I’ve finally found some time to do this review – which I have been promising myself would be done this month (which I only did if I’m using US time, but still…)
Why I read it: Are you kidding me? Dude – Suzanne Brockmann!
What it’s about: (Here’s the blurb from the author’s website.) When history professor Alison Carter became a consultant to the film version of the Wild West legend she’d dedicated her career to researching, she couldn’t possibly know that she would not only get a front row seat to a full-blown Hollywood circus, but that she would innocently witness something that would put her life in danger. Nor did she expect that a tall stranger in a cowboy hat would turn the movie — and her world — completely upside down…
AJ Gallagher didn’t crash the set in dusty Arizona to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite. Unable to ignore ghosts from the past that refuse to stay buried, AJ came to put an end to the false legend that has tarnished the reputation of his family. But when he confronts Alison, sparks fly. And when she becomes targeted by ruthless criminals, suddenly she and AJ must face the intense attraction that threatens to consume them, in order to survive the danger that threatens their very lives.
What worked for me: I “discovered” Suzanne Brockmann’s books a few years back when I was starting to get back into reading romance and her Troubleshooters series was recommended to my by the kind ladies at Temptation, The Romance Bookstore. Since then, I’ve devoured everything she’s written. My favourite of all of her books so far is Hearthrob, so I have a soft spot for her stand alone novels. Ms. Brockmann writes engaging characters and she’s especially good at writing men (IMO) – there’s an obvious difference between the female POV and the male POV
That was the word she’s used to describe herself – fit. AJ would’ve used other words. Like holy shit and sweet baby Jesus.
Case in point.
Jamie (the ghost) could have almost had his own book. What a hero!! He was a true white knight, even though he wore a black hat and the way he loved his Mel and his children – all of them. There is something VERY sexy about a man who loves his children and isn’t afraid to show it. I was touched by the legacy he left behind – all his family adored and respected him. (It made it necessary to suspend my disbelief a little that, having such devoted and numerous descendants, how the false story about Jamie Gallagher had survived as long as it had…)
I liked how Alison didn’t get all snotty about someone challenging her previously held beliefs about Jamie Gallagher. She just wanted the truth and didn’t let her ego get in the way.
As much as I enjoyed Alison, what made the book for me, was AJ. I loved reading about this hurting, lonely, flawed man, who was trying to do the best he could. I was glad that he stopped accepting isolation and embraced being with Alison. He put himself out there for her a number of times and oh, there’s just something special about a vulnerable manly man.
Suzanne Brockmann writes great characters, witty banter and sexy love scenes but every now and then, there are little gems which pop up. When I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, a good friend gave me the best advice evah and it was quite similar to this:
This was all he had to do, right here, right now. In this moment. He had to breathe. Just breathe. One heartbeat at a time.
Eventually, that crisis led me to my own question which AJ also asked Jamie a while later in the book:
“But how do you know,” AJ whispered, “when it’s finally time to surrender?…”
I guess because I related very well to those sentiments, I found AJ particularly appealing and I was even more committed to him getting his HEA (which probably explains why I was occasionally annoyed by Alison!).
This book has a number of romantic threads – there’s AJ and Alison, Jamie and Mel (told in flashback from Jamie’s 1st person POV) and even a little romance between 2 FBI agents who are undercover on the movie set – although, sadly Jules, my very favourite FBI agent in the Brockmann stable didn’t make a cameo… 🙁 I didn’t feel it was too much – there was a very satisfying amount of each story.
What didn’t work for me: There was a bit of soap-boxing in this book. Gay rights and anti-smoking. While both of those things are worthy of a campaign, there was something a little heavy-handed about how they were handled in the book and, the best way I can describe it is that it felt like it was coming from the author rather than the character and for that reason, those bits threw me out of the story. Fortunately, they were mostly in the first half of the book and by the time I’d finished it, all was forgiven.
I would have liked to have a little more information about the paranormal aspects of the story. There really wasn’t very much in the book at all about it – Jamie was a ghost who could appear to only one person because of “the rules” but I didn’t know if he was with his beloved Mel when he was wherever he was when he wasn’t on Earth. I’d like to think he was 🙂
Even though I understood Alison’s fears about being with an alcoholic, having grown up with her alcoholic mother, I thought she will still too slow to board the AJ train (which I boarded pretty much straight away…). He’d been sober for years after all. But then, it might be I trusted him more because I knew what was going on in his head…
What else: This is vintage Brockmann. Those who like her earlier stand-alones will lap this one up. I know I did.