Always Yours
by Shiloh Walker, paranormal (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-498-9


Oh dear, the hero and the heroine of Always Yours is in a tangled mess, and I don't mean that part about the heroine at twenty-two having the hots for the fifteen-year old hero back in those days. Now that they are able to play without causing other people to make cradle jokes, they are in a bind.

You see, Kirsten Everess has this thing like the hero of those Final Destination movies - she can dream of unpleasant things that can happen to people. Because of a dream she had, she manages to warn hero Dylan Kline of an upcoming danger. Our covert operative hero doesn't really believe her but nonetheless he becomes more cautious than usual during his next field mission, which allows him to survive when one of them turns out to be a traitor that sells them out to the enemy. Unfortunately, Kris has been seeing this traitor for a year, which leads Dylan's employers to suspect her of treason.

Therefore, it is a furious Dylan in a wheelchair (don't worry, it's not a permanent condition) that confronts Kris instead of a grateful gentleman. That issue about Kris seeing a traitor is quickly sorted out when she denies knowing that he's a married man and Dylan thinking that he knows her well enough to know that she will never betray her country and the people she loves. The traitor, Max, is still around, however, to cause more trouble.

I understand that this Always Yours that I am reading is an expanded and revised edition. That probably explains why when the story should have ended the author forces it to continue with Dylan pulling a mini-The X-Files episode where he goes after missing little girls. Always Yours feels like a very padded story, which is its biggest problem. It doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. A romantic suspense story? A story of Dylan dealing with physiotherapy and doing some soul-searching?

The story seems to be trying to be all these and more but isn't sure how to go about doing it. For example, the author builds up Dylan's angsts nicely, with his dealing with the aftermath of Max's betrayal depicted in a poignant manner, only to drop the ball by having him and Kris hitting the sack in a pretty much just-like-that manner, thus deflating any chance of Dylan learning to love Kris while dealing with his angsts. It's just lust and - wham - they're in bed and that's it for the build-up. The subplot with Max muddles itself through scenes of Dylan and his sister Nikki and for a long time, nothing of significance actually happens despite the constant shifts in location and passage of time.

I am actually bewildered by Always Yours. What is it? One moment it's some paranormal "Find my missing little daughter - she's lost in a world full of evil pedophiles!" crime drama, then it's some espionage thing, then it's a family drama, and then... it is as if the author is trying on and discarding themes and storylines the way a rich woman spoiled for choices is trying to decide what to wear for the evening. The way this story takes all kinds of unexpected detours and tangents along with the author's refusal to let the story end by padding it with missing little kiddies all suggest to me that Always Yours is probably too padded with "expanded revisions" for its own good. Sometimes it's better to just let a short story be.

Rating: 58


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