Author: Aris Whittier
Genre: Romance, crime, western romance, mystery, suspence.
Average Goodreads rating: 3.65/5
My rating: 3/5
(ebook, 280 pages, published 2nd October 2005 by Five Star Trade)
Blurb (From Goodreads): High-spirited horse trainer Jessica Stanson stumbles into the perfect job on one of the most elite ranches in Montana. Or at least it would be if her boss, ex-detective Michael Carven, stopped acting like he didn’t want her there. Jessica has to prove herself to him on the ranch, and also try to penetrate his armor to get to the man inside. Michael Carven is a man who has left a difficult past behind him, and now works at his dream job raising horses under the Montana sky. But he knows that the past has a way of coming back to him, and soon enough, it does. A wave of violence hits the nearby small town of Riverside, nestled deep in the mountains, as a cunning serial killer preys on the population.
Against his will, Michael finds himself both drawn into the case and coming to care for his independent new trainer. And if having a killer on the loose wasn’t enough, his two worlds collide when Jessica becomes the only material witness in the case. Before it is over, Michael and Jessica will put everything they know and hold dear on the line to catch a vicious, cunning killer – and to protect each other as well.
This book had all the right ingredients but none of the fizz. There was drama, romance, sex, angst and crime but it never quite hit the mark for me. The characters, although well put together, changed their minds about things all the time. Their personalities also seemed to change a lot too. One minute he was hot then cold. One second she was tender and caring then sarcastic and snappy. There is nothing wrong with that in general but it seemed like the changes were occurring in the same sentence, it was hard to keep up.
I liked that the romance was a slow burner, it took it’s time and built up throughout the book. My main problem with it was that I didn’t care that much for the characters; sure I thought it would be nice for them to be together but I was never truly invested in them. I didn’t get that agonising feeling in my gut where you want characters to be together so much it almost hurts. Also, everything was a little fast in the beginning. The set up appeared to be in the middle of the book and not the start which I found a little bit bizarre, but once it had settled in it was much better.
There were times when this book seemed to step right out of reality and read a lot more like an over done Fan Fiction but those moments were few and far between. Also, if you are going to write erotica then write erotica. This felt half-hearted and cautious as thought the author wasn’t quite sure if they were comfortable writing about sex. It was distracting, a good book doesn’t need to have explicit sex included but if the author has decided to add it then it needs to be done well.
What this novel does get right is the crime. About half way through I was pretty sure I know who the killer was but was surprised to find that I was well off base. It was a well done twist that really raised the level of the book for me. I didn’t see it coming and I often do so I give the Author credit for that.
If you are a crime-romance fan this is a short and pleasant read that you will probably enjoy. It could have been a lot better but it was still a nice way to waste away a rainy bank holiday afternoon.