Tuesday, January 19, 2016

After Love by Kathy Clark

Title: After Love
Author: Kathy Clark
My Rating: B

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Austin Heroes #1
Main Characters: Nick and Jamie
Release Date: January 2016
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
For romantic-suspense junkies and fans of Nora Roberts and Karen Robards, bestselling author Kathy Clark kicks off her Austin Heroes series with a pulse-pounding tale of two wounded souls tempted by a dangerous proposition: new love.

DEA agent Nick Archer puts his life on the line every day. A former Marine, he fears nothing . . . except commitment. Nick has no trouble finding women eager to warm his bed, and no problem sending them on their way the morning after. Relationships don’t mix with risky careers, a fact Nick learned the hard way after his marriage fell apart. He’d go it alone if it weren’t for his new K-9 partner—and the stunning trainer who makes Nick sit up and take notice.

Just like her service dogs, Jamie Chambers knows how to sniff out trouble. From the moment Nick swaggers into her kennel, she knows he’s heartbreak waiting to happen, and he wastes no time getting under her skin. Hell, he doesn’t even like dogs. As a cop’s widow, Jamie has felt the sting of loss in the line of duty, yet she recognizes something of her own pain in Nick’s smoldering gaze. Jamie knows there are no guarantees in life. But a moment of pleasure, however fleeting, holds the promise of forever—and for that, Jamie’s willing to take the plunge.

My Review:

This book started out really strong with a great premise but it floundered a bit in the execution. With that being said though, I did really enjoy this first book in the series. I think with maybe a bit of a heavier hand in editing, this series could be a real winner...because I do love the premise of these three law enforcement brothers. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself...we're talking about this book which featured Jamie and Nick. Nick is an undercover DEA agent and a former soldier who served four tours downrange. He doesn't play by the book and doesn't play well with others. As a result, he's gone through a string of partners. But he needs someone to have his back and help keep him in line. His boss, Bobbi, thinks a K9 may help so she sends him to Jamie (this author has a thing about female names that can be either masculine or feminine...that was a bit confusing when I first started the book...there's also a girl named Sam early in the book).

Jamie is a widow whose cop husband was shot in the back of his head one night on a random patrol stop. She loved him dearly and knows she'll never love again...but that doesn't mean she couldn't go for some panty-dropping sex. It's been 3 years...a girl has needs. 

I loved the setup for this...that worked. The chemistry between Nick and Jamie worked. The reason he needed a K9 partner worked. Everything was good at the beginning. And I loved Harley, Nick's new partner and how much personality he has.

But then the story kind of lost its way a bit. In fact, I'm really borderline on giving this a B-/3 star rating... but the beginning kept it from scoring quite that low.

Nick has twin boys who are six years old that didn't mesh with the story at all. They felt like an afterthought...because they're rarely mentioned and then it seemed like more like a scene-filler than anything. Because if Nick had twin boys that spend their weekends with him every week, they should have been forefront in his mind a heck of a lot more, especially when it came to bringing a trained police dog into his life and home. These dogs can be vicious...and they aren't to be taken lightly with young children. I had a huge issue with that and honestly, the kids weren't needed for the story...at all. They should have been taken out. 

Another side character that felt off...Jamie's brother who's an amputee war vet with his own issues. I didn't mind him being in the story, except he really wasn't on the page. He was kind of like a ghost in the background that really didn't fit because he wasn't present. This goes along all those 'show, don't tell' things you hear in writing. Jared was a character that we were told about a lot, but didn't really see him much...it was weird and didn't fit. In fact, in the latter half of the book there was a lot of this that made it hard to connect with the story. It was like observing it, not really being there in the moment. There's a moment at the end that should be huge, tear-jerking kind of moment. But I read it and then had to go back and reread it to make sure that I didn't misread it because it was such a non-moment in the story when it should have been heartbreakingly huge. That's a big issue, but something that should have been fixed in editing. 

The story was good and Kathy Clark has definite story-telling skills, but her execution needs to be refined a bit...at least in this particular book. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good as it could have been.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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