed this series and can only warmly recommend it.
Note: For full enjoyment of the series, I’d advise against reading the Fitzwarren Inheritance books as standalones, they are really too closely linked. All three books are conveniently available as an omnibus