When The Storm Breaks
by Heather Lowell, contemporary (2003)
Harper, $7.50, ISBN 0-06-054212-8


A wicked thought: if Heather Lowell's mother isn't Elizabeth Lowell, will her debut novel be published with this $7.50 price tag by Harper - also her mother's publisher? But whether or not one wants to bring up this family angle, life isn't all roses for the younger Ms Lowell. I've read some reviews of her books here and there, and so many of them compare her to her mother. Heather Lowell may write romantic suspense like her mother, but she has a more concise way of telling a story. She shares her mother's tendency to use awkward similes at times, but that's as far as the similarities go.

As a Heather Lowell book, When The Storm Breaks is emminently readable but also hopelessly reminiscent of a bad TV movie. Some of the plot twists don't make sense. Coming out from the dating agency building that she has just signed up for a program, Claire Lambert stumbles upon a murder, runs away ("like a gazelle!" the killer muses), and oops, loses her memory. Moral of the story? Stick to cybersex. Our hero, Sean Richter, wants her to remember things, and to aid her, decides to use her as bait as she is sent to date potential psycho men. The Washington DC Police Department must be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Along the way, the really over-the-top psycho killer foams, rants, curses, and slavers over Claire. Positively rivetting, really.

Then there's the usual sex scenes to substitute any genuine show of romance (Claire pretending that the sex means nothing even if privately she thinks it means everything, or so I quote from the book, is as good as it gets here). There is also no suspense as I know early that the killer is not related to the dating thing Claire is sent out to participate in. "Suspense" here is the psycho guy ranting and foaming at the mouth about killing Claire.

How one could love a man when one doesn't know much about oneself? It's a good thing I am not looking for any deep insights in this book, or I will be so disappointed.

The writing is serviceable, but the characters are flat and they often act in ways that don't make sense. The "suspenseful" moments happen as a consequence of just that - characters acting in illogical ways - so at the end of the day, When The Storm Breaks reads like the movie script that Justin Bateman rejected.

Heather Lowell will still have quite some work to do if she wants to get out of her mother's shadow.

Rating: 68


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