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Monday, December 03, 2012

The One Where I Learn My Lesson About Romantic Suspense

When a Navy SEAL battling PTSD kidnaps his former squad mate, Detective Claire Michaels insists on handling the hostage negotiations.  Her brother died while fighting in Afghanistan—she won't let more soldiers die.  Not on her turf.  What Claire doesn't realize is how much more complex the situation is than it seems.  One of Osama bin Laden's top dogs is behind the kidnapping and he's as deranged as his late boss. It's not just the soldiers that need saving, but the entire country.  If Claire and her team can't catch the maniacal terrorist before it's too late, there's no telling what could happen.  

Rafe Kelly never expected to run into his old enemy, Bez Ruhallah, in his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut.  But it's happened and, now, the madman has Rafe's brother hidden away in some unknown corner of Afghanistan.  If Rafe doesn't bring a secret encryption key to Bez Ruhallah in three days, his brother will die.  And the country he's worked so hard to protect will, once again, be vulnerable to attack by a power-hungry al-Qaeda operative.  Rafe doesn't want to involve Claire—who's obviously dealing with her own issues—in such a dangerous mission, but he's not sure who else he can trust.  Can he and the pretty detective really match wits with a man like Bez Ruhallah?  Or will they, along with Rafe's brother and every other American, become victims of the terrorist's wrath? 

I should make it clear right up front that romantic suspense really isn't my thing.  Outside of Whitney Award judging, I don't read it.  At all.  But, when Lexi over at The Book Bug offered a copy of Julie Coulter Bellon's new novel, All Fall Down, for review, I wavered.  The novel's plot sounded engrossing enough to keep me interested.  And it was, more or less.  Enough bombs exploded throughout the novel that I never really got bored.  Still, the characters never developed into anything more than empty cliches, the plot seemed very far-fetched, the insta-love romance bugged, and the poor copyediting kept pulling me out of the story.  The writing itself was better than I expected it to be, but considering all my other issues with the book, I just couldn't give All Fall Down anything higher than a C.  It's entertaining, sure, I just wanted more substance, more polish, more development.  Since I say this exact thing every time I read a book of this kind, I should probably face the facts—romantic suspense is not my genre.  Never has been, never will be.  Lesson learned.   

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other romantic suspense novels by LDS authors, although no specific titles are coming to mind.)

Grade:  C

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for violence and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of All Fall Down from Julie Coulter Bellon via Latter Day Books Blog Tours.  


  1. Don't judge all romantic suspense through the lens of LDS fiction (or other Christian fiction), whose authors write some of the worst books ever put in print. (I can't believe they have the audacity to create an award program for it.)
    Read some books by Mary Stewart like The Gabriel Hounds, The Ivy Tree, Nine Coaches Waiting, Airs Above the Ground. Then if you still don't like it, okay. ;)

    1. Excellent point, Megan. I think part of the trouble with LDS/Christian writers doing romantic suspense is that they're trying to keep it clean, which often equals a story that feels totally cheesy and unrealistic. I will definitely try some Mary Stewart. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Mary Stewart's books are "clean" as far as sex goes, but the writing, characters, plots, and atmosphere are far superior to the canned tripe in Christian fiction.

    1. Okay, now I'm REALLY intrigued :) She sounds like a fabulous author.

  3. I forgot to mention, if you like historical fiction, Mary Stewart also wrote a series of four books about the King Arthur and Merlin legend, told from Merlin's perspective. The first book, The Crystal Cave takes Merlin from his childhood into young adulthood, when he comes to be Arthur's tutor. In order they are:
    The Crystal Cave
    The Hollow Hills
    The Last Enchantment
    The Wicked Day

    1. You know, I actually have THE CRYSTAL CAVE on my bookshelf. I bought it a long time ago and have yet to read it. Maybe it's time I pulled it out, huh?

  4. Thanks for the review and for the commenter who recommended Mary Stewart. I'll have to try her myself!

  5. Thanks so much for being part of the tour!


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