ARC Review: The Gems of Vice and Greed

The Gems of Vice and Greed is an absolute gem of a book (sorry, but it really is!) that serves as the latest installment in Colleen Gleason’s contemporary Gothic romance series. I was lucky enough to snag an ARC, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share.

As it turns out, this fast-paced paranormal mystery was just what I needed. I’d recently persevered through three books that seemed to take forever, and this fun, sexy romp was a fabulous antidote.

In some ways, it reminded me of the Nancy Drew books I devoured in my youth, but with sexy times. And a hunky blacksmith who makes housecalls and likes to work shirtless. And a celebrated ex-CEO who moves to a small rural town to renovate a historic inn. And an elusive hidden treasure. And a decades-old murder mystery. And a real live (?!) ghost!

So please join me after the jump for a spoiler-free closer look. I won’t keep you in suspense about my rating: I liked it!

I had no idea what this book was about when I downloaded it. But I’m a fan of Gleason’s two vampire series (my reviews are here and here) and intended to try her various other series eventually. Now seemed like as good a time as any to take the plunge, and I’m so glad that I did!

As the book opens, Leslie van Dorn is a savvy young corporate CEO who has retired from the boardroom after guiding her high-tech company through a successful public offering, bought the historic Shenstone House, and started fixing it up as an inn. She’s healing her heart after a deep personal loss, and looking to slow down and smell the roses in the small community of Sematauk, Michigan, where she spent her childhood summers.

(If you’ve read the first two books in the series, you’ve already met Leslie. If you haven’t, this book fills you in on essential history, so it isn’t necessary to read the other books first. But since I enjoyed the whole series I recommend them. And if you do plan to read them, and you have a better memory than mine, I recommend reading them in order to avoid spoiling their outcomes.)

Leslie’s not entirely alone. Her aunt Cherry is the local yoga instructor, as well as a busy bundle of sexually frustrated energy who takes an avid interest in Leslie’s love life and everything and everyone else. She introduces Leslie to an array of quirky locals and visitors who regale her with tales of the town’s more colorful news, both past and present.

Yes, there’s a scene like this — minus shirt!
When Leslie needs to restore an antique wrought-iron banister for a staircase, she hires the local blacksmith, Declan Zyler. Though they initially seem to be a team of opposites, a burgeoning friendship grows. When they discover anomalies in the banister and further investigate, Leslie finds the first of several cleverly concealed curiosities that set them on the trail of an intriguing mystery or two. Yet she hasn’t found what legends claim is hidden at Shenstone House. Because the house used to be owned by the notorious bootlegging gangster Sal ‘Red Eye’ Marciano during the prohibition era, and he amassed an assortment of notoriously ostentatious jewels that seem to have vanished into thin air. And someone or something seems to be looking for them again — in Leslie’s house.

The Gems of Vice and Greed is a delightful read — a light and entertaining blend of sweet, scary, and sizzling. There are some memorable characters, most notably Declan, who is a totally gorgeous, kind-hearted, earnest, and down-home hottie. The story is a bit predictable — which didn’t detract from my enjoyment one bit — yet it still surprised me in places and detoured me down a couple of dead ends. So when you’re in the mood for a fun story that keeps you in a bit of suspense but doesn’t jerk your heart completely around, check this out! Gleason’s writing has an easy, comfortable flow, and you’ll enjoy spending time with her characters.

This is the third book in Gleason’s contemporary Gothic romance series, which also includes The Shop of Shades and Secrets and The Cards of Life and Death, published back in 2011. They share some of the same characters, though each focuses on a different paranormal mystery, strong female protagonist, and man who appears at first glance to be Not Even Remotely Her Type but just might turn out to be Mr. Oh-So-Right after all. I’m very glad that Gleason picked this series back up again, after focusing on other series for several years, without a single hitch in the flow. I’d hate for Leslie to have been left dangling without her HEA, and Gleason’s storytelling skills have only grown stronger and more engaging over the years. I enjoyed each book in the series even more than the one before, which is just another way of saying that Colleen Gleason just keeps getting better and better!

This Wench rates The Gems of Vice and Greed:


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