Another Lucinda Riley book and this time it did not disappoint. Der verbotene Liebesbrief was published in Germany and Austria on September 18th. The English version will be published on July 26th 2018 according to Lucinda Riley on her Facebook page where she answered this in a comment. So unfortunately English speaking fans have to wait a bit more. The wait will be worth it though, because The Love Letter is a thrilling mix between romance and spy novel and offers an exciting mystery and lovable characters.
The premise of the book is that a famous actor dies and at his funeral journalist Joanna meets a old woman who later sends her a love letter that will uncover one of the best kept secrets in the world. From the very beginning this book feels different to the usual love stories Lucinda Riley writes. There is a sense of suspense and danger around the mystery and almost every character apart from Joanna and Zoe, the famous actor’s granddaughter, acts shady in some way or form. Thankfully, the four main characters, Joanna, Zoe, her brother Marcus and Joanna’s oldest friend Simon are very likeable.
There are romantic sparks between Jo and Marcus as well as Zoe and Simon. Things, of course, are more complicated. Not just through the main mystery, that I won’t reveal, but also through other circumstances including Zoe’s romance with Prince Arthur, that reminds me very much of Prince Harry’s current romance with actress Meghan Markle. Zoe is an actress as well and the prince is only number three in the line of succession.
The book is set in the mid nineties, so the relationship between the prince and Zoe is not as publicised as Prince Harry’s is. It becomes apparent though that the romance which started ten years earlier and produced a child back then is based solely on wishful thinking about making up time. At the end Zoe finds the life with a prince too hard to cope and she and Simon get together.
Marcus and Jo’s relationship is different. They meet through her work as a journalist and have an immediate attraction to one another. For both it is something they have never felt before. Joanna just got out of a long term relationship where she wasn’t really herself and finds it hard to open her heart to Marcus. Marcus on the other hand had never been in love, only in lust, and has a hard time coping with the fact that his grandfather left all his money and belongings to Zoe and her son Jamie. He has never had a good hand in business and feels that everyone around him is disappointed in him. Joanna is the one person who is actually interested in what he wants to do and doesn’t care about his past.
Their relationship is mostly effected by the big mystery as well as Jo and Simon’s friendship. Simon, it turns out is a MI5 agent and therefore had to lie to Jo a lot about his work. The MI5 and with it Simon are trying to stop the bis secret from coming out while Joanna, with Marcus’ help, tries to uncover it. Only Zoe isn’t involved in trying to look into the mystery although she seems to be in the middle of it.
The book is really thrilling as it involves deception, murder, attempted murder and so much other spy stuff. Given that I am studying to become a journalist myself, Joanna’s work and her drive to get to the bottom of this are very relatable and I just admire her spark and determination.
As for the mystery, for most parts I was as clueless as the characters and only started to put the pieces together as Joanna was. It was surprising, shocking in a away, and I really liked it. I am curious to hear your opinions though. The book was so different from Riley’s usual writing style and I loved every second of it. Especially the ending. I am a sucker for happy endings, what can I say. Let me know what you thought of the book and the mystery in the comments.
Title: The Love Letter/Der verbotene Liebesbrief
Author: Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Pan MacMillan/Goldmann