Infamous, by Suzanne Brockmann

>> Friday, March 25, 2011

TITLE: Infamous
AUTHOR: Suzanne Brockmann

PAGES: 448
PUBLISHER: Brockmann

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romance

When history professor Alison Carter became a consultant to the film version of the Wild West legend she’d dedicated her career to researching, she couldn’t possibly have known that she would not only get a front-row seat to a full-blown Hollywood circus but would innocently witness something that would put her life in peril. Nor did she expect that a tall stranger in a cowboy hat would turn the movie—and her world—completely upside down.

A. J. Gallagher didn’t crash the set in dusty Arizona to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite. Unable to ignore ghosts from the past that refuse to stay buried, A. J. came to put an end to the false legend that has tarnished the reputation of his family. But when he confronts Alison, sparks fly. And when Alison is targeted by ruthless criminals, suddenly she and A .J. must face the intense attraction that threatens to consume them—and survive the danger that threatens their very lives.
Everyone knows about heroic US Marshall Silas Quinn and his tragic battle against the evil Jamie "The Kid" Gallagher, which cost Quinn his beloved wife. It's one of the classic Wild West stories. Dr. Alison Carter has long been fascinated the story, and she is the author of a popular history book about it. It was successful enough that it's now being turned into a big movie, and Alison has been hired as a consultant to ensure the film is as accurate as can be (have to say, I kind of went "yeah, right" at this and the fact that she seems to have some sort of almost veto power, but ok, I can suspend disbelief with this kind of thing).

But then AJ Gallagher shows up. Even though he's got the cowboy look down pat, he's not the new extra Alison assumes he is. He's there to clear his great-grandfather Jamie's name and prevent the slander from being spread all over in a huge film, and he's doing it on great-gramps' express instructions. Literally. Because AJ can see Jamie's ghost. Not only see, the two can have long conversations and everything.

Bad enough that AJ has to convince a history professor that she got her last book completely wrong, it's even harder because the moment he meets Alison, he realises she's the one for him. Can he in good conscience start a relationship with her while hiding the fact that he has got a close and loving relationship with a ghost? Will she forgive him for hiding it when she finds out?

I remember reading the reviews when Infamous came out, and it seemed like no one liked it. Why, I've no idea, because me, I just loved it. Maybe it's something about Brockmann's very distictive voice, which has always resonated with me, or that the love stories that seem to appeal to her also appeal to me -who knows? Much as I've liked Brockmann's SEAL books, for years I've been wanting her to go back and write another non-military romance, something like the wonderful Heartthrob. Infamous wasn't quite as good, but it gave me what I was looking for.

My enjoyment of Infamous was almost equal parts down to the romance and Jamie.

The romance is very Brockmann. AJ goes all gooey about Alison right from the moment he meets her and she's very attracted as well, but there are complications. There's the fact that AJ has a ghost hanging around (and AJ really, really doesn't want this woman he's so crazy about to think he's actually literally crazy), of course. But there are also things in AJ's past, that because of things in Alison's own past, make her extremely reluctant to take a chance on loving him. Alison could have been a bit of an unlikeable character because of this, but she wasn't. It was hard not to sympathise with her.

As for Jamie, people have complained about him having such a huge role in the book. Well, I LOVED him. I loved his voice, I loved that he was such a sweetie and I loved his presence in the story. This whole thing about clearing his name was really fascinating to me. I enjoyed slowly finding out what had really happened in the 19th century (and I'm not normally a big westerns fan) and I loved the whole process of them trying to find proof of the way things really had gone down that would convince Alison. That element (convincing others) is especially well handled. People don't just go, oh, right, so ghosts exist. They doubt AJ's account, and he has to work very, very hard to convince them.

The only reason this wasn't an A read was because there's another subplot there in the background, involving hit men and Alison having witnessed something she shouldn't have. Well, that subplot is in the background during the first two thirds or so of the book, but comes very much to the forefront nearer the end. Frankly, it wasn't very good, and a distraction from all the other good stuff.



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