I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review
When does the end justify the means? Is it when individuals who have limited options become resurrectionist? Is it when medical colleges pay for bodies procured from nefarious ways to study and try to further knowledge of human anatomy? How about when a daughter lies to her father to help further his career or a man lying to the woman he is falling in love with in order to keep searching for his missing half sister? A Matter of Grave Concern takes on all these scenarios and leaves the reader questioning just what constitutes right and wrong.
Abigail lost her mother at a very young age leaving her to grasp even more for love from her absent surgeon father. She essentially has taken on the role as caretaker at her father's medical college hoping that some day she will be admitted to follow in her father's footsteps. As family members cringe from the thought of their deceased loved ones being inspected after death, colleges are having a hard time supplying specimens for their students to learn from, thus Abigail contacts the London Supply Company. However, when this company of body snatchers arrives, they prove to be a bit much for Abigail to handle, especially one particular member. Max Wilder is looking for his half sister Madeline which has led him to Jack, the leader of the London Supply Company. As he sticks close to Jack looking for clues he finds himself in Abigail's home looking for a way to simultaneously protect her from Jack and teach her to never deal with resurrectionist again.
This book started off incredibly intriguing as it deals with a topic often shied away from and had a dark intensity emitting from the characters. Abigail and Max had good banter and friction but when Abigail embarks on a rather dubious course and gets essentially kidnapped, I thought her and Max joined together way too soon; their love connection just wasn't believable yet. Abigail is sweetly naïve but her blunt speech and terms she uses can be rather jarring at times. Her willingness to use a word like cock is explained away by her having no real world experience and learning everything from medical texts but her lack of shyness with Max seemed a bit unrealistic at times. Max was a hard character to connect with as his reasons for why he is with Jack and his very identity are doled out sparingly, hidden, or kept secret for most of the book. In fact, when certain details are revealed as to why he is trying to keep Abigail at a particular distance are made known, he comes off as kind of a jerk. One of these details is rather unneeded as it (the character) add nothing to the story, is never seen, and seems tagged on to an already full list of why Max can't be with Abigail; in other words, very overdone. Together, they definitely had a beginning spark but as the story moves on it fizzles out as Abigail quite suddenly decides to give up her lifelong dream of being a surgeon to stay with Max and Max "wants" Abigail but continues to (sort of) push her away because he "can't" have her.
As I said, this had a strong start but seemed to lose its way as the middle gets bogged down with repetitiveness, unanswered questions about Max, and a slow pace. The dialogue between Abigail and Max can get fairly vulgar at times, which didn't bother me like it may some but was surprising for the time period this takes place and how I originally pictured Abigail's character. The ending with all its mysteries revealed and problems solved wrapped up a bit quickly and with a little too neat of a bow; the epilogue was also very gooey sweet.
Ms. Novak's writing is meritorious; she just seemed to lose her way in the middle. If you are looking for a regency that deals with something other than ballrooms, want a little more spice to your bedroom dialogue than is usually seen in this fare, and a bit slower moving then this could be for you. A Matter of Grave Concern is definitely different, I'm just not sure it's good.