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REVIEW: A Risk Worth Taking by Zana Bell

“Any red-blooded American male would be all over Cressa Curtis. She’s gorgeous, she’s wild and clearly she’s open for a no-strings-attached adventure. But Adam Walker’s been there, done that. And now he wants more for himself. Even with his history, Adam still believes in love and family and marriage and the whole white picket fence—hardly what Cressa is offering.

Besides, everything about the crazy Kiwi spells danger and distraction—two things Adam can’t afford to risk with his sights set on medical school. He’s only in New Zealand for a month. Surely he can resist Cressa’s advances that long….”

Dear Ms. Bell,

A Risk Worth Taking by Zana BellI enjoyed your other book, “Tempting the Negotiator,” and have been waiting to see what you’d write about next. “A Risk Worth Taking” starts where that book left off, and peripherally continues the series first in New Zealand and then in Texas. But where that book was focused and centered, this one veered all over the place, plotwise, and ended up not working so well for me.

There is a lot going on here. A lot, a lot, a lot. Adam has his issues with his failed first marriage, the loss of his daughter in his life then – at the last minute – getting Stella back into his life, his feelings of inferiority, being a bastard, not knowing his father’s name or anything about him, his other brother being in jail, his mother as an alcoholic and how he feels about not tripping up her recovery, studying for the MCAT and, oh yes, his relationship with Cressa.

Cressa has her issues with marriage in general, her aborted first attempt at it, motherhood, the loss of her child – and this part is really papered over until the very end – her feelings about wanting to be footloose and fancy free, the relationship with her family – good but tempestuous at times, her jobs and – almost forgot – her growing love for Adam. You also include a tiny bit from Adam’s mother’s point of view. I can only hope that perhaps she’ll end up being a future heroine of her own novel or else this was totally wasted.

The bit about Adam finding out anything regarding his father is swept under the rug. There’s a touch about him reconnecting with his daughter then that’s gone. Cressa has one realization scene of losing her child then we get told about how she sobbed on the phone with others but there’s just not enough room for all this angst, and emotion and past events finally catching up with them. As for Alicia – sorry but I don’t get the feeling that this woman is an alcoholic. I also didn’t truly get that Adam burns to be a surgeon. I’m told this but I don’t see it that much. He could be studying for any major college entrance type exam.

Sweet baby Jesus these characters have a lot of edges and depths but enough is enough. Half of these issues would have done just fine and made a wonderful book but all of it together ends up like a huge group therapy session that’s totally out of control. The book just isn’t long enough to contain it all and get me to feel that justice has been done to it all.

Yet parts of this story remind me of what I liked about the first book. There is lots of stuff about NZ – how cold it is in winter, how the bay looks, the local flora and fauna – but I feel you worked it into the storyline well. It doesn’t come off as a travelogue or like a pamphlet from the Chamber of Commerce. The book definitely takes place here and doesn’t read like a generic location. The phosphorescence on the island under the crushed shells is especially cool. I also enjoyed the bits about Cressa seeing the US and Texas for the first time. Yeah, it is big. And humid around Houston.

With few issues for all around I think I would have really enjoyed this book but no sooner did something get introduced then something else would come along and push it out of the way, rinse and repeat. The resolution of the HEA took almost to the last page. I mean, smoking down to the wire with no resolution of the conflict between them being resolved in sight. There are unresolved things here which I’m guessing are to be continued in further books? But it leaves a sense of too little time spent on them in this book and a rushed tying up of some loose strings and a too quick HEA. C-


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Minx Malone
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 08:09:12

    It sounds a little angsty but I might give it a try. I’m a sucker for an unusual setting and New Zealand is one of my favorites to read about.

  2. Jayne
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 08:13:07

    @Minx Malone: Honestly, I would try her first book “Tempting the Negotiator” first. It’s almost completely set in New Zealand and much more focused – plotwise.

  3. SHZ
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 09:00:15

    I was going to order this one but never got around to it for some reason.

    Nice as the New Zealand stuff may be, the Super editors always remove most Kiwi/Australian culture from the books before publication, believing they have to be Americanised first.
    If they don’t want to confuse their readers with different cultures, I don’t know why they even accept books set in other countries!

  4. RebeccaJ
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 10:44:50

    LOL! this book reminds me of some Christmas movies I’ve seen. They pile depressing event upon depressing event thinking it’s adding drama when really it’s just making the viewer depressed, then……….Santa arrives and makes everything better! Or in this case, romance arrives.

  5. Ridley
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 15:42:28

    @SHZ: See, you people down that way keep saying this, but I’m constantly chuckling at the language in Harlequin/M&B books by Australian or Kiwi authors.

    I just finished a Natalie Anderson that had a sentence that was so outrageously Commonwealth English that I had to read it out to my husband: “Alex magicked a hamper from in the boot of his car.”

    I can always tell when I’m reading a book by an Aus/NZ author. I don’t think they’re as Americanized as you think they are. The authors might be moderating themselves a bit, but everything sounds foreign to my American ears–from slang, to sayings, to terms for city neighborhood types.

  6. Jayne
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 18:41:26

    @Ridley: I agree with Ridley. Yes, the books probably have been “sanitized” somewhat for the American audience but there is still much more of a foreign-to-the-US flavor (flavour) to them then there used to be. And for one of these books I definitely prefer “Alex magicked a hamper from the boot of his car.” to “Alex magically produced a picnic basket from the trunk of his car.”

  7. Jayne
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 18:45:33

    @RebeccaJ: Yes! That’s a perfect analogy. There’s way too much angst and drama for one book which is a shame as a little less could have gone a long way to a better book.

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