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Marliss Melton

REVIEW:  Too Far Gone by Marliss Melton

REVIEW: Too Far Gone by Marliss Melton

Dear Ms. Melton:

I had read and enjoyed the voice in the first book of yours that I had read and so I was interested in reading the next in the series,  Too Far Gone, which picks up where book 2 left off on a couple of secondary characters.

Mother of three, Ellie Stuart, is struggling to go to school and to raise her boys. She rents a home from Navy SEAL Sean Harlan. Harlan is strongly attracted to Ellie but has a no single mother rule because of Harlan’s committment issues.   He is supposed to be a womanizer who enjoys the strings free relationships he has with several woman. For Ellie’s part, she doesn’t believe that strong, gorgeous and together Navy SEAL Harlan would want anything to do with her.   Her three boys get kidnapped and Sean charges in to help. The story then changes to a road romance as the two set off to find her kids.

Once the two start their search for the kidnapped children, the story started losing me.   Ellie and Sean are suspects by those in authority but are not instructed to stay in the area.   Instead, they are allowed to go off on their own to find the kids.     Additionally, the official mechanism to search for the children was relegated to minority status – so small that it was only there to serve as an impediment to the search and therefore heighten the suspense. The way that this was executed cast a believability problem over the whole story.

My incredulity was further strained by the setup of the antagonists.   There is some association in the South called Centurions. This mysognistic group is behind the kidnapping.   Their mission is to promote the white male supremacy (but by kidnapping poor white boys?).   The Centurion thing felt very manufactured  (even if it was based on a true story although I don’t know that it was). Just the whole name and the over the top evilness of the villain and the “network” that the Centurion’s owned throughout the country that infiltrated every part of aspect of power: business, politics, law enforcement.   It was like the mob only full of white Southern gentleman who wear white suits when they kill you.   The motive behind the kidnapping also seemed specious given that a mysognistic group like the Centurious would be big on on the concept of  progenitor.   

I appreciate when the suspense is closely tied to reality because the more likely the danger is, the more scary and suspenseful the story. The further that the suspense book gets from reality or the more that I am required to suspend my disbelief in a romantic suspense, the less engaging the story.   I don’t think it helped that the suspense was further undermined by the fact that nothing convinced me those boys were ever in danger (ala Ransom).   There was danger to Ellie and Sean, but it lacked a feeling of urgency.

The secondary storyline also didn’t work for me because while the reader knows that the runaway teen that Skylar, daughter of a Centurion, meets at a shelter is actually an undercover agent, Skylar only knows him as a, well, runaway teen. Yes, he’s 18 years of age but he appears to be a runaway to her, in need of guidance and love and probably not the lust love that Skylar feels for him. It just felt . . . wrong not deliciously forbidden given that a runaway teen is likely to be emotionally vulnerable.   

Finally, I didn’t buy into the idea that Sean’s issues with committment was magically resolved by  seeking out the boys’ kidnapper.   As if wanting to search for them, wanting to return the boys home to their mother, is enough to convince him to overcome his dislike of long term involvement.   Ellie is the best part of the story.   She has had one unfortunate experience in life after another.   Before her kids are taken from her, Ellie was just getting on her feet.   She’s portrayed as this fragile woman with a wellspring of strength that sees everyone through to the final conclusion.   I liked her portrayal as someone who, from her mannerisms, seemed likely to crumble at pressure.   But her whole life has been about survival and providing for her sons.   Her grief at the loss of her boys and her desperate search was genuine and moving.

I can see how this book would appeal to others who view these stories as more escapist fiction.   Because of my desire for romantic suspense to be more realistic, that colored my reading of the book.   Readers who aren’t so tied to realism in romantic suspense would probably find this a good story.     C

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Dear Author

REVIEW: Don’t Let Go by Marliss Melton

Dear Ms. Melton:

Book CoverYou are a new to me author and I had heard good things about you so I was happy to try you out. While this book didn’t work for me, I am still interested in reading other books by you, either future or past works. The main reason that I struggled with this book is that there were so many characters and those characters had all suffered terribly tragedies and one book wasn’t enough to adequately address everything that was brought up.

Ostensibly the main story line is about senior Chief Soloman McGuire and teacher Jordan Bliss. Jordan Bliss was working on the adoption of a young Venezuelan boy when the town she was in was targeted by guerillas. Bliss was saved by McGuire and his team of SEALs sent in specifically to extract her and British civilians. McGuire forces Bliss to leave her nearly adopted son behind because his orders do not include any children. Bliss fights him like a mad woman and eventually she is subdued and sedated. Jordan won’t be deterred and once back in the states, she plots to return to the unstable Venezuela and obtain her son.

McGuire is not untouched by Jordan’s situation. His ex-wife kidnapped their son when McGuire was on a mission and he hasn’t seen his son in five years despite hiring private investigators to search him out. Through a series of circumstances, Silas is returned to McGuire but he is functionally illiterate and not ready to enter the school system. Solomon decides that Jordan might be able to help him and she conveniently needs to earn extra cash to fund her return trip to Venezuela.

This storyline and the shared grief and renewal that Solomon and Jordan experienced would have made a powerful impact but their romance was diluted by the inclusion of Jordan’s sister, Jillian who was struggling to open a therapy ranch while being pregnant and recently widowed. Jillian has a soft and understated romance with a FBI Special Agent Rafael Valentino who lost his entire family in a mob hit. Then there is Silas’ author, Ellie Stuart, who has three young children and a dead beat husband who sold her home out from under her. Finally, there is still another couple introduced at the end of the story, Lucy Donovan, a CIA operative, and Lt. Atwater, with the Navy.

It was difficult to concentrate on the main couple when there were so many other characters in the books raising their hands and saying “pay attention to me.” The Soloman/Jordan storyline was beset with a number of tragedies that resolved almost too neatly given the gravity of both their losses such as Soloman’s reconciliation with his son, Jordan forgiving Soloman for wrenching her near adopted son out of her arms, and Jordan’s miraculous late story pregnancy given that she had endometriosis as a kid and was only able to get pregnant before with a fertility specialist. Jillian and Rafe’s romance had wonderful potential but had to fend off the characters’ demands for screen time.

Some parts were quite emotionally moving and the suspense of whether Jordan would be able to reunite with her son was gripping, but too many tragedies, issues and people were crammed into this one book for any satisfactory resolution. C.

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Powells or ebook format.