38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2012
I'll be completely upfront, here, I really didn't like this book. I thought the story was pretty lacking in the fundamentals and used increasingly thin and glaringly manufactured action sequences to distract the reader. I thought the resolution was probably one of the more patently ridiculous ones I've read in a long time. I thought these were some of the weakest characterizations I've seen in a long time in a main-stream publisher, full-price hardcover book. And... I'm from St. Louis and any personal knowledge of (or perhaps nodding acquaintance with any facts about) St. Louis, East St. Louis, and the surrounding towns negatively impacted the quality of this story.
This is a chase book. The bad guys are chasing Sam and Marco (or whatever his name is). Sam and Marco shoot their way out, they drive away like crazy people, they run to government protection, run some more, and then the bad guys get them and they are in a plane crash, and then the second set of bad guys come to get them and the cavalry finally arrives.
Perhaps because of all the running, Sam and Marco and Tyler have pretty standard and pretty weak characterizations. Sam is supposed to be beautiful and plucky and a devoted mother. Marco is apparently built like a UFC fighter and has fearsome skills when he isn't hobbling and bruised. He is, despite the bruising, handsome and kind to Sam's boy. Oh, and to Sam's knowledge he is a slimy drug lord's weasel who has assassins after him. (One would think a devoted mother would have a better time resisting Marco's handsome face when it is balanced by the assassin's who killed your babysitter while your four year old son was watching? Maybe that is just me?) Only the readers are aware that Marco is actually undercover super-FBI. So, Marco is close-mouthed within the narrative but the readers know he is true blue and loyal and he is going to protect Sam and her son. I think I have a cavity just from typing that sentence. It was sentimental and card-board. The only basis that exists for Sam and Marco's relationship is chemistry and lust. Which defies even the weak characterization Sam has been given. She is supposed to be a "GOOD" person whose only crime was to shoplift baby-formula. She should not be knowingly hooking up with a drug lord's employee turned stoolie who has a hit out on him that has already killed your babysitter. It felt like magic chemistry- one kiss and her will and brain were sucked out of her body. And, Marco? Yeah, he is going to keep his eye on his job because he is a fine cop and he has to protect this lady and her son! Yeah, until that magic personality altering chemistry hits. And, then he sleeps through someone killing their guard and setting a really big bomb (and sleep may be a euphemism- I'm not sure.)Tyler? He was just a sweet kid who was a vehicle for Marco to not look like a scumbag. Bad Guy #1- standard Terminator character. Nothing is going to stop his menacing and murdering ways.... oops, until the end. Bad Guy #2? The guy was little more than a name. He had no character and very little interaction- mostly a non-entity.
The conflict. Hmmm. Bad guys are chasing and they are running. That is the conflict. There was an opportunity to make Sam's growing attraction to Marco a worthy conflict (you know- between how a sane person behaves and how she wants to behave) but that was sucked away by the magic chemistry. Anyway, it was weak.
The romance. I've think I've said it all. Yes, they had chemistry but it still didn't make much sense. They were together, what? A couple of days? Sam had literally no backbone, whatsoever. If the author had just made it about "yolo" and sexy times, I would have had more respect for the romance. But, making Sam this feisty and devoted mother who hooks up with who she thinks Marco is... no go. It becomes flimsy and slapping the word "love" on it does not suddenly make it reasonable or believable or worthy.
Mystery. There really is none. There is a pitiful attempt at a mystery in the last twenty pages but the foreshadowing was sufficient that as soon as a mystery became apparent, the readers had solved it. This is one of my least favorite mystery devices- where the bad guy basically wreaks pretty massive havoc that his claimed desire to escape without detection is laughable. If the bad guy said (totally made up- not a spoiler) "Hey, I'm going to murder 14 cops, blow up this skyscraper, and appear on television and no one will ever know that it was me!!!" Yeah, it insults the reader's intelligence.
The suspense. As I said, I'm from St. Louis and I have familiarity with ESL- I found the idea of a small, tiny pretty female tow truck driver working nights in ESL suspenseful enough. When she thought of hoofing it seven miles home, I thought that was suspenseful. When she debated hitch-hiking in ESL at night- I was done with her. She was officially the world's biggest moron. ESL has a murder and rape rate that is through the roof. Except, this is not supposed to be the book's suspense. The first two times Marco and Sam ran for their lives- okay, that was sufficiently suspenseful. After that, I waited for other parts of the story to be built. The mystery. Nope, you pretty much wait until the next action sequence. And, those action sequences got increasingly melodramatic. We have chases, and assaults, and shootings, and bombs, and a plane crash? The plan crash was over the top for me. The plane not crashing but being shot out of the air? The plane ripping in half and spilling the two good guys out onto the ground without enough injury that they just can't hoof it down the mountain? Way over the line. It just turned into suspense caricature.
