Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blindsided by Kate Watterson

TITLE: Blindsided
AUTHOR: Kate Watterson
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 40k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romantic suspense
COST: $4.50

Desperate to clear her head and escape, Dr. Kerin Burke drives north, hoping for a day of peace. What she drives into is a snowstorm, and if it wasn’t for good Samaritan Jesse McCutcheon saving her from her stalled car, she just might have frozen to death for her efforts. Her vacation turns into a forced stay with Jesse at his cabin retreat, where their immediate attraction flares into something more. Eventually, however, she has to go back to Indianapolis, and to whoever it is she thinks is watching her…

Siren Publishing is one of the publishers I often wonder why I bother looking at. Their covers are mostly atrocious. When they aren’t poorly Photoshopped, they’re tacky and demeaning as hell. In a genre that has more than its fair share of demeaning covers, that says a lot. Beyond that, their seeming determination to be the ménage center for the e-romance world has produced some very bizarre, and sometimes creepy, blurbs and products. They do have their occasional couple story, but they get lost amongst all their ménages (though maybe that’ll change with the recent addition of the Menage Everlasting line). However, I did discover Emma Wildes had published through there when I discovered her a couple years ago, and this is one of her titles she writes under her romantic suspense pseudonym.

This starts out as your standard stranded romance. Kerin is a professional, panicked and on the run for some unknown reason, who finds her car dying in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin during a snowstorm. Along comes Jesse, who takes her back to his cabin, but the storm is bad enough to keep them stuck for more than a few days. Kerin is appropriately wary of being in a strange man’s house, and Jesse does everything he can to put her at ease. They’re attracted to each other, have sex, get to know each other, etc. Through it all, the question of why Kerin is so afraid gets raised and only eventually addressed.

There’s a slight schizophrenic quality to this story. The romance and the suspense never fit well together. The way it starts out – the clichéd set-up, the UST, the sex – reads like your everyday romance. It’s solidly written, even if it’s not earth-shatteringly original. Kerin’s tension adds a nice flavor to it, so I was well prepared to get into the suspense portion of the story. Then, at the start of chapter four, nearly a third into the story, the narrative jumps place and character. The woman is a stranger, watching two men (also strangers to the reader) meet. She seems pleased to have figured out that they’re working together, probably for something related to murder. Now, I’ll be honest. My first reaction was that somebody at the publisher screwed up and two stories got mixed together. I was that jarred by the scene. There is literally nothing in the scene to indicate it has anything to do with Kerin, and the fact that it starts at the beginning of a chapter only jolted me more. When it cut back to the cabin, I was prepared to explain it away as the woman being a friend of Kerin’s, helping out some way, especially when there’s a similar scene at the top of the next chapter (though at least this one shows a tie to Kerin). The story never manages to find a capable rhythm balancing the two aspects, though at least Kerin gets involved with the suspense portion when she returns to Indianapolis. The ultimate explanation was disappointing, though the climax of the story was well written. For all the attempts to foreshadow, the reasons behind Kerin’s tension felt very dropped in.

It’s a shame, because I quite liked Kerin and Jesse. Both are normal, hard-working people, with a decent set of values, and they have obvious chemistry, even while Kerin is so understandably nervous around him. Their scenes in the cabin, while definitely not as graphic or scorching as I’ve read elsewhere, still provide a cozy comfort, and I’m ready to believe these two really could fall in love this quickly. I only wish the last third of the book wasn’t so rushed and slipshod. I think the author is probably better at the historicals that I’ve read by her, rather than contemporary suspense. I’m likely to stick to those in the future.


8/10 – Cleaner and more serviceable than I expect from this publisher, quite honestly


7/10 – For a modern knight, another pleasant surprise


7/10 – I appreciated she wasn’t nearly as helpless as she could have been, but it seemed for somebody as smart as she was, she would have figured more out before Jesse got involved

Entertainment value

7/10 – A nice escape, but for the romance, not the suspense

World building

7/10 – The snowbound details were very striking, the rest of it…not so much



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