I downloaded this novella when it was free, and I'm glad. I've never read this author before, so I had no preconceived notions about the characters or writing style of the work. If I were a fan, I might have a different opinion as I understand that one of the main characters appeared in a previous novel.
Synopsis: Becca is agoraphobic due to rape when she was a teen. She gets taken hostage by a madman bent on revenge and the hostage negotiator who comes to her rescue is a high school friend who always had a secret crush on her.
One thing nice about this story is the author writes coherently. No grammar errors that I noticed, unlike the majority of free works. I enjoyed the characters and felt that they came across as genuine people. And this story didn't have sexual interludes oozing out every other paragraph, although the tension is there. But that's just about it for the good.
Now for the bad. If a romance is an action/suspense romance, I prefer that the action seems plausible. This book has a lot of plot holes in that department. We are supposed to believe that a person who was arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing radioactive material was:
1. Being detained and investigated by local law enforcement, not federal. 2. He escaped. 3. He was found again and again handled only by local authorities. 4. Was allowed to escape again. 5. He needed to kidnap two random people to further a convoluted revenge scheme that had a very time-sensitive nature. 6. And he would be able to obtain appropriate clothing for two random people for said plot, high-end clothing that had to fit well and look good, in a matter of hours while on the run.
And these were only a few which could be illustrated without giving away any spoilers. The law enforcement agents involved appear to be less competent than Barney Fife, and ignore procedure repeatedly. Transitions between scenes are abrupt at times. And although the characters can be related to, there are numerous times where their behavior departs from logic. For instance when an agoraphobic rape victim finally decides it's okay to try and have sex, and it's not behind closed doors.
Even though this book is a novella, it felt like a full novel and not just an extended short story. The first chapter was terrific and drew me in immediately. Overall, the story was engaging and the action/suspense/villain's plot was very good; I needed to know what the villain was planning and how Becca and Jack were going to get out of it; I liked those tense moments. Because I did feel the romance aspect was a bit rushed, I might have rated this a 3.5, but the rating system doesn't give us that option, and still, I can appreciate the limitations of writing a novella, and like in most novellas and short stories, the story itself takes place in a very short amount of time. Both Becca and Jack are somewhat broken characters when we first meet them, and as such, they may act hastily or heedlessly and are lacking confidence. In this case, Becca and Jack are able to overcome their self-doubts and go through a quick transformation where they learn to trust themselves and each other. This is a fast-paced novella with a HEA, and a chance to know more about Becca, who first appeared in Her Own Best Enemy, a book I found highly enjoyable and definitely recommend. Oh -- the included excerpt for the author's next book, Intrusion, has me looking forward to its release day which is sometime this month - yay!
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This is an awesome, fast-paced read - I literally had my heart in my throat a couple of times. Jack's a swoon-worthy hero and is exactly the right man to navigate the emotional landmines around Becca's heart. Becca is a wonderful, strong heroine and I really enjoyed seeing what happens to Grace's little sister from Her Own Best Enemy. I love stories where the characters bring out the best in each other while fighting bad guys and falling in love and this novella doesn't skimp on the romance or the suspense.
The bonus excerpt for Intrusion at the end of this novella will make fans of Cynthia Justlin count the days until its October release in order to find out what happens next!
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