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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.  
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