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REVIEW: Archer by Debra Kayn

Dear Ms. Kayn:

Jane Beaumont fell in love with an illusion. She thought her attentive boyfriend was a catch but it turned out he was a violent, possessive heroin dealer who threatened her multiple times with dismemberment and death if she ever left him, ever ratted him out.

Debra Kayn ArcherSomehow, she found the will to escape to her brother’s body shop back in Oregon. Beaumont Body Shop serves as a front for a private investigative team.  Jane hides inside the body shop doing paperwork during the evening hours until one night her teenage love turned hot private investigator drags her out to a bar where he stamps his ownership all over her to the amusement of his buddies and the approval of her brother. In order to keep up the facade of conflict, Jane is portrayed as having the intuition of a jellyfish.  None, in other words.

Garrett’s eyes went to Kage, and a slow nod passed between the two men. The unspoken conversation confused her, and she didn’t like not knowing what was going on in their heads.

Lance elbowed Tony, and their eyes landed on Kage too. She frowned.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“It’s about time. That’s all I’m saying,” Lance muttered.

Lance leaned against the bar beside Garrett, black T-shirt stretched across his broad chest, black jeans, and black cowboy boots. It wasn’t lost on her that his black goatee matched everything about him. Although Lance attracted a lot of women, he couldn’t compare to Kage’s size and quiet strength. Kage made her feel feminine and protected, yet he gave her strength.

She turned to Kage. “What’s Lance talking about? Time for what?”

Some of the early scenes didn’t make sense. Kage slips her a phone number at her father’s funeral. This is the number she calls when she is at the end of her tether with Scott. Yet, when she’s at home, she acts like Kage doesn’t know her troubled past and is upset when she finds out her brother has revealed all to his partners.

The fact she is worried that she has brought trouble to her brother’s door in the form of Scott, the drug lord, doesn’t sit well given that she wants to keep everything secret and that she’ll handle it herself. How exactly will she allow them to protect her and themselves if they aren’t aware of the danger? If she couldn’t handle it when she lived away from Oregon, how will she handle it now?  And then I remember she’s got the brains of a jellyfish.  Because despite the following description, Jane steadfastly refuses to believe that a) they can protect her or b) that they will simply turn away from her problems.

Each one of them was scary in his own right. They’d kill or be killed protecting those they loved or were hired to protect. The guys were certified in weaponry and martial arts, and, if pushed into a corner, were street smart enough to kick ass without making a sound.

Let me enumerate just some of her jellyfish ways:

  1. She steals from the drug lord who has beaten her and raped her repeatedly.
  2. She doesn’t tell either her brother or her lover that she has stolen from the drug lord, even though she knows that her brother and lover are actively working to try to protect her and/or bring down the drug lord.
  3. She carries around a loaded gun with the safety not engaged.
  4. After said gun is taken from her because she obviously can’t handle a firearm, she steals her lover’s gun and then lies about having taken it.
  5. When things go missing in her house, neither she nor her lover (the private investigator) think this has any significance despite emails being sent to her that pretty much state her drug lord ex is watching her (i.e., if you sleep with him again, I’ll kill you).
  6. When her lover and brother are engaged in checking out the property after a security scare, she screams bloody murder because her cat is missing.
  7. Despite being protected by four experienced private investigators who are supposed to be so bad ass that women can barely walk within a 100 mile radius without dropping their panties, she decides to take on the ex drug lord lover herself.
  8. She intentionally loses her guards and takes off with an over 50 ex showgirl to battle the ex drug lord.  Herself.

Faceplam of all facepalms.

The prose reads like it cobbles together a bunch of catch phrases “You’re my woman” etc etc. It’s like corporate buzzwords but instead it comes from the alpha male handbook.  The “He’d rejected her previously, so it couldn’t possibly be that he wanted to be with her or spend time with her” just didn’t work for me either because, you know, she was a jellyfish.

Worse, the book couldn’t decide whether it wanted Jane to be an inept Stephanie Plum trying to wield a paint gun as a weapon with a retired  showgirl as her Lulu sidekick or a dark angsty story replete with the horrible ex boyfriend and the new lover who is fighting his old underground drug world ties to save her.

Sure, it’s got a trope I love – little sister in love with the brother’s best friend who rejected her so many years ago but even my fondness for the trope couldn’t overcome how dreadful the characterization of the heroine was or how forced the narrative prose came off.  This was just really really bad in my estimation. I’m sorry to give it an F but really it failed for me.

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. DB Cooper
    Jul 03, 2013 @ 13:05:45

    OK. First of all, that whole bit about being certified to hell and back? That just offended the pickle out if me. Really? Really? Certificates have nothing to do with it. Guess what? I got my first martial arts certificate when I went from white belt (beginner) to orange belt (slightly less beginner). Meanwhile each week, somewhere there are soldiers being taught stripped-down, lethal had to hand without getting a piece of paper for it. Never mind that streetsmarts are not necessarily separate from weaponry or martial arts (except maybe for the lack of certification), and do not guarantee stealth (or fighting ability). And for God’s sake, if one of them is backed into a corner by a bad guy, I think they’ve missed the train on ‘take em down without a sound’.

    But clearly we need to be told that she’s hiding amongst a bunch of hunkified GI-Joe action figures. And along those lines I’m now curious if each is certified in different weaponry (which I want to infer from that passage). Is one a USPSA pistol expert while another is a certified morningstar expert (maybe through EMAA)?

    OK. Ranty McRant over. I feel better now. Oh, and I love the jellyfish allusion. I hope to see its return real soon. :D

  2. Laura
    Jul 03, 2013 @ 20:13:05

    Kage? That kind of sums up the F for me, right there. At least JR Ward would have made it Khage.

  3. HellyBelly
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 08:15:03

    @Laura: Khage! Yes, maybe a long lost brother of Rhage. He is already big, just need some vampire blood to get even bigger and badder.

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