The resolution. This just irritates me. Did the book run too long? Was the deadline looming? Or was it the author's plan, the entire time, to have a plane shot out of the air in a magical way that leads to two really excellent and really timely confessions? With the appropriate legal authorities magically hiding in the woods to hear said confession? And can a federal agent just kill a crook- twice? Whatever. The resolution was pat and insulted the readers' intelligence.
And, I'll not go over every problem I had with the ESL location. I gave up pretty quickly noting all the errors but I'll give you two that a basic internet search would have revealed if any fact checking had been done... There are no Publix grocery stores in Illinois or Missouri and neither ESL or St. Louis have any paddle-wheel casinos on the riverfront. The closest is in Alton, on the Illinois side, and it can't be seen. The Casino Queen has been gone for years. And, on the St. Louis side we had the Admiral (also shut down for years, now gone, and not a paddle-boat.)
The fact-checking stuff is small potatoes. The book was just not very good, in my opinion. This may sound stupid but this just wasn't hard-cover quality. If this were a paperback, I'd be less scathing. It was too brief, too shallow, and too magically resolved for a quality hardcover.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Robards' talent for writing steamy romance lurks in the wings of this thriller, as single-parent Samantha Jones hooks up her ancient truck to a sleek BMW in her tow list late one night. When she discovers a wounded man in the trunk of the car, there is hardly time to consider her dilemma before Jones is unceremoniously dumped in behind him. This unlikely meeting of two strangers randomly bound together in danger forms the crux of the novel, but is also the grist for the author's romantic subplot, which at times rivals the action around it. Of course, Sam is beautiful and the man is handsome beneath the damages inflicted by his captors, but his background is as unpalatable as are the circumstances of their meeting. Jones cares only to protect her four-year-old son from the gang of Zetas certain to track her down to get to their quarry, Rick Marco. Marco is supposed to be under protection by the US Marshals until after testifying at a drug trial.
The mystery involves Witness Protection, the infamous Mexican Zeta drug gang who breech a safe house, US Marshals and an elaborate FBI undercover investigation. Hampered by the usual interagency resistance to communication, the marshals make right their mistake, now with a woman and her child to protect, the killers relentless in pursuing their quarry. Robards provides dramatic chases, betrayals and the simmering, if reluctant attraction between Rick and Samantha. Of course, the purveyor of romance cannot resist the opportunity to place her characters in a love/hate dynamic that ratchets up the consequences of the chase, a misbegotten romance that will not be denied in spite of the odds. Though not a great literary feat, Robards' storytelling skills are well-honed, plot edgy, her ability to tap into women's psyches impressive. I give Shiver four stars in its genre. Fans won't be disappointed. Luan Gaines/2012.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2013
I really loved a lot of previous books by Karen Robards, but the last couple of books were just blah.
She tells a story without giving us the "flavor" of the characters or including chemistry between hero and heroine. The characters are written very dry, mechanical, and one dimensional. Where are the quirks or sass or chemistry that differentiates these characters from other characters? The idea behind the story is good. If you read the synopsis, it sounds like it could be a great story. There just isn't any personality, spice, and flavor to the story. It was very mechanical and flat.
If you want to read a really great book by Karen Robards, read "Pursuit" or "Guilty" or "Vanished." Now THOSE were great books that kept me glued and staying up all night cause I couldn't put down.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2013
I've been pretty hard on Karen Robards in recent years, but I have to give her a good grade on this one. This is pretty amazing since I don't care for continuous-chase suspense novels, the villain was a bit hard to believe, and the time given for the romance to jell is way too short. But I kept reading and enjoyed it. I think it's a significant improvement over some of her recent novels for two reasons: 1) it harkens back to some of her earlier novels that I liked much better and 2) it's so much better than most of the other dreck out there. Robards understands suspense and romance even if some of the plot details strain credulity. There are so many new authors out there who are ungrammatical, can't spell, can't plot, that the writing of my long-time favorites--Robards, Jayne Ann Krentz, Linda Howard--is elevated by comparison even though they're running out of steam. At least it's quality not-her-best work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2013
Sam repos cars at night to keep a roof over her and her four-year-old son Tyler's heads. Finding a beaten and nearly dead man in the trunk of a car turns their lives upside down. Daniel Panterro thought he was dead for sure, until a beautiful woman appears out of nowhere and saves him. But the danger isn't over, and now Sam and Tyler are mixed up in it with him. The drug runners after them will stop at nothing to get what they want. And they want Danny, and now Sam and Tyler, dead.
Sam is a likeable character. She's a strong, independent woman who will do anything to protect her son. Tyler is an adorable little boy, but his character is much older than his age would imply. He sounds and acts way older than a four year old would. Danny is stuck between a rock and hard place. Everyone thinks he's a bad guy, and he's falling for a girl he can't be with. I liked him. He's sexy and tough, and he does right by Sam and Tyler. In the beginning of the book, though, he mentions having a hot girlfriend but then she's never mentioned again. I chalked it up to an editing issue instead of a character flaw. Shiver is an excellent story. It's exciting, action-packed, suspenseful, and the romance is passionate.
Nannette for Joyfully Reviewed