Portrait of Death: Unforgotten by Isabel Wroth
Series: Portrait of Death #1
Publication Date: July 19, 2019
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler » No « Hide Spoiler
Content Warning: View Spoiler » Death of a Child, Child Abuse, Death, Murder « Hide Spoiler
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense
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Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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Three years ago, I held her pink silk toe shoe in my hand, helplessly watching the cab drive away before I could give it back to her. The next morning when I stood in front of the portrait drying on my easel, I knew the beautiful ballerina would soon die. Her portrait is one of two hundred and twenty-seven. Each one of the subjects is the victim of murder, and I’ve painted them all. I’ve kept my morbid ability a secret for twenty years, terrified someday, someone would find out.
Someday has arrived, and the someone banging down my door today demanding answers is a gorgeous, irate homicide detective armed with a photo of one of my paintings right there on the front page of the most popular tabloid in the city. He peppers me with questions I can’t answer, and despite my worst fears being realized, all I can think about is painting this man, alive, and with far fewer clothes on.
Detective Callum Graham tells me the dead ballerina I painted is his sister, and she's been missing for three years. Missing, he says firmly, as though any other conclusion is unacceptable. My inappropriate thoughts of seeing him naked, vanish. How do I explain to this man, this brother desperate to find his baby sister alive, that she’s been dead for two years, eleven months, and three weeks?
Portrait of Death: Unforgotten is the first book in a contemporary romantic suspense series by Isabel Wroth. I generally avoid romantic suspense at all costs, but I really enjoy paranormal romance novels that feature psychic characters so I figured I’d give this a go. I’ve read most of Wroth’s backlist and I have to say this was not my favorite.
When Jo paints a portrait of her baby brother dead in a pond as a child, her parents have her committed to a mental institution, where she remains for two years despite her brother drowning while she was committed. For 20 years she’ll go into a trance after touching an object belonging to a random stranger, and end up painting their Portrait of Death. She’s come to realize over the years that they are all murder victims, but she can’t tell anyone, unless she wants to end up back in the institution. Until a scorned ex-lover leaks photos of her gallery.
Detective Callum Graham is shocked to see a death painting of his missing sister on the cover of a tabloid paper. He’s sure he’s finally found the killer. Jo knows she needs to protect her secrets at all costs, but it’s hard to resist the pain in the detective’s eyes.
I really disliked what an ass Callum was to Jo. I understand him thinking she was a murderer based on her paintings (that’s definitely some serial killer shit), but even after presented with proof that she couldn’t have committed the crimes, and proof that she was psychic, he refused to believe her. Even after they started getting intimate with each other, he would accuse her of being part of the murders, or just make stupid, asshole remarks to her for no reason. She pushed back and called him out on it, which is the only reason I kept reading, but it wasn’t enough. Especially since she would get distracted by how “hot” he was and then couldn’t stay mad.
On top of that, the police procedural stuff was very poorly done, and the whole mystery plot was easily figured out. There were also a lot of typos and errors. I spent most of the book irritated at one thing or another.View Spoiler » For example: They catch the killer and after only having said killer in custody for a few hours they ask Jo to go in and talk to them, because the killer refuses to talk to anyone else. They send her into the interrogation room, alone, with a taser in her purse “just in case”. WTAF!? That is so far outside of anything that would ever happen in real life. « Hide Spoiler
I kept reading because I liked the premise, but it wasn’t as well executed as the author’s other books. I don’t think I’ll read the next one.
Rating: 2.75 or 3.0 out of 5