Why I Read It: I thought it would be a fun thriller.
Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).
Who I Recommend This To: Readers who enjoy the faked ID theme in a cat & mouse game that involves sex scenes.
Publisher: Out of the Boxx Publishing (2013)
Length: 442 pages
Series: The story ends with a cliffhanger, so I expect this is only Book 1.
Claudia is an accomplished woman. She is educated and has her own psychology practice. She pays her bills, has a car, and a little dog (Max). She fought her demons and won, and now uses those childhood horrors to help other women recover from traumatic relationships and/or sexual violence. Yet she lacks a serious love interest. So she surfs the dating sites, including Craig’s List. Jonathan Fardy is a single, middle-aged real estate agent who likes to mess with women’s emotions from the safety of a faked ID via computer. He comes across Claudia’s posting and decides she would be a worthy opponent. The game is on and Claudia has even noticed.
This wasn’t the story for me. It started off decently with a good set up of each character and the basis for the plot. But then it dragged on too long. I felt that many of the passages were repetitive. Often the reader would read one of Claudia’s or Jonathan-writing-as-Diego’s letters as the character was composing the letter, only to have to reread the letter again in the next chapter as the recipient read the email. I can see that this was done to show each character’s thoughts as they either composed or received a message, but it did drag the story a bit.
The first fifth or quarter of the book had suspense. I knew what Jonathan Fardy was up to, but Claudia didn’t and I wanted her to figure it out. But once I got past that initial story setup, and I was privy to all the moves by both characters, the suspense petered out. The book became predictable for me.
Claudia herself held much promise as a character. I like that she is renting and in between places – her life isn’t set in stone. Her dog Max is her faithful companion. She faced her childhood trauma and decided to give back to the world by helping others that faced similar situations. And yet…..Well, this book is about her love life. Period. We catch little glimpses of this professional career she has, but only in relation to her love life. Either she is concerned how a man will see her once they know what she does professionally, or she is bored by her clients and can’t wait to get back to her computer to check out the next sexy email from the mysterious Diego. When she does talk to the handful of female side characters, it is about men and love lives instead of something substantive. I started off liking this character, but then lost interest.
The ending was not satisfying. SPOILER ALERT Claudia’s house is vandalized and she has an idea that it is tied to the mysterious Diego. She stays over at a friend’s house, has another friend pack a bag for her, and she flies off to Cozumel for three weeks. Instead of facing her problems, she runs away. I get that she is shocked, horrified, and embarrassed. But I had to wonder where her professional side went off to. Here is a person in serious need of 1) being locked up and 2) therapy. I really, really wanted her professional side to kick in and help catch the guy and then, perhaps, even see that he got some help. But, no. Our main character flees. Sigh…..END SPOILER.
Now let me tell you about the sex scenes. There were several erotic dream/memory sequences and erotic emails. Normally I quite enjoy these bits, especially set within an interesting plot line. However, since I wasn’t emotionally attached to the characters, these scenes didn’t do much for me. I can tell you that they are well written and detailed. I will even say that some of them are educational. 😉
In short, I think this tale would have been much more powerful if it had been edited down a bit, maybe even to novella size. At 442 pages, with all the repetition and lack of suspense, I found it a bit of a chore to chew through.
What I Liked: Max the dog; initial suspense; set up of characters.
What I Disliked: The repetition; the suspense petered out pretty quickly; I was not attached to the characters; the ending was not satisfying.