My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Note: I originally read this book back in 2006, and read it again in 2011. My opinion of the book hasn’t changed in the interval, though it’s worth noting that I did enjoy it well enough to come back and read it again. Accordingly, I am re-posting my original review.
I can generally rely upon Elizabeth Lowell to give me a fluffily suspenseful but enjoyable read. She’s formulaic, sure, but it’s a formula I happen to like: beautiful, spunky woman plus broody and sexy man plus people trying to kill them, generally for reasons involving fabulously expensive l00t, dirty secrets, or both. The man is generally broody over a troubled past, and chances are high that the woman has had issues involving men in her own background. Chances are even higher than they will resist being attracted to one another, and they may well get cranky at one another if one thinks the other has done something particularly stupid, though if that happens, you know that by the end they’ll clue in and live Happily Ever After(TM). Also, by way of demonstrating what a butch guy he is and how he’ll lay it on the line for his girl, the hero will get wounded at a suitably dramatic juncture in the narrative, but always in one of the Approved Hero Fashions, and it will never prevent him from handily dispatching the villain even if he has to keel over afterwards (even if it takes him several chapters to pull it off).
Always Time to Die is a fine example of her formula. Nothing terribly new or unusual here, unless you count a remarkable lack of angst on the part of the heroine Carly, which I quite appreciated. She was spunky and funny, and although she did have the obligatory Trouble With Men in her background, it wasn’t something she had any issues with, and it certainly didn’t get in the way of her realizing that Dan, Hero Du Jour, was the hottest thing to ever hot out of Hot Town.
The genealogy aspect of the plot was also new and kind of fun for Lowell. Some reviewers on Amazon.com were complaining about this bogging down the story for them, but I found it entertaining and certainly quite pertinent to the ongoing story; it felt well-balanced against the current brouhahas, and past and present came together in a suitably suspenseful fashion at the end. All in all an entertaining way to blow a few hours.