REVIEW: Destined to Meet by Devon Archer
Dear Mr. Archer
Thank you for sending your book to us to read. You may, however, regret this decision if you read the review. I suggest not reading it. Reviews are for readers and in this case, that maxim is doubly true.
Summary of the story is that Lloyd Vance, a detective from Alaska has moved to Lake Barri, Colorado. He meets Courtney Hudson, a widow of 3 years and middle grade author of middle grade bestselling books, at a bar. They hit it off but before a relationship can start, Courtney’s cousin, Pilar, is killed in a hit and run. Lloyd and Courtney must face several impediments to their fledling relationship such as Courtney’s widowhood, Lloyd’s deadbeat father, Courtney’s critical mother, and a slow resolution to the hit and run.
Sadly, the best thing about this book is that I got it for free. The writing simply didn’t suit my taste nor did the characters.
Lloyd and Courtney meet in a bar and after exchanging names, occupations and one spectacularly bad pick up line and decide to go home together and have sex.
"Maybe the stars aligned on this night, and destiny shone down on us to get together."
Courtney and Lloyd "make love" (Courtney’s words not mine) and from this amazing sexual experience, the two feel like there might be the basis for a serious relationship.
I am not against one night stands nor do I believe that the one night stand cannot develop into a meaningful relationship. The problem is that the one night stand comes as a complete surprise and with very little forethought. Why is Courtney going home with this guy she just picked up at a bar. Is she generally like that? Is he generally like that? Courtney was a young widow whose husband died just three years ago. Is that why she is picking up some stranger in the bar?
The story relied on celebrity names for physical characteristics so now I am imagining the hookup between Will Smith and Alicia Keys. Likewise, the writing itself rests on cliche after cliche:
- I think we should also check out the local watering holes
- Like a runaway freight train, neither could possibly change the direction they were headed, blissfully blazing a path to ultimate fulfillment.
- Lloyd took some solace in those words, though the proof was in the pudding,
- But they can’t take the place of your own flesh and blood.
- Their loss can definitely be our gain.
- Their bodies contoured perfectly as the fire between them became an all out inferno.
- We’re two fish out of water, if I’m reading you correctly.
The story that you are telling doesn’t seem consistent with the behavior exhibited by the characters. For example, after the hit and run, Lloyd wonders how this will affect his relationship but then says he is more focused on finding the perpetrator.
"He wasn’t sure how this might impact his relationship with Courtney. Right now Lloyd was more focused on ensuring the hit and run driver was brought into custody to answer for ending a life prematurely."
But for all his focus on the hit and run, it turns back to the relationship.
"I want this case, Steven."
"I’ve already given it to Martinez."
"So reassign it to me."
Steven gazed across the desk at him. "Okay, what aren’t you telling me?"
"I knew the victim-‘Pilar Kendall. We hung out a bit when I first got here."
"No, you don’t. I just happened to meet her cousin, Courtney, at the club last night. And we made a connection."
"Oh, and so now you feel obligated to make things right by finding this driver and making the arrest?"
"Something like that."
I don’t find that either Courtney nor Lloyd are intentionally unreliable narrators but that is how they appear. Another example is that you want us to buy into the idea that Lloyd is this super great guy and not a player. But looking at his relationship with Courtney’s cousin:
Pilar Kendall. They had gone out on a couple of dates, if you could call them that, but the chemistry just wasn’t there.
She was a fun girl, if not someone he could imagine falling for in a serious way.
Or in talking about the death of Courtney’s cousin:
"No, she didn’t." Lloyd bit down on his lip. I hope her death doesn’t come between us.
Lloyd met Courtney’s hard eyes. Uh oh, he thought, looks like Pilar’s digging a hole for me even from the grave.
I was frequently confused by the writing as well:
Lloyd realized he had overreacted. Of course they would find the culprit in reasonably short order. The evidence pointed in that direction, even if a person of interest had yet to be identified. Or was he missing something?
They have no eye witnesses but a set of tire tracks, paint scrapings, and broken glass and he thinks that an arrest is in the offing?
Lloyd took some solace in those words, though the proof was in the pudding, as the cliché went. So long as the person remained at large there could be no letting up. If not for his sake, then for Courtney’s.
Again, I don’t understand what this sentence means. What proof is in the pudding? That there was no evidence? Or that the arrest was soon to be made? That they were devoted to finding the killer?
The dialogue is stilted and formal and replete with dialogue tags:
Lloyd: "It must take some real talent to be able to write for today’s kids, many of whom have the attention span of about five seconds at a time."
The sex scenes also contain oddly formal words and also strange descriptions:
"That’s what they all say," she kidded.
"And desirable as hell."
"Is that why your eyes are ballooning?"
"Yes, just as my taste buds are going crazy. I want you."
I have to confess this is the first time that I’ve read about taste buds getting aroused outside an episode of Top Chef. Then there is the strange juxtaposition of different animal species in another sex scene:
They made love lasciviously, experimenting in new, ero!ic, passionate ways and returning to previous tried and true ones, pleasuring each other to dizzying heights.
Courtney’s voice purred as she galloped atop him . .
Purring and galloping? Or the seemingly physically impossible bedroom activities:
The kiss began as nibbling around the outer edges of Lloyd’s mouth before Courtney went for the gusto, sucking on his lower then upper lip, and both at once. She put her tongue inside his mouth and Lloyd took the lead, tasting and sucking it. They gave themselves to each other again with passionate intimacy.
Is it possible to suck on both lips at once? Needless to say, this book was simply not my cup of tea. D