jenjn79's Reviews > Waking Nightmare

Waking Nightmare by Kylie Brant
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's review
Jan 16, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: series-mindhunters, genre-romance-suspense, format-mmp, published-2009, 2011, info-full, reviewed, stars-3-5, pbs-received, condition-used
Recommended to jenjn79 by: Kathrynn M.
Read from April 02 to 04, 2011 , read count: 1

I've had this series sitting on my shelf for a while after having it recommended by a couple GR friends and finally decided to read it. I'd read a few of Brant's HQ/Sil books and didn't mind them and I love romantic suspense so this seemed like it'd be a great series. This first book started off really well, but it didn't quite fully deliver. There were, for me, some critical areas it lacked in that kept it from moving from a good book to a great book.

Series Note:
First book in Brant's "Mindhunters" series about an independent forensics agency and the cases they get involved in.

Abbie Phillips is a profiler for Raiker Forensics, an independent forensics agency run by a legendary former FBI agent. She's been sent to work on a serial rapist case in Savannah, Georgia where women are being raped and tortured in horrific ways. Once there, she's joins the police task force for the case and buts heads with lead detective Ryne Robel and the other cops who don't want an outsider in their way. Abbie slowly wins them over...somewhat...with her insight and diligence.

Right from the start there's an attraction between Ryne and Abbie, but both fight it, knowing the case needs their attention. And both have old demons they are fighting - Abbie a terrible childhood that haunts her to this day, and Ryne the nightmares of a case gone wrong. They can't fight the attraction, though, and begin an affair. No matter what is between them, they still have to find a rapist who appears to be using women's worst nightmares against them. But differences of opinion and personal conflicts threaten to derail Abbie and Ryne...along with putting their lives in danger.

This book got off to such a promising start. I love dark, creepy, procedural romantic suspenses and that exactly what this seemed to be. The first few chapters gave me a lot of hope that this would be an excellent book. Unfortunately, it never quite lives up to its early promise. There were some areas it was severely lacking that kept me from truly loving it. But I'll start with what I liked first.

The plot of the story is excellent. It's a dark tale about a serial rapist who also tortures women - so it's not a book for those who don't want to read about such subject matter. Even so, it's not overly dark. Brant doesn't dig in to the victimology or give you first hand accounts of what the victims are going through. So you don't feel dragged down by all the bad stuff.

Brant did an excellent job crafting the plot, making it engaging and keeping me reading. Brant also gets bonus points for doing well on the procedural aspect. She SHOWED us what was going on in the investigation instead of TELLING or just skipping altogether, as many some romantic suspense authors tend to do. You really feel like you're reading about a case being solved and all the work that goes into it. I know some hate all that procedural detail, but it interests me so I liked that part of the book.

Also, the author does an excellent job keeping you guessing on who the bad guy is....maybe too good of a job, though. I loved that the bad guy wasn't obvious, that, as a reader, I spent a lot of time trying to put together the details, clues and whatnot trying to figure out who the rapist was. It ramps up the suspense aspect and has you wanting to just keep reading. On the flip side, I can also say that Brant was maybe too vague and stingy on the clues to the bad guy. Because really, there aren't any particularly real clues to the bad guys identity. It's one thing to be kept guessing and trying to put it all together - I had several suspects in mind, none of which were correct. But it's another thing to leave it so open that when you get the big reveal you're totally shocked. Which I was. The bad guy's identity comes totally out of left field at the end. I never saw it coming. Honestly, I'm undecided about whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. Because on one hand, it was perfectly logical, intriguing and real, but on the other hand, it has you scratching your head thinking, where the heck did that come from? Part of me thought there should have been clues leading up to the bad guy, making it less out of the blue, and another part of me thought, huh, that was a neat twist of events. So yeah, I'm undecided on that part of the story.

The two main characters are also interesting, beneficial parts of the story. Poor Abbie, that girl's been to hell and back in her life and continues to deal with the repercussions of her childhood. You really feel bad for her, sympathize with her as a survivor. Then there's Ryne...he's maybe a bit cookie cutter - the tough guy cop who had a case go bad and feels endless guilt over it - but I liked him. They were good characters to read about.

