Thursday, January 20, 2011

TBR Read: Papa Can You Hear Me?

The Book: Revelations by Janice Kay Johnson

The Particulars:  Contemporary romantic suspense, sequel to Mommy Said Goodbye, Harlequin SuperRomance #1228, 2004, Out of Print, but available in digital format(s)!

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?:  Came across it in a used bookstore and the back cover blurb tickled my fancy.  It was sheer dumb luck that the previous book in this "series" was also in my TBR.  This is what can happen when your TBR pile can be seen from space.

The Review: Ann Caldwell became a cop to please a father who was impossible to please.  She was only 9 when her mother died, and desperate for some kind of normalcy, she looked to her detective father for reassurance.  She did this by becoming a tomboy, only to have the old man neglect her with emotional abuse.  Being a tomboy didn't please him, her inability to be "girlie" frustrated him, and her being a damn good cop wasn't enough.  So when her father dies in a car accident, she's left with a lack of closure.  A lifetime spent trying to please him has left her ill-equipped.  She has no friends, no man, and quite frankly, she's not really sure who she is.  Complicating all these issues is her attraction to her partner, Juan Diaz.

Juan is divorced with a couple of kids.  When he first was partnered with Ann, it was a bit rocky.  However, over time, he's developing more than "work partner"-type feelings for her.  Something about Ann's tough exterior, and achingly vulnerable interior just knocks the wind right out of him.  But his life is also complicated, with two kids, the demands of the job, and an ex-wife who puts the capital B in Bitter First Wife.

Along with the developing romance is Ann's gut feeling that someone is killing cops.  Since her father's car accident, some of his cronies in the department have also died in "accidents."  Ann grew up idolizing these men, and investigating into their potential murders turns up all sorts of baggage.  Hence the title of the book.

I am a complete and total sucker for heroines like Ann.  The ones with mountains of emotional baggage.  The ones who act all tough on the outside, but inside they are desperately lonely and vulnerable.  Ann is a smart, capable woman but is totally unsure of herself.  All she ever wanted was for her father to be proud of her, and the asshole was completely incapable, or unwilling, to give her that.  With him as a father, and a mother who "abandoned" her - it's easy to understand how and why she is so insecure.  She's muddling through, coping the way she knows how - by being "a cop."  And for her being a cop means trying to make everyone forget that she's a woman.  Except, of course, that Juan cannot forget.  And he's torn between putting on the full court press because he's desperately attracted to her, and taking it slow so she doesn't get spooked.  There is also the small matter that, oh yeah, they have to work together.

As enjoyable as this story is, it wasn't perfect.  When I read about heroines like Ann, I want everything to be perfect for them.  I understand this is not realistic.  Nobody's life is "perfect."  But after all the shit Ann's had to put up with, I want her to have "perfect," and there was just too much left twisting in the breeze.  For one thing, Juan comes from a large family, and while Ann has an obligatory meet-and-greet with his two kids, she doesn't meet any of the rest of them.  Also, Ann never runs up against Juan's Bitter First Wife.  I have complete faith that Ann will be able to handle that "relationship" - but it's a mighty big other shoe that never drops.

There's also no love scene.  Now, here's the thing - I don't need sex in my romance novels.  I don't.  But here?  With all of Ann's personal baggage?  I think I need one.  She's not very experienced in this area (she's not a virgin, but dang - pretty darn close) - and while I think Juan is a good guy - I wanted the reassurance of a love scene.  I wanted to read about Ann having a great orgasm because honestly?  If a woman ever needed and deserved one - it's Ann.

Still, this is a very good book.  Solid, emotional, a real heart-tugger with a interesting and competent suspense thread attached.  Revelations didn't hit my "must reread it one of these days" plateau, but it was still pretty dang awesome.

Final Grade = B+


Victoria Janssen said...

This one's in my TBR, too...or I think it is. Cover looks familiar, title does not.

Alie said...

I think I might be one of the few, (who knows?) but it drives me bonkers when there's a romance book with no sex scene lol. I feel so gipped when I get to the end.

Wendy said...

Victoria: Really enjoyed this one. Ann does have her share of insecurities - but the author does a wonderful job developing her back story. A really great read.

Alie: It totally depends for me. I don't "need" them - and sometimes I feel like the author may shoe-horn in a sex scene just to hit a quota and it jars me out of the story. But here? Given all the emotional baggage? It would have been nice to have one. Chalk it up to Wendy wanting peace of mind that Ann was going to get a big shiny HEA with a pretty bow on top :) Girlfriend deserves it.

Lynette said...

ROFLMAO. At the line that if anyone needed a good sex scene Ann did.

While I love smexing in my romances (unless it's inspirational which I know up front what I'm getting into), it has to fit in with the charecter and the plot. It sounds like this one missed the mark.

Great review.

FD said...

I thought you'd like Ann. And the working together resolution - oh how I appreciated that the issue wasn't ducked out on or ignored.

I don't always mind sex scenes being absent - although it's a huge part of believing a modern HEA for me - if there's enough chemistry and I believe that sex isn't one of things that either of the couple has hang-ups about then lack of detail about that aspect of the relationship doesn't bother me. In this case, I did think Ann had hang ups and it would have been nice to have it concrete that she'd moved past them.

My main gripe with this was I wanted more. In fact, that's been my main gripe with JKJ in general - there just isn't enough page time to explore everything, even in the greater length of the HSR format.
Still, if 'wanted it to be longer' is the worst thing said about it... pretty darn good really.

Wendy said...

Lynette: I treat sex in romance novels like pretty much anything else in fiction. It has to feel "organic" to the story. With all the emotional angst flying around? I would have liked the reassurance of at least one sex scene - even if it was written in a very PG sort of way.

FD: I know some romance readers are twitchy on this subject - but I would love to see JKJ write a big, meaty womens-fictiony type book. You know, something Harlequin could package in trade paperback and promote to book clubs. She does such a great job with conflict and angst that I'd love to see her try something in that vein.

OMG - and I didn't mention it in the review but yes! The way the "we work together" stuff was handled was really refreshing.

Tracy said...

If a woman ever needed and deserved one - it's Ann.

OMG lol That was hilarious! How kind of you to suck me into yet another book that was attached to your last review. Damn you! lol

SarahT said...

Thanks for the review, Wendy. This is one of the JKJ backlist titles I bought from Harlequin. I haven't read it yet but it sounds very good.

Kaye said...

I did the same thing with another of JKJ series 'The Russell Twins'.

Found one of them, Through the Sheriff's Eyes, in a bookswap and realized from the blurb that I had the other one, Charlotte's Homecoming, in the TBR pile at home.

I like her books a lot and when I come across them I will pick them up - but have not read these two so will have to keep hunting for them. Thanks for the reviews!

azteclady said...

Oh evil woman, evil, evil book pimp you! After this, there's no way I can refrain from getting these two, is there?

(that whimper you heard? yeah, my poor beleaguered budget)

Wendy said...

Tracy: I am to please :)

SarahT: Seeing that HQ digitized both of these was the kick in the butt I needed to dig them out of my print TBR.

Kaye: And because I have a sickness ::sigh:: I have both those Russell Twins books in my TBR....

AL: E-mail me. I don't seem to have your address on file.....

nath said...

It's one thing to have the books in your TBR pile, but also know that you have it and be able to find it... speaks about your organization Wendy :) Very loudly :)

Sounds like the romance was a little bit weak ^_^;

Wendy said...

Nath: I keep 98% of my print Harlequin TBR in a separate Rubbermaid tote. So it was just a matter of opening it and digging through the layers :)