Pros: Basic interesting plot
Cons: Primitive virile masculine potency; florid prose; triteness; soap operatic
Rating: 2 out of 5
Advance copy provided free by HarperCollins UK, Avon via NetGalley.
Expected publication date: 10/9/2014.
Reed spent 15 years in jail for murdering his vicious stepfather–a murder he didn’t commit. Now he’s going back home where no one except his cousin will hire him, and the powerful family that put him behind bars still doesn’t want him around. Someone in particular is so determined to send him back to jail that they start setting him up. They send stalking letters to Ella, a judge whose father prosecuted Reed. Soon they up the ante and start framing Reed for bigger crimes, but Reed has found an unexpected ally in Ella, who starts to believe in his innocence.
The language in I’ll Be Watching You is overblown and florid, particularly when it delves into the erotic romance between Reed and Ella. Within a very short amount of space the author tackles “pure masculine power … virile potency … raw masculinity … primitive male”. I feel like I’m in a body spray ad. Or, in this quote:
The sounds coming from his mouth were those of an alpha male, roaring to the pack that he had just made this female his property.
For heaven’s sake, just write a shapeshifter erotica and get it out of your system already. This prose is so purple it’s practically ultraviolet. It’s a shame, too, because it tends to spoil what is otherwise some rather raw chemistry between Reed and Ella. Oh wait, I forgot one:
He groaned … Ella instinctively recognized the mating call.
Seriously?! This is the point at which I started imagining them making bird calls while naked in bed together. (Actually, that would have been pretty funny.) There are also chunks of trite dialogue here and there.
The narrative can get pretty garrulous, particularly toward the start. It rambles on at length about semi-relevant details. Even at the start of a thriller the pacing is important, and I just didn’t feel that thriller vibe for quite some time. While some characters grew beyond their opening stereotypes (I admit, Webb Porter had more depth than I expected), others just made me groan. Like the ‘slow’ man who has “some strange sixth sense that allowed him a special insight into human nature.” Why do authors always go back to making the slow character have some sort of idealized insight into other people’s souls?
There are some awfully trite story beats, and there’s a ridiculous Hallmark Moment-style scene toward the end–thrillers do not need to end with shiny pink bows on them. The style clashes. I also had some problems with the revelation of who the bad guy was. I won’t get too specific so as to avoid giving it away; I’ll just say that I couldn’t understand how said person accomplished certain things from earlier in the book.
I’ll Be Watching You includes some good tense scenes, a scorching relationship between its leads, and a few surprises here and there. Unfortunately it’s marred by its own narrative style.