Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Sandra Brown - Friction

A Texas Ranger, relegated to deskwork due to past recklessness, petitions to regain custody of his five-year-old daughter, and his case is assigned to a family court judge who is as attractive as she is ambitious. 
When a masked gunman barges in during the custody hearing with his sights on the judge, the Ranger reacts instinctually and goes after him. But authorities apprehend the wrong man, and the real gunman remains unknown, at large, and a threat. 
Will this take-charge lawman jeopardize his chances of custody by going after the would-be assassin? And will this unlikely pair be able to deny the forbidden attraction building between them?

Comment: Another title by this author which I have had in the pile to read. It's sometimes nice to think I still have something unread by an author I like - I have read a vast majority of this author's work.

In this story we meet Texas Ranger Crawford Hunt, as he is getting ready for a court appointment, so he can try to finally have the guard of his daughter Georgia. Her mother died and Crawford felt guilty so Georgia's maternal grandparents took care of her but now he feels he is ready to finally have her in his house. However, while the session was ongoing, a masked man showed up in the room and shot the bailiff and seemed intent on killing the judge Holly Spencer. Crawford couldn't ignore it so he tries to protect her and when the attacker runs away, he goes after him and the police catches him on the roof. The problem is that Crawford isn't convinced the right man was caught and when he decides to ask the judge's opinion, problems start to come one after the other? Who could be after judge Holly?

As usual, the pace of a romantic suspense novel by this author, is fast and with continuous twists. When I say twists, I don't mean a new discovery per chapter, but the way the story is told makes us have the feeling the characters aren't always being truthful about what they think or what they share. I suppose this is an acquired taste, because sometimes this tactic works well to increase the tension, but sometimes it can be a bit irritating...

I liked the book for its overall effect but I must say that I do wish we could have a bit more romance content...I'm aware the author probably won't return to her romance novels time, but she did have an eye for sexual tension and romance plots and I wish she could keep the same vibe in these stories as well... I liked the fact Holly and Crawford were clearly attracted and would work out as a couple but their close proximity because of the case does not fully convince me that the intimate moments they share or the same ideas they have are enough to make it feel as if they are a good match...

Nevertheless, one can assume the author trusts the reader to read between the lines and this is what all readers must do to savor the romances by this author now, so in that regard I can deal with minimal scenes/information... but it would be nice to have more.

As for the plot, of course it isn't as simple as we are led to believe at first. I think the author did a good planing on what was going on and I liked how some things seem unimportant at first but as things start to be more complex, some details become more interesting for what is happening. There isn't a lot to say about the action, things go from one point to the next in a linear way, not always easy to believe and hanging on one or two convenient situations, but I was always intrigued and I count that as a positive aspect. The villain is a little predictable, especially from a certain point on and even before his identity is revealed, but I got the sense he is pretty bland, personality wise.

An interesting subject within the story is Crawford's case to get his daughter back. This also provides interesting scenes and a glimpse into the main characters' personality and emotions, but along with the romance nuances, I felt it wasn't enough. I suppose the balance between all the elements wasn't always as special as I would have liked, but globally, I liked the final result. I would have liked even more scenes between Crawford and his daughter, it would probably have helped me to like Crawford more.

He isn't a bad protagonist, very much alike most of the heroes in mrs Brown's stories: aloof sort of cocky and alpha-like, confident and disguising a good heart under blunder and aggressiveness. It's her trademark and it's probably a fact to expect such a hero, but apart from their jobs or lives, I must say there isn't mush to distinguish them as the books go by... as for Holly, I liked she was a judge but there wasn't a lot of her at work, so we have to rely on inference and secondary scenes to grasp that she is competent and such.

Overall, I liked reading this, it was entertaining and predictable. I would like to see more of certain elements, perhaps differences in others but, then again, would it be the author's style therefore recognizable? I suppose there's something positive and less so in everything...
Grade: 8/10

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