Catherine Mulveny’s first book, Upon a Midnight Clear was one of my favorites of 1997. Her second book, Man Shy did not make much of an impression on me. Her third, Aquamarine, while not as good as her first, was an enjoyable book with a touch of the paranormal. If only it had been longer, I think it would have been much better.
Seven years ago, Kirsten Rainey was been kidnapped. Her wealthy father, Jack Rainey, paid the ransom – but Kirsten never appeared. The ransom was never collected and Kirsten was eventually declared dead. When the story begins, Kirsten’s fiancé, Teague Harris is at a county fair when he sees a woman who is the exact double of Kirsten. He follows her around and when they meet and talk, Teague finds out that she is Shea McKenzie and she has never met nor even heard of Kirsten Rainey. Teague explains what happened to Kirsten and shows Shea a picture of her. Then Teague asks Shea for a favor. Jack Rainey is dying of cancer and has never gotten over the disappearance of Kirsten. Teague asks Shea to impersonate Kirsten for a while to give Jack some peace of mind before he dies, Teague also needs her help to try and find the person who killed Kirsten. Teague thinks the murderer might have been an aquaintance and if Shea shows up as Kirsten, the murderer might show his hand! Shea reluctantly agrees.
Teague gives Shea a crash course on Kirsten’s life and habits and even though she is scared at first, she passes the test with flying colors. The Rainey family accept Shea as Kirsten and believe her story that she was suffering from amnesia. Shea begins to have some odd experiences – she knows things about Kirsten that Teague had not told her and even sometimes feels a presence in the room with her, especially when she is near a large aquamarine crystal that Kirsten once owned. Also, as Jack is showing Shea some family pictures, she sees one of Jack, his wife and a young woman who is Shea’s mother. Shea always thought her father died in Vietnam, but after she sees the picture she begins to wonder.
Aquamarine is a short book, only 209 pages and it really needed to be longer. Shea was a very likable character and was well-developed considering the length of the book, but Teague was more vague. I never really got a good mental picture of him, and wished for more pages so Ms. Mulvaney could spend more time with the characters and the romance. As it was, the mystery very much overshadowed the romance in Aquamarine. Now that the Loveswept line is going to be discontinued, I still hope that some publisher picks up Catherine Mulvaney. With more pages to develop the plot and characters, I think she could write an excellent romantic suspense book, or (given her wonderful sense of humor) a romantic comedy.