REVIEW: Innocent ‘Til Proven Otherwise by Amy AndrewsFriday, October 5, 2012 1:00
This was published as a Riva in the UK, the line now put into stasis. Personally, I think that means it’s dead, and I thought this would happen from the start. It was a line that wasn’t as clearly defined as some others, more a testing ground for possible ways for the main lines to go.
This one features two likable characters, Max, a top lawyer, and Ali, a neurosurgeon. Ali is on a haitus, as she’s been accused of criminal behavior when a boy died on her watch. He had an aneurism that suddenly went out of control. Max and Ali hook up and have a hot weekend. Both are damaged people, Max from a recent marriage breakup and Ali from a terrible betrayal by her boyfriend—he left her while she was in hospital recovering from a miscarriage. So what with the breakup, the miscarriage, and the potential death of her career, Ali is in a bad way.
Only after the weekend do they realize that Max is the lawyer assigned to her case, and since he is the best available, she wants to keep him. There is a fuzzy line here, as to when the lawyer/client protocol is broken, but they agree not to have anything other than the case between each other the case is done.
This leads to a delicious sexual tension between them but gives them time to get to know each other, always a problem in the short length and timespace of modern HMB novels. They spend the majority of the book lusting after each other, but in a believable way.
What I don’t find so believable is Ali’s status as a surgeon. She spends a lot of the book attending to the medical needs that occur, mostly small concerns, and that convinces Max that she’s a born doctor. It doesn’t convince me, I’m afraid. She seems more like a GP than a neurosurgeon. Not all doctors are alike, and a surgeon is a very, very different person to a general practitioner. They tend to have different ambitions and different personalities, not to mention different training. So I’m not entirely convinced with Ali as a neurosurgeon.
Max seems a much more believable character as a top lawyer, able to function under pressure and with the facts of the case at his fingertips. Even though he’d prefer to have his fingertips on her!
I like the situation, and while Ali irritates me at times, she is under a lot of strain and I could understand her. However, when she discusses becoming something else – something that becomes a running joke through the story – she never considers the difference in salary between, say, a barista and a neurosurgeon.
There are a few things that stopped me enjoying the story as I might have done. The first is the frequent and sudden point-of-view shifts. This distracted and irritated me more as the story went on. Every scene is shown with multiple shifts, and, although these are mainly limited to the two main characters, occasionally the POV shifts to a minor character.
I like my narrative intense and concentrated. This usually means sticking to one POV per scene, as the transition is difficult to do and often makes the reader, in this case me, jump into someone else’s mindset. One or two shifts a scene I can handle, but when the changes come paragraph to paragraph, I start losing interest, because I can’t concentrate on one character and some of the tension is dissipated, because we know what both characters are feeling at the same time. We don’t wonder, along with Max, what Ali is thinking, because we know. So when she wonders what he’s thinking, we can tell her. This dissipates the internal tension so that the emphasis is on the external plot and the fact that they can’t have sex again until her case is resolved.
In fact, the case comes to court remarkably quickly, but that is maybe a bit of fudging that works, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t have worked even better had Max and Ali had to hold off for six months or so. There are also threads left hanging at the end that I feel aren’t explained satisfactorily. This makes the end less than successful.
The urban Australian background is lightly drawn, though most definitely part of the character of the book, and I enjoyed the solid setting.
Ali doesn’t do reckless , and she certainly doesn’t do one-night stands – until one intoxicating night with the most lethally attractive man she’s ever laid eyes on… More shocking still, when Ali meets the lawyer holding her career in his hands a few days later – it’s the same hot guy!
The legendary Max Sherrington knows even his vivid memories of Ali could be defined as inappropriate conduct! Protocol may forbid him from touching her – but just because they can’t break the rules it surely doesn’t mean they can’t bend them a little…
Read an excerpt.