The sputtering romantic mystery novel, "Heron's Cove" http://www.amazon.com/Herons-Sharpe-Donovan-Carla-Neggers/dp/0778313751/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358183425&sr=8-1&keywords=heron%27s+cove, the latest in Carla Neggers Sharpe and Donovan series, is a followup to "Saint's Gate" www.amazon.com/Saints-Sharpe-Donovan-Carla-Neggers/dp/0778313689/ref=sr_... features a tortured romance between two FBI agents and a barely there mystery involving a failed FBI sting against a gun runner and the theft of Russian art.
Colin Donovan is an FBI undercover agent who is investigating Pete Horner, a pilot, who is now involved in the arms trade. As the novel opens, Donovan is a prisoner, but escapes from Horner's clutches, with the help of a tip from Emma Sharpe's source.
Emma Sharpe is also an FBI agent, but was formerly almost a Nun, and now is romantically involved with Donovan. She lives in Heron's Cove, Maine where her family has extensive ties to the art world as the family business is an art investigative service.
Donovan's brothers live in a nearby town, and seem to be a surly lot, treating Emma as an interloper in their male dominated world, but when their brother is missing, trying to obtain information about his job. Mike Donovan is particularly nasty to her. Another brother is a bit of a rake, who treats a former lover poorly.
When Colin finally arrives at Heron's Cove, he immediately renews his relationship with Emma, but seems very uncomfortable with her family business ties to the art world and Russians because the arms dealer he is investigating is Russian, which makes no sense because he has no proof that Sharpe's Russian friends are involved in arms smuggling. He seems very untrusting of her family business and is constantly questioning her ties to her sources. The real mystery is why Sharpe even stays with him. Its abundantly clear that he wants her to choose between her family and family business and him. Whatever happened to accepting your lover's life. Emma, on the other hand, goes drinking with his brothers and bakes pies for his family. She is trying to fit in.
Meanwhile the ostensible mystery of the novel involves the Russian art collection of a former client of the Sharpes. Dmitri Rusakov previously found a Russan art collection in a wall of his villa in Russia. Rusakov hired the Sharpes to locate the art collection after it mysteriously. Emma, who investigated the theft for her Grandfather, the head of her family business, believed it was the work of Rusakov's then wife, who was divorcing him. The ex-wife has now died, and Natalie Warren, her daughter has inherited the priceless collection from her mother. When she shows up in Heron's Cove and Rusakov shows up also, they begin negotiating the return of the collection.
But Tatiana Pavlov, a young Russian art designer from England, who is also visiting Heron's Cove, cryptically warns Emma that someone is going to steal the collection. Emma dispatches her brother Lucas to find out Tatiana's background, and he locates a picture in her studio that leads Emma to an important clue as to Tatiana's family.
The mystery is who is going to steal the collection and why. Is it Tatiana?. What are her ties to Rusakov?. Who is Ivan, Rusakov's right hand man and what are his ties to Emma? Who is the bad egg in Heron's Cove that is following other characters.
When someone tries to slip poisoned apple cider to various members of the Donovan family, Rusakov and Emma, the mystery is solved neatly in a bow.
The novel is a fast read and Emma Sharpe seems to be a good character, but her relationship with Colin Donovan, his odd family and his jealousy and behavior disrupts the story line. Obviously the romantic aspects of the story are key, but Donovan's demands are hard to believe or accept. Next time, we should have more mystery and less bizarre behavior from the male lead.