Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-374-4
Historical Romantic Suspense, 2016
Carrie Cooper is from a small town, Oatman in Arizona, who has just arrived in LA in the Great Depression. Her only living family is her mother, who is having trouble making ends meet. So now, it’s Carrie’s turn to make ends meet for the family. And even in Oatman, there were never many children when she was growing up, and apparently, while times are hard, those folks love to take out their fiddles and launch into song and dance every other day. So, our heroine is still on the sheltered and naÏve side. Ah yes, fresh meat.
Alas, she soon learns that her college degree is actually fake, so there goes her chances of being hired as a typewriter. Our darling has nowhere to go… until her amazing voice – is there any doubt she’d be super good at something? – captivates our hero Oz Dean. He has the ability to see music as colors, and Carrie is practically a rainbow to him. He begins building a revue around her, but alas, doing so brings the attention of the mob. He owes them money, you see.
Notes of Temptation is a very readable story in the sense that the narrative is clean and the main characters are generally likable. Really, Carrie could have been some cloying ingénue under other circumstances, but the author manages to make the heroine endearing and sweet instead. The romance is equally sweet and I’m sure they will be alright in the end.
But this story also suffers from trying too hard to be too many things. Oz’s gift, for example, ends up not really making any significant impact in the plot, so that aspect of him is clutter. He could have just been an ordinary fellow with a good ear for talent, and the story would still be fine. There are other examples of “extras” here that end up just taking space. Is it because the author wants her story to cover as many genres as possible, for who knows what reason? The story just ends up feeling unnecessarily cluttered with these “extras”.
But the bigger problem here is that the suspense plot becomes increasingly laborious and maze-like as I turn the pages. There are many characters in the picture, and the plot has all kinds of twists and turns, and yet, the whole thing doesn’t seem interesting enough to warrant all that work to keep track of things or even pay attention. I like the romance, and I have no problems with the suspense subplot at first, but things just go on and on and on, culminating in a somewhat farcical heroine-in-danger thing that is more at home in a Looney Tunes special. When I reach the declaration of love and happily ever after, I’m more relieved than anything else.
Anyway, Notes of Temptation is certainly readable, but maybe it would have been better if the author had scaled things down a bit and keep things tad more simple.