Julie Garwood was one of my auto-buy authors for years. I loved her Scottish Highlands books, her medievals, and to a lesser extent, her novels (Regency? I mean Castles, etc.) set in England and America. Then she moved to contemporary romance suspense and somehow, her voice, which worked perfectly for me in her historicals, just wasn’t quite right. I didn’t hate them, but I didn’t love them either.
Slow Burn is her one of her contemporaries, just out in paperback. Blurb from Amazon.com:
Kate MacKenna doesn’t have a bad bone in her body–or an enemy in the world. A woman who barely knew her father and has just lost her mother, Kate is a loving sister, a savvy business owner, and an unpretentious beauty who radiates kindness. So why are bombs igniting everywhere she goes? The first explosion brings her face-to-face with a handsome Charleston police detective. The second one sends her into the arms of her best friend’s brother–a Boston cop who’s a little too reckless and way too charming for comfort. But Dylan Buchanan won’t let emotion prevent him from doing his job: Someone is trying to kill Kate, and Dylan is the only one standing between her and the monster who wants her dead. For Kate to understand the danger, she must learn all about desire–desire for pleasure, desire for power, and someone’s desire to kill.
What worked for me:
It’s the usual Julie Garwood plot translated into modern settings. So there are bits I liked (e.g. Kate’s best friend reassuring her on the phone – “…you’ve got an overactive imagination” – and then calling her brother Dylan (yep, the hero) immediately after – “Someone’s trying to kill Kate!”). Sorry, I do like scenes like that *grin* except I keep on thinking “But this would be so much better as a historical!”. Ummm… I’ll try to stop going on about that…
I also liked the fact that Dylan and Kate had a bit of a history together (which I suspect was probably described in one of her earlier contemporaries – and which I can’t remember) and I liked their relationship with each other.
What didn’t work for me:
The plot’s a bit weak and slightly OTT. Apart from the main plotline surrounding the bomb explosions, there’s also a second plotline which seemed rather irrelevant, to be perfectly honest.
Being a Garwood novel, you have incredibly altruistic and sweet heroines – this was what I was expecting, so I was okay with that but even so, I had to suspend my disbelief for some sections. And yes, villains are incredibly err… villain-ish. It’s all very black and white.
Also, sequel bait! Kate has two sisters, who just happen to be beautiful and clever – and unfortunately, I wasn’t fascinated enough by this family to look forward to reading more about them. And I kept on confusing Kate (the heroine) with Kiera (her elder sister) – I wish she hadn’t chosen two names starting with K. I suppose I just didn’t feel the two of them had distinctive enough voices.
Overall, a so-so read from this author. Having said that, Ms Garwood’s average is a lot better than many authors’ best – and I’ll still keep buying her contemporary novels, but in paperback, not hardcover (her latest contemporary, Shadow Dance, has just come out – yep, same cast of characters). Her historicals? I will certainly keep an eye out for them (she is writing one – hurrah!) and yes, possibly hardcover…