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Book Review and New Release: A Curse of Passion by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez (Book two of the Deadly Legends series)

Title: A Curse of Passion
Author: Melissa Bourbon Ramierez
Series: Deadly Legends
Genre: romantic suspense
Published: 2013
Format read: ebook
Rating: C

Can I just start by saying that no high school principal I’ve ever seen looks like the guy on the cover of this book? Granted, given the excessive hormones flying around any place that teenagers congregate, this is probably a very good thing, but still….

When Johanna Rios was eleven and her younger sister Carmen nine, their mother drowned herself in the San Julio River. First, though, she tried to drown her two daughters. The ghost of la Llorona, a legendary specter who—depending on the version of the story being told, had a drowned child, drowned her child, or drowned herself while pregnant—made her do it…or so Jo’s mother claimed. Twenty-one years later, girls are turning up dead in that same river. Drowned. Wearing dresses similar to those Johanna’s mother had bought them for the occasion. Now a high school teacher, Jo finds herself drawn into the danger when a mysterious box arrives at her school that seems to link the deaths…to her.

Ray Vargas thought he’d left violence and death behind when he left the army. As a reserve deputy—and one whose daytime job brings him into contact with the teenaged population of the town—he’s called in to identify the first victim, who, he realizes to his horror, happens to be his daughter Eva’s close friend. Soon he too is racing against time to solve the mystery of the Llorona Killer, especially when he realizes that Jo might be next on the killer’s list….

Curse of Passion had a really strong start and a decent ending. Unfortunately, the middle meandered a bit from the taut narrative thread that the book began with.

From nearly the first page, I was drawn right into the story. Past family drama—check. Mystery of a murdered girl—check. Two adults who believe they must fight their attraction due to the nature of their jobs but who are finding it increasingly difficult to do so as they spend more time together—check, and check.

Somewhere just past the fifty percent mark, though, things got…murky. Too many things were going on all at the same time, and they didn’t all feel completely necessary to the overall plot. A few potentially important scenes were mentioned in passing after the fact (often by a character thinking about them) instead of being shown to the reader as they happened. Other fairly complicated elements seemed to be added just to give the character an excuse to be in a certain place and time when a simpler reason could have been given instead. Jo, Ray, and Carmen spent a lot of time inside their heads, and by the end of the book much of the conflict they had going on in there still hadn’t been resolved.

The whodunit wasn’t obvious—I did have a guess about who might be implicated early on but wasn’t entirely sure. The motivation, though, remained a mystery—and as it was further explained through the narrative, it still wasn’t entirely clear…it’s pretty involved and somewhat convoluted. It ended up feeling contrived, like the characters were trying too hard to justify what they had done.

Ramirez pulled everything together at the end, though, for a fairly satisfying conclusion. There are some issues left unresolved and strong hints of a future relationship, which together make the next book in the series look promising.

On a related note, the first book in the series, A Sacrifice of Passion, is on sale for $.99 for a limited time in honor of this one’s release. It stars Ray’s older brother Vic. We don’t see him much in this book, but I was definitely intrigued enough to pick it up at that price.

In a nutshell: really strong beginning, but it lost steam toward the middle when the plot became a bit messy. Still, the series has potential. C rating.

I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Buying links: A Curse of Passion
Barnes and Noble

Sacrifice of Passion
Barnes and Noble

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