Reviewed by Mandi
I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s historical Maiden Lane series so when I heard she was starting a new contemporary series under the name Julia Harper, I perked up. Unfortunately, I want to go back to Maiden Lane and leave the town of Coot Lake, Minnesota. I love a big snow storm in a romance book. It makes me feel cozy and there is always a cabin involved where the hero and heroine can get warm and naked. However, in this book, Sam and Maisa have the Russian mafia chasing them the entire time, leaving not much time for romance.
Maisa has a beloved uncle that lives in Coot Lake, so she makes it a point to visit him regularly. For the past two years, Sam, the local Coot Lake cop, has been pulling May over for speeding. He has lusted from his first sight of her, and makes it a point to pull her over every time she comes into town, much to her frustration. The previous summer, Maisa had a weak moment and ended up sleeping with Sam, sneaking out at first light. Sam wants her – badly. Maisa doesn’t want a relationship. She knows her family has a mafia background and doesn’t want to involve Sam in it. Instead she lives a reclusive life and designs and sells dresses on Etsy. There is well done tension and some cute banter to start the book.
I think what it comes down to in this book is that is tries to be too many things. We have Sam and Maisa, who had a steamy one night stand (I kind of wish we had a glimpse into the past of this so we could have seen how they ended up in bed together) and now have this “I hate you but I think you are hot relationship.” Sam wants her so badly, which is portrayed well but Maisa comes off a little too stand-offish and cold.
We have a big, crazy snow storm that has shut Coot Lake down. We have a hero who served time in Afghanistan and he didn’t come back the same person. We have a heroine who has mafia ties. We have an uncle and other mafia people who come to Coot Lake with black suit cases, bombs, diamonds and guns. People get shot and there is a lot of action, yet it felt kind of cartoonish. But not grand enough where it is silly, likable action as maybe a jewel thief book would entail.
The book couldn’t decide if it should be a contemporary romance book or a romantic suspense – it felt muddled in the middle. While Sam and Maisa end up in bed and there are hot sex scenes, I didn’t feel that Maisa was able to fully fall in love. I wish we could have seen their relationship outside of the mafia craziness.
Too much going on for me.