"Ace is Wild," Penny McCall

Pros: Halfway decent plot and characters with at least some decent romance buildup toward the end
Cons: Forced chemistry; all-too-convenient psychic abilities (or lack thereof); irritating male lead; not so much suspense
Rating: 2 out of 5

Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.
Visit Penny McCall’s website.

 

Psychic Vivi Foster hates law enforcement—none of them ever take her seriously. But when she starts having visions of U.S. Attorney Daniel Pierce’s death, she can’t help getting involved. She knows he won’t believe her, so she kidnaps him at gunpoint in order to save his life—not the most auspicious beginning to a relationship.

Daniel, a former FBI agent, is as skeptical as they come. But even he can’t ignore the accuracy of Vivi’s hunches forever, particularly when she saves his life several times in a row. He also can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them, no matter how hard he’s trying and how insane she seems. Now if he could only figure out who’s trying to kill him, and why, he might be able to rid himself of Vivi before he gives in to temptation…

 

The Good

Since I liked less than I disliked about this book, I’ll get to the good stuff first. I enjoyed the basic idea of a cop-shy psychic forced to save the life of an attorney. I loved some of the humor, and Vivi is a fun character—in particular I love her truck, Maxine, which seems to have something of a life of its own. Also, toward the end of the book the romance aspect of the plot starts growing in a much more organic manner, and becomes something enjoyable. That said…

The Bad

The sexual sparks that fly between the leads at the beginning of the book feel forced. They read like artificial plot glue needed to hold the characters together until a more natural romance could develop over time. Instead, I think the plot itself could have been used to hold them together well enough until they got to that point.

The male lead is almost entirely unlikable until the end of the book. He’s rude, obnoxious, and irritating. He’s constantly ‘taking charge’ (often by kissing Vivi) and then ‘coming to his senses’ (generally by pushing her away), and it ends up reading like ‘if I want you I get what I want, but when you start wanting me I’m going to be an ass and deny you’—and it happens so many times it’s just ridiculous. Only toward the end of the book does he start feeling like more than a two-dimensional twit, and by then it’s really too late to start liking him enough as a lead in a romance.

The author is constantly telling the readers, albeit through the eyes of the leads, how everyone and their dog salivates over the main characters because they’re just. That. Hot. It’s eye-roll-inducing. And while I enjoy some of the humor, it also goes overboard at times, feeling as though the author is so busy trying to be funny that she allows it to interfere with the tone of the book in other ways.

All that would be bad enough, but the plot is problematic too. There just isn’t that much suspense, for one thing, even though this is supposedly a romantic suspense novel. It isn’t too hard to figure out who the bad guy is, and the pacing is just all wrong. The moments that should be particularly adrenalizing—whether they’re fight scenes or sex scenes—usually get swept through so fast, with so little build-up, that they’re kind of ‘meh’ instead.

Then there’s the matter of Vivi’s psychic abilities. Although some justification is attempted for when they work and when they don’t, really it boils down to plot convenience. When it’s convenient for the plot she gets her hunches and readings, and when it isn’t she doesn’t.

It isn’t a terrible book, but all in all I’d find something else to read instead.

[Usual adult material warning: mildly explicit sex scenes.]

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