It's all about The Reader
I hate reviewing books by people I know ("know"= online acquaintances). I rarely agree to do it. If you even notice my You Gotta Read this Book rants, I'm almost always on a book by someone with whom I've never exchanged a single email. For instance I love Amelia Elias and her voice and work, but I can't bring myself to pitch her stuff.
OH and then there's Sam Winston/Jennifer Macaire. She's someone else whose work I really enjoy--both genres. Do I plug her stuff? No. But hey, as I point out in the comments, she's got Mrs Giggles to do that.. And then there's Sunny and Kris and Shannon and Ann and Ariana and even Linda (I push her because she refuses to push herself).
Yeah, I don't get it either. Let's call it a personality glitch and move on.
I hate reviewing a book when I know the author has lined up my book for review. I mean what's the point? No one's going to believe me when she's got that gun held to the head of my story.
So there, Linda Winfree.
You show me yours, and I'll show you mine she said. And she'd just written a nice thing in her blog about how wonderful I am. In other words, I felt like I had to say yes.
My heart sank. Oh, great and it's romantic suspense with FBI and tough ex-army types in it. Gack, I hate those stories. Well, not hate. I save "hate" for secret babies. More like I'm indifferent, which is worse. At least hatred contains passion.
She sent me Truth and Consequences yesterday. I was going to give it a quick look, then put it on the TBR pile and hope to get to it some time in the next week or so. Ugh, suspense. FBI. Do I really have to look at it? Why couldn't she send me romcom? Or historical? or even...a vamp?
Within a few pages, I was hooked.
What I forgot was that for me a story=the characters, and the characters in this book are worth the time. They're interesting, sympathetic and have some depth. Also? I forgot that Linda is a good writer.
Here's what else is good:
1. The story just teetered on the edge of frustration, the way a suspense is suppose to.
Just as I'm thinking, "Tell her the truth, for god's sake" ....He tells her.
Just as I'm yelling, "Don't be stupid, don't go there!" ....The character has second thoughts.
In other words, these people, unlike so many inhabitants of Romantic Suspenseland, have brains in their heads and know how to do their job. Okay, there are a couple of moments of less than perfect thinking, but that's because they're people and not superheroes. They are GROWN UPS. I love reading about men who aren't testosterone-based life forms or women who are TSTL horny (at one point, she does do soemthing bordering on that, but heck, I forgave her).
2. The women law enforcement partners come across as real friends and cohorts, a good solid team. Nice that the buddy system isn't just for men any more. The other secondary characters are intriguing and three-dimensional, but they don't steal the show.
I've been doing a lot of contests and critiques lately, so when I read, I tend to look for flaws. Not this time. I was busy chewing my nails. But then, when I did spot something I thought was extraneous--does the bad guy have to be such a jackass to his boy?--turns out I was wrong. Later on, it'll fit the story. No loose ends there.
more about what I like
The heat is great. Very tense sexual tension, oooo Baybeee.
Yes, the two main characters aren't always thinking with their brains, but they aren't annoyingly stupid about the tension. And heck, I got sucked up in their heat and I wasn't even there.
The bad guy is obvious, but he's still interesting and not cardboard (although he got less interesting at the end).
The hero's dilemma of family vs job feels real.
The touches of the south (food, conversation, the reference to a shopping cart as a buggy???) make it an exotic locale for me. Maybe it'll feel like home to you. You'll smell the magnolias, sugar.
If all Harlequin Intrigues were as good as this, I might be an actual fan of the genre.
Oh AND the great thing is Linda knows what she's talking about. She says a character uses a 543 Glicktenstiger or whatever, you know that character used it. There's no need to suspend belief because she's got reasons and characters you believe. Okay, so obviously I don't know what the hell she's talking about, but the touches of bureaucracy, the way the system works, feel right in that story. (Although how those bad guys got away with being so very bad for so very long boggles the mind.) Linda's the wife of a cop, so she can add the little details that make it Real.
I wouldn't have minded a slower pace, spending more time with the characters, maybe finding out what on earth those bad guys were thinking. Her backstory touches were unobtrusive and good. Anything more would have been conspicuous, but still, I wanted more more more--and this from someone who hates backstory dumps. So I guess I don't know what I wanted. Maybe just more time with Jason and Kathleen. Mostly with Jason.
I think, I hope, one of my favorite secondary characters (Tick. Now is that NOT the silliest name ever? It works, though) will have his own story. He's a responsible, yet interesting, which is a good mix for me. I'm rooting for him to come out of his sort of frozen period fine and maybe end up with a particular person, but I think I'll have to actually buy the next book to find out.
I won't mind a bit.