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Joyce Lamb

REVIEW: True Shot by Joyce Lamb

REVIEW: True Shot by Joyce Lamb

Dear Ms. Lamb:

Why hello there. I had no idea you wrote such fun and entertaining characters.  I admit that I was initially put off by the series because it featured heroines with psychic abilities.  While Now You See Her and Dream Man by Linda Howard are two of my favorite contemporaries, psychic characters have always seemed a bit twee to me and I’ve never fully climbed on board with that type of paranormal.  I particularly disliked the use of pyschic abilities in romantic suspense, in part because I think the psychic part reduces the suspense part and raises all kinds of questions.

True-Shot-by-Joyce-LambThis is my long involved excuse as to why I passed you over before.  But True Shot has a lot of those different elements in the strong female protagonist and the less than alpha male protagonist. At it’s core, True Shot is a adventure road romance wherein the two flee for their lives while searching for answers which are primarily presented in a series of sort flashbacks as Sam West recovers her memories.

Mac Hunter is a newspaper journalist and good friends with the Trudeau sisters. He’s headed for burnout and they convince him to go to the family cabin in the Shenandoahs. Admittedly for someone seemingly at the end of his tether (a self medicating drunk teetering on the edge of alcoholism), Mac is shockingly put together such that the actual despair that drove him to the retreat seemed a bit artificial. Hard bitten reporter he is not.

And there are plot gaps throughout the story but much of that is forgiven by me because it’s rare to read about an awesome spy and the sidekick where the awesome spy is a woman:

She nodded but made no move to open her door.

“Sam?”

“Maybe it’s stupid, but I hope that whatever we learn in there doesn’t change . . .” She shook her head with a soft laugh.

“Change what?”

“Nothing. It’s foolish to think there’s anything even to change.”

“You mean, between us?” he asked, surprised. And hopeful.

“It’s been two days.”

His point exactly. “Well, I am your only friend right now. It’s like you’re Jason Bourne and I’m . . . I guess I’d be the . . . well, the resourceful girlfriend who gets killed at the beginning of the second movie. Hmm, not sure I care for that comparison on a couple of levels.”

The biggest problem with True Shot is that you actually see Sam, the super agent heroine, being super only in the beginning because she’s injured and then suffers a memory loss.  Her weakened state allows Mac to show himself as capable while he whips out one self deprecating quip after another. There are additional plot holes such as Sam having multiple epiphanies about her time with the agency and how she got to be there in the first place and learning about the awesomeness that is Mac by seeing some of his memories. The reunion aspect with her sisters is largely glossed over and the ending is treacly where all wrongs are forgiven.

Even so, I still appreciated the portrayal of a strong and capable heroine who was dangerous even while she was injured. I thought the suspense portion of the story was fairly well done and that the villain of the story had a sympathetic storyline. The chemistry of Mac and Sam was immediate but not inappropriate and I liked that the two didn’t fall into each other’s arms at the first moment that they were alone.

The wry humor from Mac provided moments of lightness during the race forward. I don’t know what happened in previous novels, whether there was a build up of a story arc and I was just now seeing the pay off but there is no cliffhanger ending for the series arc. The book was fairly well self contained and the secrets that Sam kept were all revealed. Part of the reason, I think, that the secrets were all spilled out in one book despite the storyline being encompassing was the use of the Sam flashback memory scenes. A lot of information was dumped in small tidbits throughout. It worked but I can see that this shortcut would be irritating. I was still pleasantly entertained and I’ll seek out other books by you in the future. B-

Best regards,

Jane

True Shots Joyce Lamb ” TARGET=”_blank” /> Sony BN Goodreads

Dear Author

REVIEW: Cold Midnight by Joyce Lamb

Dear Ms. Lamb:

I wanted to read this book because a) I love sports books and b) so few of the sports books ever feature female athletes. The sports/athletic aspect of the book was the best part. The rest of it? Didn’t work so well.

<—What is going on with that chick’s breasts?

Kylie McKay was a tennis star at the cusp of breaking out. She had just won the Australian Open when, during a downtime at her home, she was attacked and her knee was bashed in by a baseball bat. Her career in tatters, Kylie runs off to UCLA to get her degree and heal. Ten years later, she returns home to open up a tennis/health club center. During construction, a baseball bat is found that Kylie believes is the one that damaged her knee. 10 years! In the dirt! and she can identify it! Maybe this is true but it strained my credulity. I mean, I would like to know what magic marker the assailant used that the words KILLER would have remained on the bat after being buried for ten years. I can’t keep the labels on my travel bottle from lasting more than one trip. Also, googling shows that a cotton rag degrades in 5 months, let alone surviving 10 years to yield blood and fiber clues. O_o

Chase Manning was her boyfriend at the time and is now a Kendall Falls Police Detective. He’s never gotten over the loss of Kylie despite having been married and divorced. He is portrayed as on the precipice of emotional instability upon finding the baseball bat and hearing of threats against Kyle and the McKay Tennis Center.

At first, I was intrigued. It seemed like you were playing with some established character tropes within the genre. Kylie was the stoic one, keeping her emotions in check at all times while Chase was the emotional one, driven by impulse and instinct. But as this wore on, Chase’s disgust for Kylie’s emotional discipline began to be offensive instead of endearing. Chase was great about blaming Kylie for the fallout of their relationship and for changing after the trauma into a stone cold hearted bitch.

Kylie gets her knee bashed in by a bat and it ends her tennis career, a promising pro career, something only a few could ever dream of and it’s over. Does he really believe that she won’t be totally traumatized by that? Further, Kylie explains that Chase didn’t wait long to move on because she heard that he got someone knocked up almost immediately after she left. Chase explains that he was distraught and sought “solace” (that’s what he calls it). It really wasn’t his fault that he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants while Kylie sought to recover from a super horrible event. I mean, if she had stuck around, he wouldn’t have been forced into some other girl’s bed.

I wanted to throttle him, he was so irritating. If you couldn’t tell.

Anyway, moving on to the suspense plot of the story. Bad things are happening to Kylie’s tennis center and to her personally. She doesn’t get a long great with her step siblings, one of whom might have been behind the attack, and she’s having to deal with uncomfortable feelings for Chase. There’s a complicating other man in Kylie’s life (a complication that is totally contrived and not a little skeevy). See the doctor that operated on Kylie’s life and saved her knee when she was seventeen totally had the hots for her back then and is taking up with her again when she returned. Her stepmother encourages this relationship, arguing he had waited for her for 10 years.

"I don’t know. He was very devoted to you before you left for California."
"I was his patient."
"A patient he liked very much."

Oy is all I have to say. I thought the characterizations were way off. The suspense was the most interesting part of the book, but there were plenty of holes in the villain’s motivation for the crime, kind of like how I figured the evidence would be, buried in the ground after 10 years. It’s not quite a D book, but it came close. C-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.