J.V. Speyer's Reviews > Steel Resolve

Steel Resolve by B.J. Daniels
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bookshelves: romance-reads

Let’s start with the things I liked about this book. First of all, the premise ticked almost every box on my must-read checklist. The blurb promises murder, and there is in fact abundant murder. Most of the victims are even people who really do need to be murdered. There’s one victim who even the killer admits was simply a means to an end, but still – three out of four is not a bad ratio, right? AND it’s a second chance romance. And there’s a legitimate detective story in there.

I loved the fact that Mary, despite having had her heart broken by Chase (see below), has gone on to live a productive and good life. She hasn’t withdrawn to live in the attic sitting in her white wedding dress like a certain nineteenth century literary figure we all know and might secretly have nightmares about. No, she does good things, and she’s built up a profitable business for herself while helping the ranchers in Big Sky.

She’s also an accountant. As a recovering accountant myself, it pleases me to see more accountants in the world.

There’s a beautiful subplot involving Chase’s family that is handled in just an amazing fashion. Even with the issues I had with this book, I found myself in tears over this subplot.

Some of the things that made me less comfortable…

Well, there were a few aspects of the book that struck me as deeply regressive. For example, let’s take the antagonist. She’s in this fight because some woman has stolen her man. We get a good view into her thought processes, and they’re so cringey I almost put the book down.

I don’t want to pretend people like Fiona don’t exist in the world. I’ve known a few. I knew a woman who insisted she was engaged to a man simply because he said hi to her at a party and hadn’t called her ugly to her face. (She’s been in counseling and is doing much better now.) The thing is, it’s very clear that Fiona has a serious illness, but the author treats her motivation as a rivalry and not Fiona’s childhood traumas (which are brushed off as possible delusions or lies) or Fiona’s untreated mental illness. (Which… the less said about making people with mental illness into brutal murderers the better…)

The characters themselves don’t necessarily express an abhorrence of sexuality. They don’t seem to express any specific feelings about sexuality, with the exception of Fiona. The author definitely seems to be holding some strong judgments about sex and sexuality, because she goes out of her way to prove in the end that Chase and Fiona didn’t have sex after all.

Even though Mary and Chase had broken up and been apart for years, yes that’s plural, by the time Fiona came into Chase’s life, it was that important to prove that Chase had been properly chaste. I mean maybe they do things differently in Montana, and I’m certainly not here to judge people who legitimately want to be celibate for any reason under the sun.

It just felt incredibly judgmental to me, which fits under the “regressive” umbrella.

The way the two “love interests,” Chase and Dillon, fight over Mary puts me in mind of two stags butting heads. And not only does it not make sense under the circumstances, which would be a spoiler to get into here, but OMG IT’S 2019 WHO ACTS LIKE THIS? Fortunately, Mary has an appropriate reaction to both of them.

And Mary was generally treated as though she was some kind of delicate, glass-blown ornament by most of the people in her life. Her father had suspicions about the boyfriend, but thought she needed to be protected from those suspicions (which wound up putting her in danger.) Chase broke her heart in the beginning of the book because he left “for her own good,” which don’t even get me started.

Something that struck me about this book, and I can’t decide how I feel about it, is how incredibly white everyone was. Now, it’s set in Montana and Montana is not exactly known for being a hotbed of diversity. I’m just used to living in places with a good mix of people, from a wide variety of backgrounds, so this kind of threw me for a loop. I think it wouldn’t have been so jarring to a reader from a background similar to the main characters, maybe.

TL;DR: Steel Resolve has a lot going for it with some deeply moving moments. There were a couple of moments I found challenging, but this will probably not apply to all readers.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for my own reading pleasure.

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Reading Progress

July 1, 2019 – Started Reading
July 1, 2019 – Finished Reading
July 2, 2019 – Shelved
July 2, 2019 – Shelved as: romance-reads

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