Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Suburban Secrets by Kim Amburn

TITLE: Suburban Secrets
AUTHOR: Kim Amburn
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 75k)
GENRE: Romantic suspense
COST: $6.00

Recently divorced Lindsey Dameron is desperate to get back on her feet, taking a job with a private investigator even though she doesn’t know very much about it. A routine assignment to catch a man’s infidelity turns her into a witness to murder, but when the mistress goes missing, and her husband shows up at the agency trying to hire them to find her and clear his name, everything goes to hell. Ethan Wayne is the last thing Lindsey needs in her life, especially since he’s a lawyer like her sleazeball ex-husband, but right now, they are all the other one has…

This romantic suspense novel is a nicely paced, nicely plotted entry into the genre. It starts out with clear, tight action, and escalates true to form as the story progresses, with twists and turns tightening the nooses around both Lindsey and Ethan’s necks. It’s not nearly as unrelenting as it could be, but there is never any doubt these two are in danger, with a great deal to lose should they fail. Sometimes, Lindsey and Ethan make truly dumb choices that end up screwing themselves over, but since that tends to be a common reaction in a lot of romantic suspense, I’m mostly forgiving of them.

I’m not quite as forgiving of the romance. While the plotty part of the novel works for me, the growth of the relationship between the two leads doesn’t to the same degree. Both characters have led pampered lifestyles and are now thrust into less than perfect worlds, struggling with bills, struggling with self-image. It makes them more relatable, but at the same time, Lindsey’s preoccupation with keeping her house – her sole financial reason for pursuing the case of Ethan’s missing wife – annoyed me. I also wasn’t keen on how swiftly they came together, even though I recognize that’s the standard in this type of story. It’s not so much the fact that Ethan is still married as it is that it feels like neither party is really ready or in a place where such serious feelings feel real or organic. It feels more forced, and as such, distances me from the more emotional aspects of the story.

That being said, though, there is absolutely nothing stopping me from enjoying this as a straight suspense. The solution to the mystery isn’t exactly unexpected (I guessed it pretty early on) and there’s one case of a deus ex machina in the middle of the climax, but even with those drawbacks, I was swept along. This deserves solid marks for providing swift pacing and enough twists to make it enjoyable.


8/10 – Even and true to genre, the suspense escalates nicely as the story progresses


7/10 – Solidly written and consistent, but he’s a little too old-fashioned to hit all my buttons


6/10 – A tad on the skittish side considering how much she goes through, and I found some of her materialism a bit much

Entertainment value

7/10 – Solid suspense, and if the romance isn’t something to write home about, it’s certainly not cringeworthy

World building

8/10 – Some really nice details surrounding Lindsey’s lifestyle, only Ethan’s leaves a little to be desired



No comments: