Reviewed in Australia on 29 September 2017
I've decided to bump this rating up to 4.5 stars, because I have to say that I really connected to Audrey Rose as a character this time around, absolutely adored the romance and my only issue this time was the the whole needing to learn self-defense before running around at night thing (to understand what I mean by that, read my original review below!).
I was surprised, but I have to say that I enjoyed this book even more the second time around -and don't get me wrong, I had a blast the first time. Maybe because I knew what was going to happen, I could focus on appreciating the characters more? I don't know, but Audrey Rose clicked extra for me as a character and I loved her a lot. Then the Thomas/Audrey Rose scenes *all the swoons* Those scenes = pure gold. I cannot wait to read what those two get up to in Hunting Prince Dracula.
(Also have to say - Liza is still an all time fav character for me and she does seriously need a companion novel!)
Stalking Jack the Ripper was a great book. I really enjoyed it a lot, even though I have to say I'm not a huge murder mystery reader. I'm going to break this review down into parts, so I can discuss what I liked/didn't like.
Characters: Overall, very good. I liked Audrey Rose, but to be really honest, I didn't fully connect with her character. I liked how she followed her passions, and did that embracing how awesome it is to be a woman (as in, highlighting how awesome feminine traits are too, rather than continually glorifying masculine traits), but at times, I felt there was a little man bashing. I know that some of them are hopeless, but that isn't a male feature, it is a human feature. There are hopeless females too, and I think the message is equality through choice, not just we now have to throw the pendulum the other way completely. This also came out with some of the other girls (which we don't really get to know, which is fine) with Audrey Rose putting them down a little (okay, in her internal monologue, but still) for just wanting to find husbands and be pretty. That is the point of equality - the choice - some girls want to find husbands and be pretty, and others want to go and perform autopsies, neither path better or worse, just a personal choice. Let's give everyone that choice and not force choices because society thinks girls should now behave another way.
Another pet peeve with Audrey Rose (and all sleuthing girls, to be honest) is when they wander around in the middle of night, alone. I applaud them for their bravery, but to me it is also stupid - are they trained? do they at least carry a weapon? Being responsible involves taking necessary precautions, not just running off into danger without a plan. This character type/plot device annoys me a lot now, and I don't get it. Why didn't Audrey Rose do a little training in shooting, or something, or a least take a small knife with her and then I would have been right behind her. She has been training under her uncle, so it wouldn't be too much of a push that she would want a little self -defense knowledge as well. Further, when the (inevitable) scene comes when they are attacked in a dark alley, I can't feel much sympathy - this isn't a utopian world and bad stuff happens, so I just don't get why intelligent heroine's like Audrey Rose don't have a tiny bit of training behind them - it would make perfect sense considering her personality. Okay, rant over.
Thomas was awesome. I really liked him and wish we could have had more scenes with him!! I loved his brutal honesty and how he was always straight up and down who he was - very refreshing.
I really loved Liza!! I want a companion book on her!! She was amazing, and she made that impression in only a handful of scenes!! Yes, all the exclamation points!!!!
Nathanial, Aunt Amelia and the rest of the cast were interesting, but I didn't feel like I got to know them. This book is mainly the Audrey Rose/Thomas show, and I didn't mind it, but wonderful secondary characters can really enhance the experience.
The plot: Really well researched and engaging. The ending was fitting and I liked how it concluded this mystery, whilst also setting up for another mystery (in the style of mystery books, I suppose, haha). I had my suspicions of who I thought Jack was, and this turned out to be true, but it was still a really intriguing read.
The romance: I really approve of The Audrey Rose/Thomas romance, but it felt too... staged? I don't know how to describe it, but whilst they disliked each other at the start then warmed up, it always felt like they were going to get together, from the very first moment. I don't know how to describe it. I love slow-burn romances and this should have been my perfect romance couple, but... I suppose with Audrey Rose always saying "He was so handsome etc. etc." practically every time she saw him, then moving on to say "But I hate him. Really, believe me." I didn't see the progression. Take Blackhearts (I adore that book!) Anne and Teach are cool and cordial to each other. They note the other's appearance, but then move on. Then they have witty verbal fights, and as the story progresses, they have a moment when they go "Ah! I didn't realize I was falling for you, but now I know" and then they wax lyrical about how gorgeous the other is, and then I'm swooning as a reader for their beautiful romance blossoming. I do like the romance between Audrey Rose and Thomas, but it never had any obstacles or challenges, and they were always going to get together. I'm still shipping them, and no one else better step onto the scene to steal Audrey Rose away.
The writing: I want to take a moment to gush about how beautifully crafted the writing in this book was - stunning. Not overly flowery, but just right to get into the mood and paint a vivid picture. I loved Kerri Maniscalco's writing style and can't wait to read more.
Overall, I enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper, and I definitely feel that the characters will grow in the next few books. Can't wait to read on! (Also, Liza must feature prominently in the next book(s), otherwise I'll be disappointed).