My experience with this book is one of extremes. When I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it. The story swept me away with interesting narratives, the promised danger of volatile mob bosses, and the wanton, forbidden love steeped in expertly crafted sexual tension.
But when I did not enjoy it, it was a steep downward spiral. One of cheesy, immersion-breaking dialogue, confusing sentence structure, and my own deep disappointment when events I’d been on the edge of my seat in anticipation of, passed by in the blink of an eye with very little of the promised excitement.
I’m struggling a bit with this review. With what to say about the book. I don’t believe in doing critical reviews, and yet I am feeling entirely critical, because there was so much I loved about this book. It would have been easier to talk about it if the whole thing was just a bore, but it wasn’t. It was equal parts amazing and infuriating, both technically and stylistically.
In Smoke & Mirrors, we meet Frank Valdea, a goon of mobster Salvatore Brunetti, with a tragic past and a charmingly rough-around-the-edges personality. During an ill-fated séance, he is introduced to his co-protagonist and love interest, the illusive Kasimir. Kas is a medium, magician, and admitted fraudster, and by all accounts, as gorgeous and seductive as he is skilled at the art of deception. They make a fascinating pair, and the chemistry sparks to life the moment they meet. It was that moment I was completely taken by the book and immediately replaced the sample with the full ebook.
What follows is a thrilling story of crime, lust, and the dangerous seedy underworld of Manhattan in the 20s, with some snazzy magician tricks thrown in for good measure. The plot was interesting as all hell, and for the most part, even though I had major issues with how the biggest plot points were carried out, it was good, and I was rooting for Frank and Kas to the very end.
I’m not going to get into the things I didn’t like any more than I did at the beginning. There’s no point: y’all smart cookies get the gist of it. The thing is, though I have complaints, the bits I liked, I liked so much that the moment I finished reading this book, I downloaded the second one. I’m hoping this will be another Whyborne & Griffin situation where the first book frustrates me and the second book makes me fall madly in love with the series.
Wish me luck.
Check out Smoke & Mirrors by Vesper St. Clair on Goodreads!
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