Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.
Christa Bailey is this close to getting into the Olympic softball team, if only she could concentrate on each game, instead of having to listen to her "number one fan" calling encouragements from the stands. It should be easy to ignore the guy, but the fact is he's giving her the creeps. Creeps that get even larger when he approaches her one night after practice, saying an innocuous that sounds strangely like a threat.
But Christa has good friends, and one of those just happens to be a cop. A cop that confirms her suspicions about her "fan"'s stalkerish behavior and appoints himself her temporary bodyguard...Now, beside the stalker and the national team, Christa has another problem...Keeping her attraction to her cop friend hidden.
This could've been an awesome little romantic-suspense-cum-thriller if it hadn't lost its way in the second half.
The first half of it was absolutely fantastic with the stalker and his escalating behavior culminating in the close call at Christa's house. Unfortunately, after that "first climax", it all went downhill awfully fast for something with as sluggish a pace as the second half.
After the intensity, the danger, the nail-biting terror that the first half was infused with, the second half lost all the suspense, replacing it with a lukewarm at best, and annoying-as-hell at worst, romance. A romance I didn't buy, not even when it was all over. I simply didn't feel the connection—to me Rayne and Christa worked so much better as friends, even friends somewhat attracted to each other. Once that line was crossed...Poof, the zing was gone.
And I must confess, the heroine had much to do with that. To call her a basket-case would be too lenient. I know emotional issues are a real thing, and I know people struggle with such problems on a daily basis, but in Christa's case, I had absolutely no idea why she was the emotional cripple that she ended up being. I swallowed the trauma of her most recent experience, but she was a nutjob before it...
She didn't have a difficult childhood; her mother was simply absent and ignored her, it's not like she was abused or anything. So how could that have evolved in the abandonment issue this chick had? And who breaks down so hard they have to see a shrink because their boyfriend of two years cheated on them? He didn't hit her, he didn't drink, he just cheated. Kick him in the balls and move on, not go see a shrink and have a meltdown. I didn't get her pity party, and she got more and more on my nerves as the story (and her romance with Rayne, God bless his patient soul, progressed).
Also, can you spell TSTL? She's attacked when she thinks her dog smells a racoon and goes, alone (!), to investigate, even after she knows her stalker is dangerous. And then, even knowing the guy is still out there, she still ventures to her best friend's sobbing side alone. This chick literally invited trouble, and her crazy stalker to find her. You'd think she'd learn her lesson, but she didn't.
The saving grace of this book were the hero and the suspense. Rayne was the ultimate book boyfriend. Tall, dark, handsome, brought to his knees by "the One". Protective, caring, oh-so patient. A real steady rock of a guy. I really wished he got saddled with a better heroine, at least a more stable one.
The suspense in the first half was top-notch, the intensity ratcheting up with each chapter, but unfortunately, in the second half the story slowed down a lot, concentrating on the issue-filled heroine and the lukewarm romance, that I thought the reckoning would never come. Pity, it was all resolved rather quickly, the final showdown unsatisfying-ly brief. I felt the suspense element deserved a more fitting solution, instead of the quickie afterthought it actually got.
It wasn't bad, but it could've definitely been much, much better.