The Perfect Victim, by Linda Castillo

>> Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I loved my first Linda Castillo, The Shadow Side, so much that my first reaction was to head over to amazon and buy her backlist of romantic suspense single titles. Luckily, I already had one of them on hand, The Perfect Victim (excerpt), and I started it pretty much immediately.

Despite a happy childhood, successful entrepreneur Addison Fox has always yearned to find her birth mother. And with the unexpected death of her adopted parents comes a renewed determination to fill in the missing pieces of her life—to find her “other” family. But she’s too late.

Burnt-out from past investigations, Randall Talbot is looking for some relief while helping out at his brother’s detective agency. But when Addison Fox walks in, he can’t resist her plea for help—even though the cost is murder.

Addison is the sole survivor of her bloodline—a line that a killer is
determined to make extinct. And even if the world-weary Randall has little regard left for life, he may be the only man capable of saving hers…
This was a good read, but not quite as good and fresh and fascinating as The Shadow Side felt to me. Still, a B.

Like TSS, I was very impressed by how seamlessly Castillo blended the romance and the suspense, making each enhance the other and not allowing either to be overwhelmed. Both elements were pretty strong and engaging, even if each had its own problems which kept me from unreservedly loving them.

On the romance front, my main problem was that it felt to me that there were certain series romance touches there, touches that didn't really go well with the tone of the book. I mean things like Addison's virginity, which felt completely gratuitous and added nothing to her character.

The good news is that TPV seems to have been Castillo's first single title after starting her career with series romance, and since I didn't detect anything like that in TSS, chances are this was just a matter of an author dragging her category roots behind her for a while when moving to single titles, so I'm not expecting to have this same problem in any of the other books.

Other than this, which wasn't more than a slight annoyance, the romance was quite solidly written. The chemistry between Addison and Randall was clear to me, and they were each likeable, interesting characters. Addison did indulge in a couple of extremely TSTL moments, but they seems to have been momentary aberrations, nothing more.

As for the suspense, well, to be completely truthful, it was good, but I admit to feeling a bit let down. It's just that after the wonderfully intriguing beginning, I was really hoping for a more interesting explanation of what was going on. Those early parts were just amazing, and I couldn't wait to find out what was what, but once things started getting clearer, I wasn't completely happy.

I guess the main problem was that the villain's actions felt slightly over the top, and maybe even a bit irrational. And the guy wasn't too well-drawn, either, not like the villains in TSS, who were very impressive.

All in all, though, this was one I enjoyed.


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