Romantic suspense is a tricky genre to write in because the author has to satisfy both camps of readers. The suspense has to be suspenseful, the romance has to be romantic, and both of them have to be convincing. Then try to do that in a shorter category format, and it’s a pretty tall order to fill. This first book in the multi-author Love In 60 Seconds series also has the added task of setting the whole wheel in motion. While the author does an amiable job juggling it all, I still found the experience a bit of a mixed bag.
Natalie Rothchild is from a notorious Las Vegas family, but for the last several years has shunned the lifestyle and opulence for a quieter (if you can believe it!) life as a homicide detective for the LVPD . Her estranged twin sister, Candace, had other ideas. Think Paris Hilton, only about 1000 times more obnoxious and evil. So when Candace winds up murdered, there are a long list of possibilities. Determined to nab her sister’s killer, Natalie knows that she has to tread very carefully. Not only because the department has put her on bereavement leave, but also because her father is babbling about a cursed diamond ring that Candace was seen wearing the night she was murdered. A diamond ring that is now missing in action.
As if dealing with her sister’s murder isn’t enough, Natalie has come face-to-face with a man who broke her heart eight years ago. Matt Schaffer was desperately in love with Natalie, but between his family’s underworld ties, and the fact that there is no love lost between the Schaffer and Rothchild clans, he left her instead. Mr. Compassion did this by sneaking off in the night for L.A. with nothing but a Dear Natalie note left on his pillow. What a guy! Needless to say, Natalie is not prepared to deal with him, but she must. Matt is the head of security at the casino where Candace was seen before her murder. He was also one of the last people to see her sister alive.
The suspense angle centering around the missing diamond ring and Candace’s murder is very engaging and keeps the pages turning. I also loved the “soapy” nature of this plot. A “cursed” diamond ring, two very dysfunctional families, and years of resentment that is anything but water under the bridge. I could easily see myself buying all four books in this series, tossing them in my beach bag, and reading them back-to-back while soaking up sun, sand and surf.
Unfortunately, as interesting as I found the suspense angle, the romance mostly didn’t work for me. I really liked Natalie, who has lived her life in the shadow of an extremely dysfunctional family, but is determined to make something of herself. She’s the one grounded person surrounded by a sea of loony toons . It’s amazing she didn’t haul off and smack every single one of the secondary characters. Matt, on the other hand, comes off as a sanctimonious prick. He’s one of those “sacrificing” romance heroes, who instead of treating the heroine like an adult, leaves her for “her own good.” Oh, and doesn’t bother explaining to her “why” it’s for her own good. It’s been eight years. Eight years of not knowing, of not having any answers, and he continues to give her the same “it was because I loved you so much” claptrap for the first half of this story. I couldn’t help but think she should have asked a patrolmen for his night stick so she could beat Matt to death. Maybe not quite as satisfying as hot sex, but after eight years I figure the girl is justified.
It’s also problematic that this story is left with some loose ends. While the romance runs it’s natural course, the small matter of the bad guy and the missing diamond ring are still very much up in the air. Most definitely fodder for the next three books in this series, although still annoying that the reader doesn’t get at least some closure in book one. Still, it’s certainly an engaging enough read for those looking to get hooked into a soap-style series for their summer vacation.
Shell-shocked detective Natalie Rothchild wasn’t sure what stung more—knowing that her twin had paid dearly for flaunting their fortune at a Las Vegas hot spot—or prying information from the man who went AWOL after promising her forever.
In between lame excuses and darkly possessive glances, casino security expert Matt Schaffer revealed how the bejeweled tabloid queen sashayed down the red carpet before she died. Yet he couldn’t say whether Natalie was dealing with a crime of passion or a family foe on a wild rampage.
Would the two ex-lovers partner up to solve this horrific crime—or would they give the sizzling heat of Sin City a run for its money?
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: