Book Review: Alone In The Dark, Romantic Suspense: Book 17

Author: Karen Rose
Book Name: Alone In The Dark
Series: Romantic Suspense/Cincinnati
Order: 17/2
Genre: Romance/Suspense/Crime Drama
Overall SPA: 3 Stars
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Homicide Detective Scarlett Bishop has seen enough bad guys slip through the cracks and too many innocent victims go unavenged to know good doesn’t always prevail. So far she’s been able to lock away her rage and her vigilante fantasies. That lock is about to break.

Former Army Ranger Marcus O’Bannion is a fierce champion of victims’ rights. His secret past gives him good reason. He believes he’s seen the depths of human depravity, but then his investigation into the murder of a young girl who once asked for his help lures him and Scarlett down a dark, dark road—and straight into the crosshairs of a dangerous, powerful underground ring that deals in human trade. To stop them, Scarlett and Marcus have to be just as cunning and just as ruthless. But first they have to make it out alive.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3.5/5 Stars
This could have been a slightly higher rating if every single bad guy in the book wasn’t so extremely “bad guy” cliche, and there are a whole lot of bad guys, with the good guys being a tiny bit too good.

Believability: 3/5 Stars
This ties in with the characters because rarely do people fall into such stark black and white ranges. Even the events in the book all fall into extremes, which kind of breaks some believability lines.

Personal Opinion: 3/5 Stars
Overall I enjoyed this book, but there were a few too many pieces that fell on the over the top side of things to make me really love it.

Every bad guy in this book, and there were an abundance of them, either directly related to the plot or indirectly via character histories, were extreme levels of bad guy making them all charactures. They all also had a level of stupidity that made you question how they managed to get where they were and not get caught before.

There is also a nearly black and white level of extreme difference between those bad guys and the good guys, though the good guys did have a few things that might be considered gray areas. Even those are still very much held on the “good” end of the scale. Those extremes push the believability of the entire story, especially when you add in all the actual events.

How many times can one person be shot or shot at in a book before the reader is getting eye strain from all the rolling going on? Marcus is a great example here. When you add in his LONG, extremely dramatic backstory, it makes what is on the surface a likable, human character, into something nearly superhuman because all those parts that make him up are so unbelievable.

Scarlett is a little bit better, but some of her personal issues and struggles that made her interesting lost some of their luster when they got neatly tied up and fixed when a misunderstanding is revealed later in the story. It was one of those easy solutions that tied her up in a pretty bow.

The neat little bow tying can be applied to a lot of the secondary lines threaded throughout this book. While I do appreciate not being left in a cliff hanger or having random threads just left unfinished, I’m not a huge fan of everything being perfectly fixed, especially when it happens in an extremely unlikely and unbelievable way. That is just those little side threads. The main plot was resolved in a somewhat predictable way as the reader is given neon hints along the way.

Reading this reminded me that while I can enjoy a Karen Rose book, I’m not going to love it because all of them tend to be on that over the top/extreme side of things, which I’m not a huge fan of.

 

Other areas of note (not included in the SPA rating):

Cover: 3/5 Stars
This was a nothing special cover for me and so similar to other covers that it just didn’t do anything for me either way.

Uniqueness Factor: 2.5/5 Stars
While the themes of good guy vs. bad guy are pretty standard, the background story and history of Marcus’ character is interesting, if not a little extreme.

Peeve Factor: 3/5 Stars
A couple of aspects brushed up against my peeve issues in this book. The characters border on unrealistic because they tend to range on the extreme ends of the spectrum. For the most part, those extremes were handled in a way to not be obnoxious, but it was enough to drop my overall enjoyment. I’m also not a huge fan of hormonal hornies popping up at the most ridiculous times between characters. It takes away from the seriousness of what is going on in the story.

 

 

 

 

Have You Seen Her? : Karen Rose

Have You Seen Her?Author: Karen Rose
Book Name: Don’t Tell
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  Steven dropped to his knees next to the paramedic. “Jenna.” Her eyes opened and in them he saw shock and tears and guilt. “I’m so sorry, Steven. I should have listened to you.” Steven noticed the smears of blood on her worn Duke T-shirt. “Any other wounds?” he asked the paramedic.Only her throat. the blood on her shirt appears to be her own.” “We found bloody handprints on the carpet where she crawled from the bedroom,” said Uniform Two.Steven’s gut seethed as he pictured her scared and hurt and crawling through her own house like a wounded animal. For that alone, whoever did this to her would pay…

Review:  I was really surprised that I didn’t like this one better as I’ve really enjoyed the other Karen Rose books I’ve read in the past.  For this one, I just really wasn’t a fan of the characters at all.  Both of the main characters came across as insanely immature rather than rational, intelligent adults with regards the romantic aspects of the story.  Steven especially.  One or two of his little quirks wouldn’t have been an issue, but it was kind of a never ending thing that made it rather ridiculous.  Jenna wasn’t as bad, but she still had her moments that played off of Steven’s.

Outside of the romantic aspect is how Steven had nearly a complete lack of interaction with his own children.  I get the job takes you away, but there was this lack of concern or action or real emotional tie that never made itself known in the story which made him seem very uncaring about his kids.  It was made even more apparent when he had zero qualms about having Jenna come in and pretty much act like a mom with them when he’d only known her for days.  It just didn’t really add up to caring, involved dad to me.  Especially when you consider the traumatic history with the youngest, Nicky.

The suspenseful aspects of the story were pretty good and were the only parts that kept me reading this because the rest was off just enough for me that it kept me from enjoying the good like I could have.  This was definitely not my favorite.

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Closer Than You Think: Cincinnati, Book 1

CloserThanYouThinkAuthor: Karen Rose
Book Name: Closer Than You Think
Series: Cincinnati
Order: 1
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars
Blurb:  Psychologist Faith Corcoran is desperate to escape the stalker who’s made her life a nightmare for the past year—desperate enough to run to the one place that has been her nightmare far longer. Both boon and bane, her recent inheritance of her grandmother’s old house in Cincinnati offers sanctuary in which she can start her life anew, but requires that she face the dark memories that still resonate to this day.

But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are.

Two college girls have gone missing in the area, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work on the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for. Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. Reaching back decades into Faith’s own past, it will shatter everything she believes to be true and will give terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.

Review:  I really loved the characters in this.  Faith is genuine, intelligent and easy to connect with.  Deacon is just cool.  I liked him from the moment he stepped onto the page flaunting his uniqueness in a way that makes it work for him and not so much against him.  I definitely liked them together.

You do get a touch of the instant attraction thing going on here, but it is in one of the very few situations where it works.  When you are thrown together into intensely emotional, life and death kinds of situations, you tend to get to know a person’s character pretty quickly and that is the case with this book.  Spending nearly every waking second together while going through all of that, it is kind of impossible not to know the person you are spending that time with, so this is the exception to the rule with the insta-romance thing.

This was seriously intense, with bodies dropping left and right.  Normally, I’d be screaming that it is way too much, but again, this is an example of how you do that right.  There is a lot going on.  There appear to be some pretty crazy coincidences going on that wouldn’t be believable under other circumstances, but once you get into it, you realize that all of that isn’t so crazy after all.

Love the fact that this is resolved with hard work, smarts and teamwork.  No one person is the big hero doing all the heavy lifting.  It is incredibly well balanced.  What we figure out isn’t given to us in a giant reveal.  It is doled out in bits and pieces along the way which is exactly the way I like it.

Don’t Tell: Karen Rose

Don't TellAuthor: Karen Rose
Book Name: Don’t Tell
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake. Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he’s closing in on her- and everything and everyone she loves.

Review:  This is the first book by this author that I’ve read and I was impressed, which isn’t an easy feat for me when it comes to the romantic suspense genre.  The suspense aspect of the story was done really well.  As a reader that often reads and walks at the same time, it is rare that I NEED to walk because of the story.  This one was intense enough to get me up and moving because I just couldn’t sit still.  It was either move, or put it down and walk away for a bit, and I wasn’t putting it down.

I did like the romantic aspect and thought it was well balanced with the other part of the story without one piece being heavier than the other (which is something I like).  I wasn’t quite such a huge fan of the fact that the time frame for the romance, the characters meeting and falling in love to the point of talking marriage, happens in about 2 weeks.  That took away some from some of the details going on in that part of the story.

I got frustrated with the date, time and location timeline that went along with the story.  It was great to help understand where everyone was at at the different points of the story, but I ran into at least one that had a typo or misprint in it that put the date way wrong and that yanked me out of the story forcing me to flip around to try and figure out what was going on before I realized it was actually a mistake.  After that, I quit reading them because they weren’t all that reliable.

Overall, I really did like this one and look forward to the next one.  Hopefully the smaller issues in this one that bugged me won’t be in the next one.