by Rose Middleton, contemporary (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-353-0
Rose Middleton's Glamour Puss would have a been a standard serial-killer romantic suspense story were not for the fact that it is the hero who is experiencing visions/dreams of these murders and it is the heroine who is doing the investigating. With Liam Knox being the pretty boy model haunted by what could be a most troubling connection to the serial killer on the loose and Ellie Bradshaw being the undercover cop posing as the head designer of Glamour Puss Designs to investigate the series of murder involving models, the gender reversal makes this story more interesting than it normally would be.
Ellie knows that her case is no "catwalk" (sorry, I have to do this, heh) of sorts. There is a possible serial killer targeting models that sexually assault and torture his victims before killing them. Each victim was found with a glamorous shot left on the body. The previous homicide detective on the case had vanished and was suspected by Ellie to be a victim of the serial killer. Because this woman was Ellie's mentor, our heroine has a personal stake in seeing this case through. The models that were killed were last seen dating or in the company of Liam, which makes him a primary suspect in Ellie's opinion. Then why or why does she have to be attracted to him? When the serial killer starts making his move to make Ellie meet the same fate as her mentor, things are clearly not going to be smooth sailing for the lovebirds.
Ms Middleton is on thin ice where Liam is concerned because when the guy makes his appearance, his behavior towards Ellie, such grinding his erection against her behind and constantly making sexually-charged innuendos towards her, is not pretty at all. Since when is coming on so strong and grinding his erection against her behind without a by-your-leave acceptable behavior? He believes that Ellie is a slut but that doesn't make his behavior less appalling where I'm concerned. Sluts are people too. They deserve better than to be treated like a sex toy who will take all comers. The author is aware that Liam is behaving like a "caveman" and she has Ellie thinking that she will have him charged for sexual harassment if he isn't so cute, so I can only deduce that this is a story written for readers who like the fantasy of hunky men with a thing for sexual harassment. With dead bodies in the mix, the fantasy though is... odd, to say the least, unless I'm to somehow make the connection between "caveman" assholes and dead bodies in the "all cavemen assholes must die" way.
The unfortunate "it's sexual harassment... but he's so cute!" matter aside, this story could have been a decent romantic suspense tale if the author hasn't turned Ellie into the regrettable stereotype of an emotional cop who lets a pretty face short-circuit her senses.
Letting her eyes drift closed, Ellie tried to face the ugly truth. She’d gotten too close. The one thing every cop fears. Had she lost her objectivity? The clues to the killer were
there, and right now, they pointed to Liam. Until they got the DNA evidence back, they had nothing concrete to tie him to the murders.
Oh, I don't know, I'd say she has lost her objectivity when he rubbed his erection against her in the first chapter and she felt so hot and sexy inside even as she tries to pretend that she was offended. Or the part when she grasped at every possibility that he was innocent so that she could play with him. Oh, Ellie. She is such a sorry stereotype. The identity of the villain is given away by the author at about the halfway point of the story but frankly, by that time Liam has been a completely relentless jerk who acts as if no woman can resist a shag from him that I won't be too sorry if they arrest him by mistake and put him in prison with all those sex-starved criminals for a few weeks before they sort out their mistake. That will teach him what it feels like to be treated as if you have no say in whether you want a shag or not.
The gender reversal is an interesting twist but the Miss Congeniality-meets-Silence Of The Lambs premise is not fully capitalized on by the author. Ms Middleton makes some fundamental missteps, in my opinion, by making the heroine lose all objectivity too soon in the story and turning the hero into an obnoxious jerk. These two problems cause Glamour Puss, an otherwise average romantic suspense story, to become instead an average romantic suspense story crippled further by some pretty serious flaws from the get go.
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