Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-561-3
Romantic Suspense, 2005
Angela Weaver’s Blind Obsession is an interesting story because the hero, Darius Said Yassoud, is an African-American Muslim. I don’t come across many romance novels with a realistic Muslim hero (note the word “realistic” – all those fake sheikhs in those crappy Silhouette Desires can hop onto the camel of suck and get lost inside a sandstorm for all I care) so the fact that this book has one intrigues me to no end. While Ms Weaver proves that she has the chops to come up with a borderline over-the-top romantic suspense story featuring an exaggerated but compelling villain and a very likable and reliable hero, the heroine is the one fatal flaw that kills the book.
Gabriella Marie loathes her father Sebastian van Ryne (whose family name she chooses not to adopt) because Sebastian and her mother were illicit lovers, and she believes that Sebastian abandoned her for his arranged marriage and luxurious lifestyle. However, when her own boyfriend Vasilei Laxer turns out to be a criminally-inclined kingpin type and she witnessed his brother Anton committing murder, she calls Sebastian reluctantly for help in coming back to America and starting a new life – one that is hopefully far away from the Laxers of Europe. Sebastian has reconciliation in mind, which is why he asks his friend for help. This friend ends up getting Darius, a Special Forces squad member on leave, to watch over Gabriella as her bodyguard.
So this is a bodyguard story. As you may have guessed by now, Gabriella is the kind of heroine that positively drives me crazy because for all but the last few chapters of the book, she is the one setting up obstacles that prevent Darius from protecting her. There are plenty of little idiot moments that drive me crazy, like her wanting to run out and eat outside when Anton and who-knows-who may be waiting to pounce at the corner or her constantly arguing with Darius or trying to elude him. Or my favorite, her feeling that her soul will be condemned to hell for all eternity because she lied to the bodyguard Vasilei had for her in order to run away from Vasilei. Oh no, a heroine lying to save her own life! Stone her! Tar that harlot! What a disgusting creature!
Gabriella’s constant whining about how she feels trapped or how she hates her father get really old, but more importantly, her actions make little sense because the very people she is ragging on are trying to keep her safe. Then there are the big moments of super-duper jumbo-sized serving of dumb like Gabriella lying to Darius or keeping quiet about threats to her life. I won’t be surprised if people throw down this book at page 180, tell themselves that the heroine is no doubt positively crazy, and move on to something else to read. Because Gabriella isn’t merely annoying or abrasive – she comes off as truly demented so many times in this book.
Only much later in the book does Ms Weaver try to shed light on Gabrielle’s behavior by trying to portray that wretch as someone so confused by her own sexual attraction and feelings to Vasilei that she doesn’t know how to fully sever her bond to him. Perhaps it’s due to the author’s inexperience but she could have introduced this theme slowly throughout the book instead of packing it all like a parcel late in the story, perhaps then the reader would have some patience and empathy for the heroine.
As it is, while the hero is a very attractive action figure and the build-up is well-handled with very little problems in pacing, the heroine’s often irrational and abrasive actions towards the people who are on her side truly boggle my mind and severely challenge my patience. Because of this, I’m afraid Blind Obsession doesn’t make the cut where I am concerned.