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REVIEW: Caught on Camera by Meg Maguire

Dear Ms. Maguire:

I was unreasonably excited about reading this book as I loved your voice in Willing Victim, the imagery of your prose, and the vividness of your characters but wanted more from the emotional arc between the characters. I thought that a straight romance might deliver the entire package for me as a romance reader. While heightened expectations may have played a part in my overall discontentment with this story, I think some of it had to do with the way in which the character arc played out.
Caught on Camera by Meg MaguireFor most of the book, I did not understand the motivations of the two protagonists. What was driving them to act the way that they did, or more importantly, why they kept apart when it was so obvious the feelings that they had for each other.

This failure of mine to understand them made their actions incomprehensible. I spent far too long contemplating the whys and wherefores instead of moving with the story. And it prevented me from getting lost in the text. I was never fully engaged.

Kate Somersby, was the production assistant, personal assistant, best friend, and travel companion of Dom Tyler, the star of a survival show called Dom Tyler: Survive This! The show consists of the two them being dropped off somewhere remote and Dom having to find his way back to a checkpoint, living off the land and his wits. Kate shoots all the video.

Ty (as he does not like to be called Dominic or Dom) isn’t quite sure he wants to do his show anymore and he doesn’t want to do it with Kate. Not because he doesn’t care for Kate but because he feels like this has become increasingly dangerous to her AND because he wants Kate in a personal manner. While she is his assistant, Kate won’t let him act on his advances.

But the two engage in very heavy flirtation. Ty is often kissing her jaw, cheek, face but never her mouth. He shows up in her room at 2 am because he can’t sleep unless he is laying beside her in bed. She gives him body massages while he is laying in bed with her. He sits in the bathroom while she showers. Whatever boundaries the two of them have are thinner than a year old condom and just as weak. I didn’t believe for a minute that the two of them engaged in these games for three years and did nothing about it. At one point, early in the book, Katie says to Ty that the two of them are “everything but lovers”

You know, you and I are like everything except lovers,” she said. The statement threw Ty for a momentary loop. Hope and lust jockeyed for his attention, warming him like whiskey from the inside. “Yeah. Why? You looking to change that?” She smirked at his tone, shook her head and took another sip of beer. “Nope.” Ty’s body cooled with disappointment. “Why not?”

My credulity is strained to the snapping point because they both want each other. They both act like they want each other. Yet Kate for some reason clings to this belief that Ty’s flirting is just an act, as if he would never want her. Her lack of self confidence in that area was just as frustrating as the faux conflict.

I tried to understand that Katie and Ty were closed off and used banter and flirtation as a barrier to their attraction for each other. (A thin and specious barrier).

For example, Katie decides that if she is going to be fired by Ty and be forced to leave the most important thing in her life (the show) behind, then she might as well indulge herself on his body. Yet, she stops because she wonders whether Ty is coming on to her because he wants her to be on his side and to prevent her from running to the press? Her indecision here was problematic because it forces one to forget about all the intense flirting that Ty and she have engaged in. If she spent nearly three years with Ty, wouldn’t she get a sense of whether he was that manipulative type of guy? So none of these things add up and she doesn’t even try to put the pieces together in her mind (which again seems very contrary to her analytical mind that we are continually told she has).

And then, without any further mental gymnastics, she is on him again, this time not stopping.

I would have appreciated even one line that gave me an explanation as a reader. The line that says her analytical mind didn’t work within two feet of Ty’s body (even though that wasn’t born out by the text).

So now that I have ragged on for several paragraphs about my confusion, I admit that the extent of my frustration arises out of the fact that I liked Ty and Kate so much and wanted these two crazy kids to get together. Their adventure in Alaska was fraught with danger but also sexual tension. The sex scenes were hot (how could they not be) and once I understood where they were both coming from, the story began to gel together.

I kept wondering, though, had I not read carefully enough? Did I miss important scenes? Had I expected something else and thus my expectations were at odds with the actual text? I don’t know. I wanted to love this book but it was a struggle, at times, to connect. C

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

14 Comments

  1. Meg Maguire
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 15:59:06

    Jane,

    Aww, sniffle. I do wish I’d lived up to your “unreasonable excitement”, but we can’t win them all. Thanks so much for your time and interest and initial enthusiasm though, and as always, the thoughtful write-up.

    I have an interesting relationship with this story, myself…it’s the second book I ever wrote, and the earliest of all my books to be published (though between the time I wrote it and the time it released, I wrote and sold all that erotica.) I’m proud of this story, though. I wrote the best book I was capable of writing at the time I wrote it. Which is all any author can do, so no regrets. Though I won’t pretend I didn’t desperately want to impress you!

    Again, thank you.

    My very best,
    Meg Maguire (aka Cara McKenna)

  2. Bronte
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 18:41:37

    I loved this book. Devoured it in about an hour. I’ve seen similar relationships with similar stupidity between people I know so I didn’t have a hard time accepting the prelude to the onset of the main event if that makes sense. As an Australian, it was refreshing to see an Australian character represented in a real way with some of the quirks that we have have. When an Australian character is done badly it yanks me out of a story quicker than anything else. It was something I was wary of going in, and something that didn’t bother me at all.

