Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86377-8
Romantic Suspense, 2014
One of the hardest things about reviewing a book is giving an appropriate verdict on a book that is solely in the center of average. Deborah Fletcher Mello’s Twelve Days of Pleasure has plenty of things to like, but at the same time, I can’t overlook how she has served up much better stories than this one too.
This is one of those wannabe romantic suspense romps that end up treating the suspense like filler that exists solely to get the hero and the heroine together. Vanessa Harrison’s life is now literally a rain of bullets because she dated a guy who ended up shooting a rival and taking out her BFFs in the process. For her protection, Kendrick Boudreaux, to whom FBI stands for Fine Brother Incoming, whisks her off under his custody. Is it passe to play the soundtrack of The Bodyguard right now?
Thing is, this one is far, far better as a romance than a romantic suspense, as the villain is another fellow who thoughtfully waits until Kendrick and Vanessa have finished basking in the glory of love before showing up as a one-scene wonder to be unceremoniously taken out of the picture. Why even bother, actually?
On the other hand, I like how the author handles Vanessa’s emotions as she comes under Kendrick’s protective custody. This is no sassy, feisty broad without common sense – she really appreciates what our hero is doing, and her occasional emotional outbursts are a realistic result of her buckling under the stress and the tension she is experiencing. Kendrick is bland and I don’t recall anything about him, but he does his protective action hero role well enough. He and Vanessa are both likable, smart people, however, and their romance feels natural.
Hence, I’m torn. I like the characters, as they feel real and are easy to root for, but such characters are always a great staple of many of the author’s stories, so I know I can get similar goodness in a better story from her. The author has also done better suspense too; the one here feels artificial, and I never get this feeling that Vanessa is ever in any genuine danger. The hero and his buddies provide a very strong support network for Vanessa – too strong, perhaps, especially considering that the villain has so little limelight and hence never comes off as anything more than a flat plot device.
Ultimately, I like Twelve Days of Pleasure, but that’s the problem. I just like it. The author had written better stories, just as she had written worse, so yes, this one is right in the middle.