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Lynn Raye Harris

REVIEW:  Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris

REVIEW: Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris

This series is edited by Robin aka Janet who reviews here at the blog.  Robin emailed me and told me this and so I edited the review to make the change.

 

Dear Ms. Harris:

I was intrigued by this book when I first heard about it. It is a novel length versus the category romances you’ve been writing in the past and includes an element of suspense that absent from your Harlequin Presents. When it showed up on NetGalley, I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Hot Pursuit Lynn Raye HarrisMatt Girard is returning home briefly after a HOT team mission that went pear shaped and ended with his team captured and two of its members dead before the dust had settled. He’s not sure if he has been permanently benched from the HOT teams or not.

Evie Baker is home, she hopes briefly, until some restaurant will take a chance on her.  Her ten year career as a chef and owner of a restaurant was destroyed when she trusted her partner, a dirty accountant with ties to the mob.  Evie and Matt have a past together that includes him deflowering her and then bragging about it later that night to all of his buddies.

Matt regrets this and so he decides the best course of action to make it up to Evie is to bag her again while he’s cooling his jets in their home town.  I did not get this but it’s not the first time I’ve encountered it. Matt is genuinely apologetic about his past behavior but I don’t get how a one night (or two night stand) is matching words with actions.  Maybe I am supposed to view them as so caught up in passion that they can’t help themselves, but I would have appreciated a slower pace to the evolution of their sexual relationship, particularly when Evie is still so hurt by the past.   Matt’s bragging made Evie a target for boys who thought she was easy and girls who were jealous.  Evie showed some indecision but not enough that it keeps her out of Matt’s bed. The only impediment to their consummation is an unwelcome interruption.

Evie’s home life is complicated by her sister’s involvement with a bad seed in town that leads to even worse results when the sister stupidly throws in with someone else.  I got the sense that the thematic arc of the story was about mistakes. Matt made a mistake by not trusting his gut and it cost him two friends and possibly his job.  Evie made a mistake by trusting the wrong guy and it cost her a business and her livelihood.  Both return home to lick the wounds and figure out the way forward.

While the suspense plot provides Matt a way to redeem himself, I wasn’t sure about Evie.  I think what I lacked from Evie’s perspective was more internal fortitude. For instance, when Matt tells Evie that he only wants sex and casual at that, she was tearful even after she proclaimed that she wanted sex only as well.  When they have to look for something important, Evie is distracted and has to be brought back on task by Matt.  I wanted Evie to tell Matt off, to not have to rely on him so much, to have a little more agency.

The ex shows up at Evie’s and it’s not hard to guess that he’s left something important with her which is, in essence, the milkshake that brings the bad guys to the yard. And there are a number of bad guys from Jimmie, the drunken lout who blames Matt for being the soldier that Jimmie could have been to the various people surrounding Evie’s ex partner.

The twists in the suspense and the action in the latter half of the story engaged me.  Evie was given more opportunity to display wits and bravery but she remained emotionally vulnerable throughout. It was just her personality, I guess, and I shouldn’t have wanted something more from her but I did.   I’m on board for another romantic suspense book even though this one wasn’t wholly successful for me, particularly at the beginning. By the end of the story, I was more satisfied by Evie’s actions but still mystified by Matt’s motivations. Their love connection needed more time to bake in the hot Louisiana sun for me to buy into an HEA.  C

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  The Girl Nobody Wanted by Lynn Raye Harris

REVIEW: The Girl Nobody Wanted by Lynn Raye Harris

Dear Lynn Raye Harris:

My biggest problem with this story is that I was unprepared for the emotional reactions of the characters.  They were two steps ahead of me and the whole time, I was internally thinking “wait up.”

Anna Constantinides is the jilted and humiliated bride who learned of her fiance’s perfidy in the tabloids.  Because she has been raised to be proper and polite, she attends the engagement party in order to show that there are no hard feelings.  She should have hard feelings. I have them for her.  There she meets the brother of the woman taking her place, Leo Jackson.

Leo comes on to her, calling her darling and looking at her passionately. Anna responds immediately.  But I’m wondering why Anna doesn’t hate him and all men?  The next moment I’m told she does hate all men but Leo’s wicked grin still makes her core clench or so she tells me.  Leo gets Anna to agree to show him around the island.  Anna, you see, is the quintessential doormat who can’t say no even to the brother of the woman who is marrying Anna’s fiance.

The Girl Nobody Wanted Lynn Raye HarrisAnd the next morning Leo greets her in dishabaille. I guess I’m supposed to find this sexy – him in his unbottoned shirt, with lipstick streaked across the collar. When he is part of the family that humiliated her shouldn’t he treat her with more care?

Anna is described a stereotypically uptight, easily blushing by Leo’s suggestive comments.  It is Leo’s purpose during this next day to unwind her. Because that is what males are created for – to loosen the uptight virgin.

Unfortunately, I’m not ready for his advances or her lust for him.

When Leo diverts from an Island tour of the heroine’s home to Sicily, over her protests, and suggests that they should make love, I’m appalled. When he tells her she is too uptight for all the deliciousness he has to offer, I want to tell him that he needs to back off.

The look he gave her jolted her to her core. Dark, sensual, breathtakingly intense. “We could have fun in Sicily, Anna. Hot, decadent, pleasurable fun.”

Her heart was thrumming. “Please stop saying we. We aren’t doing anything together, Mr. Jackson.”

He laughed again. “Back to that? Have you ever considered, sweet Anna, that perhaps it’s time you let your hair down a bit? Time to let go of that buttoned-up perfection you try so hard to project and have some fun?”

This isn’t sexy, this is harassment and kidnapping.  He’s known her all of five minutes and he is telling her she isn’t dressed appropriately and he knows better? Gah.

“You’re grabbing at straws,” she said calmly. “I am well aware I’m not perfect. And I like the way I’m dressed.”

“It’s not a bad way to dress if you’re chairing a board meeting,” he said. “But it’s not your true style.”

“I don’t think you have the first clue about my style.”
“I’m not sure you do, either,” he said. “But we could start with naked and go from there.”

When the story moves to explain Leo’s motives, I’m already lost as a reader. Sure he’s trying to make up for the harm his sister has done, but his peremptory, patriarchal behavior is one step away from a chest beating caveman. That Anna finds this sexy is disappointing as is the non stop stereotypical portrayal of her as the uptight babe that gets shown how to live by the sexy hotel magnate.

This exchange kind of typifies the book for me:

“Perhaps you need a little promiscuity in your life,” he replied, very aware he was being self-serving as he said it. “A little fun that’s about you, not about others or what they expect from you.”

“You’re only saying this because it would suit your purposes if I agreed with you. Stop trying to seduce me, Mr. Jackson. It won’t work.”

But Anna is an easy mark because not only is she a virgin BUT SHE’S NEVER KISSED ANYONE BEFORE. Oh lord. Her sexual awakening comes about and it’s just so sudden and unbelievable.

I know HPs have a certain formula and there are certain expectations one should observe when reading them, but I just could not lose myself in this book. Every page caused me to raise my eyebrows and tug my hair in frustration.

I almost wished the book had started with her sexual awakening instead of having that mid book because although it was only a matter of hours from the meet to the deflowering, it was a long time in the book itself (1/2). The second half of the book then was a completely different story as it attempts to incorporate more HP tropes (marriage of convenience, secret baby, blackmail).

When Leo sheds his know it all air and Anna has a little more backbone (she never gets much) the story turns around a little for me but it’s hard to win back a reader lost at the opening.  C-

Best regards,

Jane

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