Last Wishes

Alyssa Lyons
Last Wishes
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Publisher
Black Opal Books
Release Date
February 2011
ISBN
9780983268123
Series
Book 1 of Jordan Davis Mysteries
Genre
Romantic Suspense/Mystery

SUMMARY
He was a judge. He didn't break the law…at least not until he met her.

Judge Grayson Trent never suspected the woman his Aunt Becca hired to handle her funeral arrangements would be the very same woman who has consumed Gray's fantasies from the moment he saw her standing before him in court. He soon discovers that she hasn't changed her ways. Not only is she still ignoring the rules when it suits her, now she's a target for a murderer. Unless she's the killer herself.

She wasn't really breaking the law, just bending it a little…and all for a good cause.

Jordan Davis sees nothing wrong in breaking a silly city ordinance, especially when it interferes with her fulfilling the last wishes of her clients. To her, Judge Trent is a narrow-minded, overbearing stick in the mud-a very sexy and hot stick in the mud. Until it seems as if he is responsible for several murders. Maybe the hunk of a judge isn't as law abiding as she thought. Or maybe they're both in danger of being the killer's next victims.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jun 07, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
188 people found the following review helpful
I'm really picky about my mystery novels, and this one has a bunch of the criteria I crave: a capable, interesting lead, a terrific cast of supporting characters and secrets lurking around every corner, with a steamy romance to top it all off. While the plotting of the mystery left a little to be desired, this certainly has all the makings of a promising series and I'm quite eager for more.

Jordan Davis' business is unique. Her company, Last Wishes, arranges funerals and memorials that her clients really want. Which is why she was arrested in San Francisco trying to shovel the ashes of her client into a municipal garden at 3am. But because of that arrest, she was brought in front of Judge Grayson Trent, and nothing has been the same since.

The connection between Jordan and Gray was immediate and so strong that Gray cannot forget her beauty or her fiery spirit. But he is completely unprepared to see her again, during a visit to his mother and his childhood home. It turns out that Gray's beloved Aunt Becca is one of Jordan's clientsor dupes, according to Gray's furious mother. But when Becca is found dead in her home, and Jordan makes the discovery that the death was a result of foul play, it quickly becomes clear that a funeral is the least of any one's concerns.

Trying to work together despite the tension crackling between them, Jordan and Gray set out to find Becca's murderer, only to realize that hers is the latest in a string of mysterious deathsand Libby (Gray's mother) might very well be the next target. Their investigation will turn up a wealth of secrets in the formerly sedate town of Lynchburg, Virginia, along with a number of potential suspectsone of whom might very well be Grayson himself.

This was a fun, light-hearted mystery caper with a wealth of colorful characters. Beneath the faade, Lynchburg has cultivated a conservative, God-fearing community that is a wealth of contradictions and hidden desires. Similarly, Grayson and Jordan are much more than they appear at first glance. Grayson's stoic and chilly demeanor behind the bench hides a man who has never quite belonged. His mother is loving, but so self-concerned that that affection is seldom enough. Becca, the one person who loved him unconditionally, is gone, and when Grayson is forced to the confront the truth that his family has hidden from him since childhood, it seems that nothing in his life is stableexcept for Jordan, who rapidly becomes the focal point of his life.

Jordan comes across as a rebel, in her leather catsuits and motorcycle, but the truth is that she is dedicated to her work and very good at it, even going so far as to attend both medical school and beautician's school in order to fulfill all her clients requests. Last Wishes is her life, and thanks to her special gift of being able to know whether a person is lying with a single look, she knows that she is truly fulfilling her client's most important final wishes. But that gift also alienates her from a number of relationships. Fortunately, it also makes for a handy talent to have when rooting out a local murderer with a hidden vendetta.

While I felt a little blindsided by the ending of the mystery, I did enjoy the journey. Jordan and Gray make for an excellent pair of sleuths, even if their investigative skills could use some serious polishing (Gray's arrest for breaking and entering being a major indication that he probably should stick to his day job). The humor in these kinds of scenes was balanced well with the internal monologue of the murderer as he watches the pair in action. I wish we had been able to spend more time in the presence of the real villain of this piece, as the glimpses provided into his psyche are quite chilling, and a bit more exposition might have made the conclusion to the mystery a little more satisfying.

My real criticism is in the way the book was structured. A large part of the story is concerned with the pursuit of several red herrings, and while this certainly revealed some scandalous secrets and left room for some great comedic moments, I was a bit confused by the ending when it was finally revealed. Similarly, Jordan and Gray have some sizzling moments together, but they are apart, conducting separate investigations for a good amount of the book and I wished they had more time to explore the intense connection between them. That being said, however, the relationship between Jordan and Libby, Gray's mother, was absolutely priceless. Theirs is perhaps the most unlikely partnership in modern literature, but it works beautifully.

I'm very intrigued by how this series will develop, and how Jordan's relationship with Gray will progress and mature from this point. The stage has certainly been set for a series with a great sense of suspense and humor, which is a rare combination. While I had issues with the way this book was structured, the puzzle itself was very well done, and the characters are terrific, so I will be keeping an eye out for Jordan's next case with Grayson.
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