The End of Forever (Cassiopeia Vitt #5), by Steve Berry and M.J. Rose

Seven stars

The collaborative efforts of Steve Berry and M.J. Rose have produced some lovely novellas over the past few years, each of which with their own form of magic. Taking one of Berry’s secondary characters, the pair have built a larger backstory for Cassiopeia Vitt as she lives a somewhat reclusive life in France. After learning of the death of a close friend, Cassiopeia Vitt is beside herself with sorrow. She’s trying to her best to keep it together, only to have tragedy strike close at home, when someone seeks to destroy her castle. Soon thereafter, she learns that she is not the primary target, but only a pathway to her lover, Cotton Malone. Now, she will have to try warning him before he meets an equally sinister fate. Another great addition to the series that is sure to impress readers of both these established authors.

Cassiopeia Vitt is left to mourn the loss of a woman she considered a second mother, which is made worse by knowing she was murdered. Now, Vitt must try to pull herself together or risk losing it all. When someone tries attacking her castle, a 13th century fortress, she’s distraught, but wonders if someone knows a secret about her property. Approaching a longtime friend, Vitt seeks answers and is only pulled deeper into the mystery.

As she wakes up aboard a large sailing vessel, she learns that she’s been a pawn in a larger mission, one that will see her long-time lover lose his life. Cotton Malone is on official business and appears to be the target of a madman, for reasons Vitt cannot completely understand. Now, it’s up to her to stop things before they get out of hand. Trouble is, time is not on her side.

I have long enjoyed the work of Steve Berry, as he knows how to entertain like few authors I know. When he began working with M.J. Rose to extrapolate on the life and time of Cassiopeia Vitt, I was intrigued and hoped that I could learn a little more. The pair combine their unique writing styles and have come up with something a little mystical at times. With strong characters and unique plot lines, it’s a series that I have come to enjoy, particularly because I can read the novellas in a single sitting most of the time.

While I have no context for Rose’s work outside this collaboration, I can see where she has injected her style into the story. The narrative flows well and keeps moving along without issue. Most times, Vitt is the only recurring character, leaving it to the reader to formulate brief connections to those who grace the pages of the novella. A decent plot helps keep the story moving along and adds something that I do not usually see when Vitt finds herself in one of Berry’s stories. I will keep my eyes out for more by this pair, as these five novellas have certainly proved highly entertaining.

Kudos, Mr. Berry and Madam Rose, for another winner. I enjoy this break from the more intense Cotton Malone novels, though they, too, are top of my list to read on an annual basis.