REVIEW: Deception by Sharon Cullen
Dear Ms. Cullen:
This book opens really well. The heroine, Kate McAuley, finds a man at her door, begging to come in. We soon find out it is her ex-lover, Lucas Barone, who disappeared 18 months* ago. He just walked out the door one day and never came back. However, he’s beaten, bleeding and passing out on her doorstep. As much as he broke her heart, she can’t turn him away. Luke, a covert op, has very powerful enemies though and he brings them straight to Kate’s door. Kate and Luke end up on the road, trying to avoid Luke’s enemies, stay alive and solve the mystery of why Luke and Kate must die. There seems to be no place that Luke and Kate can hid from their high powered enemy.
The setup – that Kate and Luke must be in close contact with each other requiring Kate to trust Luke poses an interesting dilemma.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the journey of Kate and Luke finding a haven is pretty interesting. The enemy is powerful enough to frame Kate as fugitive and every flashing light on the road creates suspense. But once the couple reaches a haven, the story takes a sharp downward decline. The suspense becomes almost non existent as the action pauses and the characters explore their emotional issues. This was an odd segue from action to introversion.
I didn’t buy the reason given for Luke’s departure from Kate’s life. Kate’s issues with Luke –“I’m trying to figure out what was the lie and what was the truth in our relationship” –seemed resolved too easily by Luke’s confessions. Can 18 months or 4 years of betrayal be so easily wiped away? While I wasn’t totally convinced by the emotional reunion of the hero and heroine, I was even further disappointed by the way in which the suspense was resolved.
The villain seemed so smart that it really made the reader wonder how Luke and Kate (mostly Luke) would solve the dilemma but Luke’s able to hack into information from a laptop in the middle of the boonies (with no real foundation laid that Luke was an expert hacker. It’s like we are to just to assume that every covert op person can hack into super secure systems). Further Luke and Kate cook up possibly the most unbelievable way in which to solve the mystery that the ending takes on an nearly farcical aspect.
What started out so promising got bogged down by emotional character arc which was out of sync with the storyline and the attempts to restart the suspense stalled. C-
*Excerpt at the website says four years, but I swore the book said 18 months. This book can be purchased at Samhain.