by Selena Montgomery, contemporary (2008)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-137603-0
Selena Montgomery's Reckless is the perfect average romantic suspense. Everything about it is just... average. Some romantic suspense stories are thrilling and unnerving, but Reckless sees the author committing some obvious blunders in the story that robs the story from much of its effectiveness.
Once upon a time, Kell Jameson and her two friends ended up with $30,000 taken from a burning warehouse. Right away these teenage ladies are arguing about who should take the fall (each of them wanting to be the sacrificial lamb), and I sigh. This is going to be one of those stories with those heroines. Today, Kell is said to be a successful lawyer at Atlanta. I use "said to be" because Kell is emotional enough in this story to get me to doubt her ability to hold her own in a courtroom. Of course, her being a lawyer - a successful one, to boot - predictably means that she lets guilty people loose, something that the hero will hold against her. Shortly after the story opens, Kell returns to Fulton County to help the owner of the orphanage she grew up in when this woman, Eliza Faraday, becomes implicated in the murder of a former resident of her orphanage. Kell meets Sheriff Luke Calder, and I bet you will never guess that these two are attracted to each other.
Kell is a pretty predictable kind of irritating heroine: very willing to play the martyr and blame herself for all kinds of things, whether or not such nonsense is warranted, and just as willing to face the music in order to keep the plot going. She is said to be good at her job, but Luke has no problems knowing that she's lying. As for Luke, he's pretty unnerving as a character. In this story, he threatens to arrest Kell for this and that, just before ordering her to have dinner with him. He will then pretty much accuse her of being a murderer during the dinner. All this while, he will take potshots at her - after all, she sets criminals free, you see - and suspects her of all kinds of things, even as he admires her and is randy to bed her. Luke's emotions and behavior are all over the place when it comes to Kell, he comes off like some kind of bipolar hypocrite who isn't above abusing his power and authority to intimidate a woman and to get her to go out with him.
Throughout it all, the author gives Kell plenty of plot armor. When Kell screws up, her client actually approves of her antics and gives her more money. How nice. The hero and the heroine stumble upon important clues rather than doing anything significant to discover those clues. The bad guy turns out to be, conveniently enough, the same folks giving our main characters problems from the start. The plot is obviously designed to give the main characters an advantage from get go, so it doesn't allow for much suspense here. After all, what suspense can there be when the author will contrive to set up implausible scenarios to protect her main characters when they screw up?
And oh yes, I have to warn you, the plot isn't fully resolved here. Buy the next book in the series if you want to figure out how the rest of the story line will proceed.
Reckless is a lackluster romance and, as far as being a romantic suspense go, its plot feels too artificial for my liking.
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