Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-244133-1
Romantic Suspense, 2017
Oh, there was a massacre seven years ago! Okay, it’s a sad testament to the state of the world when I discover that only three people died, and hence, I lifted a brow at the author’s word of the use “massacre”. I expected more casualties, and that’s terrible, I know, but with all the things taking place in this world these days, it seems like such violence- and death-related words are starting to lose much of their impact on me.
Right, right, we’re all here to talk about HelenKay Dimon’s The Enforcer, not me. Our heroine, Kayla Roy, is the only survivor of the massacre that left her friends and roommates dead. She was cleared of any involvement in their murders, but the suspicion remains. That along with the trauma of finding her friends dead has driven her since then to move from town to town, setting root and then uprooting each time she believes that her past has caught up with her. She changes her name often, and takes pain to never form any close friendship.
Well, our hero Matthias Clarke has her on his sights. Our hero is the usual troubled, sad past boo-hoo-hoo type who finally meets his birth mother Mary, who tells him that his half-brother Nick was one of the lads killed seven years ago in that massacre that left Kayla as the sole survivor and prime suspect. Naturally, our hero is determined to track down Kayla and find out whether she’s really the fiend that killed those people. What do you know, it turns out that she is a waitress in his neighborhood all along. Clearly, those people died just so that he gets an excuse to get a girlfriend in our heroine.
Meanwhile, Kayla also begins to receive threatening notes and such. Is she being stalked by the fiend that killed her friends?
Yes, after a while, The Enforcer turns out to be yet another story which has the hero playing the bodyguard and body-boinker gig for the heroine. That is the biggest problem I have with this one: the suspense, or what passes for it, is a dud. I wish there are some surprises along the way, but everything plays out according to the formula – readers who know the tropes will find very little here that deviates from these tropes. It will be nice to have a surprise or two – maybe have the heroine suffering from some kind of mental breakdown due to survivor’s guilt and PTSD, to the point that she is actually the one sending threatening notes to herself? – but nope, there is nothing here that threatens to be step out even a little bit from the box.
Still, it’s nice that Kayla is a self-sufficient sort who can take care of herself for the most part, and she is not a dumb dumb when it comes to the hero. She knows that he is likely a suit, judging from his composure and the way he carries himself, and she tries to be on her guard around him.
However, she is this way at the expense of the hero. Matthias comes off as… well, he doesn’t seem to be very good at this sneaking around thing, since he is easily pegged as being some kind of secret agent-like sort. Maybe it’s all the glowering and brooding at the heroine – I know romance heroines dig that, but this isn’t a vampire romance; someone like Matthias who is supposedly good at what he does should be a little better at blending in. Also, he seems to make quite a number of errors in character judgment and what not, which again has me wondering just how good this guy is. Now, I am not asking for super capable heroes and heroines, oh no. I am asking for is characters to behave as capably as they are said to be.
Still, if I overlook his informed attributes, I admit that our hero makes for a pretty attractive leading man. I have a weakness for brooding, sad little boys that are nonetheless capable of dishing out the pain on the bad guys, and this guy fits the bill quite well. While the suspense is very slow moving because Matthias and Kayla spend a lot of time just talking and brooding sadly at one another, this also allows for the romance to simmer with all kinds of romantic angst. I like the chemistry and the developing relationship between the hero and the heroine – it’s a shame that this romance has to co-exist with a suspense that isn’t anywhere close to being, er, suspenseful.
Anyway, The Enforcer would have been grand if the author had taken a few risks, or at least hadn’t made the whole thing so cookie-cutter. Still, the romance is alright, and folks who don’t mind the dry and boring suspense stuff so long as the romance hits the spot may like this one better.