Rameau’s Review Archive: Shades of Desire by Virna DePaul

Rameau’s ramblings: Gah, this was horrible. Originally posted on Goodreads on May 20th 2012.

Natalie Jones is the lucky survivor of an elusive killer who preys on young women and then disappears from view. And since her harrowing ordeal, the once gutsy photojournalist has remained isolated in her home, paralyzed by fear and her failing vision. 

Special Agent Liam “Mac” McKenzie has scars of his own. But despite his efforts to ignore the attraction that simmers between him and Natalie, he needs her help to catch a predator. Soon, they will forge a tentative alliance-charged with desire. Through a soft-focus lens, Natalie dares to envision a future with Mac beyond the investigation…never guessing that the clues hidden within her photographs are drawing them into an explosive confrontation with a madman.

Shades of Desire (SIG, #1)Shades of Desire by Virna DePaul

I started this book thinking of giving it a solid three stars and hoping for the fourth. Instead of something extra, I found all the plot threads of a promising premise slipping through my fingers until only thing left was bitter disappointment.

Let’s start with the characterisations. What characterisations? The characters do and react as it suits the scene and situation rather than following some internal compass that guides them through life even with the needle improperly calibrated. To this moment I can’t tell you what Natalie or Mac is supposed to be like. I can tell you the events that supposedly helped to make them who they are because I read the infodumps, but based on their actions showed in this book they remain a mystery to me.

Because of the poor characterisations, the pacing doesn’t work either. It’s not as bad a situation in the beginning where the focus is on the investigation, but when Natalie and Mac meet, it soon unravels into their incomprehensible instant attraction. Of course they don’t really spend time getting to know each other like normal people would, but they snipe at each other to add to the tension, I suppose. The evolution of their relationship is minimal to the point that their sexual encounter feels like it’s coming out of the blue even though all the trope warning signs are there. This is because majority of the book Natalie and Mac are apart.

The book is written in third limited with alternating points of views from the hero and heroine and the villains of the story. Yes, that was a plural. At first those glimpses into the criminal psyche were the part I enjoyed reading, but then all subtlety was thrown out and replaced with full-scale infodumping.

This isn’t a character driven storyline. This reads like a book that had a mapped out structure before the characters were shoehorned into it. It leaves the distasteful feeling of forced plot progression. Things don’t develop naturally, but they are poked and prodded to the right direction by obvious deus ex machinas. I guess it could have been better, had the quality of the writing been good enough to distract from these obvious flaws. Though, I must admit, even then this book wouldn’t have made on my favourites shelf.

In my status updates I mentioned the lack of research or feel of it. I might have been overly harsh, but the fact remains that I didn’t feel like whatever research had been done did shine through the text. Random titbits about the everyday life of a blind person were thrown in, but they weren’t integrated into the text to help bring Natalie’s character alive. This, once again, highlights the problematic characterisation.

There’s one, highly spoilerish thing I must mention. If you plan on reading this book, don’t click to open the tags. I mean it. (view spoiler)[Natalie has supposedly had her tubes tied when she was twenty-five-years-old. I admit I was speed reading at this point, but nowhere was it mentioned that she had to go through a rigorous process to get the operation. There’s no mention of psychiatric appointments or reluctant doctors. I don’t know if things truly are so different on this side of the pond or if it’s simply a failure on the authors part.

I point this out, because my mother’s friend was deadly afraid of getting pregnant and giving birth. She had had her tubes tied at the earliest opportunity after the doctors agreed to do it. She didn’t have any children and she’d just turned forty. As she lay on the table they still kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to go through with it.

No way do I believe Natalie could have had her tubes tied that young and easy. She would have had to meet with a counsellor of some sort and as afraid as Natalie was about going mad like her mother I doubt she’d agreed to it. And had she, I highly doubt the counsellor would have green-lighted the operation (hide spoiler)].

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

This entry was posted in a total failure, book review, contemporary, rameau, read in 2012, suspence and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rameau’s Review Archive: Shades of Desire by Virna DePaul

  1. Jo says:

    Oh No! I hate it when books turn out to be this disappointing. Especially when you are expecting great things from them. I had this book on my list of books i wanted to pick up. I'm a bit dubious about it now 😛 Nice honest review, Better luck with your next read,Jo,http://alittlereadingtherapy.blogspot.co.uk/

  2. rameau says:

    Thanks. I was quite disappointed with this one.

Comments are closed.