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Review: Sweet Deception by Angel Nicholas

Sweet Deception: HarperImpulse Romantic Suspense - Angel NicholasAnyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins. – Franz Kafka

Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for. – Bob Marley

Sweet Deception. It sounds like one of those “Boy meets girl. Boy saves girl from minor problem. They all live HEA. The end.”

I wonder who decided on that title? Because, though there are six five star and one four star very-well-deserved reviews, the people who are expecting a simplistic story are going to be disappointed, and the readers who would pick up a powerful, contemporary suspense/thriller would not normally pick it up offhand. And this is a powerful book. Oh, the whole HEA romance thing is in there – though it might have been better served in another novel. Just my opinion, because I found that it distracted from the overall story line.

Ally Thompson’s life is boring. Go to work in insurance claims, come home, have dinner, pour a glass of wine and read a book in bed. (Hey, that is my life!) Tired of listening to all the fun that her coworkers had over the weekend on Monday mornings, she decides it is time to do something adventurous. Well, not too adventurous, but riding a roller coaster is a start, right? Ensconced in the “special” seat at the rear of the coaster she finds herself seated next to (of course) tall blond and sexy detective “Surfer Dude”. When one of the riders is murdered and thrown from the car, Greg the Surfer Dude saves her life (of course) and thus begins a much more serious contemporary tale than I had expected based on the cover and title. In a word, this is one thrilling book – but it is also excruciatingly current in what is, to me, the best sort of way. Angel Nicholas rips the blinders off of modern issues that many would like to ignore – or pretend don’t exist in the first place.

Drug running, human trafficking, sex trafficking, dirty cops – all play a gut wrenching role in the tale. And this is why I would have been happier with the book if it left out Ally pining over Mr. “I’m too gutless to have a real relationship but I am more than happy to bang you blind – and if you try to have a relationship with anyone else I will stalk you and show up on your doorstep” Guy. Yeah, yeah, he finally “comes around” several months after the end of the ‘action’ – and yeah, yeah, she takes him back. Meh. It detracts from the importance of the book itself as it tries to pull in both the romance and the suspense crowd.

The person expecting a ‘sweet’ romance isn’t going to like this. There is brutality, rape, sex slavery of both adult women and children, (two instances of which Ally is forced to watch, as “training”), and several scenes where the heroine is subjected to the worst kinds of humiliation, though she is not actually raped.

Yes, yes, I know. I get psychotic over books that depict rape and sadism – but my problems with those books are where the actions are presented as being “acceptable”. This isn’t that sort of book. It brings into the light things that society would rather keep hidden, stripping off the blinders and making the reader truly see.

Something else it brings to light? How our government will allow these things to continue to happen as they “build their case” – no matter the suffering that women and children go through as the “case” is built. Sometimes YEARS of torture, rape and sometimes death – which can honestly be a blessing given what they are subjected to day after day. All enslaved  by monsters, of course. But the real monsters? The ones who live next door – who have wives and children and jobs, who attend PTA and host cookouts in the back yard and birthday parties for your children. And who slip away at odd hours to rape and brutalize women – and of course, children the same age or younger than their own little ones.
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So. My recommendation? READ. THIS. BOOK. But don’t expect “sweet and cuddly.” Expect realism, expect truth, expect good writing (well, except for the romance part – IMO Ally would have been better off sticking with being the strong, wonderful woman she was, and she does create something truly wonderful with her life before Greg comes back around) than sticking around for Mr. “It’s All About Me” but there was finally a HEA so those that wanted it got a sweet ending.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own, and I am very happy to recommend it! If you like my reviews, please let me know on your country’s Amazon.com! I post to US, CA, AU, UK.

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Review of Abduction: An Angel over Rimini by Patrick Brigham

I need to find a reason to go on with my life; to like what I do, to like who I am and to quietly pass the days until I can finally accept that I am doing the right thing; both for myself and – he supposed – my immortal soul. – DCI Michael Lambert – Abduction: Angel Over Rimini

22641895I truly enjoy European and British novels, especially police procedurals. The turns of phrase, characterizations and procedures are just enough different from American stories that I normally find myself dropping into the story and losing myself. While that is the norm, there are certain books that I simply can’t make myself like, not because the story isn’t good, but because it simply isn’t well written. In this case, though Mr. Brigham may have been a journalist, he is in great need of an editor.

Though there are those who seem to admire his writing style, I find that Mr. Brigham’s over-descriptive, ad nauseum style had me wanting to pound my head against a wall. A good third of the book could have been tossed out and tightened down in order to make the book more readable. For example, I really didn’t need to know which rail lines Lambert took from St Lazar to Gare du Nord, then to Charles de Gaulle, and how he bought socks and ties at the airport. Why not just bring them from home, anyway? And knowing that he bought ten eggs, a jar of honey, a packet of spaghetti, etc. – ugh. Instead of giving us your marketing list, as the book does focus on food in places, I would much rather know what he cooked for himself and let it go at that. It would be much more interesting than a market list! The whole book is weighed down with these types of descriptions – filler material at best – which slows the story and allows the mind to wander until you suddenly realize that you have totally lost track of the narrative.

That is not to say that the book is totally boring or uninteresting. There are sections of the book, focusing on the countries Lambert visits, which are jewels of writing. And yes, there are some “foodie” scenes that are well done. For example, sitting outside a café in Alexandroupolis, Greece, eating baklava and drinking a little sweet Greek coffee reminds me of my own experiences with the same. Moreover, the descriptions of the countryside Lambert visits are often well done.

As for the actual cold case, that Lambert is working for Europol? The story itself is heartrending, pointing out just how “inhuman” humans can actually be. The treatment of migrants, lives lived in squalor, child trafficking, guns, murder and death – all come sharply into focus.

As for the secondary story, of Lambert’s father’s extramarital relationship during the war in Europe and the outcome so many years later when Lambert meets the Duchess of Malfi, well, it rather strains credulity – not in the history, but rather in the extreme level of coincidence inherent in the plotline.

Overall, this isn’t a bad book in-and-of itself, just not one that makes me want to go back and read the first two in the series.

I received this book from Rosie Amber! rosie-gardening-02-smallerAll comments are my own.

 About the Author:

Patrick BrighamPatrick Brigham was the Editor in Chief of the first English Language news magazine in Bulgaria between 1995 and 2000. As a journalist he witnessed the changes in this once hard core Communist Country and personally knew most of the political players, including the old Dictator Todor Zhivkov and his successors Zhelev and Stoyanov. Traditionally a hotbed of intrigue and the natural home of the conspiracy theory, Bulgaria proved to be quite a challenge and for many the transition into democracy was painful. Despite this, he personally managed to survive these changes and now lives peacefully in Northern Greece. A writer and journalist for many years, he has written a number of short stories and articles which might be better described as light hearted, whilst confirming that the truth is often stranger than fiction.

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