A promise of romantic suspense with two characters that had a ‘touch’ of history, I was curious to see what the author would do with this change in genre. Julia Harper is the penname of historic romance author Elizabeth Hoyt, and her Maiden Lane series is one I’m familiar with. So the chance to try a new genre twist from her was one worth taking.
I’m completely torn: while there was action galore, there was a touch of ‘keystone cop’ ridiculousness attached to the underlying mystery/reason for the suspense. Maisa’s family is involved with the Russian mafia, and her uncle’s secrecy about his past and some strangers appearing in town looking for diamonds set the tension. Sam’s interest in the strange and smart-mouthed woman, the electric connection that sparks between them, and then the mystery surrounding her Uncle George keep him constantly in motion.
I hoped for well-developed and memorable characters, but neither Maisa nor Sam quite reached that level for me, and all of the secondary characters with the exception of Karl, in a few well-placed quips, stood out in any way. The action and suspense didn’t quite engage me, and the hot and steamy moments started to feel more filler than organic. Sadly, this went from ok this sort of works to a series of disjointed scenes tied together with sarcastic humor and not much else.
Narration is provided by Helen Wick, and while I could easily embrace Wick in a New Adult or Young Adult book, narrating the female parts, this narration fell short of good for me. Erratic in her consistency for tone, pace and delivery for Sam: her drawl borders caricature. I imagined a delivery and tone of Sam Elliott, and while I didn’t expect a female narrator to provide that exact sound, the emulation of the pacing was there, if inconsistent, and that did add some variety to Sam’s character. Maisa was far more natural feeling and delivery. But, the inconsistency in the overall presentation of Sam, with some odder choices for secondary characters left me less than entertained.
Stars: Overall 3 Narration 2 Story 3
Title: Once and Always
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt writing as Julia Harper
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Narrator: Helen Wick
Published by: Forever, Hachette Audio
Published on: 24 February, 2015
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 11 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound
IS THERE A PROBLEM, OFFICER?
Small town cop Sam West certainly doesn't mind a routine traffic stop: speeding ticket, stern warning, and sayonara. With a whopper of a blizzard closing in, that's all he has time for. But the lawbreaker he pulls over is anything but typical. From her mile-long legs to her razor-sharp wit, Maisa Bradley is like nothing Coot Lake, Minnesota, has ever seen . . . and she's about to take Sam on the ride of his life.
BEING BAD HAS ITS BENEFITS
Whoever said blood is thicker than water probably wasn't related to a former Russian mobster. But an innocent mix-up and rumors of stolen diamonds soon have the Russian mob taking an unusual interest in the sleepy little town-and Maisa facing heated scrutiny from a certain tall, dark, and handsome deputy. Sam's dazzling blue eyes beg her to reveal all her secrets, but how much should she tell? Getting snowed in with the sexiest lawman in the frozen north may not be the worst way to decide . . .
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.