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Contemporary romance

REVIEW:  Hard Target by Kay Thomas

REVIEW: Hard Target by Kay Thomas

Hard Target: Elite Ops - Book One by Kay Thomas

Dear Ms. Thomas:

This book started out with so much promise that I wondered why it had been so long since I picked up a romantic suspense book. After about a third of the way through decisions and actions by the characters gave me a stark reminder of why I’d abandoned the genre. There’s a certain sense of fantasy that you have to be able to buy into when it comes to RS and the author has to do a very good job of setting up the world so that you can lose yourself within the fantasy. Here, I was jerked out of the book frequently by questioning the actions of the characters.

Anna Mercado is vacationing in Mexico with her ex husband and her son who is in desperate need of a heart transplant. Her handsome ex invites her upstairs for an afternoon of  “comfort sex” and old feelings and the need to be close to someone convinces her to meet her husband upstairs. At the door she hears that he is planning to do nefarious things to her and their son.

Anna’s situation is desperate. Her son needs a heart transplant and she is waiting for the call any day. Her wealthy husband is pursuing her and she has little recourse. The situation is tense and anxious.

Leland Hollis, a DEA agent, has just testified on behalf of a cartel member because the DEA royally screwed up an investigation resulting in the death of innocent people. He’s offered a position by a friend with a private security firm and is contemplating a job change when he hears a woman in a nearby hotel room being attacked. 

He rushes to her aid despite an injury to his foot which has him in a boot cast. Pain in his ankle is causing him to swallow pain killers like they are candy. Leland is able to save the woman but the son is kidnapped. Coincidentally, the same cartel that Leland testified for is involved in this kidnapping mess.

It’s at the introduction of Leland that the story goes south. He immediately involves himself in her rescue which includes obtaining $8 million and running down to a small town in Mexico owned by a drug cartel. Leland and Anna can trust no one but each other.

The romance story is awkwardly injected. I did not feel any chemistry between the two and I set the book aside for a few days when Anna and Leland take a break in cartel country to have sex. It made no sense to me how Anna, so devoted to her son and is eaten up with worry that he’ll miss his heart transplant appointment, would be interested in having sex with some stranger. Maybe in another book or another setting I would’ve bought into it but not in this story.

I had a hard time buying into Leland’s Bruce Willis act. His foot was in a cast but he was still able to run, shoot, and protect Anna. It was as if the injury didn’t even matter. At times, Leland’s growing addiction to pain killers was raised only to be discarded and ultimately was never addressed.

Despite Anna’s interesting start and her clear love for her son, as the book wore on, she became more like a mannequin dragged here and there by Leland and the cartel. While she didn’t have the skills to rescue herself, as Leland and his staff did, she also didn’t exert herself in any way. She was a passive reactor but for the first couple of scenes.

The story becomes more and more implausible, particularly in the Mexico setting. Leland himself said that no one could be trusted, yet he acts in direct opposition to his words and the results are unsurprisingly grim. A lot of his actions in Mexico rose to the Too Stupid To Love level and it was only by the grace of the pen that either of the two made it out alive.

What started out promising quickly devolved for me. Neither the action nor the romance worked.

C-

Best regards,

Jane

 

 

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REVIEW:  The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan

REVIEW: The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan

The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan

Dear Ms. Callihan:

Elyssa Patrick told me I’d love this book and she was right. There’s Drew, the loveable quarterback of an unnamed school who has two National Championships and a Heismann under his belt. I tried very hard not to envision Johnny Football during the reading of this because that would have ruined everything!

He’s got the world by the tail when he meets Anna Jones. Anna is skeptical about Drew. He’s good enough for a hook up but he’s not ever going to be boyfriend material. The fact that he’s good enough to have sex with but not good enough to kiss or even go on a date with gnaws at him.

Anna’s reasons are probably the only flaw in the book. Drew is such a nice guy, saying all the right things, telling Anna how much he likes her and not playing the field–that’s not his thing–that it’s hard for the reader to understand why Anna doesn’t just give him a chance.

But Anna’s appealing too. Her reasons for not believing in the permanency of relationships are grounded in her mother’s own failed dates. Anna’s mother is a successful doctor but she’s had a revolving door of men. I appreciated that the mother wasn’t portrayed as evil but rather as a woman trying to find love of her own even though it could damage the psyche of her daughter.

Secondary characters such as Anna’s roommate who is in a terrible relationship with a guy who cheats on her constantly, her roommate’s twin brother, and several guys from Drew’s team round out the cast.

They cast Drew in the light of the father figure for the team. He’s responsible for making sure that they aren’t drinking too much or getting in trouble. There’s a twist that happens late in the book that flips the situation for Anna and Drew and provides a way for Anna to be the pursuer in a situation where Drew exhibits reluctance.

The details of the football series were pretty well done but not overwhelming.The angst is believable, present but not overwhelming. Probably the worst thing about this book is that the second one isn’t due out until 2015. B

Best regards,

Jane

 

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