Kindred Spirits
by Alice Wootson, contemporary (2004)
Arabesque, $6.99, ISBN 1-58314-537-0

Reading Alice Wootson's Kindred Spirits, I do wonder at why some authors are romantic-suspensizing everything they write when they actually come off better writing a more mundane type of drama. When it comes to the dialogues and the development of the romance between Alana Duke and Keith Henderson, this book resonates with me. But while Ms Wootson is at her best when she's describing scenes and emotions in a leisurely manner, a romantic suspense will not fare well under similar circumstances.

Alana, in her quest to be a hotshot reporter, jumps at the chance at helping her sister in uncovering some shady going-on involving missing softwares in DCS Technology. While on her way there, she encounters Keith, an ex-Special Forces guy, in the airport in a scene that leaves each person with a dayum-fine impression of the other. When Keith encounters Alana in her undercover stint in DCS, he decides to stick around and see what she is up to. As they work to nab the sticky-fingered villain in DCS, some internal conflicts arise from Keith's attitude about never wanting love as he is burned by the emotion before.

As a romantic suspense, this book won't satisfy fans of the subgenre too much as the investigation too often takes a backseat to family interactions, love, plenty of dramatic psychobabbles, and an interesting scene in a hot air balloon that I'm still not convinced is possible. Then again, anyone who has first-hand experiences should always feel free to drop me a note to correct me. On the other hand, fans of relationship drama may feel charmed by the quiet moments but feel shortchanged by the romantic suspense subplot that holds the premise together but resolved in a half-baked manner. Alana and Keith are likeable characters with two-dimensional characterization that puts them slightly above their spunky heroine and action hero counterparts in other books, but the plot they are stuck in doesn't do them any favors.

Kindred Spirits feels like a book that needs either a new plot to suit the author's storytelling strengths or a new style to suit the plot. Either way, it's like the weakest parts of two different books put together. Good characterization and heartfelt romantic exchanges are all great but they don't exist in a vacuum. Ms Wootson can write drama well but she has to work on her pacing and suspense plotting a little more before she can cut it as a romantic suspense author. Personally, I'd prefer drama to romantic suspense, but I'll take either one as long as it's well-written and well-plotted.

Rating: 76

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