Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Melanie Moreland - Into the Storm

She is a woman on the run. Pain, loneliness and terror are what she is leaving. Where she is headed doesn't matter as long as it's away from the hell her life has become. Joshua Bennett is trapped in a prison of his own making by the memories of his past. Traumatized and isolated, he is a reclusive writer, living a quiet, lonely life, his only companion his dog, Bear. It is what he knows, what he has accepted to be his life. One dark night, one huge storm, and one ice patch brings them together. He finds himself with an unexpected houseguest with no memory. She wakes up a stranger to herself and the man watching her. Even more mysterious is the lack of any sort of identification with her or in her car. She is an enigma to both of them. Trapped by the storm and isolated from the outside world, they slowly open up, learning to trust and love, until the world once again shows up, threatening the fragile peace of their newly discovered world, and tearing them apart. There are many twists and turns as they struggle to find each other, overcoming both the mental and physical elements that keep them apart. A story about overcoming our fears, finding love and learning to live again.

Comment: I got this book as birthday gift but I already had it in my list of books to read so it was a nice surprise. I was quite eager, judging by the blurb, to read a story about forced proximity (not my favorite trope but I have liked other books with it in the past) and this one seems to start like that but in the end, despite having liked it, some details just didn't quite worked out well.

In this story we meet a heroine whose name we don't know while she drives her car through a storm, in the attempt to escape something. When her car crashes, she is rescued by Joshua, a man who takes her to his house and helps her recuperate. When she wakes up her memory is gone and she is wary of being alone with a stranger but as time goes by without any way to help her, they start trusting each other and slowly their feelings for one another become stronger too. However, what will happen when she remembers who she is? And why was she running away? From what? Joshua too, feels trapped, so how can he help, especially when he realizes his more than likes this woman?

I can't really help it if my mind keeps finding faults in books after a blurb or a premise made me expect a certain type of story and, after all, that indication was not executed that way by the author. I thought this would be a romance between strangers who, being alone, had to rely on one another and, by that, they would have no other option but to talk and trust and their feelings would become stronger. Going by the labels given to this story (mainly romance; romantic suspense) I knew the heroine's past would be a driving force to keep the plot in motion but I really think the author could have done things a little better.

The first thing I would change in this novel is the fact this was told in first person. In thrillers or suspense books this means the things we can't know beforehand aren't told because the narrator probably doesn't know it either and that works. But in a romance, unless it's so well done, it can be frustrating and the protagonists can end up sounding really annoying whether because they talk in an unlikely way or they say things for the reader's benefit which they wouldn't in a dialogue were the story to be told in third person. I just think first person should be reserved for plots where it has to be, not in all cases, especially in romances where it limits so much how the reader can "know" the character.

That aside, turning to the plot, this was a good idea for certain, not very original, but I was still curious to see what was happening, who the heroine was, what was going on with her, why the hero felt like being a recluse, etc. All these elements started of well but as things progressed I confess I got a bit annoyed at the route the author took and the first person narrator made them, the hero in particular, feel like whiny people and the the hero also a "poor rich guy". 

I can rationalize his reasons to want to be away from others, I can understand a traumatic event might condition his behavior and I could even accept love or wanting to help someone might, too, cause him to change quicker than therapy would advise but that this part of himself was used in such a way didn't convince me because it happened too quickly. Since part of the plot required a short amount of time to pass more quickly - action-paced plots usually do - I don't think the author's choices were always the best.

Joshua is a good enough hero but we follow his thoughts and I must say I wasn't that eager to keep "listening". He was often a bit too insecure or feeling he couldn't cope for me to see his "hero" potential. I mean, of course he could and should have issues but then, don't portray his behavior this way for him to sound more like a protagonist... The heroine had interesting traits but she did react too easily to everything by crying or being offended or having her feelings hurt... I'm certain there are many people like this but, again, in first person this happening feels like she can't stop complaining or looking like a «mary sue».

I wasn't too keen on the protagonists, but I still felt curious to see how the story would play out. The reasons why the heroine escaped aren't made a secret, she is running from being abused and beaten and her husband is the guilty party. Was he a bad guy? Did he hurt her just because? Was he a sociopath? Was he also abused so he now transferred his attention to someone else? Was he a pure villain? No... to be honest, the explanation the author chose to justify why he hurt the heroine despite his circumstances (being rich and having a company even if controlled by his authoritarian father) was simply too stupid to be really acceptable. Plus, it's also rather cliché in a very, very bad way.

So, a very poorly explained plot, characters that could have been way better presented than they were, sad choice of POV and too much fluff in a story that could have worked better with more setting up, with more characterization didn't make for such a great read, for me. It's readable, if one thinks about the big picture but I must say I expected more from this, especially after having enjoyed so much the author's short story in an anthology months ago. Oh well...

Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment