**spoiler alert** With four thousand dollars hidden in the bottom of her shoes and her dog by her side, Caroline Hughes is making a break for it. Wavi**spoiler alert** With four thousand dollars hidden in the bottom of her shoes and her dog by her side, Caroline Hughes is making a break for it. Waving goodbye to her husband, renown psychoanalyst Dr. Porter Moross, Caroline quickly disappears into bustling D.C. and hops onto a bus bound for the West. Hoping for a new start, like the pioneers of old, Caroline adopts the alias of Alice and prays that her husband will never find her in the quiet mountain town she's heading to. But she knows, as the days go by that he's coming for her, and this time only one of them is walking off that mountaintop alive.
Oh. My. God. I've never been so happy to finish a book. Ugh. I curse my OCD. And ultimately, I've only got myself to blame because I knew it when I flipped to the back of this book at the bookstore. I knew when I spotted the HFN ending that this book wasn't going to be good for me. I knew it! *slaps self* But I was hoping for an exciting, tense thriller a la Karen Rose. Or something. Ha! Not even close.
This book was soulsucking on so many levels. Margaret Carroll lost me by the first page. She starts it off with Caroline's escape - in minute detail. Step by agonizingly slow step. Caroline makes her escape, buys hair dye, dyes her hair, gets on a bus, talks to an older woman, gets off the bus, walks to town, blah, blah, blah. You get my drift. Unfortunately all the above took like half the book to get to. Why? Because Margaret Carroll insisted on showing Porter's oh, excuse me, DR. Moross's point of view after every other chapter. This was of course, wedged in between the ten other BS character's rotating points of view. I can't even begin to describe how unbelievably frustrating I found this book to be. I couldn't even call Caroline/Alice, Dr. Moross and Ken Kincaid the main characters of this book. This was more play-like, with everyone given equal billing and stage time. Everyone a cast of supporting characters. And maybe from a purely fiction-standpoint that would fly, but not in a book stuck in the romance section. And even from a fiction standpoint this book wouldn't fly because it's so slow and boring.
But boringness aside, my main gripe was with, for argument's sake, the main characters, Caroline/Alice and Porter. They were unbelievably pathetic. I couldn't even call Porter the villain in this book. To do so would give him too much credit. And how the holy heck did he manage to reel Caroline in during the beginning of their cruel, symbiotic relationship? He's described as an albino? with oozing purple pustules on his face. *Sorry if that makes me the cruel, pretty cheerleader who is symbolically stepping aside so that the popular jocks can beat him up, but you know, sometimes the popular kids get it right. This mama's boy lost his soul a long time ago and those jocks probably sensed that.* But worst of all, he's mean and cutting to her during their first date. She can't even use the excuse that he started off as Prince Charming. How did this happen then, you say? Easy to explain. Because she's more pathetic than he is. She was a woman who seemed to understand his need to hurt her and she accepted it. Slowly spiraling down into the classic battered-spouse syndrome. Which didn't add up. If Caroline was capable of sending emails to a past college lover, complaining of Porter's treatment of her, then she wasn't as far gone as she let on. She hadn't hidden within that insular wall that abused women hide behind that allows them to show the world that everything is, "fine." Instead it led me to believe that she rolled over like a worm of a dog and took it. Sorry if this makes me sound heartless and a non supporter of abused women, but in all honesty, I blame the author. She was lousy at creating sympathetic characters. And equally lousy at creating a believable villain.
Porter was for the most part, lost in his own psychosis and spent a lot of time crying til snot ran down his face. It didn't make him less dangerous. The contents of his trunk was sufficient in letting me know what he was capable of. But it did make him less scary. Because instead of the fear of the unknown, he was predictable and controllable. You know he was coming after her in a great show of sound and fury but you also knew that all it would take was a harsh word, or a good, hard kick to send this little worm scurrying into the arms of the first lactating hooker he could find and into the first Infantilism fetish club that would take him.
Now onto the romance portion of this book. Which was lousy. She's only been away from Porter for a few days and she's already getting horny for the first hot guy she sees. Whatever. Again, this brings me back to that missing feeling of her battered spouse syndrome. Which allows me to feel that some of the things she suffered from makes her bear a certain amount of culpability. But whatever. I ranted about that already. Now I'm ranting about the romance portion of this book. *sigh* Ken Kincaid should have been a wonderful character. I loved the way he was described. A great big teddy bear of a man. Unfortunately he's not given enough to shine in this book, which is understandable since he's barely around. He's never on alpha male alert status either, desperate to protect his mate. He's relaxed, at ease, and he moves slowly because he instinctively knew that he had to do so around Caroline/Alice. He was just "nice" and "there" and was someone who unfortunately got caught up in the cruelty of the Moross marriage. There is zero amount of sex or sexual acts in this book, except for a weird, very quick, S&M flashback meant to show how degrading the Moross marriage had become, and the H/H never say I love you, nor do they even hug or kiss.
