REVIEW: Count to Ten by Karen Rose
Dear Ms. Rose:
I began reading your books about 4 months ago and proceeded to go on a Karen Rose glom. Count to Ten’s heroine is Mia Mitchell. Mia is the partner of Abe Reagan , the hero of I’m Watching You. Mia is recovering from the emotional wounds of her father’s death and the emotional and physical wounds from a botched case wherein her partner and best friend, Abe received a near fatal wound. Abe is in the hospital recovering and Mia is just returning to duty when the story begins. Reed Solliday, a Lt with the fire department is temporarily assigned Mia as a partner to investigate a serial fire/homicide crime.
Mia’s personal conflict stems from the familial abuse she received. Reed’s conflict arises from the fact that he believed his dead wife was his soul mate and that you can only have one. Mia and Reed’s attraction for one another is something that neither of them accept readily and even when they succumb to the physical lure, they hold themselves apart emotionally.
Beyond the intimacy issues, are some fascinating moral issues. The nurture/nature theory is the theme of the book and it applies not only to Mia and Reed, but to the motivations of the villian. The question that is pose is whether someone always rise above their past or will poor environment doom people?
For example, Mia and her sister grew up with a violent, abusive father. Mia escaped by going to college but her younger sister was left at home. Her sister tried to escape by getting involved with a bad crowd. Mia’s argument is that she escaped but her sister didn’t and therefore nuture plays an important role in outcome. Reed, however, grew up in foster homes until having one family take a chance of him. He believes that nature controls. The good will always be good and the bad will be bad.
Unfortunately, the concept wasn’t given anything more than a superficial consideration instead of the real introspective thought provoking novel it could have been. Further, the politics of the authorial voice seemed pretty clear. I get the sense that you, the author, has some pretty decided opinions on journalists, defense lawyers, criminals and so forth. In these books, at least, the message of good / bad is very clearly drawn.
One other aspect that dragged the story down was the canonization of Reed’s former wife, Christine. I got that he was obsessed with her and that he couldn’t bring himself to truly live without her, but it was a very tired refrain.
I liked Mia very much. She was a survivor who cared so much for the others around her, but she was prone to making errors and to inadvertently hurting the people she cared about. Your cops are like Eve Dallas. Caring, flawed, and devoted. And good at their job. I’ve read five of your books now and know what I am getting. Tightly crafted whodunit with realistic pairing of two adults who have flaws but find perfection in each other. Can’t ask for more than that from a romance suspense. I simply wish that there were greater areas of gray in the moral analysis. B.