Return To Me, by Shannon McKenna

>> Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Return To Me (excerpt) is a stand alone book for Shannon McKenna, completely unrelated to the series of books about Seth Mackey and the McCloud brothers (Behind Closed Doors, Standing in the Shadows and the latest, Out of Control, which I think I'll be trading for soon *fingers crossed*).

It's also a book I'd heard nothing but bad things about all over the net, so I didn't have much hope of loving it.

The Midnight Man

It's been seventeen years since bad boy Simon Riley hopped a freight train out of town and Ellen Kent's given up wondering what happened to him. Running a successful bed and breakfast in Oregon's LaRue River Valley hasn't left her a lot of time for fantasizing about the one who got away. She's put aside her dreams of midnight kisses and secret passion . . . until an unexpected visitor knocks on her door. Simon is back. She had no idea that he was a famous photojournalist, working in war zones around the world. But the man is everything she wants in a lover--and more . . .

The Midnight Hour

Dogged by trouble, Simon swore he'd never return to this backwater town, even to see El Kent. But he had to come back to investigate his uncle's sudden death--and he must face the demons of his past. El's lush beauty still tempts him beyond belief. He knows he can satisfy her most hidden desire, to the point of complete abandonment and total ecstasy. And he's hungry for the sensual tenderness that only she can give--hungry for her.

The last thing Simon would ever do is hurt El, but someone is forcing his hand. Someone who will stop at nothing to keep the past dead and buried--even if it means silencing the woman Simon loves . . .
Well, this was definitely not as bad as I'd heard! Actually, I quite liked it, even if there's no doubt her other titles are very superior to it. I'd even go as far as rating it a B-! I didn't completely love the characters, and, as usual, it was the heroine who was most problematic, but they weren't awful, and I enjoyed the energy of the storytelling too much to consider it average.

The story is a simple reunited lovers plot. Simon's mother died when he was very young, and he went to live with his uncle Gus in the small town of La Rue. His uncle was too far into the bottle to take care of him, and Simon soon became the town scapegoat. The only person who treated him well was nice-girl Ellen Kent, and they became friends.

One night, Simon and a few friends meet in the town stables and one of them sets of some firecrackers. When they are leaving, they notice the stables are on fire. After that, Simon knows he'll be thrown in jail for sure, so he skips town. But before he leaves, he goes to say goodbye to El. El has had a crush on him forever, so, seeing he's leaving, she throws herself at him and they have sex.

Seventeen years later, Simon, who's now a successful photojournalist, receives the news that his uncle has died, and goes back to La Rue. He's still as attracted to El as he ever was, and she's as much in love with him as she ever was. But El is now engaged to rich-kid Brad Mitchell, and Simon is very sure he brings chaos with him, and doesn't want to screw up El's life.

I got a bit worried when El's fiancé and his family were introduced. A more overbearing, bullying, monstrously rude and condescending bunch I've never seen! Especially her mother-in-law-to-be. The scenes of the whole bunch of them pushing El around pissed me off, not just because I just wanted to be gone and stop spending time with these over-the-top unpleasant people, but because El turned into a spine-free doormat when she was with them. I really couldn't understand why someone who isn't an idiot would marry a man she didn't love when the guy and his family treat her like this.

The worst thing was, it didn't make sense that El would do this. She had absolutely no problem going head to head with Simon, so she wasn't a sniveling coward! And with him, the risks of putting herself on the line were much higher than with Brad, because she knows from the very beginning that she loves Simon! At least there are some very bitchy thoughts on her part during these sections, which made me not despise her quite as much!

Fortunately, this part of the book doesn't last long. El soon shakes Brad off, and starts a quasi-relationship with Simon. And I say quasi, because Simon refuses to give her anything other than sex, even though any idiot could see that he loves her.

And so begins a dynamic that was sweet at times, but often got a bit irritating. They'd have sex, and then Simon would withdraw, because he felt unworthy. And El would say she loved him and go after him. Time after time after time. The first few times it worked, because I liked that El called his bluff and told him, in essence, I know you're saying this only because you're scared. But really, after a while, it got tiresome.

Also, Simon knows from the very beginning how El feels about him, and the man still keeps going after her even while thinking he's not going to do commitment with her. I would have appreciated more concern about the fact that his actions will end up hurting this woman he likes so much and who was always so good to him.

I obviously can't write a review of a Shannon McKenna book without talking about sex. There's quite a bit of it here, but, unlike in her other books, it did get to feel excessive. It wasn't really developing the relationship all that much, so in the end, it all felt a bit reiterative. Plus, while I usually enjoy the frank language McKenna's uses, I thought there were certain words that were questionable here. Lube and girl-juice come to mind, but that may be just me.

What was going on outside of El and Simon's relationship was interesting enough. I kind of liked the secondary romance, because Cora was a character I liked (more than El, actually). She's no pushover, and she makes her guy really, really work for her. This romance was much too short, though. It definitely needed more space to develop, and I would gladly have traded some of El and Simon's sex scenes for more Cor scenes.

The suspense was ok, I guess. Actually, thriller is a more appropriate word, because there really isn't much suspense here. You know from the beginning that the villain is Ray Mitchell, Brad's father, and you have a very good idea of exactly what he did and why. Still, this wasn't up to the standards McKenna set up in her earlier books, which had much more complex and nuanced suspense plots, which were perfectly integrated to the romance.

So, not a complete success for me, but a readable book, at least.


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP