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Books 21-22: Falling Awake and Ten Big Ones

Book 21: Falling Awake.
Author: Charles J. Harwood, 2011.
Genre: Suspense. Contemporary. Erotic elements.
Other Details: Paperback. 300 pages.

Falling Awake, previously titled Domestic Bliss tells the story of Gemma who is faced with the prospect of repossession after her husband Liam vanishes under mysterious circumstances with only a weird doodle as a clue to why. A black contorted nonagon shape would indicate that Gemma is dealing with anything but your run-of-the-mill money lender. But her problems are only just beginning when in desperation Gemma takes up an evening job performing sexy routines with Charlene for insomniac voyeur Luke who watches from across the courtyard in his apartment.

This was the second novel by Harwood that I was asked to read and review by one of our local librarians given that its author is local and was looking for feedback. However, while the kidnapping plot of The Shuttered Room falls into a genre I am interested in, Gemma and the financial problems she faces following her husband's desertion and the solution she finds to earn extra money really wasn't my cup of tea. Actually the highlight of the novel for me was Gemma going wildly off-script and subverting the eroticism of the performance. It was a great development for her in terms of coming out from under male domination.

While the writing itself was fine, I just felt that I wanted the author to make a greater commitment to either the thriller or erotic aspects. It made me reflect on the fact that when self-publishing without the critical eye of an experienced editor it is easy to avoid feedback from someone with the authority to suggest changes as friends and family are unlikely to be critical in order to spare feelings.

Book 22: Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum #10).
Author: Janet Evanovich, 2004.
Genre: Chick Lit Crime Fiction. Comedy/Drama
Other Details: Unabridged Audio. (Length: 7 hrs, 38 min ) Read by Lorelei King.

In this tenth outing for the inept bounty hunter she comes up against a Trenton gang and quickly realises that she is out of her depth despite her stubborn streak. With Ranger away on business and her on-again/off-again relationship with Joe Morelli in off-mode, she has to go into hiding so as not to endanger her friends and family. When she stumbles upon a property owned by Ranger it is ideal but potentially opens her up to a different kind of danger when her secretive colleague finds out.

The threat level here was higher than normal for Stephanie though her misadventures as Goldilocks when she intrudes on Ranger's private life balanced this out nicely. It was also great to see the return of Salvatore (Sally) Sweet, the cross-dressing rock musician to the story and his branching out into wedding planning. The ending did seem a little hurried without the usual epilogue. I plan on moving right on to Book 11 this coming week.

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