REVIEW: Tempting Evil by Allison Brennan
Dear Ms. Brennan:
I bought this book because I’ve been wanting to read you for a long time but never got around to it. I actually have no reason because I think I even have received a few of your books for free. I think I believed that your books were more suspense-y and not very romance-y and I like the mix. Well, honestly I like books with a good dollop of romance.
Aaron Doherty was in prison for a little thing like killing a famous actress due to suffering from erotomania. Erotomania is a disease in which individuals delude themselves into believing that they have an intimate relationship with another, usually a celebrity. While in prison, Aaron begins reading romance books written by Joanna Sutton. He begins to believe that she writes these books directly to him, that the passages are communications. One day there is an earthquake and he is able to escape with a few other prisoners. He makes his way to Montana where Joanna lives and plans to start a new life that she’s been promising in her books. Yeah, Doherty is super creepy.
Joanna is a widow whose son and husband were killed five years ago by her sister’s abusive ex-boyfriend. She’s been living and seems to have recovered but not enough to allow a relationship with the new sheriff to blossom. Sheriff Tyler McBride has his own issues such as being a single parent to his son and trying to repair a relationship with his half-brother.
The suspense part of the book was excellent. As I stated before the villian, Aaron Doherty, was creepy (that’s the best word I’ve got to describe him). One of his co-jail breakers is a murderer who does some pretty horrible things in the book, particularly to women. I found a couple of scenes to be stomach churning even though they were brief.
There is a strong romance core to the story but I felt a certain distance to it, a certain superficiality. I couldn’t exactly explain the root of this feeling but I never really got the sense that the two belonged together. Maybe it was because so much time is spent with Joanna laying her love for her dead husband to rest. Maybe it was because there were so many familial issues for both Joanna and Tyler that nothing seemed to be dealt with on a very deep level.
Joanna and Tyler both had issues with their siblings and Tyler had relationship issues with his son, but very little of the internal exposition was spent unraveling those complicated feelings and then they seemed to be summarily resolved toward the latter part of the book in response to a trauma. In one passage, Tyler’s emotions were described as follows: He felt everything inside shift and settle, and the old hurts and misunderstandings washed away. I did feel that was how the conflicts were dealt with – one heart to heart conversation and all the ill will was washed away.
Both Tyler and Joanna were widow/widowers but their backgrounds were different. Tyler had a difficult marriage and Joanna had a really good one. I would have loved to have seen how those differences led to their readiness and/or acceptance for another relationship. I think that there was more time spent in the book connecting Aaron, the creepy villain, to Joanna and that they actually had more scenes together.
This is the second in the Prison Break trilogy and while I didn’t need to read book 1 to fully appreciate either the suspense or the romance, there were a number of extraneous characters who must have appeared in book 1 or will appear in book 3. I thought that those scenes were obvious sequel bait and tended to distract from the book 2 characters.
While there was plenty of romance in this romantic suspense, it didn’t seem to flow well with the story and I admit to ending the story a little hungry for a deeper romance relationship. C+