Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: A Touch of Camelot by Delynn Rover (3.5 stars, Western)

Full Description: Amazon

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thoughts After Reading:
When I was a kid, my greatest desire in the world was to solve crimes as a private eye. This was undoubtedly the result of having read far too many Boxcar Children and Hardy Boy mysteries. At any rate, this means I related quite easily with the hero in Delynn Rover's A Touch of Camelot - a young man who grew up dreaming of becoming one of the elite, Pinkerton detectives. Add a beautiful and wise-cracking heroine, a young brother with perfect memory recall, a comprehensive and slightly tragic backstory, and you have all the makings of a good novel set in the American West. The storyline had its moments of humor, but the feature that really kept me engaged was the quick-moving adventure plot with elements of mystery. Unfortunately, I did suffer several significant disappointments as I proceeded through the book... forcing me to reclassify the novel as only an "average read."

The heroine is one of those dynamic characters who's hard not to love. She grew up with parents in the form of two charismatic con artists, and therefore can run a scam almost as well as she can formulate a witty retort. She is very protective of her young brother, and one of her main goals in life is to see him utilize his intelligence at a proper school. Her mother was an unfaithful woman, and that is part of the reason why her stepfather is the brother of her biological father. A few weeks before the book opens, someone bent on revenge brutally murders the heroine's stepfather and his cohorts. The heroine and brother barely manage to escape. They are suppose to testify in San Francisco, but they know the real killer is still out there... so they are running for their lives. Enter the hero, eager to complete his first solo assignment as a Pinkerton detective. He is requested to escort the heroine and her brother back to San Francisco. The romance is very much a on-the-road plot, and the hero and heroine deal with their attraction to each other as they continually cross verbal swords.

There were three major areas of concern I ended up having in regards to A Touch of Camelot. The first is that I never quite bought into the romance. And I've seen it before: the author does an excellent job on the adventure and action elements of the story, but at the expense of the protagonists' relationship (which is kinda an important element... seeing as it is a romance novel). There was definitely chemistry between the hero and heroine, but I felt the physical and emotional interactions - and subsequent jump to love - to be both rushed and inadequate. My next point of contention is that I never developed much respect for the hero. I always enjoy it when the hero has the reputation of a rake but whose actions show him to have a heart of gold, but here it was the opposite. The hero has a reputation for being a man of strong morals, but - in practice - that never stops him from telling his friends half-truths or trying to squeeze his way into the heroine's bed (both literately and figuratively) as quickly as possible. And then there was the ending to the book: it was a huge letdown in several respects. The climax of the external conflict was exaggerated so dramatically that for me it was rather, well, anti-climatic. I could see it from a mile away, and just wanted to skip over it. And then - I don't want to give spoil anything - but the resolution to the romance conflict was one part disappointing and two parts ambiguous. The proposal itself was mild (to say the least), and - while there was a general sense of a HEA - it was unclear what the hero's and heroine's future held. Not the best way to conclude a book, in my opinion.

A Touch of Camelot is the first book Delynn Rover ever completed, and to me that makes quite a bit of sense. The positive aspects of the book - the adventure, the humor, the mystery, some of the characters, the backstory - are all done very well. Rover shows very significant promise as a writer here, and I'm tempted to try out her subsequent works. Looking just at A Touch of Camelot, however, there were enough negatives for me that I won't be saving it to reread... and can give it only a mild recommendation.

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