Bishop’s Queen is the second book in Katie Reus’ Endgame Trilogy of romantic suspense novels featuring the Bishop siblings, Evie, Evan and Ellis. Book one, Bishop’s Knight, was a fast-paced, well put-together and sexy story that I called a “quick, satisfying read” in my review; Bishop’s Queen, however, suffers – badly – from what I call ‘middle-book-itis’, and merely treads water between the beginning and end (the soon-to-be-released book three, Bishop’s Endgame).
Please note that there are spoilers for Bishop’s Knight in this review.
The first book in the trilogy set up the series premise. The wealthy, well-connected Bishop family has been hit with a double whammy of bad news. Ellis –a DEA agent – has been accused of murdering his partner and has gone on the run and off the grid, and a recent explosion at Bishop Enterprises has left Evan critically injured and killed a number of employees – including his fiancée’s father. Isla MacDonald is grieving her father and is also distraught because Evan refuses to see her and then breaks their engagement, allowing her to believe it’s because he’s badly scarred and thinks she’ll be repulsed by him.
When Bishop’s Queen opens a few months later, Isla is still hurting over Evan’s rejection, but is getting on with her life. Her father’s death means she is now running his business, and she’s doing it well – but it’s not really what she wants to do with her life. She’d never intended to work for her father for ever, although now he’s gone, she feels she needs to at the very least, complete the deals he was working on before his death before she hands over the reins to the very capable team she has working for her, and steps back from the day-to-day running of the company.
Evan, meanwhile, has turned into something of a recluse, believing himself to have been responsible for the death of Isla’s father – who was also a good friend – and trying hard to forget Isla and move on. He didn’t push her away out of vanity; it was misplaced guilt that prompted him to act as he did, and although he still loves Isla deeply, he’s trying to convince himself he did the right thing… even as he knows he made a colossal mistake.
When Isla is mugged, Evan’s protective instincts kick in, even though he has no right to feel that way any more. But when there’s an obvious attempt on her life, he can’t stay away- Isla needs to be protected while the police and her security team work to find out who wants her dead, and Evan is the only person he trusts to keep her safe.
Bishop’s Queen is one of those romantic suspense novels where the suspense works a lot better than the romance. Isla and Evan are likeable and I appreciated that they were able to approach their situation and discuss things in a mature way that showed the strength of their connection (Isla’s couple of slightly TSTL moments notwithstanding), but to be honest, their second-chance romance felt pretty flat. Evan did a hurtful, dumb thing by pushing Isla away and letting her think it was because he didn’t want her to see his scars, and Isla is right to be upset and wary of letting herself be hurt again, but there’s no real in-depth exploration of the reasons for their break-up or focus on the rebuilding of their relationship. The threat to Isla’s safety becomes the novel’s driving force and the emotional aspect of the romance is neglected.
The suspense plot, however, is what kept me involved in the story. We learn that although the person who actually planted the bomb that destroyed the Bishop Enterprises offices is in prison, his strings were being pulled by someone else, someone who is obsessed with Isla and who is becoming more and more unhinged as he sees her rekindling her relationship with Evan. The author lobs in a couple of convincing red herrings here, so I wasn’t sure of the identity of the villain until the reveal (which is never a bad thing), although I was surprised that this plotline is wrapped up at the end; I’d thought the search for the person behind the bombing was going to be the overarching plot of the series, but it seems as though Ellis’ story is unrelated to the events of this and the previous book.
Ultimately, I’m awarding Bishop’s Queen an average grade because while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, and I was more invested in the suspense plot than the romance. The novels work as standalones, so it’s perfectly possible to read books one and three without reading this one, unless you’re desperate to find out the identity of the bomber, of course, or don’t mind your romantic suspense skewed towards the suspense.