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The Apothecary's Garden
Julie Bozza

The Definitive Albert J. Sterne

The Definitive Albert J. Sterne - Julie Bozza I have so many thoughts regarding this book, but I'm not sure I want to bore everyone to death with them. So I'll try to be short and to the point.

First, the book is amazing. The plot, the storytelling, and the characters are each a study in itself. Julie Bozza is a wonderful writer. Her style is classy and sophisticated. She keeps her readers on their toes.

A few words about the characters.

Albert. The loner. An intelligent perfectionist, no-nonsense man with the healthy dose of pride and vanity, who's been suppressing his feelings for so long, he considers himself being incapable of such human emotions. Had he lived a few centuries ago, I could have easily pictured him sitting in a richly decorated study in a gothic castle situated miles away from any civilisation. I think it would have suited him best.

But despite his impenetrable walls and outer indifference, there's a vulnerable side to Albert, when it comes to Special Agent Fletcher Ash.

Now Ash

I could express my disapproval of his actions and frivolous behaviour, but I won't. If there's something I'll take from this book is that there's no black and white in life. Everything could be explained, looked at from both sides and even understood and hopefully forgiven. Doesn't mean it didn't hurt like hell, but

“He had never expected to feel temptation. He wondered if Miles or Rebecca ever had.” ~ Albert

So. Albert understood, too.

Temptation is an intense and usually unexpected impulse. But any human being, single or not, is privy to it. The difference is in wether one is willing to act on it, and, by crossing that line, sacrificing something more precious on the way, making decision to satisfy one fleeting impulse, and by doing so hurt a person you care about immensely.

But there might be reasons for it, explanations. What does one do when something's missing in a relationship? How to move on after some major mistakes, betrayal? Is it possible to save such relationship and reach a compromise without losing one's identity and too much pride? Without losing hope, and friendship, and love? Not to allow bitterness and regrets make your life miserable?

The agony I've gone through reading this book was worth finding those answers. At least, for Albert and Ash. They are so different, yet each of them compliments the other perfectly. They have something really special together. And I'm sad to let them go.

The only thing I've missed here is some glorious make up sex. I was running on the painful memory of the X-intruder and everything they have done for so long! All I wanted was just little something to erase the nasty images from my mind. It would also have been nice to see Albert acknowledge the missing part of their intimate relationship and try to change his ways or at least indulge Ash on occasion. As it was, it did feel a little dry, as some other readers had pointed out already. But I have a suspicion that it was just the author's intention.

The mystery/suspense was perfect, in my opinion. Being in the serial killer's head felt as disturbing as watching a horror movie. It certainly will make me extra weary of any charming, friendly and good-looking men from now on. Lesson learned :)

All in all, highly recommend, with the word of advice to consider it more of a psychological thriller and be patient with the character building for the first half of the book. It will all be worth it in the end.

***4.5 stars***

P.S.: Looks like I haven't managed to be short, after all. Sorry :)