Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-236509-5
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Beth is looking for her missing dog when she decides that the neighbor who lives in the creepy house next door must have had the missing poochie. After all, Ms Einstein here says that only sick and twisted people would steal a dog so, because the guy next door is creepy, he’s certainly the pooch thief! Hopefully Noah Gideon Grant, the sexy-creepy guy next door, would teach her how to profile without coming off like a stupid six-year old girl as he’s a real profiler. Noah is very damaged, however, so love is rocky and tricky.
Intrusion is an accurate title for this short story, as the heroine Beth certainly is what the title describes. From this and Forbidden, there seems to be this pattern emerging: the heroine, with her first person narration, is paradoxically the weakest character in this story. Beth is an inconsistent character. She can go from being a creepy girl-child thing to a horny creature wanting the pee-pee every day and everywhere, but I never get this impression that there is a cohesive character here. Beth is basically what the author needs the heroine to be at any moment, to react to Noah. Noah is clearly the focus of this story: it’s all about his angst, his drama, his healing.
It takes two to tango, however, and the tango here is pretty lop-sided with Noah trying to do all the work. Beth’s idea of getting know Noah better, for example, is to bark at him to confess his inner demons to her and she won’t leave until he does. Why should he do this? She’s not a shrink. And yet, Beth seems to have this weird sense of entitlement to Noah’s secrets. In many ways, Beth behaves like someone who has very little contact with human being, only without the softness to make her likable. She’s pushy, nosy, and… well, intrusive. She seems like someone who needs some degree of babysitting, when poor Noah could use someone to mother him. I am not sure if I buy that these two are right for one another.
Worse, the page count is limited, but the author decides to introduce some suspense elements when the relationship really needs more work to flesh things out – especially the heroine’s character. The focus is more on sex scenes and less on emotional connection, and as a result I never feel like I’m really getting into the story here.
Still, there is something here that reminds me of the very early works of Anne Stuart, during those days when very few authors can beat Ms Stuart in creating fabulously atmospheric Gothic settings in her romances. Too bad that things don’t really come together well here, and the author chooses to focus on sex scenes when the emotional aspects of the story need some major development upgrade, but still, something here suggests that the author may be one to watch if she can get her act together… or maybe if she writes a longer story.