Run to Ground by Katie Ruggle
Series: Rocky Mountain K9 Unit, #1
Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Released: June 6, 2017
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: “Are those your only hiring qualifications? Adding, subtracting, and saliva control? T, maybe we need to look for a new place for our breakfast meetings.”
I’m into surly men in uniforms. Officers, Armed Forces, Damn near any First Responder, Officers, did I mention Officers. Yeah, definitely officers. The boys in blue have been my jam lately, and when I came across Katie Ruggle’s Run to Ground, I was ready to spread em!
Grieving the death of his partner, Theo Bosco has no room in his life for distractions. Though his instincts scream that he should avoid Juliet ‘Jules’ Jackson, he can’t seem to stay away. It doesn’t help that Theo’s new K9 companion has fallen head over paws with Jules’s rambunctious family.
When Jules rescued her siblings, whisking them away to the safety of the beautifully rugged Colorado Rockies, she never expected to catch the eye—or the heart—of a cop. Yet as Jules struggles to fight her growing attraction to the brooding K9 officer, another threat lurks much closer to home…
So there I was, filled with the hopeful promise of a broody, moody cop and a woman on the run with a few kids in tow. Kids are usually a huge bucket of cold water for me- but I’ve read some pretty awesome “Selfless big sister takes up the slack and raises her siblings” trope so I gave Jules and her gaggle of siblings a pass. Imagine my surprise when my big problem with the novel was not the kids underfoot, or a complicated heroine-but a supremely awkward and unappealing Officer Hero Sir. Theo was bad. Moody, yes, broody- yes. But not in mysteriously sexy ways that piqued the interest- but in bizarre, off putting ways that made me suspect frontal lobe damage. He was a weirdo and I can not shake the fact that he used his job as an officer to boarderline harass Jules, cloaking his probing questions in being driven by his “instincts.” I couldn’t help but begin to wish he was wearing a body cam and someone would report him!
“Where are you staying?” He bit off each word, making him sound like he was angry he had to speak to her…His frown deepened when she took a beat too long to answer, and she rushed out her response. “Um…in Monroe.”
“On the edge of town.” If he narrowed his eyes any more, he’d be squinting. “The blue house off of Orchard Street?” “No.” Her feet moved of their own volition, and she took a step toward the door… the cop’s questioning was pushing her to the point where she just wanted to escape, paycheck or no paycheck. “The old Garmitt place, then.” It was a statement instead of a question, and the accuracy of the guess made her eyes widen despite herself. “Heard someone had moved in there.”
“I’m not sure.” She barely caught herself before closing her eyes in exasperation. That was her clever save?
“Your address is Thirty-Two Blank Hill Lane.” Again, he said what should’ve been a question with such certainty that it came out as a statement of fact. “Did you buy it?”
I hated his early interactions with Jules- whom I loved.
Jules is a meaty and complex character. She did questionable accounting work, for questionable people and was not always on the right side of the law. She had her reasons and I was drawn to the fact that she was not some sweet as pie, wide eyed, ingenue who falls for the sexy cop, because (hello she can fix him). His instincts tell him she is hiding something and while attracted to Theo, Jules walks a razor’s edge, fighting to keep herself afloat and out of prison, all for the love and responsibility she feels for her siblings who were mistreated by their step mother, Courtney, – a supreme witch that rhymes with itch!
Grappling with an unlikable hero was a distraction, so I preferred to keep my focus on Jules which was difficult because they spent so much time together on the page. Gah. Theo’s redemption was far too delayed and though he struggled with grief and guilt, his significant losses were no excuse for his nature. I can take a SOB, but there has to be legitimate promise of something good breaking through. Theo gave off no such vibes. Intellectually, I knew he would have some sort of redemption, because- romance- however, by then I’d already decidedly checked out.
The plot is outlandish in a way I didn’t mind. The author had a voice I enjoyed, despite the challenges I had liking some characters, the story telling was well done. A significant bone of contention is the lack of steam- the romance was very middling. *blows bangs*
Supporting characters were also pretty two-dimensional (with the exception of her benefactor of sorts, Mr. Espina, who was the most intriguing character next to Jules, and one I would have enjoyed seeing more of throughout the book.) One of my favorite dimensions to the plot involved Viggy, Theo’s reluctant K9 partner.
Holding back a cynical snort, Theo glanced behind at a plodding Viggy. The two of them were as far from a picture-perfect pair as they could get. With a sharp shake of his head, Theo tried to refocus…But he couldn’t stop himself from glancing back at the lackluster dog again, feeling an echoing pang of emptiness.
I know, everything is so got-damned melancholy from Theo’s perspective. Like Theo, Viggy lost his human partner and was in a steady state of wary discontent. Things eventually turn around for the professional pair as they prove themselves to one another, developing a mutual trust. Sadly, much like the sex between Jules and Theo- way too little, too late (f-i-n-a-l-l-y after 81%!!??!)- I never felt like Viggy and Theo bonded deeply. Too much water under the bridge for the pair and I didn’t really buy it in the end.
All in all, it was just sort of ok for me. The children (especially Jules’ brother Sam) have been tormented by their StepMother and the abuse seems to have run the gamut. There is sort of a back door, peripheral suggestion of sexual abuse which kind of bummed me out. Especially if you aren’t going to go there and have it really work in the story. In the case with Sam, we learn from a conversation with Jules that he was molested at worst and inappropriately treated at best. Don’t pussy foot around- I don’t like that kind of ambiguity, especially when it comes to what seems to me like unnecessary use of child sexual abuse in a romance novel. An evil act that needs damn good justification to escape feeling gratuitous. I got it. Courtney was the worst kind of evil step mom- bar few. Yet wasn’t really necessary to saddle her unsavory character with nearly every kind of child abuse and neglect available. I didn’t think so. Not to mention, I don’t agree with how such abuse was sort of swept away- Sam is going to have issues if he never deals with his sexual abuse. Do you see why child sexual assault is best left Out of romance? It’s a total minefield and shouldn’t be a throwaway plot device if you aren’t going to unpack it in truth. Better to just find some other shock value fodder- there is oh so much to choose from.
Run to Ground is the first of the series, two more thus far follow. I’m not certain how far I’ll advance with this series, however, the blurb for book 2, On the Chase seems interesting, especially since the epilogue introducing the new heroine, also featured the intriguing Mr. Espina.
Until then, I guess it’s back to trolling social media for good (SEXY) contemporary First Responder romance.
Previous Ruggle Reviews:
Hold Your Breath