Second Circle Press, $3.99
Romantic Suspense, 2017
Her Thin Blue Lifeline is the first entry in AJ Downey’s The Indigo Knights series, which revolves around first responders – hot ones, of course, because ugly hurts our eyes – who are also members of a motorcycle club. Really. I’m just surprised that the author managed to restrain herself from making these guys vampires, werewolves, or vampire werewolves also.
Chrissy Franco has many enemies. She’s good in the courtroom and she has managed to successfully defend her latest client, Miranda Maguire. Miranda was married to a baseball icon, who abused her non-stop until one day she snapped and boom, one less no-good lowlife husband in this world. The dead asshole Skip’s many, many fans believe that Miranda is just a gold-digging ho who murdered the man for his money, however, and with Miranda currently in hiding, they turn their ire to Chrissy. As you can imagine, our heroine is all, woo-hoo, precaution is for sensible people, not romance heroines, so it’s a complete shocker, I tell you, when our heroine gets attacked and blacks out in the prologue.
Fortunately, Tony McCormick is there on the scene to make sure that she’s okay, help her feel like a hot and sexy woman again, et cetera. The usual. If you have read one of these stories, you will know what to expect from this one.
Well, the good things first. The main characters don’t do too many dumb things, and the author’s efforts at giving these characters their sassy-speak and tough-talk mode turn out pretty decent. I mean, I don’t find myself cringing and wondering whether these characters were born yesterday on some social media platform.
Yes, that’s about it. Now let’s talk about the not-so-good things.
The author took some short cuts here, giving Chrissy and Tony a history so that there is no need to develop their attraction from scratch. I can understand why the author did this, if the author had wanted to devote more space to the suspense part. Thing is, even the investigation stuff takes place off-screen, brought up only via expositions or conversations as if this stuff weren’t important in a romantic suspense story. What the author focuses on is Tony being all protective of Chrissy, hovering over her as she first recuperates in the hospital and later tries to get back on her feet again. Maybe we need a new genre for this kind of stories – “hovering alpha males watching women breathe” or HAMWOB for short, or something – because fans of actual romantic suspense may pick up this story and end up pinching their nose in disdain.
It’s a shame because the hero belongs to a motorcycle club… and the author does nothing with this premise at all. I can only guess that the MC thing is part of a sales hook, or maybe it’s the author’s branding regardless of how accurate such a branding is, because the story spends so much time having Tony hover over Chrissy that he could have belonged to the local My Little Pony Fan Club charter and the story would still follow the same course. Why even have the hero belong to an MC? It’s not like every member of the MC will run a train on the heroine like some MC erotic romance, shudder, or the MC will go on some unique crime-busting spree.
Mind you, my grumbles actually reflect my disappointment more than my perception of the quality of this story. As I’ve said, it’s okay and readers who are looking for a formulaic band of action heroes story that focuses on the hero being all protective and watchdoggy will probably like this. It’s also a disappointing missed opportunity, if you ask me, as the author had tossed all these buzzwords and bestselling concepts into the premise only to then churn out another same old, same old story that doesn’t capitalize on any of these concepts.