Friday, October 26, 2012

Digital Review: Until There Was You

I don't actively seek out military romances, but I read and enjoyed Jessica Scott's debut novel last month, so I was more than willing to give her second effort a whirl.  Sadly, Until There Was You fell a little flat for me, suffering a bit of a sophomore slump.

Captain Evan Loehr is by-the-book.  A West Point grad, an impeccable service record, and he's good-looking to boot.  It's no wonder that Captain Claire Montoya calls him "Captain America" - to both his face and behind his back.  They may have shared one smoldering kiss years before, but now having survived two tours in Iraq together and thrown on the same assignment in Colorado prepping another team for deployment?  Yeah, these two are coming together about as well as oil and water.

Evan is all rules and regulations.  Claire is not above bending a few if it means getting the job done.  What happens when these two opposites are thrown together, and their rooms just happen to be right next door to each other?

The answer is bickering.

Lots and lots of bickering.

The author is aiming for an adversarial relationship in this story.  This can be a tall order for even seasoned veterans, and for the most part it just doesn't work in this story.  I never quite understood exactly why Evan and Claire got on each others' nerves.  We get a sexy kiss in the first chapter and then in the next we've hit the fast forward button and the two are constantly jabbing at each other.  There's no ground work laid for the adversarial "stuff."  Maybe if we had a chapter that took place during their time in Iraq, that may have helped.  But as it stands, these two just come off as cranky babies who don't like share their toys with each other.

For the most part I really liked Evan's character.  Of course it's kind of hard to not like someone who is described as Captain America.  His back-story is interesting and helps to explain why he is the way he is.  He's also a bit misunderstood, but blessedly doesn't wallow.  In contrast I found Claire more problematic.  She's so headstrong I spent a lot of the book wanting to shake some sense into her - mostly in regards to a secondary enlisted character, Claire's BFF who happens to have a huge drinking problem she's not only ignoring, but helping him to cover up by pulling his ass out of one scrape after another.  Her logic for not turning him in is that he's too valuable on the front lines and saves lives, which boggled my mind - especially when it comes out that he's drinking heavily while deployed as well!  Yeah, because a drunk couldn't possibly get anyone killed in a war zone.  He'll be too busy "saving lives."  /end sarcasm

But then I'm not military, have never been military, so it's entirely possible I don't "understand."  Still, I couldn't help but feel her misplaced loyalty to him bordered on reckless stupidity.

The story reads along at a fast clip, and once the couple succumbs it's pretty steamy and emotional stuff.  However I never felt fully connected to either character, and therefore never really felt much for the developing romance.  I saw the lust, but love?  Picturing these two in a lasting relationship where one of them doesn't end up dead because the other one snaps?  Yeah, I'm not so sure.

Still, it was a quick read and Scott's writing style still appeals.  I obviously didn't love it, but I didn't outright loathe it either.  A mixed bag, but enough that I'm up for reading more by the author....

Final Grade = C


nath said...

It feels like the heroine bickered with the hero just to bicker. Anyway, too bad this was a mixed bag for you, Wendy. Although I've seen the grades and reviews and I think it pretty much echoes what everyone is feeling.

I'm with you though on the drunk friend. I do think the reasoning is flaw. Ah well, I might pick up the first book soon... and then, I'll decide on this one :)

Wendy said...

Nath: Her first book is worth a read, I think. Also, Scott gives such a different dynamic to the world of military romances. Really, how many Navy SEALs can there be in Romance Land? She manages to do something different, while sticking to many of the core elements that appeal to readers.