(Warning: There are spoilers below the fold!)
Anne: It’s amazing how similarly we responded to Passion to Protect. One would think we’d cheated and read each other’s reviews.
Anne: However, we did not.
Anne: In terms of why I recommended the book to you, it was partly because of Jake’s attempts to come back from losing his leg, but also because I know you are interested in Western-setting books and for single parents.
Amy: I gotta tell you, when I saw the Vengeance trope cropping up early on, I had my doubts, but this one had me riveted!
Anne: Yes, I understand. "Vengeance!" is not my favorite trope, unless it drives the story without being directed at the heroine.
Anne: So often, those stories become disturbing and hint at an abusive relationship. The fact that Liane is recovering from that relationship and dealing with its aftermath made the difference.
Anne: It is disturbing, but realistic, and effectively drives the story.
Anne: What do you think?
Amy: I agree. I did like your word for Jake’s response–"mansplaining".
Anne: Thank you. I got that from the feminist blogosphere.
Anne: Though of course not only men do that–it often comes from every direction.
Amy: I’ve seen the term, and encountered the behavior before, just didn’t quite pull it up in my head that way.
Anne: I felt bad for Liane at that point, and it made me angry.
Anne: Though at the same time, Jake harbors his own anger that Liane would choose a monster over him.
Amy: Well, yes, and that grows, the more he learns what a monster Mac is.
Anne: Going back to our opening words, do you think I was right to pick this book for our second Tag Team Tuesday?
Amy: I think so. It is a good tale, certainly, and it’s a good introduction to the line. I had my misgivings about the book, but that’s mostly my own biases. It’s an extremely well-crafted tale.
Anne: What were your main misgivings about the tale? The overt violence of the bad guys?
Anne: That’s what I gathered from your review.
Amy: It’s not just the bad guys committing the violence, though–our protagonists get to do it too, in order to stop them. I think the starkest one is when Liane shoots one with a shotgun, blowing "a hole in his chest you could put your arm through," as the deputy said it.
Anne: Ah, it is the graphic nature of the violence, then?
Anne: And the fact that it is not limited to the black-hats?
Amy: yes. There is one possible inaccuracy in there too. When Liane is shot, Jake cannot find an exit wound, yet the entrance wound is below her ribcage, on the back. Unless she was shot with a very small-caliber pistol, where’d that bullet go? There shouldn’t have been anything for it to lodge against in the front of her abdomen.
Amy: It’s possible, but we’re never told about that.
Anne: Ah. I am not familiar with guns, so I did not notice that inaccuracy.
Amy: I’m a former competitive shooter, so that’s one of those little bits that I spotted. It’s a minor thing.
Amy: I understand the necessity of the violence in this story–it needs to be stark, and it needs to be intense, or the story gets weaker…but it rattled me a bit.
Anne: And that is why, though you found the book itself compelling and recommended it, you’d rather leave the line to me to review.
Amy: yes. It’s a very well-done story…but not to my tastes.
Amy: It doesn’t help that it was a blustery night here; the house we’re living in rattles and creaks when the wind blows against it–it gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies!
Anne: Sounds like effective writing. I didn’t get the jitters, but I was anxious to find out what would happen next. In some ways, the suspense frame was a relief from the usual formulas of romance novels.
Anne: Now I need to find out if other Harlequin Romantic Suspense books become as repetitive.
Anne: Going back to the violence, I have noticed in your reviews that there is a theme of coercion in many of the contemporary books you have read. The same applies to the Regency novels I’ve been reading, though usually in the form of abduction / possible rape.
Amy: Repetitive isn’t necessarily bad; that’s part of what we are exploring on this site, with the trope categories. But I’m a little more of "feel-good" story fan, than these.
Anne: Speaking of tropes, we picked almost all the same ones.
Amy: I see that.
Anne: Though that happened when we did our last tag-team-Tuesday also.
Anne: The only one I excluded was "No One Could Possibly Love Me."
Anne: Looking back, I am not sure why it didn’t occur to me to include it.
Anne: It didn’t seem to be as central to me, I suppose, as the others.
Amy: 🙂 I got a little sense of that from both our protagonists. It wasn’t central, but it really jumped out at me in their intimate scene
Anne: What other thoughts do you want to share? Have you questions for me?
Amy: I can’t think of a thing. We both spotted a lot of the same bits in this story!
Anne: It’s nice to be in agreement.
Anne: It’s also nice to find another line that we can review for the site.
Anne: Hmmm… one thing does leap out at me as I glance at our reviews one last time.
Anne: We both mentioned the lack of forced "insta-chemistry" in this book, and approved of it.
Anne: To my mind, holding back like this actually increases the characters’ chemistry.
Amy: yes. This story wasn’t as "romantic", but it was unforced.
Anne: To me, that is a strong point. Do you also find that to be a point in the book’s favor, or did you want more physical stuff happening sooner?
Amy: I liked it. I enjoy the more-physical ones, but different doesn’t equal bad. Forced chemistry in this story would have hampered it.
Anne: Ok, that’s about all I can think of to discuss, since we wrote almost identical reviews. 😉
Anne: Even without "cheating."
Amy: 🙂 okay.
Anne: That in itself says something about the quality of Passion to Protect.