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Book CoverShannon C.’s review of Midnight Man by Lisa Marie Rice
Contemporary erotic romantic suspense released by Ellora’s Cave 12 Nov 04

I know that lots of people are fans of Lisa Marie Rice, even on this particular blog (Hello, Sybil!) I also have her last release TBR at some point, but I know she got her start in eBooks, and so, since I’d been wanting to read her, I decided I’d start with Midnight Man because, of all things, I read an early sex scene first and thought it was hot. (Let it never be said I’m not a shallow person, too.) I wish I could say that the result is that I’ve joined the ranks of LMR fangirls, but alas, that is not the case.

John Huntington, our hero, has retired from the Navy SEALs because of a knee injury and is now a hotshot security guru who installs high-tech security systems for corporate bigwigs and the like. He’s moving up in the world, and needs new digs, so he ends up renting office space from Suzanne Barron and deciding that he is wildly attracted to her because of her… um… vaguely described good looks? I’m not really sure, because it’s not her sparkling personality. Anyway, Suzanne is all about John’s rugged alpha male, me-Tarzan-you-Jane qualities, and things might have gone on quite well except we can’t have a Navy SEAL without a suspense subplot, so one magically appears, causing John and Suzanne to go into hiding from some ruthless people that want Suzanne dead for what seems to be no particular reason.

To be clear, there were things I did like about this book. Ms. Rice’s writing is compelling, and I found myself really enjoying John and Suzanne once we got past their initial meeting. The sex scenes, while not full of novel positions and kinks, were scorching, and it is here that Ms. Rice was at her best, because she convinced me of the passion between the characters.

Unfortunately, the characters themselves aren’t all that interesting. John is the most uber alpha male that ever alpha male’d. To his credit, he actually is shown to be pretty kick-ass, but I found him fairly cartoonish. Suzanne is constantly commenting on his restrained violence, and after a while I just wanted some proof that the man was housebroken. I mean, to hear these characters talk, John could out-Chuck Norris Chuck Norris, and it seems plain that his group of friends are equally as bad-ass.

So how does the heroine compare? Well, sadly, she isn’t nearly as interesting as the hero. She’s the sort of vaguely feminine heroine archetype with a feminine sort of job who is meant to be a placeholder for the reader. I didn’t understand why John was attracted to her, because she was so very boring, and I felt that she largely got sucked into the forcefulness of John’s personality.

The suspense subplot was completely unnecessary and felt out of place in such a short novel. Surely there would have been easier ways to throw the two characters together for close, emotional bonding? I’m not sure. All I know is that I was as taken aback by the whole thing as poor Suzanne.

I suspect Lisa Marie Rice isn’t the author for me. I do have Dangerous Secrets in the TBR pile, and I will give it a go soon to see if perhaps the writing has improved significantly. But this one was too much–with a cartoonishly alpha hero, a suspense subplot I found less than credible, and a boring heroine.

ShannonCGrade: C-

Interior decorator Suzanne Barron’s new tenant is the most dangerously sexy man she’s ever met. Navy Commander John Huntington, a former SEAL (aka ‘Midnight Man’) works best under cover of darkness. Within hours of meeting him, Suzanne has wild, no-holds barred sex with John, then panics at the depth of her passionate response to such a powerful and dangerous warrior. Suzanne doesn’t do sex like that. John is definitely someone she needs to avoid for her own peace of mind. But when killers come for her, Suzanne knows she can turn to only one man. John will guard and protect her body. But who will guard and protect her body against John?

Midnight Man won the 2004 Sizzler Award for Best Romantic Suspense and was First Runner Up for Best Debut!

Read an excerpt.