Friday, September 5, 2008

No Time to Hide by Karen Troxel

TITLE: No Time to Hide
AUTHOR: Karen Troxel
PUBLISHER: Amber Quill
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 62k)
GENRE: Romantic suspense
COST: $7.00

Kerry is tired of running, but the man she turned into the Feds – the one she’d thought she was going to marry – is bound and determined to make her pay, no matter what witness program she’s in. When US Marshal Cutter Snead is assigned to babysit her through her most recent relocation, he thinks his last job is just watching a mob daughter. But she’s more than that. And so is the trouble that’s following her…

No Time to Hide starts out strong, with tight action and tighter prose. The prologue introduces a bastard of a villain and the danger the heroine is facing by being in the WitSec program. It’s easy to get swept up into that as the story launches into the primary action, and our initial introduction to Cutter is charming as he pretends to be just a guy bumping into her at the mall. It doesn’t take long, however, before things start to derail for me. The danger is incessant, which is great considering this is a romantic suspense, but as soon as his true identity comes out, Cutter’s personality changes. His dialogue with Kerry becomes very caustic, and it felt not only very unprofessional but unlikeable as well. We’re told he’s learned about who she is through her file, and thus why he’s so hard on her, but frankly, it came across as just plain mean. The Kerry the reader knows is very different from what’s in Cutter’s head, and his interpretations of her seem foolish as well as unreasonable. The end result is it makes it very difficult to like him for a very long time. It wasn’t until halfway through the story that I started to see some hero potential, but for me, that was just too late.

Kerry suffers from the reverse problem. As a character, she starts out very strong, but as time progresses and the stress grows higher and higher, she breaks down. It’s indicative of the pressure the character is under, but when so much is made of how calm and collected she is in spite of her precarious situation, I expected more. She breaks down into a range of various tics and behaviors that got on my nerves. For instance, she’s suffered from panic attacks for over a decade, which only grow worse in the face of this encroaching threat. She rocks almost constantly in order to calm herself down, and – I’ll be honest – it’s annoying. Eventually, it just got too hard to see past it.

In spite of my issues with the characters, the action is continuous throughout the book, barely giving a reader a chance to breathe. What felt like pretty good pacing gets thrown off the tracks towards the big climax, though. My initial delighted surprise at being shocked by a fresh twist in the story turned into genuine confusion as everything halted into long speeches that came out of nowhere. There were so many personality changes in the last few chapters, I couldn’t keep track of them all. Worse, the sugarcoating of the epilogue had the effect of being creepy, not sweet as I’m sure the author intended.

I would have been much more tolerant of some of the issues in the last part of the story if I’d liked the characters more. It’s suspenseful and moves along at a brisk pace until the end, so perhaps someone else might have better luck with Kerry and Cutter.


8/10 – Pacing in the last quarter is the only real problem.


6/10 – His caustic commentary when he is first introduced made it very hard to get to like him.


5/10 – Her idiosyncrasies like the rocking got on my nerves.

Entertainment value

5/10 – This might have been higher if the whole climax of the story wasn’t one big huh when solutions and attitudes seemed to come out of the blue in order to provide twists.

World building

6/10 – I had a better time with the brief prison scenes than I did with any of the external stuff.



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