What I’m Reading

I have utterly failed in my resolution this year to blog three times per week. I’m six weeks into 2014, but I’ve only posted 10 articles. For those who are math-challenged, I’m 8 short of my goal. The interesting part about this is that I feel no guilt. I’ve been sick, I’ve been busy, I’ve been bored, and to get right to the heart of it, I haven’t had anything worthwhile to say.

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(these excuses courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)
One of the excuses reasons I haven’t been blogging is that I’ve been too busy reading. I’m an avid reader. Last year I read something like 120 books (Goodreads keeps track for me when I rate the books). If I keep going at the rate I’ve been going, 2014 will definitely top that number. So I thought I’d tell you about the books I’ve been inhaling voraciously over the past six weeks or so.
Before I tell you the author and all her books and why I love them and hate them and can’t keep myself from reading the next one, let me preface with how I found her (that’s a clue, folks. The author is female). On Amazon.com, there’s a cool feature partway down the page called “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.” It’s one of my favorite features of Amazon because I’m constantly on the look-out for new authors. I usually look for comp titles of my latest work-in-progress. The minute I find a book that’s somewhat similar to mine, I hit Amazon to find more. That’s how I found Allison Brennan. Her name came up when I typed in a book by Kay Hooper (who also has awesome books, but I’ve read all of hers and Allison was new to me).
Now that I’ve revealed Allison’s name, I’ll tell you about her books. They’re romantic suspense, which is what I’m currently working on (there’s also an urban fantasy in the works, but that’s a different story for another time). When I first found Allison’s name on Amazon, I found her personal site and went to the page that lists all her books. Treasure trove! She’s written a bunch, so I knew I’d be kept busy for a while if I liked her style. There’s nothing worse then finding an author you love, and they only have three books available. That’s not a problem with Allison. She’s got 33 novels and a bunch of short stories.
There are some things I absolutely love about Allison’s books. First, the protagonist sticks with you. Of all her books I’ve read, I still remember all the main characters, the love interest of said character (there’s always a romance because, duh, it’s romantic suspense), and the bad guys. They’re that memorable. The bad guys are nasty but believable. The crime investigations are realistic and fun to follow. It’s not always possible to identify the bad guy before the “reveal” in the story, but that’s okay because I’m so interested in the characters that catching the bad guy is like a secondary thing.
Allison’s writing style is fabulous–I never get sucked out of the story because of awkward phrasing or clumsy craft or bad dialogue. I find myself invested in the characters like they’re personal friends or something. So yeah, it hurts a bit when the book ends, but Allison keeps bringing old characters back in the new books! Yeah! The Kincaid family has seven adult children. They’ve all had a novel to themselves, and the youngest has a whole series of novels. The siblings pop up in other novels, other FBI agents, private investigators, and cops show up from time to time, old cases get mentioned… so I get to “keep in touch” with familiar characters while being introduced to new ones.
There’s only one downside to Allison’s books. She writes sex scenes–and usually she doesn’t stop with just one per book. Because these are romantic suspense, there’s always a love interest for the main character. I like it when characters meet The One and fall in love. I just don’t need to see them expressing their love while naked. I’m not a prude, but I could definitely live without the sex scenes. Sometimes I skip over them, especially if they’re getting really detailed and I find myself getting embarrassed (what if my husband glances over my shoulder to see what I’m reading?), but a lot of times Allison imbeds important information in the sex scenes that dig deeper into character motivations or flaws or psychological weaknesses–and those things are fun to know. So I wade through the sex scenes for the stuff I want to know and try to not focus on the body parts and whatnot.
I’ve read 15 of Allison’s books, and every one of them was great. Some of them were fabulous. I could not recommend these book to teenage boys in good conscience, but if you can put up with sex scenes (or skip over them) and you like a good suspense, check out Allison’s books. They can be read in any order (I read them out of order) but because she likes bringing in previous characters, it’s probably more enjoyable to start from the beginning. That’d be The Prey  which came out in 2005.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m constantly on the look-out for new authors I can love. Have any recommendations for me? I love suspense, mystery, thrillers, and romantic suspense. I’ve been known to read fantasy and sci-fi, too. I can’t stand romance or Amish, so please don’t point me in that direction.
-Sonja
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