Saturday, July 13, 2019

Mini-Review: Her Other Secret

It's time to play everyone's favorite game - Do You Think Like a Romance Heroine!

You live on a remote (and fictional) island off the coast of Washington state.  For the past couple of days you've noticed a yacht, that looks disabled, from the shore.  What do you do?

1) You live on an island! You call the Coast Guard and report what you've seen.

2) Hmmm, that boat looks in trouble.  You call the local cop, he's the only law enforcement on the island.

3) You call the local handyman who is hot as hell, but has the personality of a bear you woke up from hibernation even though you've barely been civil to each other ever since you first met.

If you picked #1 or #2 please go to the back of the line.  You have a problem with thinking logically ergo no way in heck you could possibly be a romance heroine.  At least not the heroine in Her Other Secret by HelenKay Dimon.  The improbable set-up of this romance only gets worse when a mystery man, dressed in a suit, walks out of the water without a backward glance at the hero and heroine standing on the shore.

Tessa Jenkins moved to remote Whitaker Island to outrun a scandal not of her making.  Hansen Rye is the local handyman with a surly personality laying low after his life imploded back east.  Then the man who walks out of the water turns up dead and Hansen starts looking guilty as heck given the man was tied to Hansen's mysterious past.

And there's the rub.  Hansen looks VERY guilty.  I mean, I know he's not guilty because he's the romance hero but...NOBODY ELSE IN THIS STORY KNOWS THAT!  They all immediately jump to his defense even though Hansen has kept everyone at arm's length and has a barely housebroken personality.  They just all immediately KNOW he's innocent.  The word "trust" is thrown around a lot but I'm never convinced on WHY they trust him.  He's tight-lipped and slow to share the truth - I mean, that warrants at least a tinch of suspicion in my opinion.

The further I got away from the improbable set-up, the better the story got.  I got wrapped up in the mystery.  Although with the small population on the island, this reads like a locked room mystery where it really can only be ONE person - you just have to wait to have the motive unraveled.

Dimon does a great job of creating a small town atmosphere with her island world-building, which is also a slight issue since I was often times way more interested in the secondary characters (OMG - Ben the cop!) than the main romantic couple.  To say I'm a little disappointed that the next book in this series is about Hansen's brother (who never appears on the page in this book) is a disappointment.  Jury still out if I'll make the pit stop with him, or just set this series aside until, hopefully, Ben's romance finally appears.


Final Grade = C


azteclady said...

God forbids anyone did the logical think, there would be no romantic suspense anywhere!

Unless, of course, someone wrote a better setup for the story, but that's...well, let's go with "rare" and I'll get off my soap box.

Beyond that, I struggle a lot with how "trust" is set up in a lot of romance/romance adjacent fiction. We've all read the stories of men being absolute assholes if women they are meeting take *any* precautions, as if it were a personal insult. And we usually go, "dude, she doesn't know you, serial killers ARE a thing, prove you are trustworthy instead of throwing a tantrum."

In fiction, though, it's either she trusts the right guy, because instinct/attraction/what have you, despite the guy looking shady as fuck; or, she trusts the nice guy who turns out to be THE serial killer, and she's rescued by the hunky hero (who she didn't trust, because barely housetrained bear), from her own naivete/stupidity/pick yours.

So yeah, I'm grumpy about this.

Lori said...

"Do You Think Like a Romance Heroine?"

My answer is almost always, "Good lord, I hope not." I run into less TSTL in romance than I used to. I'm not sure if that's because the genre as a whole has smartened up, or if I've just learned what to avoid. I agree with azteclady about "trust" still being a real issue and it tends to make me grumpy as well.

Wendy said...

AL: Seriously, what is it with romantic suspense?! I mean, obviously I love mystery/suspense. I can swallow also sorts of improbable nonsense in category romance (hello, I read Presents) - but something about nonsense + romance + suspense and my brain short-circuits.

Yeah, the trust thing. Part of it was that the town b*tch didn't like Hansen, so ergo everyone immediately leaped to his defense because they couldn't stand her. And I'm over here like, "Yeah, I don't like her either but she kinda has a point...." Honestly? Her marriage is shaky AF and I think it would be ballsy as heck for HKD to make her romance heroine one day but that's me being all subversive.

Lori: I still read a lot of "traditional" publishing and I do think TSTL is less common these days. But like you, if my spidey sense is tuned in I kind of know what to avoid. I've been reading romance nearly exclusively for over 20 years now. At this point I kinda know what I *should* like.

Dorine said...

I love your Romance heroine game. So very funny. I have been very tempted by this one because I love island stories, then you mentioned a locked room mystery scenario, and I'm even more intrigued. I always say I have a love/hate relationship with romantic suspense. I keep hoping someone writes the kind I dream about. LOL

Wendy said...

Dorine: Yeah, I keep reading romantic suspense because 1) I love romance and 2) I love suspense but the improbabilities get me Every. Single. Time.

Dimon has written some really good Harlequin Intrigues and some books for the Kensington Brava line back in the day - but the Avon stuff just has not clicked with me as of yet....