So what am I left with, when I hate both the main characters? A lousy attempt at a romantic thriller that leaves me feeling angry at myself for feeling heartless and cruel towards said characters. Even at the end, when Caroline is sad and hurt as she watches the people around her watch her with looks of revulsion and pity on their face, I couldn't deny that I was one of those people judging her. And I could have been a lot harsher with my thoughts, too.
Would I attempt a Margaret Caroll book again? Eh. Who knows. I do know that right now I think her writing needs a lot of work. No time was spent on finding out what went wrong with Caroline during her childhood and though Porter spends a lot of time whining about his mom, not a lot is told about what went wrong there either. She gave way too much information at certain times, then not enough at other times, and left several storylines up in the air. She conveyed no urgency or exciting, pulse pounding adrenaline rushes in her writing. Her transitions from the past to the present were not clearly defined. I spent one too many times going, "huh?" Plus, she was longwinded to the extreme. *Much like this review. But hey, when you're passionate, you're passionate.* If she was looking to create different characters in non-likable scenarios with no real right or wrong, then thats fine. But she needs to back it up with superb writing.
I do see some potential in her future work, just none in this book. So, all in all, I am very disappointed. But maybe someone who does not primarily read romance novels may like this book better. *shrug*
Lonny Cushman is on the hunt for the rarest of diamonds, natural green diamonds, and his ticket into war torn Rwanda is a nineteen year old seminary sLonny Cushman is on the hunt for the rarest of diamonds, natural green diamonds, and his ticket into war torn Rwanda is a nineteen year old seminary student who is looking for her father. Right away their welcome is put to the test as they are literally thrown out into the street by the Episcopalian Church and are forced into shady deals with the CIA. Lonny navigates his way through the people and the country, heading ever closer to his green diamonds, praying that he and his cover, Ms. Alice Carpenter, will somehow manage to come out ahead against a country gone insane. Its only when he has his hands on them that he has to acknowledge the incredible power these diamonds bestow upon the owner. In a world turned upside down with hate and injustice, Lonny is forced to make choices that may haunt him forever.
Wow. This book had me right from the beginning. I loved it. I didn't love Alice, however. In fact, she darned near ruined this book for me. I hated her. Stupid, hypocritical, self righteous little %$@!&. At one point she started spouting off quotes from the Bible during the Worst. Moment. Possible. I was frothing at the mouth just waiting for someone to kick her out of the car and leave her to God's tender mercy out there in the middle of the Rwandan killing fields. Totally unChristian of me, but there you go.
Lonny Cushman was an incredibly complex character and reading his story was what I enjoyed so much about this book. He veered from coldly practical, to hotly emotional and throughout it all he had a fierce desire to survive that one cannot help but admire. Love him or hate him, "the will to survive is as universal and destructive as death itself" and it must be respected. I refuse to judge this man for his actions, for doing what he had to do. When he was was able to fight back, he did so decisively, without thought for personal safety, and when his back was to the wall, he still did what he had to do and I respect that.
But it doesn't mean my respect for Lonny Cushman has no bounds. His love affair with Alice Carpenter was one of the most nasty things I've ever read. The sex between them was just awful. Eye gougingly bad. First off, he's thirty years old with light years more experience that her, while she was a scared nineteen year old who was probably banking on the hope that the use of her body would keep Lonny around to help her. I'm hardpressed not to call her a whore and a stupid one at that. Normally I would applaud any woman for using her God given ability to bend the male species to her will, but she was one of the most irritating females I've ever read about.
While I wished Lonny Cushman could have ditched the damsel in distress, Alice still wasn't enough to kill this book for me. The pacing, the vivid environment, and the haunting portrayals of genocide, followed by equally horrific scenes of counter genocide all came together and made one incredible and exciting book. Plus, there was a great character in Jean-Batiste, Lonny's driver, bodyguard, and interpreter.
This short book, only 196 pages, is actually the second story involving Lonny Cushman, and the second book in John B. Robinson's Gemstone Thriller series. But regardless of being book 2 of a series, this book was capable of standing on its own two feet as a standalone novel. The author gave enough backstory that I was able to follow along smoothly whenever events from the previous book were mentioned. For a book I randomly picked from the Amazon Vine program this was was an excellent find, one that succeeded in grabbing my attention and dragging me into a world I hope to never find myself in. ...more