Rating: 4 stars
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Jack Hunter is the host of an adventure show where he investigates lost treasures around the world. Unfortunately, his recent quests have turned up nil and his show is facing cancellation. Jack needs to find the “holy grail’ of lost treasures in order to save his career.
Aloysius “Alo” Green is twenty-two and a graduate student in history. A loner, he is content to spend his days researching medieval history while tucked away in the library. As a child, he grew up listening to family lore about the great-grandfather’s cryptic letters detailing how he hid a treasure underneath the noses of the Nazi occupation during WWII. When his grandfather sends his great-grandfather’s letters for Alo to decipher, Alo is initially convinced that he isn’t going to find a treasure map within those letters…until he does! In a moment of stupidity, Alo publishes a paper about cracking the code and quickly finds himself in danger.
Jack can’t believe his luck after reading Alo’s paper. All he needs to do is to convince Alo to allow him and his team to help him locate the treasure. Though Alo wants nothing to do with searching for the treasure, he’s forced to either lay low for a while or take Jack up on his offer. As Alo and Jack’s team head off to Europe, danger is one step behind them. Along the way, they find themselves holding priceless pieces of art, being shot at, and falling in love.
As a mystery, I’d rate this as a solid 4 stars. As Alo and Jack’s team descend upon Europe in search of Nazi treasure, readers are given a brief lesson in the European WWII Nazi occupied areas. Along the way, Alo realizes that someone is following them – and when this person is finally revealed, I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming! Yes, at times it is over the top – but that is to be expected in any good action novel. At times, readers have to give the author some allowance for simplicity for the story’s sake. For instance, the idea that in today’s day and age, a group of people could wander around public places, locate a treasure, and remove that treasure without setting alarm bells off as a bit over the top – but then again, the thought that a hidden treasure could be hidden for so many years right in plain sight is too.
As a romance, this book left much to be desired. I wasn’t feeling the chemistry between Jack and Alo. Jack is older by a few years and sexually experienced. On the other hand, we have Alo who is sort of naïve when it comes to relationships and is a virgin to boot. Yet, Alo has had some experience kissing – which apparently he does very well. Anyhow…while the sex scenes were spicy, they weren’t anything spectacular – especially considering we are told over and over about Alo’s lack of experience. Furthermore, this book did the whole “misunderstanding” after their night together where Alo’s heart is broken, while readers are wondering how on earth this could happen when there weren’t any loving proclamations made between the two. Sex is sex, sex is not love. But then we get the standard happily ever after ending, all while I was sitting there thinking this story would have been so much better if the “romance portion” wasn’t there.
Overall, I enjoyed the mystery portion of the book. It kept me entertained and on the edge of my seat. As for the romance, I wasn’t feeling the connection between the two and it seemed forced to follow the traditional happily ever after ending when a happily for now would have been more appropriate. If you love action/adventure stories with a treasure hunting theme, you don’t want to miss this story.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.