Dear Ms. Griffin,
Your second book, “One Wrong Step” came to me in the form of an arc. An incomplete arc since the last bit of the story appears to be missing. However, the romantic suspense portion was all there and I think I can guess the rest. I’d not heard of you before so went into the story knowing nothing about your previous characters or the plot of the first book. Luckily, you did a good job filling me in on the backstory. What didn’t work so well…hmmm, let’s just proceed.
Usually the suspense aspect of these books is what doesn’t work for me. In this case however, the suspense part was good. Sure Celie does insist on taking part in an FBI operation but since the kidnappers/drug dealers had insisted on her being there for the money hand off and there were no agents close enough in looks to mimic her, okay. I thought the reason behind the last ditch return of the villain made sense based on the “honor” system of the culture so again, okay.
I enjoyed the FBI agents. They seemed believable (from what I know), acted intelligently (except for one dufus), kept their heads on straight in the crisis moments and did their jobs. And not having the money for 24/7 agent protection for Celie seems far more life like than some stuff I’ve read in romance novels. I also thought the reporters and newspaper people were well portrayed. Yeah they’re going to piss some people off in pursuit of a story but that’s what they do.
Where this book failed for me was in the two romantic leads. The heroine is a lying wannabe martyr – and I mean martyr way beyond the usual “I must save the world” martyr heroines. At one point she was ticking off a laundry list of things she felt responsible for and I felt like adding global warming, species extinction, $4 a gallon gasoline and toxic waste cleanup to it. The hero was just staring at her in disbelief and I was too. Get over yourself woman.
And then she tells the hero that she really does know where the $250,000 in laundered drug money her husband stole from a drug cartel is. She explains how she found it and how stunned she was since her husband had cleaned out their bank accounts before fleeing the country. John asks her why she didn’t contact the FBI and her lame ass response is that she though maybe this was money Robert had earned legitimately. WTF? And did it never occur to this idiot that when the cartel caught up with Robert and realized he didn’t have the cashola, they’d come after her pretty little derriere? Did she honestly believe that their threats against her family weren’t for real? I was slack jawed.
But wait, Celie isn’t the only one I didn’t like. The studly, ladies man hero, John, isn’t too much better. His ‘sleeping around and sneaking out of women’s homes the morning after’ seems to be over by the time the story starts but John can say some hateful things. I was as mad as he was after he thought Celie might be using him as a sperm donor in her desperate attempts to get pregnant but then he went into vitriol overdrive and uttered some of the most vile things I’ve heard out of a “hero’s” mouth in a long time.
As the book progressed, I started writing things in the margins.
“Martyr!” “WTF?” “Now why did she do that?!” “Yes she is a lier.” “Why would they be bluffing?!” “What the hell good does bullets in her purse do? Put them in the damn gun!” “Boy, he’s a shit.” “He’s even shittier.” “What!” “Kill him.” “WTF is this 180 turnaround?” “Then they’re screwing? After those awful words?” Then last but not least , “And?” when the arc ended with them in Russia in the adoption agency. I’m sure this isn’t what an author wants readers thinking about the lead characters.
For a final grade, I balanced what I though of the suspense vs the romance and came up with a C-