When I wasn't editing yesterday...or drinking beer and eating veggie pizza...or watching the Vampire Diaries next-to-season-finale, followed by a particularly poignant Person of Interest (dead ex-girlfriends and all that), I was reading Intimate Strangers by Laura Taylor.
Intimate Strangers by Laura Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The cover blurb says "Ms. Taylor writes with the power and sensuality of the best authors in romance." This may be the case, but if so, this book must represent one of her earlier efforts, before she attained that status. This erotic romance automatically lost one star for use of the phrase "throbbing loins." Twice.
There are two extremes the erotic romance writer can fall to that make the book less than pleasurable for the reader: so much clinical detail that it reads like a gynecologist's report, and not enough sensual detail. In Taylor's case, the actions of unlikely lovers Nicholas Benteen and Hannah Cassidy are buried in so much purple prose, this reader could hardly keep track of what was actually happening - a case of the latter extreme.
Some lines made me laugh, such as, "Her breasts plumped against her chest, her nipples stabbing like delicate daggers through the barrier of their clothing." I'm sorry, but when you start telling me about dagger nipples, you make me think of the Austin Powers fembots.
I really wanted to like this book, too. Since my current pop cultural obsession is Person of Interest, I found the premise of Nicholas - a lonely, isolated former CIA operative, similar to the TV character John Reese - intriguing. In actual practice, this novel is full of not-quite-believable/unnatural dialogue and telling where it should be showing, which was disappointing. Intriguing set-up, but less than ideal execution.
It should be noted, however, that instead of a Unabomber shack, Nicholas has a gorgeous multi-level home in the Nevada wilderness, complete with a roaring fireplace and a personal library. He's not only a survivalist, but also - secretly - a bestseller author of thrillers. Hannah doesn't figure this out until the very end of the novel - right before Nicholas' marriage proposal - but it's through Nicholas' printed words that she knows, deep down, he's a good-hearted person.
'Cause, you know, he did kill a bunch of people, so the goodness is somewhat buried under layers of growly alpha-male aggression. Like Bella Swan, Hannah Cassidy is quite readily willing to forgive the taking of human lives - and the overt threat to her own life, since at the moment they met, Nicholas was holding a knife to her throat. I really didn't mind his aggression, though. The reader knows he never intended to hurt her; his intent is to scare her out of his territory. I respond well to the emotionally damaged, outwardly mega-aggressive but inwardly sensitive type, which is why Zsadist is my favorite Black Dagger Brotherhood character and Lover Awakened is my favorite J.R. Ward book.
View all my reviews on Goodreads