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    3.5 stars- good story, but the romance fizzled

    I’ve become quite hooked on the Porthkennack series and get a little giddy when I see a new release announced. I love the mystic, storied history of the small Cornish town, and always wonder where the next author will take it. While they are all written as standalones, the fact that Foxglove Copse worked in elements and characters from another book in the series, House of Cards, was a surprising bonus. Foxglove Copse itself is a little harder to rate. Initially, I liked the characters and was really interested in Sam’s story and how he had come to leave his wealthy lifestyle behind for a more transient, off-the-grid existence. However, the pairing of Ruan and Sam felt a little forced and too convenient. I found myself more invested in the suspense and mystery element of Ruan and Sam attempting to solve the origin of the cyberbullying and curses, with the romance being relegated to a background plot. The backstory of both characters had a lot of promise, and in many ways it eventually delivered. While I understood the emotions both characters worked through on their own and enjoyed seeing much of it play out on page, I found myself wishing it carried over to their time together. In my opinion, the chemistry between Ruan and Sam fell flat. I didn’t feel a simmering attraction and the sexual tension was minimal. The physical chemistry also was lacking, with all the intimate scenes taking place off page. While that in and of itself isn’t a deal breaker for me, the lack of physical connection combined with not feeling the emotional chemistry build between characters made it difficult to really believe in this love story. Thankfully, towards the end of the book, there was much more of that connection playing out on page and it was readily apparent just how much Ruan and Sam meant to one another. Although the romance didn’t draw me in that much, the main plotline and conflict was intriguing. The action scenes flowed well and there was a nice air of suspense that built throughout the book. The different elements- the occult, cybertracking, tattoos, tarots, etc- were all very interesting. There were a good number of unexpected moments and I found the resolution satisfying. I also thought Sam’s personal growth as he dealt with his anxiety was handled pretty well and added a good deal of depth to his character. Unfortunately, I think the development of the different layers of this mystery and the personal struggles Sam and Ruan faced meant the relationship didn’t get quite as much energy at the beginning. So while I was invested in the story, I wasn’t as taken by the couple. That said, I think there are plenty of readers who will enjoy Foxglove Copse, as long as they aren’t particularly looking for the romance to steal the show. *Received ARC via Netgalley. The author and publisher had no influence over this review*
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