The Lady Who Drew Me In
The Lady Who Drew Me In is the third book in Thomasine Rappold’s Soul Survivor series, which mixes historical romance and mystery with a little dash of the paranormal. I haven’t read the previous two novels, but I gather from reading the synopses, that the heroines, like Daisy Lansing – the heroine of this one – had some supernatural ability; Maddy in book one has magical healing powers and Gia in book two has prophetic visions. Here, Daisy, a talented artist, has the ability to translate people’s thoughts into drawings and pictures.
I was intrigued by the publisher’s blurb, which promises a tale featuring the newly widowed and independently minded Daisy, a dashing young lawyer and the hunt for a murderer. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was looking forward to a suspenseful story – something akin to a modern romantic suspense novel, but set in 1880s America. Sadly, it didn’t meet those expectations and I came away from it feeling disappointed.
Daisy Lansing’s invalid, controlling husband has recently died and she is finally free to pursue her own interests. The problem is that he has tied up the money he’s left her in such a way as to mean that her income is very small, and she is unable to gain access to the full amount until she remarries. That is something Daisy does not want – her experience of marriage with an older, peevish husband was not a good one – but without it, she won’t be able to found the children’s home which has been her dream for years.
Lawyer Jackson Gallway has travelled to the small town of Misty Lake in order to ask for Daisy’s help on a case he is working on. He has also taken the opportunity to get out of the city in the wake of the scandal that erupted over his affair with a married woman – the wife of a business associate – although even that gossip has spread far and wide, and Daisy is well aware of Jackson’s reputation as a rake and all-round scoundrel. Yet when she learns that he is trying to prove the innocence of a man convicted of murder – a murder to which the victim’s son was the only witness – her attention is captured by the plight of the boy, and she agrees to help.
Daisy is able to use her gift for drawing what people are thinking to good effect, getting a clear sketch of the man the boy saw on the night of the murder. And it’s not the face of the man currently imprisoned. Jackson, keen to get back to town, insists they head back even though a storm is brewing; of course, he and Daisy are caught in it and end up having to take shelter for the night. Nothing happens between them – even though they are strongly attracted to each other – but when word gets out that they spent the night together, there is nothing for it if Daisy is going to be able to further her plans for the home, or even hold up her head in Misty Lake again; Jackson will have to marry her.
Jackson certainly hasn’t planned either on marrying or spending his life in a backwater like Misty Lake and Daisy wants her independence, so the pair reaches an agreement. With their marriage, Daisy will come into her money and be able to set up her children’s home; Jackson has his eye on a job in St. Louis. Once Jackson’s case is over, he can leave Misty Lake and the two of them will live separate lives – on the condition that before he leaves, he gets Daisy pregnant.
The couple settles into a routine of sorts, and Jackson even finds himself starting to enjoy the quieter life offered by Misty Lake, but it’s clear to him that all Daisy wants is a stud and that as soon as she has conceived, she will want him gone. And Daisy, who is falling for her handsome husband, is convinced he can’t wait to get back to the city, so is putting up barriers in an attempt to protect herself from heartbreak. Both characters have emotional baggage that is clouding their judgement, but this is pretty much classic Big Mis territory; all of it could have been straightened out by a simple conversation. But while Daisy and Jackson are battling their respective demons – he that he’s not good enough and she because of her survivor’s guilt at having survived the fire which killed her parents – they also have to contend with the very real threat posed by the killer for whom Jackson has been searching.
The overall problem with the book is that it’s just a little bit dull. The writing is decent, but nothing out of the ordinary, and while Daisy is fairly well fleshed-out as a character, Jackson is a bit of a stereotype. There’s no real romantic chemistry between the couple, and even though they enjoy spending time together in and out of bed, I didn’t feel an emotional connection between them. The mystery surrounding Jackson’s search for the killer is somewhat perfunctory and the identity of the villain isn’t set up very well, so that aspect of the story is rather disappointing, too. But on the plus side, the author does a good job of showing Jackson and Daisy coming to know and understand each other better; and the scene towards the end in which they are both forced to confront some unpleasant home truths is insightful. These things save the book from a lower rating, but the romance itself is lukewarm.
The Lady Who Drew Me In is one of those novels that proved too easy to put down. It’s by no means a terrible book, and the premise is an unusual and attractive one; but I’m afraid that neither the romance nor the mystery were strong enough to really draw ME in.