Tour’s Books Blog

January 5, 2010

Some Erotic Romantic Suspense Short Reviews

Well, between the year end sale at Ellora’s Cave, a sale at Amazon on some wanted titles in trade paperback sizes, and general ordering, I am just BURIED in erotic romance – print and ebook.  So here’s my opinion on e a few that I waded through already!  In all fairness, the three books below, while considered ‘erotic’, are really more like a hot romantic suspense, not erotic.  And yes, I know I have a pronounced weakness for romantic suspense.  For all you shifter lovers, I’ve read a bunch of them too and there will be short reviews for them this week as well!

  • Title: Caught!
  • Author: Lorie O’Clare
  • Type: Romantic Suspense
  • Genre: Boss lust; Making accounting exciting
  • Sub-genre: I just know she didn’t do the dastardly deed; smart people do stupid things
  • My Grade: D+ to C- (2.5*)
  • Rating: PG-13 to NC-17
  • Length and price: Full novel; 80,000+ words; print book on sale for $5.50+ shipping
  • Where Available: Ellora’s Cave as print or ebook and other ebook sellers
  • FTC Disclosure: Purchased print book on publisher website

Jordan Hall owns runs his own accounting business and has a smart, savvy assistant in Roxanne Isley, herself an accountant.  OK – here’s where the problems start – Roxanne is treated as if she were a high level administrative assistant, not an account.  And two, she shares an office with the big boss, Jordan, even though she’s just a junior account.  This odd disconnect had me confused.  Roxanne and Jordan have a mutual secret lust for each other.  Jordan asks her to come to dinner with him and a client and then intercepts all the client’s passes and all but warns the man off Roxanne.  She makes an end run and accepts a date with the guy – in his suite.  Then she learns that Jordan provides him with ‘companions’ when he’s in town and he’d like Roxanne to be his semi-permanent paramour in town.  Now, his proposition didn’t bother me, what did is the fact that the supposed ‘hero’ acted as a pimp.  THAT disturbed me no end, and the fact that it didn’t seem to bother Roxanne was really troublesome.

Then a problem is noticed with an account, money appears to be missing.  Then it’s missing from another account.  Rather than tell Jordan, Roxanne tries to work out what’s happening herself.  Then she hares off when another accountant calls her to let her know he’s traced the problem back  Some idiot PI that Jordan hired gets the man arrested, threatens Roxanne, there’s this leering senior accouant and just a whole big hairball that would have been funny if it wasn’t written to be taken seriously.  The real stupidity is reserved for the end when the villain comes from nowhere, kidnaps Roxanne, half strips her and humiliates her in front of his ‘crew’.  Sigh!

The suspense was not suspenseful, the characters weren’t interesting, the ‘hero’ had a decided non-heroic ‘ick’ factor and was a general idiot, the plot was just silly and badly thought out and the ending was completely unsatisfying.  Not one of Lorie O’Clare’s best.

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  • Title: Unleashed
  • Author: Jamie Alden
  • Type: Romantic suspense
  • Genre: Gemini Men series Book 3; a man must reevaluate all his mistaken beliefs
  • Sub-genre: Kidnapping, human trafficking
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating: PG-13 to NC-17
  • Length and price:  Plus novel, but reads like novel, $14.00 list price but widely available discounted, used, or remaindered
  • Where Available: Where books are sold
  • FTC Disclosure:  From an online book swapping site

This is the third book in Jamie Alden’s Gemini Men series.  Danny Taggert is the oldest of the Taggert sons and the one least forgiving of their mother’s desertion when they were young.  Now her body has been found and their father is completely devastated to learn that all these years he’d hoped to be able to find her were wasted when she was actually buried near the road so near to home.  Danny is intransigent in his certainty that she was still running away when she was killed.  Even his high school girl friend ran from being married to a special forces solider instead of what she thought was a trust fund baby.  Now, Caroline Medford is back as well, at his mother’s funeral to ask for his help.  She’s been arrested for the high profile of her rich lawyer husband’s murder.  As a lure, she offers him information that seems to link her dead husband James Medford and his mother.  A Day Minder date book she found in a box of old books that her step-daughter Kate.   Danny, embittered by his mother’s actions and Carrie’s rejection of him to become a trophy wife,  is cruel and nasty and refuses to allow Gemini to become involved.

