Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-244130-0
Romantic Suspense, 2017
“I want to make a lot of money. I’m going to make my hero the bastard butt baby of Christian Grey and Gideon Cross, only with an erection five times longer, but since Kresley Cole is making a lot of money too, plus I’m a romantic suspense author now, I’ll also make my hero a dangerous fixer guy with an air of menace. He has, like, eleventy bazillion dollars and fifty good friends that are so getting their own books – street team fam, get buzzing to spread the word now – but he doesn’t know how to be, like, a popular dude and all, so he needs some TLC and plenty of sex to help him become normal again. Oh, and there’s the heroine. She’s supposed to be you. You’re supposed to cry when she cries, squeal when she comes, and that’s because you’re, like, so supposed to be in love with that guy that you will buy ninety copies of this book and make me lots of money!”
Okay, so the plan sounds so much better on paper, and as far as money making plans go, this one isn’t bad at all. But The Fixer, the first book in HelenKay Dimon’s
Fifty Shades of Crossfire Professionals Games People Play, is too obvious an artificial construct, and I can never get into the story because I am reminded by every turn of the page that this is one of those over the top “don’t think or everything will fall apart” stories where all that matters is that the hero is a dark, brooding guy with an air of danger and the heroine just needs his help and his shagging while becoming his angst funnel for him to feel all happy and jazzed up after each boinking. The mystery feels like a throwaway excuse for the author to regurgitate bestselling tropes like it’s just another day job for her; here’s your purchase, that will be $7.99, ma’am.
Okay, before I go on, remember – Emery Finn is the heroine, while Wren is the hero. Yes, Emery’s the gal, Wren’s the guy. Got that? Okay, Emery’s father is this cartoon-like cold SOB, and she’s the only one in the family who still cares about the disappearance of her cousin. Somehow she finds the name “Wren” in the case files of Tiffany’s disappearance, so she decides to track down this person. Wren is actually this very loaded, very mysterious guy who has employees/buddies/book-bros and does supposedly bad and nasty stuff that you and I will never really see up close because that may make him seem like, you know, a real assassin or mercenary and that will be truly unromantic. And yet, the author claims that Wren not only has no personal identity and record, he also doesn’t know how to function like a real person. If you ask me, who cares about hugging babies and keeping cats as pets when you’re as loaded as he is – with that money, I’d be defining how real people function, thanks. Anyway, all that angst is for the heroine to do something – her magic hoohah is the ultimate angst-cleanser – as she’s pretty much outclassed when it comes to catching up with the boys in their games.
And I’m also told that Wren is blossoming as he moves to third base with Emery. He’s becoming a real guy again! He’s blossoming! How do I know? Secondary characters remark on this – hard-assed men who have nothing better to do than to basically wave pom-poms because their buddy is in love. The mystery, once it is brought up, takes a backseat as the story becomes basically another tale of the angst-wangst guy sticking it to the heroine and, in turn, he gets to share with her his sad story as a means to show me that Emery is the only woman who “gets” him.
The Fixer, therefore, is basically the same old story with the same old tropes. The trouble is, what the author tells me and what she shows me can be two different things. Wren is so mysterious and brooding and careful about his identity… so he tells Emery that he is Wren shortly after they meet. Wren is supposed to be a smart guy, but he is surprised – surprised! – when his patronizing “take my advice and don’t track down Wren” yammering fails to dissuade Emery from pursuing the investigation. As the story progresses, our supposedly capable black hat hero seems bewilderingly too taken aback by basic suspense shenanigans, too impressed by Emery’s rudimentary thought processes and basic girlfriend TLC. Judging from his behavior, sometimes it seems like he’s embarking on his debut suspense gig and having his first girlfriend.
At the end of the day, everything about this one feels too contrived and artificial even when I try to look at it as some over the top cartoon action thing. The author’s efforts to replicate the formula are just too obvious.