**** This is a 4.5* Read from me.
‘The Devil’s Dance’ was read in practically one sitting; I did snatch some ‘overnight zeds’, scoffed down a couple of meals (while still reading of course) and ‘yeah’, I confess, I had a couple of toilet breaks (no reading in there, thou). What can I say, it’s winter here in NZ. Raining. The perfect weather to sink yourself into a good book! I wasn’t disappointed. And there are some excellent reviews up, so I’ll try not to repeat what others have already said.
I enjoyed this author’s first foray into a work of fiction. And I hoped she’d tie up all the loose ends by the time I got to the final page. I kept up easily with the ever changing fast pace and convolutions of the characters and their storylines and all the while hoping and trying to guess if there would be a HEA outcome for Romi Lachlan with FBI agent, Ben Sawyer? Sawyer is well-trained to take care of business and does so for 12 months before he ‘allows her’ to see him; he’s been shadowing her because she’s guilty by association, and a suspect in a large scale money laundering and fraud case. Yes – there were some surprises, cos there’s plenty going on in this book. And it’s written with a showing style rather than a telling one; great visuals of characters and situations; Romi’s personality and dress code, the ‘birdlady’ at the un-employment agency, grandma, and the trailer park too; the essence and flavour of the scene settings are vivid.
And I enjoyed Romi’s humour and deflection of serious matters from time to time, too. But not everything’s fluffy and cute as ‘six week old kittens’. Far from it. ‘TheDD’ deals with some intense moral issues; murder, theft, tax fraud, under-age sex, drugs and gangbangers to name a few. And while Romi’s no shrinking Texas Miss she wants to right some wrongs, prove her worth and most of all clear her name of all wrong doing; she’s kick-ass and knows a lot about keeping herself and those around her safe and she’s good with numbers; smart as a whip and got a degree to prove it. And yes, she has a soft side too. When it seems her luck hasn’t just run out – it’s taken a hike so far away she can’t remember the last time something good happened for her – bar the time she spends with her ‘memory deprived’ elderly neighbour, Ida, and the random contact she has with Ida’s ‘son’, Ed. Romi knows her options are finally ‘done’ when she witnesses one final act of brutality in her current ‘no other choice’ neighbourhood. Her retaliation is either brave or stupid and it becomes her tipping point. The time to leave has arrived.
Romi calls home. And does the one thing she’d hoped never to do, return to Bisby, Texas, just as poor as she was when she left. Now, practically destitute apart from her clapped out old car and the cash Ida’s ‘son’ pushed on her as a thank you for her kindness to Ida, Romi arrives back at the trailer park where she grew up; unprepared for the mess her family is in – literally – there’s more garbage than she ‘can poke a stick at’ surrounding her Dad’s home on wheels and there’s no-one else left living there apart from her still very belligerent and bitter father, stunningly good looking sister and mad as a snake grandmother. But they’re her family and they’re all she’s got; she’s grateful to them and for the place she used to call home. The trailer park is going to be bulldozed to make way for a business development and they’ve all gotta be gone by the end of the month; as new council bylaws have been issued by Mayor Ferris.
Her father’s sick – or is he? Her grandmother is an elderly kleptomaniac – or is she? Or is it that nothing is at all what it seems in the now ‘growing more affluent by the day’ town of Bisby? Former friends have moved up in the world – gone from one side of the tracks to the other… the rich side. Or have they? There’s something sinister going on underneath what appears to be a property and business development boom in the town. And the answers are all much closer to home than Romi even wants to envisage. She’s always been smarter than some people gave her credit for, especially the one person she should’ve been able to trust to love her unconditionally – forever.
If I had one critique to offer it would be the emotional connection between Romi and Ben didn’t quite click for me; yes they had some chemistry, but there were times when I wanted Romi to let Ben be ‘the man’ (for those who don’t read romance or relationship stories this won’t be an issue). But for me, I’m all about building the love and the relationships. As this is ‘book one’ I assume the relationship will develop further and they will grow that connection as they get to know each other in the future? For that reason alone this is a 4.5 star read from me.
Make no mistake, this is a story about people, lessons, family and friends betrayals, jealousies, ‘justifiable outcomes’ for some, and moral redemption for others. But if you’re squeamish then perhaps this isn’t the read for you?
NB: I noted a couple of typos, missed words/spaces, not enough to detract from the author’s writing style/voice or the story for me. ‘Perfection’ is over-rated in my view. We need the copy to be as good as it can be – near perfect, if possible. But if it’s close then that works fine for me. Every single reader/writer/author will have a differing view on punctuation these days and mixing styles seems to be acceptable in this 21st century of texting, tweeting, blogging, or whatever short form of writing it is that people engage in. The crux of the matter is always about writing an engaging story. And this book is definitely that in my view.