Silent Confessions, by Julie Kenner

>> Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I've been hearing a lot about Julie Kenner lately, especially her Givenchy Code and Carpe Demon, so I picked up the book by her I had in my TBR, Silent Confessions (excerpt).

Detective Jack Parker needs an education-a sensual education. Someone is stalking women…and they're doing it with a literary flair. Verses from Victorian erotica are being sent to the victims, naughty turn-of-the-century postcards are left inside their homes. Jack has to figure things out before somebody gets hurt. But he needs help. And he finds that-and more-- in bookstore owner Veronica Archer…

An expert in historical amorous works, Ronnie is dying to know if reality can be as stimulating as fiction. So, when Jack shows up at the shop, she decides to make him a scandalous proposition. She'll help him decipher the clues, if he'll satisfy her wildest, most secret desires--desires Jack has no problem accommodating…

Only the closer they get, the closer to home the clues become. Leaving Jack to decide if Ronnie is just a very skilled scholar--or an even more dangerous decoy…
Well, I was pretty unimpressed, actually. It's not a bad book, but I just didn't think it had anything that raised it above average. A C.

Ronnie was a likeable character in the end, and so was Jack, but there just wasn't much depth here, which made nothing feel particularly engaging. Especially the romance. Silent Confessions is supposed to be quite steamy, and it does have the non-stop, inventive, graphic sex scenes, but I might have been reading a phone book, for all the reaction I had to them.

I don't know, it might have been my mood, but I didn't pick much chemistry between Jack and Ronnie. When they started going at it, I just had no idea of who they were (and neither did they, really, but that doesn't have to be an obstacle to steaminess), so reading about them felt about as erotic as watching cardboard cut-outs humping. And once the book was under way, I couldn't detect any tension between them. They weren't interesting to me.

The entire conflict in the book was external, and that didn't work too well for me, either. I got the feeling that Jack and his fellow investigators weren't particularly good at what they did. And there was a LOT they neglected to do, especially with the computer stuff. They get an anonymous note which sounds like a quote and immediately go looking for an expert to source it? Er, how about trying to google it first? A passage of well-known erotica would probably show up.

Of course, consulting an expert on erotica does sound like a good idea for the particular case the police is facing. But I didn't get why Jack would go on about needing an education in erotica, other than the author wanting to get in some "erotic education" puns. It doesn't make much sense. Veronica's been studying this stuff for years, is Jack supposed to pick up enough to crack the case in a couple of lessons? Wouldn't it make more sense to just consult with Ronnie?

Also, I didn't feel Jack behaved very ethically. I can't believe he's known to be sleeping with the sister of their main suspect, a sister who lives in the same building as her brother, and he faces no problems at work about it? And it never even crosses his mind that he really shouldn't be doing this?

Silent Confessions was a very disappointing read to me.

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