This is a Mills and Boon Silhouette, ‘Intrigue’ romance. That probably means a lot to those who read these books regularly. As a writer, and a bloke, I read this one to see whether it was a genre I could write. So, bear all that in mind as you read this review.
It is, of course, a love story. But it’s also a lot more. The element of crime is strong, as are the elements of family and social injustice. A lot of readers condemn these books out of hand, assuming they’re poorly written and formulaic. I found this to be neither of those things.
There is suspense, mystery, tension, both sexual and general, and there is, of course, a burgeoning romance. It’s this final element that’s formulaic. The reader understands that the two main protagonists are destined for each other and recognises the barriers placed for them to cross in order to arrive at the essential happy ending (no, I don’t think that’s a spoiler: a romance of this nature has a happy ending; they all do).
As for the writing? It’s tense where it should be, description isn’t overdone, the action scenes are well handled and the relationships, complex and multi-faceted, are presented cleverly. I found the plot a little over-cooked and the author seemed to have found herself in something of a maze, if the denouement narrative is a guide. The ending reminded me a bit of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and his habit of describing his method of detection to the gathered guilty and innocent.
For me, character is the most important factor in a book. The individuals who people these pages are well drawn and various. That they can be slotted into various stereotypes is inevitable, given the narrow guidelines determined by the publishers, but that doesn’t prevent these particular players from being real people. I enjoyed the strong female lead and the object of her desire fitted in well with her hopes with enough potential flaws to make the reader wonder just enough. The minor players were also well constructed.
There is inevitably, given the specifics set by the publishers, rather more telling than showing than is good for the book. And some of the twists and turns seem to have been inserted ‘on the hoof’ rather than planned; but I can hardly complain at that, since I do it all the time myself.
But, in spite of its intended female readership and the slant it must take for such an audience, I enjoyed the read and found it largely satisfying. For those who care, there remains an unanswered question, of course. The answer is that I have already written a book containing much of what we find here, but I couldn’t write for this specific genre. It’s too confined and controlled for the way I write. But that’s not a reflection of the ability of this author; she’s worked within the constraints admirably and turned out a pretty good read that, I imagine, will sit very happily with those who more regularly read this type of fiction.
So, if you enjoy your romance with intrigue, mystery and some threat facing the heroine, you’ll get good value and plenty of entertainment from this one. Give it a go.