This book was *not* what I expected.
It was an entertaining read in many ways, but the summary is somewhat misleading.
Tsara Adelman visits her Uncle at his vast estate for the first time in many years to attend a party he’s holding. While there, she’s kidnapped by Mike Westbrook – a local man who believes that Tsara’s uncle is holding his child captive.
Mike intends to trade Tsara for his son, but the two rogue cops Uncle Castle sends after them have other plans. Deep in the wilderness, Tsara and Mike must fight for their lives while negotiating their own complex relationship.
Now, here’s what I thought would happen. Tsara and Mike would fall in love / have sex, there would be drama from that unintended consequence of two attractive people thrown together in heightened emotional circumstances. I also believed that a huge focus of the tension would come from the children hidden in Uncle Castle’s wine cellar, and the repercussions from whatever nefarious things he was up to with them.
Instead, the book went in the opposite direction, and I was baffled by some of the narrative choices.
1) Tsara being happily married, for one. There wasn’t any urgency or complexity there – it just *was*. Realistic, perhaps. Entertaining to read about? Not so much.
2) Mike was another wasted opportunity for me. He could have been so much more. I just didn’t believe in his reasons for doing anything he did. Not to mention, it was obvious from the get go that he wasn’t going to hurt Tsara – so any danger or sexual tension dissipated under the weight of that kind of apathy. I just couldn’t bring myself to care if he got his child back, or what happened to him.
3) The reasons Uncle Castle was keeping the kids captive. NOT exciting.
4) The book was much too long with some needless description and it became to meander toward the end. I think it could be trimmed down with careful editing.
1) Tsara was a likable character, with spunk and guts. She also had a dry sense of humour and was a stickler for grammar, which I appreciated.
2) The writing is solid, with few mistakes – if any – and once I became aware this book wouldn’t quite live up to the summary, I enjoyed the story. Especially the trial. That was an interesting choice. I’m not sure I completely believed any of it, but still, it’s nice to see an author take risks with a tale.
3) Tsara’s decision in the end, which I won’t go into here. It made me respect her as a person all that much more.
Generally speaking, this was a promising debut, however I think it needs a new summary (I thought the book would be a breathless journey through the wilderness – it isn’t) and editing to trim down some of the excess descriptions. I would be interested in reading more from this author. I think she has potential to write good mysteries – but I would recommend – as a reader – that more personal conflict is always juicy, appreciated and ups the ante – especially in a story like this one.