Dear Ms. Champagne,
For a first time effort, you didn’t do a bad job. Since this is a romantic suspense novel, I’m going to end up giving you two individual grades and then a combined final as I find that most books of this type are better in one area than the other.
Kat, your army Captain heroine starts off as a competent, no nonsense woman who seems to be able to take care of herself. Jude, the FBI hero who’s come to her out-of-the-way Maine home to search for stolen, long lost gems, is the proverbial fish out of water. I like his sense of humor and the way these two spark off each other. But after the initial fireworks are over, things start to unravel a bit.
Kat’s been fired on by strange men and her parents were murdered less than two weeks ago yet there are plenty of times when she doesn’t have a firearm on her or even near her. Would law enforcement have shelved her parent’s murder investigation in the cold case files after only two weeks? A villain waltzes right into her house and is luckily driven out yet despite realizing the constant danger they’re in, neither Kat nor Jude try and barricade the lockless house at night. Then Kat has a habit of wandering outside the house, again with no weapon, at night when anyone could be sneaking up on her. And how does Kat know that Jude has siblings or that his boss’s name is Frank? I don’t recall him mentioning these facts to her but I might have missed them. And just out of curiosity, why does Kat keep her weapons behind a false wall in a closet? You mention this fact but I couldn’t see the reason for it nor that it ever played a role in the book.
I also have to wonder how one Dr. Phil session will cure Jude of 15 years of bitterness over what happened when he was a teenager. And if Kat knows she is emotionally vulnerable, why does she suddenly jump into bed with Jude? That’s part of the whole push me-pull me standard romance misunderstandings that I was sorry to see happen in this book. Each character lays out a series of well thought out reasons why they shouldn’t have a physical relationship and then mere hours later, proceeds to completely ignore all these reasons and initiate sexual conduct. I know this is a romance and we want to see a couple get together but I need either better reasons or more time before a physical relationship is started. Less than 24 hours to sexual intimacy between almost total strangers just doesn’t cut it for me in a full length novel. I was also surprised that an army veteran from a war zone would allow the bad guys to sneak up on her so easily. And what happens to Kat’s sister after that phone call? Did I miss her being mentioned again? Did I also misinterpret the signals between Cody (BTW, I really like his character) and Liz?
By now you’re probably thinking, “Did Jayne enjoy anything in this book?” Yes, I did. You appear to know the wilderness very well and those parts of the book flowed very smoothly. Do you canoe as well? You seem to write from experience or at least you’ve talked to enough people to make this aspect of the book feel real. I also thought the way Kat escapes from the villain was very clever. I’ve used the same thing before. Well, OK it was on a spider but you let Kat rely on her intelligence to find a solution to her problem. And I give you major bonus brownie points for having her take a proactive part in her rescue rather than just sitting around waiting for the hero to save her. This really matched with my initial impression of Kat as a competent person. I appreciate that you make the bad guys have a good reason for being bad and for doing what they did in Maine. I like how your writing conveys a sense of drama and heightened suspense. Finally, I applaud you for allowing Kat to be angry at Jude’s actions and thoughts and for giving her time to work out her feelings on their relationship at the end rather than rushing the pair towards forgiveness and a HEA.
So, as far as suspense I’d give you a B-. The romance part gets a C with a final grade of C+ overall.