Friday, December 4, 2009

Handcuffs and Lies by Bronwyn Green

TITLE: Handcuffs and Lies
AUTHOR: Bronwyn Green
PUBLISHER: Resplendence Publishing
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 17k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $3.50

Three years after her brother’s death, Dr. Tori Spinelli is still having nightmares about it, but she trudges on, day after day, until another kid dies in her ER from Ecstasy, provided by the same druglord who killed her cop brother. Desperation for justice drives her to her brother’s ex-partner, and the man she swore she would never see again…

It’s so hard to tell from blurbs sometimes, whether the focus is going to be on sex or plot. I don’t have a preference either way – both kinds of stories serve their purpose when I’m in the mood for them – but I often judge a book by how long it is, as well as by the excerpt, to try and determine which way it’s going to fall. I misjudged this one. The blurb leaned one way, the excerpt leaned another, and I guessed wrong. It doesn’t help that the length it professed to be – 19k – is inaccurate by over 2k. That came from padding at the end that was all advertising (much like Samhain does, and I’ll go on the record here for saying how much I hate that misleads me as to how long a story will be). I know enough not to trust page counts; there is no standard amongst publishers as to margins, spacing, etc., so it’s impossible to judge how long a story truly will be. I rely on word counts. Is it really that much to ask that they be accurate to the story?

Anyway, it’s hardly this author’s fault their publisher falls into the same trap Samhain does. However, that still doesn’t mean the story doesn’t suffer from skipping right over any depth to get to the happy ending.

The strong opening, with Tori trying to save a kid in her ER and then going to Michael to get his help, promises more than the rest of the story delivers. Just as I started getting wrapped up in the potential danger – she interrupts an undercover drug bust and risks the bad guys coming after her, forcing Michael to take her into protective custody – everything gets rushed into fast forward, throwing them into bed and lurching the action unconvincingly toward its anti-climactic resolution. I couldn’t even really get too invested in the romantic aspect. Tori and Michael had a single one-night stand the night before her brother’s funeral, a night neither one of them remember. Any real depth into what kind of chemistry or relationship they could have is never explored, culminating in a very flat romantic subplot.

I want to see this author write something long. Her prose is certainly clean enough to engage a reader for lengthy works, and she definitely knows how to write a taut, realistic scene (the hospital scenes are by far the best in the book, though the scene of Tori and Michael in the bedroom is a close second). Though I liked the first novella of hers that I read, the second didn’t work as well. I think she needs to put her talent to something longer to truly shine.


8/10 – Quick, clean, and unassuming


5/10 – Appealing but flat


6/10 – More well rounded than the hero, though still not very rich

Entertainment value

5/10 – The suspense aspect of the plot is only a convenient device, and the dearth of background detail flattens the romance

World building

7/10 – The medical world felt crisp and real, the rest not so much



No comments: