Deadly Vows is an absolute gift to fans of the Cahill series. There is all the nail biting “Francesca what are you thinking” action of the other eight books. Francesca continues to have more perils than the famous Pauline and Rick is still trailing behind her with his woeful face on. Calder seems to have had enough of it all, which makes sense. Calder’s had about enough of everything. Thankfully, by the end of Deadly Vows the will she or won’t she, does she or doesn’t she is resolved (for now?) as well as the questions of Bertolla’s pregnancy. If The Deadly Series ends here, it won’t be the cliffhanger it once was. That said, there is no reason for Francesca to stop sleuthing. The series could as easily begin here as end, a reader could start with Deadly Vows and move forward, much as you can with one of Nora Roberts In Death books.
The Deadly Series is long on soaptastic action Everyone is embroiled in some secret, heartrending angst, except Francesca’s parents. (I have to tell you, I expect one of them to come out with some drama soon.) Deadly Vows finds them doing little but fretting as Francesca tries to find a stolen painting, eludes a madman (or three), children are kidnapped, and plots are revealed. Even Francesca’s brother chooses between the Irish seamstress he might love and the pregnant mistress he certainly doesn’t. Being late to leave the city for the summer house hardly compares. (Since Deadly Vows closes as most of the characters head for the beach, I can’t wait to join them there in the next installment.)
My complaint, and I must always have one, is the relationship between Calder and Rick. As the series goes on it makes even less sense to me. Calder is the wealthy half brother to the crusading older Rick Bragg. Calder has mommy issues like woah. Seems Mommy always liked Rick best (even though she was really telling young Rick to look after his baby brother what with her dying and all) and his half brother’s father came to rescue them while Calder’s father wanted no contact at all. Rick sees Calder as a self important selfish tool incapable of true emotion, which I can understand. Calder has money, he has tantrums, and he has issues with Rick while Rick has been charged with caring for the cranky little snot. Calder, on the other hand, sees Rick as a self important windbag using his good works as a cover for his lack of character. I get both of those views. Where it starts to fall apart for me is the brothers are both close to Rick’s father and Rick’s other half brothers. Calder feels unloved and unloveable, which he seems to blame on Rick. Wouldn’t he feel more of a bond with Rick, who shared their mother’s struggle and death, than his protected and pampered youngest brothers? There has to be more to the Calder / Rick drama than Calder being in a snit over Rick’s dad wanting him. This needs a bit more oomph or a working out of issues to satisfy.
I may sound like I’m Team Rick. You’d be wrong, I can easily list what my problems are with both of them but it will have to wait. I can’t detail my frustration with Francesca, her men, and their serious problems with adult life, until the next one. The Deadly Series joys lie in being spoiler free as it all unravels and then ranting about how ridiculous this or that person was during the book. It’s the very definition of guilty pleasure, but no guilt is required. I’m ready to give all three characters a serious time out, but I’ll be back for the next book as soon as I can get my hands on it!