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REVIEW: One Wrong Move by Shannon McKenna

Dear Ms. McKenna:

I love the feel of your romantic suspense books. While not every hero in your books have a law enforcement background, there is a certain paramilitary aspect to the heroes and your extensive knowledge of weaponry displayed through the narrative provides a believable basis for the hero’s competency. But beyond the suspense, I’ve always enjoyed the romantic archetype of your stories which feature a hero that becomes fixated on the heroine and devoted to her safety and well being within a short amount of time. One Wrong Move delivers on those two elements: the familiar romantic archetype and the suspense. Where it falters is in the believability aspect but if a reader can suspend her disbelief and enjoys the types of romances McKenna tells, then this will be a satisfying read.

One Wrong Move by Shannon McKennaWhile the back cover copy reads like McKenna is writing an erotic novel, it is not. Her books are sexy but I would not place them in the erotic romance category.

Alex Aaro is a cyber security specialist whose father is a giant in the Ukranian mob. He’s run from that lifestyle, moving to the US with his aunt, enlisting in the Army and serving in the Rangers where he met Davy McCloud. Since he’s been out, from time to time, McCloud would ask Alex to help him out but the last time, Alex made a big mistake which almost led to the death of his cousin’s wife, Lily. He wants to withdraw from helping others. It only results in tragedies. When Bruno calls him to translated a recording left on the phone of a friend of Lily’s, Alex refuses. He is on his way to see his aunt who is on her deathbed. She is the only woman who has ever loved him.

Nina Christie is accosted by her aunt Helga, injected with some kind of substance, and left with a frantic message in Ukranian. Shortly thereafter, her aunt slips into a coma and the only piece of evidence Nina has is the message.

The injection leaves Nina with strange images as if instead of a person’s face, she sees their true identity – evil, good, soulless. She begins to hear the thoughts of those around her and wonders if she isn’t going crazy.

I can’t recall when McKenna introduced the paranormal element into her books but it was in the McCloud brother series. Some people’s extra sensory powers are the result of a drug and in this case, Nina’s powers are brought on by a drug her aunt had been developing under duress. Once the message is translated, it is discovered that Nina was given an A dose of the drug and she needs to the B dose within 5 days or Nina will die like her aunt. The bad guys recongize Nina knows something and pursue her.

Alex gets dragged in against his will and for all his protestations otherwise, Alex can’t leave endangered Nina by herself. The two have a twofold goal: avoid the killer goons after them and find the B dose. Adventure ahoy.

Amongst the gruesome villianry, the romance provides comedic relief with Alex’s bluntly expressed attraction to Nina (and his initial terrible attempts to suppress that attraction) giving rise to a few laughs.

“What makes you think I’m so hungry for attachment”

“All women want attachment. Unless they’re damaged.”

“So do men.” She wasn’t even sure exactly what they were arguing about, but she couldn’t shut herself up. “Unless they’re damaged , too.”

“Right,” he said. “There you have it. ”

“So you’re telling me you’re damaged goods?”

“Duh,” he said.


“Want to know the wird part, though?” His narrowed eyes were fixed on her, hot with fascination. “My dick is hard as cement.”

She jerked back against the door. “Don’t talk to me like that.”

“I’m not usually this bad,” he said. “I mostly keep my trap shut. But I guess, once you’ve killed two guys, dragged a stark naked girl out of a bullet ridden closet and then gone through a drive by shooting with her, you feel entitled to skip the small talk.”

One of the more fun aspects of this story is that Nina is often saving Alex. He’s very capable but oftentimes put in situations in the story that place him in impossible odds and Nina, by being in the right place at the right time, is able to haul him out of danger more than once.

But in order to enjoy these books, one really has to stop thinking.  I didn’t love the ESP aspect.  I didn’t love the wildly improbably coincidences. The insta love between the characters might be a real problem for readers. But before there were self published authors like Kristen Ashley, there was Shannon McKenna whose messy, improbable, over-the-top romances are like candy to me.  C+

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. Kaetrin
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 00:47:12

    I really liked Alex in Blood and Fire – I think he had the best line in the book:

    “It comes from hanging out with the McClouds,” Aaro said. “When I took up with them, my cars started blowing up. My house. These days, I sleep with a girl I meet at a bar, and pow, she explodes in front of me.”

    I have this one on my TBR. I don’t love the paranormal aspects, but I’m a total sucker for the absolute devotion of the hero to his lady from the second he sets eyes on her. You think Kristen Ashley heroes are like McKenna’s Jane? Maybe I should move Motorcyle Man up on my TBR too :)

  2. Merrian
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 01:19:33

    I love McKenna’s stories; especially the McCloud brothers swooningly crazy, stalkerish intensity. I even love getting to the end and wondering WTF have I read? I love the subjectivity of all this, the way these books by this author work for me/have a pass that other seemingly similar books do not.

    The only thing I have felt let down about was Kevin’s arc. It felt thrown away at the end given the grieving of his family and the way his loss was the driver behind so much. It was the thing that bound each book in the series to the other.

  3. Jane
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 15:32:07

    @Merrian: I didn’t love Kevin’s either and wasn’t his kind of the first of the psycho terror issues in these series? For some strange reason, I think Sean, the stalker, was my favorite. I’m a little afraid of what that says about me.

    @Kaetrin: Not exactly the same. The heroes in the Ashley books are super possessive like McKenna but one of the things I enjoy about McKenna is her male POV and we don’t get much of that in Ashley books. I just think that McKenna has that cracktastic over the top feel to her stories.

  4. Dabney
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 20:43:03

    I like the non-McClouds–Seth, Nick, and Val. Aaro wasn’t quite as compelling for me for some reason. I do think McKenna’s books are compulsively readable. Even when I’m rolling my eyes–I hate the mind control plots–I still can’t stop turning the pages.

  5. Kaetrin
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 21:50:41

    @Jane: One of the things I enjoy so much about the McKenna books is the hero’s POV so it may be that I won’t enjoy Ashley quite the same way (when I eventually get to the book of hers which is on my TBR).

    My favourite McKenna’s are Out of Control which is Davy and Margot’s book and Hot Night, which is unconnected and is about Zan and Abby. I’m still hoping she will write about Zan’s brothers one day. :)

  6. Nan
    Oct 15, 2012 @ 12:32:36

    This was the first of McKenna’s that I read and I liked it a lot — so much that I immediately went and got the rest of the McCloud series. Cracktastic is right — and I love that the heroines are generally smart and brave. Tam is an alpha in her own right. Extreme Danger (Nick and Becca) is probably my favorite — no mind control, though that stuff doesn’t really bother me — but I just thought the plotting was really, really well done. I like Kevin’s story, too, though that may just be because I’m partial to graphic novels. I work at a library and keep wanting to recommend McKenna’s books to people who are reading Fifty Shades because there’s plenty of sex but these are SO MUCH BETTER WRITTEN. And the heroines are not total idiots, so that’s nice to complement the alpha males.

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