The Midas Trap, by Sharron McClellan

>> Monday, December 18, 2006

Well, believe it or not, The Midas Trap, by Sharron McClellan is my first Bombshell book.

Archaeologist Veronica Bright has a thirst to prove herself to the world. Her business, Discovery, Inc., a company devoted to the recovery of ancient artifacts, has done very well, but it's still not enough. In the end only one thing can bring back her reputation as a legitimate scientist—she must uncover evidence that supports her theory of ancient mythology being based on truth.

Dr. Simon Owens walked in the doors of Discovery, Inc. with a solid gold mouse in his pocket, and an offer to pay her generously for her expertise in helping him locate the legendary Midas Stone—a mythological gem with the abilities to turn anything into gold. Veronica was intrigued, but not convinced.

But once the artifact tests as authentic, how can she resist the possibility to uncover a piece of history that can restore not only her reputation and that of her colleagues, but make her rich beyond her wildest dreams?

Time is running out and the risk may be too high. Simon doesn't want her along, his past is too clean and she doesn't trust him. On an adventure like this, things can go from dangerous to lethal in an instant. Will he guard her back or run when faced with adversity and the possibility of breaking a few minor laws? And will the powers of the stone turn divine or deadly?
An excellent ending wasn't able to make up for a pretty mediocre start and middle. A C+.

Archeologist Veronica Bright's reputation still hasn't recovered from the damage done by her insistence on presenting a paper, despite everyone's advice not to, which proposed that some ancient myths were based on fact. As much as Veronica was convinced she was right, the evidence just wasn't there, and she was laughed out of the conference room. And to add to her hurt, one of the other archeologist doing the laughing was Dr. Simon Owens, with whom she'd had a very promising flirtation going.

A few years later, however, Veronica is vindicated when Simon comes to her for help. He has discovered evidence that the Midas Stone really did exist, and he needs her help, because certain things she discovered during her research of that much-ridiculed paper will be needed to find it. Their quest will take them all over the Mediterranean, trying to find clues to the Stone's current location and where to find it. But it's not just them after it. Rumours of the evidence Simon has discovered have got out, and so some very unsavoury characters are racing them to the finish line.

Suspension of disbelief is a funny thing. I had zero problem accepting the existence of the Midas Stone, but I never could buy for a minute that Veronica and Simon would be able to do what they did. Burglaring the Vatican, for heaven's sake, and all the rest! And all on the fly, practically without time to make careful plans or any money to buy help, too (of course, they didn't need it, because Veronica always had people oh-so-coincidentally perfectly placed and perfectly willing to risk their careers and lives to help her). Even with Simon's mysterious past (which was pretty "well, duh", actually), it didn't jibe for me.

Oh, and that assistant who's magic on computers and can create the most powerful decoder in the world? Now, that required some phenomenal suspension of disbelief! Are you kidding me? Why would a person with such skills have been looking for a job as a secretary? And I'm sorry, but some of the things she managed to do would take superhuman luck to achieve in a couple of days.

In addition to all this, all the adventures, the burglaring this, burglaring that, escaping from the bad guys, and so on, all that felt pretty blah. That they were looking for a mythological object could have added something, but these scenes were such that they could have been looking for pretty much anything. Plus, maybe it was because I didn't particularly care for the characters, but I couldn't manage to feel the slightest interest. I seriously considered at one point not finishing the book, because if I asked myself "Do you really care if these two people find the stone?", the answer would have had to be "No".

Fortunately, I did continue, because the ending was very nicely done. Yes, the characters were still flat, but the way they deduced what they needed to do, and the way things played out in the end, were very ingeniously done, and I'm glad I got to that final scene.

I mentioned that I didn't care at all about the characters, and neither did I care about their relationship. I've heard so much about how the Bombshell line is NOT romance, that I started the book without the expectation of reading one. I mean, I remembered liking the review at AAR, and I know I probably wouldn't have been tempted to buy a book that was all adventure and no romance, but what I mean is that I didn't start the book expecting to get a romance novel.

It was still a bit of a disappointment, because the relationship between Veronica and Simon had the potential to be pretty interesting... come on, the archaeologist with the ruined reputation and the man who'd ruined it? Sounds like something an author could do a lot with. But that just fizzled, which on reflection, might a been a good thing, considering that it would have been hard to accept any resentment of Simon on Veronica's part, because she had no one to blame but herself for the ruin of her professional name.

There was also a lame attempt at some kind of triangle, with that guy Michael, who was Veronica's former lover, but that angle didn't feel too developed. Kind of left me scratching my head, actually.

Finally, there was something that bothered me, but had nothing to do with the author's story. Harlequin has the most idiotic people choosing the short excerpts that are printed on the first page of the book. The one chosen for this book comes from much too late in the book, and is a huge spoiler. It's part of the final confrontation, and reveals the answer about whether there is a Midas Stone or not. As I'm writing this, I'm reading another book from Harlequin, a Mira title, and the exact same thing happens, damn them!

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