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REVIEW: Love at First Flight by Marie Force

Dear Ms. Force:

You sent me Fatal Force a while back and I enjoyed it.  When Love at First Flight was available on Amazon for free, I snapped it up.  I waffled between whether I should review a book I got for free but I figured that no one would object if I positively reviewed a book I received for free and thus the reverse should be true.  As you have stated previously, you are selling all kinds of books and this book has a number of positive reviews so my opinion is likely an outlier.  Having stated, that there is little I liked about this book.

love at first flight marie forceThis book starts out with hairdresser Juliana and Baltimore City State’s Assistant Attorney Michael sharing the same flight to Florida.  Juliana is on her way to see her boyfriend of ten years.  She is hoping for a proposal.  Michael is on his way to see his fiancee where he will attend a party for the two of them given by her family.  Michael is going to be trying a case against the Bendetti brothers the following week, probably the biggest trial of his life.

Michael, despite being engaged, is turned on by Juliana’s spicy scent. He can barely manage to refrain from leaning closer for a stonger sniff.  He reminds himself “he is a grown man and not a hormonal teenager” and settles with just staring and flirting with her.  How about reminding himself that he has a fiancee and just read his case files?

The opening of the book pretty much sets the stage and tone for the book.  Both characters fall quickly out of love with their respective partners.  Of course, the break up is the fault of the partners, not of the main characters but first we  are treated to two separate sex scenes Juliana and Michael enjoy with their SOs, good sex.  We see them declaring their love for each other.  Yet, Michael wants to just run away and get married and when his fiance refuses to do this, he breaks it off with her.  Juliana discovers that her boyfriend wants to marry her but that he also thinks about other women even though he has never acted on his impure thoughts. Juliana says that they should take a three month break from one another.

I have to ask, why did we need the sex scenes? Why did we need the proclamations of love for the other partner?  This didn’t make Michael and Juliana’s love more romantic.  Instead it made me wonder at the constancy of their feelings.  This concern was further encouraged when Max and Juliana realize that they’ve been with the wrong people on the return flight and start “seeing” each other almost immediately upon deplaning.  Less than a week later, Michael professes his love for Juliana and wants to marry her.

And while Juliana is being romanced by Michael she is becoming enraged when Jeremy (her boyfriend) writes to her that he went out to dinner with another woman but all he could think of was Juliana and how he doesn’t want to be on break anymore. The fact that Jeremy went to dinner with another woman was infidelity in Juliana’s mind, no matter that she is virtually living with Michael (for her own safety, of course) and kissing him passionately and accepting Michael’s proclamations of feelings toward her and ultimately having sex with Michael. Not only that but Michael is soon proposing to her and Juliana is wearing his ring (which she hides when her ex shows back up).

The attempt at showing Juliana as confused and torn between two men wasn’t quite believable because Juliana didn’t seem conflicted about her feelings. Instead she turned to one man when she was mad at the other.  That isn’t conflict. That’s immaturity. Michael’s not much better. He’s a real ass to his fiancee and in order to make this acceptable, this girl who hasn’t been with any other person than Michael, is turned into a shrew. It seemed so clearly authorial manipulation that it didn’t wipe Michael’s slate clean for me. If anything it made me like him less perhaps because his behavior literally drove this chick nuts.

Finally, I have to lodge a complaint against the realism of the law as presented in this book.  I wonder how much research you did because when Michael and Juliana get back to Baltimore he takes her WITH HIM to see his star witness who is in WITNESS PROTECTION based on the fact that his “gut” tells him he can trust her. He spent a round trip plane ride with her and brings her to see a witness whose secrecy is paramount? Or how about the court scene where the IMPARTIAL JUDGE admonishes the defense to not do any more violence against Michael or Juliana because the judge will be determining their sentence? There’s a provision in the criminal justice system whereby an accused is “innocent until proven guilty”. It’s only the very basis of our criminal legal system and to have a judge making allegations against one side would be grounds for an immediate mistrial. This sort of obvious mistakes just makes my heart hurt.

“This is an outrage.” He turned to address the defense team.  “I want you to tell your clients that I’ll tolerate no further harassment of Mr. Maguire or any other member of the prosecution team.  You might want to remind them of who’ll be determining their sentence should they be convicted.  Am I clear?”

and then

“Mr. Magure”

“Your honor?”

“Be careful . The defendants are already facing three consecutive life sentences. I have absolutely nothing worse than that to threaten them with, and they know it.”

Michael nodded. “Yes sir”.

In the end, this is not a book I found convincing on any level. Well, maybe I was convinced the beautiful Juliana could give a good haircut. But the romance, the plot, the suspense? None of it was authentic. And the characters? So unlikeable. D.

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

22 Comments

  1. Loosheesh
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 11:18:41

    Thank you! When I saw your rating on Goodreads (same as mine) I was hoping you’d write a review. What you’ve said encompasses almost 100% of the issues I had with this book. Among other things, I had serious difficulty with (a) the detailed sex scenes with their exes and (b) the way Juliana’s choice played out in the end.

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  2. Avid Reader
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 11:26:55

    I haven’t read this book, but I’ve been reading her McCarthy series on Kindle and love them — nice, feel good romances that I highly recommend.

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  3. Chris
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 14:14:01

    There’s a provision in the criminal justice system whereby an accused is “innocent until proven guilty”.

    Certainly that’s the idea. If only the reality always works like that!

    That said, in a book this type of thing probably would have driven me nuts. I find I’m less and less willing these days to read books with attorney characters.

    I think I’ll give this one a pass, but I’ve enjoyed Marie Force’s books before, especially the FATAL series.

