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+