Danny might have refused, but he can’t stop himself from watching to see if there’s any truth in what Carrie told him.  She’s not what he expected at all.  Then strange things are happening.  Her house is broken into and wrecked.  She’s getting threatening notes at the gym telling to back-off or else.  The police, certain she’s her husband’s killer, won’t pay any attention.  Danny agrees to help and goes with Carrie when she meets very high profile defense attorney in the city.  He barely saves Carrie and himself when a passing SUV opens fire on them, killing the lawyer.  Even that is written off by the cops as likely retaliation for her getting a gang banger rapper star off on a murder charge the day before.

Danny holds true to his pig-headed character that well established in Kept and Caught, the two earlier books.  (And unrelated to Lorie O’Clare’s Caught above.)  The corruption of various characters in the book is believable, if a shade TV series.  The bad guys and the crimes being covered up tie together the murder of Danny’s mother and Carrie’s husband James nearly 2 decades later.  Danny is forced to confront his long held and utterly mistaken judgments about his mother and then again about Carrie.  I thought that bit of pathos was a bit gratuitous and over-the-top, but what the heck, Danny is the tortured hero of the series.

The suspense worked here.  For romantic suspense, it was well done with a solid plot for the bad guys, something that’s often weak.  The various intertwining stories of a young run-away, Carrie, Danny, and Danny’s mother made for good reading.  I like this series and this was a good last book.  Worth a read!

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  • Title: After Dusk
  • Author: Lorie O’Clare
  • Type: Romantic suspense
  • Genre: Innocent Bystander gets caught up in a serial killing
  • Sub-genre:  PI does a police investigation
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Length and price: Short novel for $10.99 at Ellora’s Cave; discounted and used available
  • Where Available: Where books are sold; in print or ebook from publisher
  • FTC Disclosure: Print book purchased from publisher

Well, if Caught! was a big a disappointment, then After Dusk was a very pleasant surprise.  All the issues that overwhelmed the characters and plot of Caught! were notably absent from the much better written, plotted and executed After Dusk.

Emily Rothmeier is a thirtysomething waitress who moved to Kansas City to have a chance to get a belated college education.  In an area of college students, she’s an ‘older woman’, a damn strange feeling that reinforces her belief that she needs to stop just getting by and get a career, not another dead-end waitressing job.  Walking back to her car the first night of classes two things happen, a young jock hits on her with an, “I’m into older women,” line and then she hears a scream.  Next morning she learns there was a murder on campus.  She realizes that was the scream she heard.  She’s shaken and even more so when some guy parks at one of her tables and seems to be watching her.

Rafe Healy used to be a cop and now he’s a PI in Kansas City.  The college called him in to try and put an end to the campus killings.  Emily Rothmeier fits the victim profile, early thirties, good-looking, well built.  When a second killing happens so close to the last one, and Emily see the person fleeing in the shadows, she becomes a prime target. Rafe is drawn to Emily and likewise, but he’s afraid her curiosty will get her into serious trouble with the killer.  Both become convinced that Breaux, the jock who hit on Emily that first night, is the likely killer.  When Rafe finds Breaux lurking around her apartment door, he chases him off and them forcefully removes Emily for her safety.  The attraction between them explodes into passion.  Nothing stops the chase for the killer for long though.

This is one of those plots that can be seriously spoiled by too much discussion, so I leave it there.  The suspense is nicely built, and Emily and Rafe are both believable as characters and have some real chemistry going between them.   There are scenes that go back and forth between the killer and Emily/Rafe.  This is actually one of the creepier and best drawn villains in romantic suspense from the erotic romance publishers.  One could quibble about certain similarties with a movie archetypes, but within the context of the book, it all works.  For what’s essentially a short novel, it packs a lot of wallop.   A very good read!

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