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  4. P A Wilson
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 15:38:11

    Hi, I read this one too and liked it despite the flaws you mentioned. Now I read your review and find out the author is a better writer than that. (I didn’t like it enough to go looking for other stories) I wonder what was going through her head to put out such a flawed story.

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  5. willaful
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 15:52:53

    The witness thing drove me crazy and a lot of other stuff bothered me too, but it was very readable somehow and I thought redeemed itself a bit at the end. Kind of a crazy-making book, in general.

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  6. Danielle D
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 17:47:12

    I couldn’t see this couple staying together!

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  7. Lindsey
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 18:45:07

    At least you managed to slog all the way through it. It was thoroughly a DNF for me. I didn’t enjoy the author’s writing style, and I didn’t enjoy the partner-hopping that I could see coming. I probably got less than 25% of the way through before I found it so unpleasant that I gave up.

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  8. Jane
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 20:26:04

    @Lindsey I was thinking about this today. If an author opens the book with really unlikeable characters, they have to give us a reason to read on.

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  9. Jane
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 20:26:40

    @willaful – For me, Juliana’s behavior went beyond the pale at the end, particularly in her treatment of Jeremy.

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  10. Jane
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 20:27:15

    @P A Wilson – well, honestly while I did like Fatal Force it is a book about politics and I never read the second one.

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  11. Jane
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 20:28:20

    @Chris – sure, but even in fiction, I think that the judge should be portrayed as having some impartiality.

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  12. Lindsey
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 22:13:37

    @Jane: The writing of unlikeable characters into romance is one thing I will never understand. Granted, I don’t understand unlikeable main characters in general fiction that attempts to be character-driven (why would I want to read a book where I cannot at relate to, or feel sympathy for the protagonist?), which is why I disliked The Catcher in the Rye.

    But it seems less important in literary fiction because most of it tends to have different goals than romance, in which the ultimate goal (as I see it) is happiness for the characters. And how are we expected to root for the happiness of two distasteful main characters?

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  13. Jane
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 22:15:39

    @Lindsey – my guess is that they think we love redemption stories (which we do) but I think that the redemption story has to start at the right place and writing the scenes with exes didn’t seem like the characters were ready for redemption. Those scenes really made the main two protagonists look bad.

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  14. Allie
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 00:30:53

    I’ve read two books by this author, and this was one of them. I agree with your review. The third one was her first with another publisher and I could not even make it past the first 4 pages. I just felt like the writing was not to my taste at all in that third one. With the first two, I just kind of kept hoping they would improve as I went along. They didn’t. I really liked the idea of this one, with two people meeting on a plane like that, but the execution was not appealing for all the reasons you mention.

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  15. Elizabeth
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 03:36:52

    This was a DNF for me. I could not get past the infidelity of the main characters, and agree that there was nothing likable about them. I usually read on to the bitter end regardless, but just did not care enough for the characters in this one.

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  16. Jane A
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 08:53:05

    I really hated Juliana’s double standards. It was okay for her to hop into bed with Michael (even though her heart was broken!), yet Jeremy plays the villain for wanting to date other women. Hated the book, agree with your grade.

    I read one other book by her, about a football player I think, and disliked it, too. I’m done with her.

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  17. Mary G
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 09:19:21

    Hi Jane
    I love everything that Marie has written. One of the reasons is that she takes on subjects/characters that aren’t always easy. This isn’t a black & white “they are cheaters” issue.

    In the case of Juliana, I considered her & Jeremy as no longer together. Period.
    As for Michael, I felt he was adrift, just going along a path he thought was ideal. He was already questioning the seriousness of his relationship when he met Juliana. While this doesn’t excuse him, I understood how it could happen.

    I enjoy authors who are unafraid to try difficult subjects. The path to true love really doesn’t run smooth & I don’t mind doses of reality in my romance reading.

    BTW, I think you meant Fatal Affair, not Fatal Force. I know you always strive for accuracy.

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  18. Jane
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 09:24:05

    @Mary G – I never said this was a black and white “they are cheaters” issue. My major problems had little to do with infidelity and everything to do with how inaccurate the book was; how unlikeable the characters were based upon their actions; how the writing portrayed the two main protagonists as being inconstant in their feelings to the point that I doubted that even those two would be together after a year. And I am all for “doses of reality” in my romance. The reality of this book for me was that two people hurt the others in their lives without reason; never answered for their actions; and were shown to be callous, inconstant, and unlikeable.

    Thanks for the heads up on the title. I’ll be sure to change that.

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  19. Mary G
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 09:34:57

    Sorry Jane
    I addressed the whole comment to you but that line was more for the commenters in general. I totally understood your point of view. I’m just saying that those issues didn’t affect me like they did you and some of the others.

    I can’t say “without reason” applies to Juliana. If my guy said that to me I would consider myself a free woman.

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  20. Kristi
    Jun 06, 2011 @ 15:04:09

    Oh, I’m sad. You made good points about the book and the problems with it but I really have enjoyed all of Marie Force’s books because of the characters and the pull of heart wrenching romance to them.

    I don’t know, I just really loved them. The last print one I read was everyone Loves a Hero and I’ve been adoring the new series she has on ebook only.

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  21. Nancy Naigle
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 09:11:54

    I really enjoyed this book, too. I bought and read it when it first came out. Not only is Marie a wonderful offer, but she’s really generous. She helped me by critiquing one of my first stories and that really helped me get on the right path to publication.

    Hugs and high 5s to Marie…wonderful books, wonderful person.
    Nancy

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  22. Shizue Brenden
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 08:23:08

    Economic downturn cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed with the action of the cells in the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.
    If you find anything that a guy are able to do well, I only say allow him to undertake it. Give him an opportunity.

    ReplyReply

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