I gone and done it again. My shelves and closets are overflowing. My home is a fire trap. This is getting ridiculous. But there is a bright side. I’m actually going through my boxes and getting rid of the deadwood. Dead wood!! Geddit?
N-e-hoo, been waiting for DS and PiTN for EVER! And what happens? The quality of writing in these books catapulted me into Siskel&Ebert mode. For every positive, there’s a negative. I guess that’s just life, innit.
Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice:
Love, love, love this writer. Her writing in this particular book is hermaphroditic. (Yeah, I said that! I’m controversial.) She writes love scenes like a woman writer and action scenes like a male writer. I really dig that. This story is the result of a lot of research you can tell. It’s a lot like Burn Notice or JAG or NCIS or The Unit, or even that new sniper drama Flashpoint. It’s all about the intel.
The romantic/love scenes are pretty good. There’s one or two drawn-out ones and a couple of rushed ones. Rushed love scenes are a standard in Rice’s romances. A lot of the story is told from the hero’s point of view, which is a relatively new development — dating from about the late 70s/early 80s. I like that both the hero/heroine express reservations about getting involved and how difficult it is to stay uninvolved, but there’s too much "wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am" and I don’t find that romantic when it happens so often. There needs to be a logical balance of wham bam moments and drawn-out moments — variety is the spice of life after all. And this whole thing that the heroines "don’t want or need foreplay"? WTF? Are we regressing back to the pre-Kinsey Report days? It makes me wonder if maybe a man isn’t writing this book after all. To be fair, though, the romantic scenes are VERY romantic. Very up close and personal, as if you’re standing in the same room with them. That’s good writing.
One of the best things about this story is the villain — Vassily Worontzoff. He would make a great Bond villain. His character is so vivid that everyone else in the story pales significantly. This is the "writing like a man" part. And speaking of parts: Steiner 8×30 tactical binoculars, zeks, gulags, Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft, Russian organized crime, Sacra Corona Unita, European literary awards. Fuggedaboutit. I’m hooked already. What really cracks me up about this story is the product placement: diet Coke, Bang & Olufsen. Hee! Someone’s been reading Soldier of Fortune magazine. I mean, Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine. I have no effing idea what that is but it sounds so cool! It’s almost like this book is designed for men — to make them take romance novels seriously. If a writer can do that — more power to’em sister-woman!
Phantom in The Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon:
Yay! The BADs are back! These are the FUN ass-kickin’ secret agents, as opposed to the morose, depressing, take-themselves-WAY-too-seriously Tempting SEALs. (Ian, Reno, Macey, Clint, Kell — you know I adore you guyz but jeez, lighten up a little 😀 ).
So this agent is Terri Mitchell. She has an axe to grind, which is what BAD wants in its agents. I especially love the way Kenyon arranges for Terri to meet the man of her dreams — his twin is dead and Terri is the agent on scene checking out the body. Kenyon describes Terri’s reaction to the dead body and yummily describes how good-looking he was (shades of necrophilia, anyone?). So the reader experiences the suspense of Terri coming into contact with the gorgeous twin but she never can see his face for about half the book. And we readers are on pins and needles because we know what a treat she’s in for when he finally reveals himself. But it takes for-effing-EVER. That is some brave risk-taking in a romance novel. I absolutely love it. It’s a crime drama with sex, except good. It’s not romantic, unfortunately. Oh well, one book can’t be everything to everybody.
On the whole, it’s got great writing. Kenyon is flexing and stretching her writing muscles. That’s mainly why I like it.