Illusion Lake is well written and the mystery/suspense plot was original, intricate and topical. I appreciated the time the author took to unfold the layers of the conspiracy and details included to make it all too plausible. There’s a lot going on, and at times I felt like I needed a corkboard with pins and thread to connect everything; but, all the elements linked back to each other and the suspense/mystery worked. The intrigue elements blends extremely well with the building romance between Kiva and Elliot.
When Elliot Snowmaker inherits her great uncle’s estate in a small New Mexico town, she had no idea what to expect. Suffice it to say, she didn’t expect to be the new owner of a hangar full of vintage planes and a central target in a larger plot that would have her racing against time to clear her name and save the town. Luckily, attorney Kiva Park’s suspicions are raised and she works with Elliot to find answers.
The mystery, setting and characters were original and refreshing – after reading a lot of lesfic there are stock plots and characters that keep coming up, but setting the story in a small town in New Mexico with a more complex mystery surrounding water rights and mysterious consortiums was a welcome change. It gave the story a unique voice/feel that added to the believability/realism of the underlying mystery/suspense plot and the extent of the corruption/machinations for something that seems so banal but is also so very essential.
From a romance standpoint, there was a strong connection between Elliot and Kiva and I could see the two of them building a relationship. Things progressed at a reasonable pace romance wise so that it didn’t feel like an insta-romance and the interactions and vulnerabilities of the two characters fell well grounded and real.
At times, though, the overall suspense got a bit too convoluted with almost too many things going on such that it strained incredulity that so much could happen in such a short time and that law enforcement could be that gullible. Poor Elliot was a bit of a punching bag when it came to bad luck/circumstances. Similar to previous novels I’ve read by this author, some of the characters seemed inconsistent with secondary characters giving me whiplash as they vacillated between good and bad (and tending to be over the top when they were doing good or bad things) and I couldn’t figure out why Kiva or Elliot would give either of them the time of day let alone a second/third chance.
There’s a great amount of research and information provided demonstrating that the author put a lot of effort into it and is quite knowledgeable. It is difficult to weave exposition and provide background without interrupting the flow; but, in some cases, the reader should be able to figure out the meaning from the context. Understanding that not everyone has a background in aviation, law or Canadianisms – stopping to explain an offhand remark or delve into history or details felt a bit stilted at times.
This is a solid and thoughtful mystery that blends well with the romance developing between Elliot and Kiva.