Closer Than She Thinks, by Meryl Sawyer

>> Friday, January 06, 2006

My only reading resolution for the year that starts is that I'll work on clearing the old books in my TBR. To do that, I've decided that I will read at least two books a month that have been in that pile (fast becoming a mountain) for over three years. And believe me, there are plenty of them there to choose from!

Having arrived at my house in early January 2002, Closer Than She Thinks (excerpt), by Meryl Sawyer definitely qualifies.

A Woman Scorned

Alyssa Rossi never wanted to return home to New Orleans—too many memories—most of them bad ones. But when her successful costume jewelry company is acquired by TriTech, her only choice is to leave Italy—and return to the scene of a crime that nearly destroyed her life...

A Mystery Unsolved

TriTech CEO Jake Williams is all business—and determined to find out the real reason why his partner acquired Rossi Designs. His investigation uncovers a first love's betrayal, a missing baby...and the mysterious Alyssa in the center of a storm of gossip and controversy that has raged for more than a decade.

A Deadly Obsession

Shunned by New Orleans society, yet coveted by her former lover, Alyssa tries to focus on her jewelry...and Jake. But her past—and a new murder—haunt her every waking moment. Now, amid the chaos of Mardi Gras, Alyssa and Jake's attempts to uncover the truth bring them closer to one another—and to a killer who will stop at nothing to destroy them....
I felt pretty lukewarm about this one. It was not bad enough for me to decide to put it aside, but not good enough for me to actually want to keep reading. It just didn't grab me, and it took me days and days to work my way through it. And yes, that's a really long time for me, especially at a time like this, when real life is pretty calm and I have no problem finding time to read. That just says C book to me.

The basic plot was interesting. Corporate intrigue combined with baby abductions and family dysfunction, all with New Orleans high society as the background. But this kind of thing has the risk of becoming a bit soap-operaish, and it definitely did here, later in the book.

The romance was a great big "meh". What I did like was that Alyssa and Jake actually liked each other and talked. From the very beginning, they were pretty good about sharing with the other what was going on (with the notable exception of Alyssa's decision not to say anything about Max, that is). What misunderstandings there were, were cleared up quickly. Jake would see Alyssa go off with Clay? He'd be a bit cold for a while, but it wouldn't be long before Alyssa asked him what was wrong and they cleared everything up.

Still, they were just a very lukewarm couple. I don't think I'd go as far as to say they were boring together, but they definitely didn't make me excited about reading about their developing relationship. Plus, the writing style didn't really click with me. The dialogues were pretty wooden, especially the inner thoughts. And it didn't help that those mental processes were often very foolish.

For instance, I thought Alyssa's naive attitude towards her family was beyond stupid. Stuff like, she'd go on and on about how she and Phoebe shared blood, so they just *couldn't* be enemies. And so she'd make overture after overture, only to be rejected. Idiot.

The suspense plot did, as I mention, go quite a bit over-the-top, and the final solution was much too confusing. Oh, and I mustn't forget to mention that weird subplot about Clay's threesome with his mistress Maree and the Bahamian psychic, Dante. I must say, those few scenes with these three packed more heat than all the Jake/Alyssa scenes in the whole book, but... what the hell were they doing in this book? They just felt really, really out of place. They just had nothing to do with the tone of the rest of the story.

Something else that bothered me were the constant misspellings and typos, especially when it came to brands and places. It was awkward, because it felt as if the author was trying very hard to be sophisticated and cosmopolitan, but didn't quite manage it. She'd include a bit Italian in the parts set in Florence, but get most of it wrong, or she'd call a Maserati a Masarati and so on. Minor bother, but it kept shoving me out of the story.

I'm afraid this is one C author I don't think I'll be trying again.

PS - I really liked the cover. I thought the colours were very attractive, the shadow of the wrought-iron fence put me in mind of New Orleans and the necklace was perfectly appropriate to the heroine's profession. Actually, I guess the author agrees with me in this, because a blow-up of the necklace features prominently in her website!

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