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REVIEW:  After the Storm by Amy Knupp

REVIEW: After the Storm by Amy Knupp

Dear Ms. Knupp:

I struggled to connect to your characters from the opening scene when Nadia Hamlin endangered the lives of rescue personnel to go back into a hurricane zone to retrieve a business file. Penn Griffin, a guy who tried to date her but was constantly stood up because of business decisions. After their one aborted date ended with her running out on Penn before the entrees were delivered, Penn had stopped his pursuit. Of course, her image has “haunted” him ever since. Why? Because she is hot? Why would you be haunted by a chick who is so selfish she couldn’t even manage to call afterward and apologize. When Penn blows up at her and then apologizes, she doesn’t acknowledge his apology for days. She’s just too busy.

After the Storm Amy KnuppI’m supposed to feel sorry for Nadia or empathize with her because she is doing her best to keep her business afloat. She’s even given up her enjoyable pursuit of casual dating which I guess is what she was doing with Penn. I just found her tiresome and irritating and I didn’t really understand why Penn would want to pursue her. Isn’t there any one else on the island he could date?

Penn injures his back trying to rescue Nadia and he is forced to have back surgery. Penn’s portrayed as having real anger issues associated with his recovery and pain. Instead of sympathizing with him, I winced at every angry statement yelled and every temper thrown.  He allowed himself almost no time to recovery and for the majority of the book was determined to look at the glass as broken and leaking let alone just half full.

Where this story is going is painfully obvious. Nadia will learn the important lesson of settling down and taking it easy and Penn will learn to find new meaning in life when not being a firefighter. But it’s a downer of a book. Even the texts that the two exchange are depressing instead of cute and fun. The lack of levity meant that Penn’s moroseness associated with his loss of dream and Nadia’s grasping attempts to keep her hotel above water just wore me down.

There’s something I’d rather not talk about but need to say…

He stared at the screen, waiting for her to continue. Curious as all get-out but unwilling to prompt her to spill it.

Finally, another message appeared. Kiss was a bad move on my part.

So. Add “direct” to Nadia’s list of qualities. And thankfully, not a hopeless romantic.

He weighed his reply carefully. So many wrong things he could say without even meaning to.

He settled for: Not a big deal.

I know you’ve got way more important things on your mind.

Every last one of which sucked. None of which he cared to spend his time thinking about. Before he could figure out a response, his phone buzzed again.

Won’t happen again. Not that I don’t like you. Just that we both seem overwhelmed right now. Me with work, you with your back. Did you know it’s possible to babble via text message? ;)

Toward the end there is a reversal of circumstances wherein work prevents Penn from keeping a commitment with Nadia.  Her response surprised me. It wasn’t understanding. Or laughter. Or recognition of her own past behavior. It was “If he thought she was going to honor their last-minute dinner plans, he was sadly mistaken.”  But that was Nadia.  Her single minded focus was purportedly on the hotel but it’s really about the preservation of her own dreams.  What happened toward the end, however, was her having to readjust her dreams much like Penn had to.  Her obtuseness in recognizing their similarities was just as maddening as the glacier pace of the book.  C-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: Veretti’s Dark Vengeance by Lucy Gordon

REVIEW: Veretti’s Dark Vengeance by Lucy Gordon

Veretti's Dark Vengeance by Lucy GordonDear Ms. Gordon

When the story first started, I thought for sure this was going to be the standard HP with the hero jumping to conclusions about what a slut the heroine was when, in truth, she is this shrinking violet innocent despite her knock out body.

Instead, I’m treated with a strong battle of the sexes where, more often than not, the heroine holds the upper hand and the hero ruefully acknowledging that he is putty in her hands. Helena doesn’t mince words with Salvatore:

"I could always apologise,' Salvatore said carefully.

"For everything?'

"Everything I can remember. If I forget anything I dare say you'll remind me.'

"I can forgive everything except that last remark-’"the kind of woman she is". What kind of woman am I, Salvatore?'

"Please-’do we have to go into that?'

"I think we do. Surely you're not asking me to spare your blushes. Or is it mine you're trying to spare? "A smart miss on the make-’married him for his money." Why don't you just call me a prostitute and have done with it?'

She had the pleasure of seeing that her frankness made him uneasy.

"Let's say instead a very clever lady,' he said.

"No, let's say prostitute because that's what you meant. Have the courage of your convictions. If you're going to call me names, do it to my face.'

"You're right, signora, I don't like being bullied-’'

"No, you prefer doing the bullying.'

Helena marries Antonio, a man much older than her, and when he dies, she inherits a Murano glass making firm. Antonio’s younger cousin, Salvatore Veretti, owns a rival Murano glass making firm and intends to buy Helena’s firm by crushing her. Instead, Salvatore finds himself intrigued, bemused, and entangled in Helena. Helena is the renowned model, Helen of Troy, who made a fortune with her figure and face and dropped out of modeling two years ago. Helena wanted to try her hand at being a business woman.

The Venetian setting was integrated into the story. Venice is portrayed as a small community whose gossip line is more efficient than the local bridge club.

Antonio had told her about the Venice grapevine.

"Whisper a secret at one end of the Grand Canal and it'll reach the other end before you do,' he'd said.

One thing I found disconcerting was how quickly Helena, the heroine, was able to arrange big modeling jobs to save her company. I know modeling is a tough market and Helena is kind of old (32) for modeling in the story. But HPs are built on creating fantasy and I guess that it played only a minor part.

The middle section is the best as the two try to one up each other while it is bookended by infodumping set up in the front and big misunderstanding at the end. Overall, though, a decent and quick HP read with a fun heroine. C+

Best regards,

Jane

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This is a trade paperback published by NAL but pre-Agency pricing.