Title: 24-Karat Conspiracy
Author: EM Lynley
Release Date: June 12, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary, Mystery
Page Count: 250
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Love is the only gold
Former Ranger turned FBI agent Reed Acton faces his biggest challenge yet: a Christmas visit from partner Trent Copeland’s parents. He’s less equipped to handle hugs and holidays than the Taliban or international art thieves. When he’s assigned to track down a set of gold Babylonian artifacts looted from the Iraqi National Museum after the fall of Baghdad, things start to look up.
This time, Trent’s part of the mission, which takes them to exotic Istanbul. The crowded streets and labyrinthine markets fascinate Trent, but soon murder is on their trail. The investigation continues as Reed goes undercover at a US Army base, with Trent masquerading as his spouse. Surprisingly, fastidious and ever-fashionable Trent fits into base life right away and soon takes one of the suspects’ wives under his wing when domestic abuse rears its head.
Their faux marriage leads Reed to appreciate Trent in ways he never expected, strengthening their bond—until Reed has to confront the worst demons from his past: his relationship with his estranged family.
Book 4 in the Precious Gems series. Not to be read as a stand alone.
Of the four books, I enjoyed this one the most. That being said, there were a few quirks that kept this from a higher ranking.
Three years is a long time to be in a relationship and still questioning if he loves me/he loves me not. The angst and self-doubt has become tiresome. I did not find Trent’s emotional see-saw endearing in anyway: the sudden mood changes when Reed’s boss would call, the quick anger at Reed being called into work, or having to suddenly head out of town. This is Reed’s job. Pull up your big-boy panties, Trent, and deal with it.
I did enjoy Reed’s progressive realization with how much he did love Trent, the gradual understanding how Trent might feel when Reed was out of town and the bed empty. How much Reed loved having someone to come home to. That, in my opinion was the strength of the book and total sweetness.
I did think there were a couple plot quirks that could have been ironed out: Once established at Ft. Sam, Trent befriending Maya (Reed’s semi-estranged mother), and Maya so quick to befriend Trent, didn’t feel real to me. For myself, it came across as sneaky, underhanded, and manipulative (and this was mentioned in the story). This behavior was what I would expect a woman to do, not a guy. I understand what the author was doing, but it didn’t work for me and became a distraction.
While I thought Maya’s explanation of why Reed’s father was so harsh when Reed came out was plausible, I didn’t think it was enough to overcome twenty years of animosity and bring about a big happy family reunion. And I admit, I’m hung-up on how Trent went about getting this information being just wrong.
The other issue I had was with the plot – the mystery and intrigue was lost in the family drama/spousal abuse once boots were on the ground at Ft. Sam. There were some missing artifacts that remained missing at the end; gifts that were purchased (legitimately) in Turkey but never distributed (hey, I want to know if Trent’s family liked the gifts!); and, according to the jacket blurb and set up, this was supposed to be Reed’s big break as a case. I’m not clear how that was the case?
Some positives (just to reassure you I DID enjoy this): the reader learns more about Reed’s background, we get to see Reed coming to the realization how much he loves Trent (angst issues and all), I LOVED the scene where Reed is alone in the house in an empty bed and it dawns on him what he’s feeling is how Trent feels every time he leaves (though why he didn’t feel that on his other missions, I don’t know…), we get a tour of the Grand Bazaar in TURKEY(!) and we get a glimpse of Turkish life, food, traffic, and scenery.
Ultimately, an enjoyable read even if it was a bit disjointed. Still my favorite in the series.