Promises to Keep, by Kathryn Shay

>> Sunday, September 15, 2002

I've started reading Kathryn Shay's debut single title, Promises to Keep. I loved the series book of hers that I've read, and the story-line in this one looks very interesting. However, I'm a bit apprehensive because the last book I've read which dealt with a school shooting was pretty awful (Lisa Gardner's The Third Victim).

Plot summary:

"In one of life's greatest ironies, Joe Stonehouse, secret service agent, the man who'd always protected his family, is away on assignment when a fellow high-school student shoots and kills his beloved niece. Now part of the special School Threat Assessment Team, Joe uses his credentials as a clinical psychologist to help in his role as Fairholm High's school counselor, while youthful-looking agent Luke Ludzecky, masquerading as Joe's rebellious nephew, completes his cover. Principal Suzanna Quinn is furious to find out that the new staff member is actually a secret service agent, but a student's suicide note warns of plans to commit violent acts, so she reluctantly goes along with the charade. As they work together, Suzanna's resentment of Joe evaporates, and mutual respect turns to love. Shay does an admirable job with a difficult subject, writing about school violence with sensitivity and realism and without shying away from any of the hard issues, such as the balance between the students' protection and their civil liberties." Shelley Mosley - Copyright © American Library Association.
Posted later...

First book were I've seen September 11th mentioned, just in passing, as something that has affected the school's students. It's interesting to see it already in pop culture.

...and posted later still:

I've just finished Promises to Keep and I have mixed feelings about it. There were some things which were great, but others which force me to lower my grade, which is finally a B.

Let's get the bad stuff over with: I really couldn't connect with Suzanna and Joe as a couple. I didn't see any chemistry and I skimmed over their love scenes (in fact, I didn't pay much attention to most of their scenes where the plot wasn't being advanced). I just didn't care what happened to them. This would usually be enough to get a failing grade from me.

However, even if I never got to care about the main couple and this lowered my grade, I liked the book. First off, Luke and Kelsey were spectacular. Not only the piquancy of the situation (which was fun to read, the whole appeal of the forbidden ;-D), but the characters themselves. I adored Luke (I tend to prefer boyish men to alpha guys; LOL! I don't want to think what that says about me!) and Kelsey was so very ethical about the whole situation. Loved the resolution to their story, with the 7 sisters trying to interfere! And I was waiting a long time for that final love scene, which was so very well done!

The plot about the school in danger was very well executed, much better than the other book I read, though it got a bit too preachy in the last part, where the whole book started to sound like a pamphlet. It got me thinking about how different things seem to be in high schools in the US and here. They seem to spend comparatively so much time in non-academic stuff. I can't figure if that's good or bad, however.

Nit: it was weird that Suzanna's son, Josh, had so little presence in this book. He never came together as a character. What happened? Was he edited out? The other teenagers were well-drawn, but not him.

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