And now for something completely different!
Ooh boy. Have you heard of Tami Hoag? I hadn't. I had no idea she's a relatively famous writer of crime/suspense novels. And I had no idea she started her career writing serialized romance novels. And…boy, does it show. I haven't the slightest clue as to what this book was doing in a forgotten corner of our library, or who brought it in. All I know is that I was scanning for my next book and I liked the cover. Hey, my options are limited.
Night Sins is, in essence, the story of a kidnapping and the efforts made to recover him. The plot itself is actually quite good, it's well paced and just intriguing enough, and Tami Hoag has obviously done some careful research of police investigations and procedures. When she's focusing on the actual kidnapping, Hoag is more than a competent writer, and the book is surprisingly gripping and entertaining.
When, however, Hoag decides to focus on her characters, particularly the two leads, a fiercely independent female field agent Megan O'Malley and the dark, dangerous and attractive (of course) chief of Police, Mitch Holt, the book falls into hilarious and ridiculous one-liners and horrible dialogue. It's here that Tami Hoag's romance roots become painfully obvious. They're passages of seriously ridiculous descriptions and hilarious internal dialogue; with Megan , a clearly intelligent and strong woman, being reduced to a simpering idiot repeating the same lines about 'retaining control' while the irresistibly sexy Mitch holds her in his strong, manly arms and whispers "seductive" one-liners that would make any regular woman laugh in his face. For example:
(From when Megan, disheveled and tired first meets Mitch as he's dancing in the police station practicing for some charity event):
"Tall and trim, he had Harrison Ford's looks and an athlete's body. The underwear fit him like a second skin, announcing his gender in no uncertain terms. Megan fought to drag her gaze to less provocative details of his anatomy—his sculpted chest, narrow hips, long legs as muscular as a horseman's..."
Done cracking up yet? I was cringing and laughing as I wrote that out, still unable to believe that someone would actually write like that. Harrison Ford! Yes! And this is just in the first ten pages!
The painful sexual tension keeps building up, and it's very strange how Hoag decides to insert little 'sensual' passages between actual events in the plot, which are more often than not rather bloody and a little disturbing. It's as if she just had to make Mitch and Megan fall for each other and have wild, passionate sex even when it really has no rightful place in the plot. Maybe she's required to write the words "thick, pulsing shaft" (no, seriously) in every one of her novels. The biggest problem, really, is that she's obviously going for making your funny parts tingle and keeping up the tense, exciting feel of the book. Unfortunately, she's terrible at writing truly romantic, sensual scenes, and instead of being swept into it you end up laughing and the mood is clumsily broken.
"When he touched her, she felt like a woman, not a cop. It frightened her to let go of that identity, but there was Mitch, whispering, coaxing…trust me…touching the heart of her need…stroking the most feminine part of her…caressing…loving…trust me…"
Sweet holy ellipsis.
As for the rest of the book, it's not too bad. It's not great, but Hoag populates the book with a nice mix of background characters, and she does a decent job of capturing the feeling of despair and fear that falls on the town when the boy is kidnapped. The story's good, the pace is quick and entertaining, but her characters are such clichés that it's easy to get tired of them. Hoag knows how to get your attention, and you keep reading despite the pain. I ended up feeling vaguely embarrassed and ashamed that I had read this, like the aftermath of binging on chocolate chip cookies. They were delicious, but they do make you hurt afterwards..
On top of that, the book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, and it wasn't until the last few pages that I realized Night Sins is only part one of a two-book series. Yep, there's more of this. And of course, I had to find it and read it, because for all of Hoag's weaknesses, you just can't get into a murder mystery without wanting to find out who did it. So it's on to the sequel.
Stay tuned for the next review, of Guilty as Sin.
Yes, even the title is ridiculous.