Book Review: “The Lover’s Knot” by Clare O’Donohue

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Cover of “The Lover’s Knot” by Clare O’Donohue.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Lover’s Knot” by Clare O’Donohue! It’s been a while since I read a mystery book, so I figured it was about time I picked this up. Here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:

Nell Fitzgerald is thrilled when she receives a gorgeous handmade quilt in a lover’s knot pattern from her grandmother Eleanor as an engagement gift. Her joy is short-lived, however, when her fiancé announces he’s calling off the wedding. Heartbroken, 25-year-old Nell flees New York City for her grandmother’s home in quaint Archers Rest. In this small town Eleanor’s life revolves around her quilt shop, Someday Quilts, and the members of the shop’s quilting circle.

When the body of a local handyman known for his flirting is found in the quilt shop, murdered with a pair of quilting scissors, Nell finds herself drawn into the case – and drawn to the handsome police chief. As a pattern of clues begins to emerge, one of the prime suspects is Nell’s ex-fiancé, whose arrival in Archers Rest seems suspicious. The ladies of the quilting circle continue to piece together their quilts as Nell unravels the mystery. For quilters and mystery lovers alike, The Lover’s Knot is a delightful and promising debut.”

Trigger warnings include: Murder (though there is only one and it’s non-graphically described), as well as abusive/posessive behaviour from the main heroine’s love interest that happens throughout the book at various times.

Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I think the concept of the story’s plot had some good development. The pacing was slow at times, and it took a while for the actual murder to happen, due to spending a lot of time for  exposition on Nell and Ryan’s broken-up engagement, Nell reuniting with her grandmother and meeting the rest of the quilting circle said grandmother is part of, as well as the grandmother breaking her leg, with Nell taking over said shop just before the murder happens. However, it did get more interesting to read in the middle section as character backstories were revealed on top of the clues found.

Unfortunately, the last few chapters giving the big reveal felt more “telling” than “showing” in nature. Instead of giving the reader the opportunity to truly put the pieces of the investigation together, it’s just straight-up told to the reader and the protagonist. I felt like that ruined the fun of the whole mystery.  I also think the ending was overall rushed, given all the tension Jesse has with Nell suddenly culminating into Jesse asking Nell out for a date out of nowhere, as well as how Nell’s breakup with Ryan was executed.

Character Development: 3 out of 5 stars

Many of the characters were static in change or didn’t change much as whole people throughout the story. Nell herself doesn’t change much other than deciding to break up with Ryan, Jesse only changes through his romantic interest in Nell, and Eleanor, Nell’s grandmother, doesn’t have much a change herself (and we still don’t know by the end of the story if her leg is healed yet). However, the backstories gave depth to them that they lacked, and it even helped contribute to the main plot, which was good to read.

Romance Development: 1 out of 5 stars

The romantic tension of the book was badly written overall. I felt virtually no chemistry between Nell and Ryan throughout the book. It didn’t help that Ryan straight up deck Marc just because he saw him hanging out with Nell, nor did Ryan’s possessive and borderline-abusive behaviour by being inattentive to Nell’s feelings during their relationship help the matter. Also: They should not have had a sex scene under the wedding quilt, especially if 1. Ryan called off the engagement at the beginning of the book and 2. Ryan was the prime suspect of Marc’s murder at the time and 3. Nell and Ryan hadn’t figured out if they still wanted to get married or actually continue their romantic relationship at that point in the book. The only good thing about this romantic plot with them was Nell breaking up with him (even if it took evidence of Amanda and Ryan having an affair to do so).

Unfortunately, the policeman Jesse, Nell’s new love interest, does not have well-written relationship development with Nell. It might be because both of them were hugely focused on the main murder-case plot, and also clashed at times regarding evidence and Ryan’s involvement in particular, but I didn’t sense any chemistry building between them, and so Jesse asking Nell out for a date at the end of the book didn’t seem right.

Overall, I’m rating this book 2.5 out of 5 stars!

Read this book for the mystery; not for the romance. Just skip the romance/engagement-related scenes when possible, and this book is significantly better.


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