I hadn’t read Sharon Sala’s work in many years and was kind of excited to get this audiobook started for the Armchair Audie Awards. I was once a big fan of Sharon Sala’s writing. Tallchief? Sweet Baby? Annie and the Outlaw? Now those were some romantic, emotion filled books and were one of the reasons I gorged myself on romances back in the 90’s. Haven’t read them? I recommend seeking them out instead of this one.
Anything but this one . . .
Quinn is a former soldier with PTSD. He’s been home for three years and is living a quiet life near his family way out in the mountains. He works as a ranger, a job he enjoys because he rarely has to deal with people. One day he gets a phone call and learns that a former comrade, one without a family or place to call home, is being released from the VA Hospital. He drives for hours to pick up this old friend who once saved his life and he plans to help out with the healing in any way he can. Quinn’s a pretty nice guy, right?
But wait, I thought he didn’t like dealing with people? Now he has one living with him? Color me a little confused.
Ahhh, hang on. The friend is a she. A beautiful she named Mariah. They used to have lots of sex while stationed in Afghanistan together.
And now it’s starting to make a little more sense. He’s a guy alone in the woods and she has no one in her life. He becomes her entire world. This sort of bugged me and creeped me out just a wee bit, if I’m being honest, but I was willing to play along. It is fiction after all. But you can only push me so far. When a crazed bear, a drug dealer with a gross mommy sexual kink, and a nasty poacher are mixed into the story for pizazz and given their own point of view I wanted to hit the delete key in ITunes. Actually, let me back up and offer up a warning first. There are dog deaths! Nasty, unnecessarily descriptive dog deaths of seven or eight redbone coonhounds (for the record I am biased, I own a redbone mix and he is the sweetest, silliest dog ever). BUT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A ROMANCE NOT A HORROR NOVEL and I was not ready! Not ready at all. It was at this point, which is kind of early on, that I wanted to delete the audiobook from my Ipod and bleach my brain of the horrid images. But I couldn’t because I promised to see it through. And see it through I did.
It turned out to be mostly boring for me. But remember I don’t like suspense much at all and if I don’t love the characters I lose interest and that’s what happened here. Because so much emphasis was put on the suspense, I didn’t feel them falling in love, you know what I mean? The heroine also suffered from an unforgivable (at least to me) too stupid to live episode. I know, I know, she had some sort of head injury but seriously there is a ravenous, killer bear roaming about and she says something like, “Sure let’s let the puppy out to play unsupervised. Why the heck not? He’ll be fine.” Gah, I hate it when a character is setup to look like a moron in order to plot a nail biting scene.
Despite all of that I DID enjoy the fact that Mariah wasn’t a weak “save me” type and took initiative to go out and save the day herself when necessary.
I can’t give this book any more than two stars. I will admit that I am completely biased on many levels when it comes to this story. I miss the good old days when romances were actually romantic and didn’t have to rely on disjointed suspense plots to fill out the book.
Narration Notes: The audio was read capably but completely without emotion by Kathe Mazur. Her voice was dead, as dead as those poor doggies (and no I am not letting that go). Seriously, that’s the only way I can describe it. She read it okay but added absolutely no life to the story. I’m a bit surprised this production is up for an Audie Award, but what do I know?