So those were the parts of the book I liked, and they made it an interesting story to read and kinda balanced out the things I didn't like. But there were some big things about the book that I thought could have been done a lot better.

My biggest complaint was the lack of thorough character portraits - who are they, where did the come from, why do they do what they do, and all that. The two main characters are very much dealt with in the moment, with the exception of the big event in each ones pasts that helped define who they are. But aside from that, you get very little about these characters. You know that Abbie had a terrible childhood that affects her to this day, a troubled sister, and worked as a profiler for Raiker Forensics. But you don't get any tidbits on why she does what she does, her training/schooling, how she dealt with her past...things like that. Her character felt very incomplete, like you knew only the main details you needed to know to make the story work. Ryne was the same way...why was he a cop? Did he go to college? Who was his family? I just really wanted to know who these two people were outside of this case. It's a bit hard to fully connect with the characters you're reading about when you can't get to know them. For me, that really hurt the story.

Another area lacking development was the whole set up of Raiker Forensics, a group referred to as the Mindhunters. They are the whole basis of this series - a group of people at an independent agency who help solve crimes. Yet you get absolutely no introduction to this group. Abbie drops into the story simply as an agent of the group to help with the case. All you learn is who started the group and why but you learn nothing else. I wanted a connection with the group, something to make it more real and not just some nebulous thing Abbie works for. I'm not even sure, throughout the entire story, if there's a mention of a single of Abbie's coworkers, at least by name. Makes you very disconnected from the group that is supposed to be the basis of the series and it doesn't give you any direct motivation to read future books in the series, really. Usually when you read about these special agency type series you get group scenes - interactions at headquarters, what they group does, why it does it, who is involved, intros to coworkers - stuff that sets the group up and whets your appetite for the future books. But there's just not any of that, which was very disappointing. It doesn't particularly incline you to keep reading when there is such little connection.

The last area that needed some work for me was the romance. Something about it was just a bit off. I didn't quite get the spark between Ryne and Abbie. They seemed kinda like two characters who were shoved together because they were the two leads in the book. The connection between them is slow to develop - which isn't necessarily a problem - then just seems to jump right in. Suddenly they are lovers and feeling strong things for each other and I wasn't quite buying it. I don't know, it was just a romance that didn't hit on all cylinders for me, but it wasn't terrible. I've just read better. It also didn't help that the ending has a slightly HFN feeling instead of and HEA. There's not a real solid commitment between the two and as a reader you're not really sure where these two are headed. Us romance readers prefer solid, romantic endings.

So the book had it's good points, but they were somewhat overruled by the bad points. I really wanted to like the story, but it just needed so much more in some areas for me to really get into it. It's still not a bad romantic suspense, though, and I think most RS readers will probably mostly enjoy it.

p.s. - the plot of this book does have a strong similarity to Cynthia Eden's Deadly Fear, but considering Brant's was published first I can't really fault her for that.

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Reading Progress

04/02/2011 page 41
12.0% "Hmm, this is shaping up to potentially be an excellent book. Great start. I hope it keeps up! Started 4/2/11."
04/03/2011 page 221
64.0% "Pretty good book so far. It lost me a little in the middle but I'm still enjoying it. And damn if I can figure out who the bad guy is. I've got a few suspects but no one stands out. I'm dying to know who it is!"
04/04/2011 page 329
96.0% "Huh. Well, that came completely out of left field. Didn't expect that at all."
04/04/2011 page 343
100.0% "Pretty good book. Far from perfect though. There were definitely some ares that could gave been better done but overall it was an enjoyable book. 3.5-4 stars. Finished 4/4/11."

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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jenjn79 Yeah, there's a real lack of connection to the human element of the story. I finished the second book and thought much the damn of it. There are other authors out there who do RS much better. Even Karen Rose, whose booms are more suspense than romance connects me to the characters and romance more than Brant does in these books.

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