Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
The basic premise of this book is one that I love and should have been the basis of a really good romantic suspense.
We have a young wife & mother, Shelby who has just found out that her husband has died.
Oh, and she also found out her husband left her is massive debt.
Oh, and she also found out that her husband was a con man with multiple identities.
In despair and owing tons of money she skedaddles from cold, freezing Philadelphia and her soon to be short-sold McMansion back to the bosom of her family in some small town in Tennessee.
While there, she meets a super handsome fix-it guy who falls in love with her and she goes to work in her family's beauty salon-slash-spa to finish paying off the debt.
Oh, and her husband stole some pretty valuable stuff with a finders fee so lots of bad sorts, ex-partners, victims etc. are showing up in her small town to intimidate her, threaten her and get themselves killed.
I should have liked this. But I didn't completely.
Nora Roberts has three writing identities. She writes her JD Robb stuff -- which I love and buy right away, full price. She writes her romance trilogies -- which I really don't buy or read at all anymore. They have gotten a little to sickly sweet for me. Everyone is so perfect and awesome. And she writes these single title romantic suspense books -- which I wait til I see one on the library shelf and I'll get it. And if I love it I'll buy myself an e-copy.
Let's just say… I won't be getting an e-copy of this one.
This book tipped precariously close to one of her 'romance' style books. Except, the romance in this one was rather perfunctory and kinda boring. The boyfriend, Griff, was cute and awesome and funny and great with the daughter., He was a good character and I liked him. But I wasn't feeling the romance with Shelby. It was insta-love and there was really no grit to it.
There was also the issue with her family and the plot that was not directly related to the suspense stuff. I liked the early parts with Shelby reconnecting with her family. Her husband had isolated her away from them, slowly until she had had very little contact in the last year or so. So she feels ashamed and grateful all at once being back with them. I also really liked her brother and I liked the vibe the family gave off.
But there was too much of it. There was too much time spent at the hair salon, at Shelby reviving old feuds with a former nemesis, with describing houses, at Shelby reviving her singing career etc. Some of that could have been cut to make the suspense part a bit bigger and a bit smarter.
Which brings me to the suspense portion. It started out strong and had potential but I don't think it completely got there. I made a prediction in the first chapter and that prediction came through. I saw it coming three miles away. I wish I had been wrong. i wish the story had been more clever than it was. But it wasn't. Even down to the point where I knew that somehow the writing would contrive to put Shelby in a position where the villain would twirl his mustache at her in a convenient moment where they were alone and away from other people.
I will say I was gratified that Shelby largely saved herself through smart thinking. That was good. But overall, I was disappointed in this plot line.
Also I think the book could have benefited from some of what I call ' the Linda Howard's street smarts manual.' In a lot of recent Linda Howard books. the reader is treated to what is essentially the cliff notes of how to 'be on the run' or 'outsmart the system' type stuff. Shelby finds out she is married to a guy whose real name she doesn't even know. In fact she may not even be legally married to him. So how is she on the hook for millions of dollars to the IRS and credit card companies? And yet she continues to pay. I was so distracted by this that I had to put the book down. We could have used less time under a blow dryer and more time with a lawyer. Just sayin'