I found it difficult to connect with Mercy, I liked her more as the story went on but didn't really grow to love her. Perhaps I'll connect with her more in the second book? I hope so as I really enjoyed this story. Although it's a typical mystery where you can guess who did it quite quickly, the emotions of the family and friends that had lost Lauren were heartbreaking and that really kept me reading.
Ryan reminded me of Leif Zaltana from the Study Series - every day since his sister has disappeared he's search for her, becoming increasingly frustrated with his family for believing she's dead when he believes she's alive and always finding dead ends. He sees Mercy (or Carmen, as he knows her as) as a last resort, I guess, as everything else he's tried has failed.
Meanwhile, Mercy is trying to juggle the search for Lauren with Carmen's needs - Carmen sings and she wants that to be her career. Carmen went to the village to try and get more recognition for her talents and she sees that as a foot in the door. Problem is, Mercy has other ideas...
Mercy is not your typical simpering heroine. If you annoy her, you'll know about it. She knows what she wants and she will get it, whether anyone likes it or not. Se doesn't care what anyone thinks of her, unlike Carmen, so I guess it's a learning curve for Carmen as well as Mercy!