  3. Lynn S.
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 19:48:06

    Interesting the different reactions that readers have. I was also looking forward to this book and absolutely loved it. I find that Cara McKenna, by any name, has a gift for subtle characterization and I had no problem connecting with the story. Both characters brought an excess of baggage along with them; Kate in the form of self loathing and Ty with his heaping helping of survivor's guilt. Add to that the working relationship and I can see why both were hesitant to act on their feelings. You know that eventually they were going to get together, but the adventure in the story made for a great catalyst and our girl Kate took the tortured heroine label to dizzying heights. The story worked for me on so many levels; a good modern tone, tight focus, suspenseful adventure, just enough drama and angst, a bit of loopiness, smart people saying smart things, sexy as all get out and emotionally connected as well; and yahoo, no majorly annoying quirks on the grammar or technique fronts. Also interesting to find out from Ms. McKenna's comment that this was her second book; I'm guessing a lot went on in the editorial process to bring us the final product.

    The cover cracks me up, as the bulk of the story takes place in the spring in Saskatchewan and shirtless outdoor guy there on the cover makes no sense; I do wish my backside looked even remotely as good in jeans as the cover girl though. I'm off to brush up on my lumberjack knowledge now.

    @Bronte: He felt authentically Australian to me as well. Just enough added in to express the difference of his being Australian, but not so much that it became cartoonish. Much like the way she made Flynn in Willing Victim seem authentically South Boston.

  4. Liz M
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 20:06:03

    While I can see where you’re coming from, Jane, these issues didn’t bother me that much, and I enjoyed the book more than you did. It definitely made me want to read more from this author, under both her pen-names (I just bought The Reluctant Nude).

    Plus as a transplant to Canada, I feel I must point out that Saskatchewan is not Alaska! Poor stereotypically-unsexy Canada. When you’re hot, people just assume you’re the US.

  5. SN
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 20:07:36

    I might check this one out. I’ve rarely seen an Australian written convincingly, so unless it’s an Australian author I tend to avoid books like this.

    As long as his accent isn’t written out phonetically (good God do I ever hate that!), I might cope.

  6. Meg Maguire
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 20:43:54

    Thank you Bronte, Lynn, and Liz, for the kind words, and SN for the interest in my scribblings! However, I must take issue with Liz on one point-‘Canada is very, very sexy.

  7. avoriana
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 20:44:38

    I loved this book. I understood Kate to have always been in love with Ty but too smart and too determined to keep her job to ever sleep with her boss. Then when she was fired, she thought she might as well go for it. I think when she was still undecided after that, it was because she was afraid to trust her luck and afraid to let go. The indecision was a blip on the screen and didn’t last long.

  8. Liz M
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 21:02:29

    @Meg Maguire: Oh, I don’t think Canada is unsexy–after all, I got here by marrying a Canadian. But its stereotypical image is “dull and nice,” which is pretty unsexy. (They do say, though, that a true Canadian can do it in a canoe).

  9. sarah mayberry
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 03:01:13

    Meg/Cara, I saw someone mention your writing on another thread (here, I think?) and went to your site to read some excerpts. I love your voice and will be ordering some of your books when I am off this hideous deadline I’m on (and yes, should not be chatting on internet – bad writer, very bad writer). I’m gonna read this one, too, because I read the excerpt over at Harlequin and liked it a lot, too.

  10. Meg Maguire
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 06:52:04

    Thank you, Avoriana and Sarah! And I guess my new question to Liz is, since we’re on the same page about Canadians being such under-appreciated, undercover foxes, should we continue to keep that a secret? I’d hate to be responsible for championing that truth, only to set off an northbound avalanche of American women, aiming to poach from Canada’s native male population in devastating numbers.

    Meg

  11. sayoko
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 08:02:30

    First, I have to thank Dear Author for reviewing Willing Victim: if it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have found out about Cara/Meg! It is so rare for me to find new authors that I *really* like, especially in the contemporary genre.

    “Caught on Camera” was a B+ for me. The characters felt real, the writing was natural and effortless (loved the dialogue!), and the story held my attention until the end.
    I barely noticed some of the issues you’ve mentioned, though I was a little perplexed by Ty’s “flirtatious mode” at the beginning.

    Willing Victim is still my favorite of Cara’s works, followed by Backwoods (BTW, I hope Backwoods, Shivaree and Getaway will be released together in trade paperback).
    I’m going to start “The Reluctant Nude” very soon :D

  12. Tamara Hogan
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 09:34:10

    I absolutely loved this book. Having had a few ‘everything but lovers’ friendships in my younger days, the issue Jane described as bothering her not only didn’t concern me, but brought back some fine, fine memories. ;-) I was entranced by Ms. Maguire’s voice, the lively dialogue, the internal POV work, and the way she peeled back the layers of Ty’s and Kate’s relationship as the book progressed.

    The sequence where Ty and Kate watched the final episode of the show – that he’d edited himself, without Kate’s hellp, showing him as the butt of the joke, time and time again – absolutely melted my heart.

    And I’m a REALLY tough melt.

  13. Lou
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 14:18:00

    I’ve just started reading it, and was enjoying it so much as the banter between the two was fantastic. Also, I love the friends to lovers theme. But I’ve hit a snag where Kate slaps Ty.

    It’s a big pet peeve of mine as I find it’s a huge double standard in romance. Plus, she doesn’t want to get with Ty because she doesn’t want to break the professional boundaries and friendship. Yet she allows herself to get hysterical, and slaps him when he tells her something as her boss. It confused me.

    I’ll carry on reading though as before that incident, was enjoying the book very much.

  14. Jane
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 04:03:19

    I think I’m definitely in the minority and I appreciate the thoughts shared by all the readers here and the classy response of Ms. Maguire.

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