Have trouble motivating yourself to write? Merline Lovelace’s school of tough love for writers might encourage you to pound out a few lines each day. Or else. The video worked its magic on me as I’m off to buy the SD release at Harlequin, The Executive’s Valentine’s Day Seduction. I’m thinking Jayne might be interested in The Hello Girl.
Dear Mrs. Lovelace,
When I’ve had a bunch of disappointing books in a row, I know I can turn to you to pull me out of my rut. Whether it’s a historical (which you don’t seem to write much anymore) or contemporary or romantic suspense, you generally hit the spot and give me something readable. The 2007 release “Stranded with a Spy” is no exception.
It’s easy to see your own military background in the grounding language, geography and set up of the book. You know Washington, the power playing, and the military subculture that permeates the book. Yeah there’s a lot of ‘gee-whiz’ technology the hero Cutter Smith relies on but the man is endowed with enough cool headed calm under pressure as well as intelligence to make me believe in the fact that he’s a top agent with this particular ‘Romance book’ secret government agency.
I like how you work in the current reality of TSA screening for air flights to get the plot going coupled with the age old sexual shenanigans associated with politics and normal old greed to provide the bulk of the storyline instead of relying on any more mysterious terrorists to be the bad guys. Money is all the reason most real life villains need to get out of bed these days and it’s a rare week that we don’t learn of somebody getting their hands on a mass of financial information stolen from a laptop or from a computer system hack.
The reality of the heroine’s allegations of sexual misconduct against her congressman boss being turned on her seems reasonable too. As you say, look what happened to Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky. It provides a good reason for Mallory Dawes’ decision to flee to France as well as, as far as Smith is concerned, a perfect justification for her to have stolen the bank files of so many government employees.
I like that he’s professional enough to withhold his judgment on whether she’s the main culprit or is merely a mule unwittingly carrying the information until he’s tailed her a while and gotten to know her. And I also like that once she finds out what he suspects her of and what he’s done so far, that Mallory takes a little while to get over the sense of betrayal. Perhaps not quite enough time but the way you set up the plot demands a quick resolution.
I loved the information about all the places that Mallory and Cutter see in France though it did tend to drag in a few places. I would adore spending an afternoon as they did exploring a winery and eating a scrumptious meal washed down by apple brandy. And thank you for the effort you put into the speech patterns of the French characters. To be honest, I found Mallory’s assertion that she doesn’t mind Uncle Sam probing through her personal life to help catch terrorists strange in light of the fact that her personal life has already been torn through by the media after her charges against her boss. You’d think the woman would want to keep her private life private after that. And who leaves their passport in a rental car while they sight see? Okay, she’s tired after a long transatlantic flight but still… I also got annoyed at diversion of this book for the possible set up for another book. At least I guess that’s what you were doing.
Romance mixed with suspense is a tricky balance. Especially when the page count is that of a category book. This one manages to work though I would have wished for more time spent resolving the heroine’s anger and not so rushed a romance. Still it’s a B-
Dear Mrs Lovelace,
I’ve read and heard on numerous occasions that there is at least a 50% divorce rate for Special Forces marriages. Which is why I’ve always looked at these SEAL, Green Beret, Delta force, Whatever romances with a degree of skepticism. And when an author tries to get a whole squad married off, well I just don’t buy it anymore. Thank you for showing the reality of a marriage partner who is gone for weeks and months on end.
Forced to leave her beloved military life behind at the ripe old age of thirty-seven, USAF Colonel Andrea (Andi) Armstrong comes to the Florida panhandle for a fresh start. Little did she know–"at least until that auspicious knock on her next-door neighbor’s door–"that there were some things about her old life she wasn’t quite finished with yet.
And evidently, if the expression on his love-struck face was any indication, her ex-husband, Colonel Dave Armstrong–"aka said next-door neighbor–"wasn’t quite finished with her yet either. Hmm. Who was it who said the best is yet to come? Maybe there was something to that after all– .
Your twenty three year career in the Air Force has always shown in your books and this one is no exception. We get to see both the good and the bad, the stresses and joys, the dedication and the toll that serving in the military takes on private lives. And you present it with a quiet affirmation that explains why people keep doing it without the trumpet blowing or overly “hooh-ah’ing” that lots of authors fill their Special Ops books with.
Andi Armstrong was on track to make an even higher rank than Colonel when the bloodborn infection she caught in Iraq sideswiped her onto the inactive list. But someone as active as Andi has been for years doesn’t just suddenly settle down to lazy days of beach lounging. Filled with a need to fill up her day, she decides to open a bookstore and through that you show us the organizational skills and tremendous drive that got her to the rank she held. Together with the snapshots of a typical work day for her ex-husband, also a Colonel Armstrong, we see what came between their marriage and why they joined the 50% divorce rate.
Yet the love they still have for each other makes me believe in the final HEA you manage for them. I was really watching that and wondering how you’d pull it off. If you’d just stuck them back together and told me to believe they were deliriously happy, I’d have said screw that. For me to believe it, some changes had to be made and I think you pulled them off with finesse. You also show that while lots of us bookies might dream of owning a bookstore, the hardworking reality is that we’re probably better off keeping our day jobs. ;) B for this one.