by Elizabeth Lowell
As a child, Laurel Swann barely knew her father. Always an enigma, intriguing and inscrutable, he was an elusive shadow flitting in and out of her life. Even now, years later, he remains a stranger to her. Still, when a mysterious parcel arrives containing a priceless Fabergé egg, Laurel is certain it came from him. But she doesn't realize that her father's gift has brought death and terror into her world...
Against her will, Laurel is being dragged down into a swirling vortex of betrayal and violence. And there's nowhere to turn for help--except to Cruz Rowan, an ex-FBI agent and her father's sworn enemy. A strong, secretive, and dangerous man, Cruz has his own agenda and is spinning his own webs.
And he is her last and only hope...
First of all, I read this book as part of the My TBR List monthly voting meme (see links above). But I couldn't finish it in time for so many reasons--one of those reasons being that I just couldn't really get into the book.
Elizabeth Lowell is an author I have read before--there were a few of her books I enjoyed. Her Romantic Suspenses are exciting and constantly forward-moving, which helps to keep the reader in the game even if said reader has no idea exactly what's going on. Because Elizabeth Lowell DOES also have the tendency to scatter the focus of her books. Sometimes there are so many story tangents and characters that you have a hard time figuring out what the story is actually about.
When it comes to Whirlpool, I was actually quite satisfied with the story progression, story outline, and the story concept, in general. The execution wasn't terrible. I knew where the book was taking me, and I knew what the main conflict was. In contrast, it was actually the characters that made the book unbearable for me. Because when you insert two alpha-jackass heroes and one doormat heroine... it really makes for some rage reading.
I have so many issues with our main couple, and the heroine's father.
Laurel really is a bonafide Category Romance heroine. To be honest, I didn't have as big a problem with her as I had with how she handles the situation between her father and her lover. Both men are nothing but jackasses to her. But she lets them use her, and then lets them turn around and continue shoving her around. They keep talking (and monologue-ing) about how much they care about her and how they have her best interests at heart; but they act like they don't care one way or another if she gets hurt in the process.
Despite what Cruz kept saying about Laurel--that she's the innocent who got dragged into the mess her father created; that her father is just using her; that he never really wanted to hurt her--he still went and did those exact same things. And it doesn't help that Laurel doesn't even blame him or get angry or upset. She just allows him do whatever he wants. Then she wants to go and blame herself if two testosterone-fueled men end up killing each other.
And it's the same way with her father, too. Although, to be honest, I dislike her father much more than any other character in this book. Because with as much experience in the dark, twisted world of government politics, and private mercenary dangers as Jamie Swann has, I refuse to believe that he DIDN'T know the kind of danger he was putting his daughter into the moment he sent the stolen Fabergé to her address. From that moment forward, he already put a target on her back, and it matters not a whit that he figured he'd just disappear and Laurel could go on with her life.
I'm not entirely sure whether to blame the character himself, or poor planning on the author's part. Because Laurel's father--who keeps claiming over and over again that if Laurel just stays out of the entire business then she'll be safe--keeps making other stupid decisions and saying other stupid things that lead killers and assassins right to Laurel's door. I have a hard time believing that someone as highly trained and experienced as him wouldn't have figured that out.
I'm just a common layperson reading a book, and I figured it out.
If he had intended to keep his daughter safe, he should have never contacted her in the first place or done anything to draw her attention to the bad guys... (a relative term considering the fact that I'm not even sure that old man Swann was a good guy himself).
And then the things he says to Laurel when he finds out that she's working with Cruz... highly crass and inappropriate. He does not get to say things like that to his own daughter, especially since he spends a lot of time trying to convince her that he's got her best interests at heart... when obvious actions seem to say otherwise. Also, I figure he kind of forfeited his right to be judgmental about his own daughter when he wasn't exactly a pillar of fucking morality himself. And when he's the one who brought all this trouble down into her life in the first place.
Jackass AND stupid.
Romance-wise, the feelings and love development was way too insta and way too abrupt. I have a hard time accepting stories wherein a strange man breaks into the heroine's home, but the heroine still manages to immediately feel the stirrings of attraction, and immediately decides that she trusts him not to do bad things to her. The continued antagonistic development of Laurel and Cruz's relationship was also hard to accept because of everything going on between them. And especially when Cruz continually broods over the fact that Laurel is protective over her father.
I mean, what did Cruz expect? That Laurel, who has always loved her father despite how he's treated her her entire life, would suddenly turn around and go, "Oh. Okay. I'll help you track down my father, capture and arrest him, or possibly get him killed!"
Anyway, basically this book was just chock full of romantic clichés and frustrating people.
At least the suspense part of the story wasn't too bad, even if the random forays into our villain's heads was a little disturbing.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Reading Assignment Challenge
• Bookish Resolutions Challenge
• Mount TBR Challenge