Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Review - Bachelor Cop © Carolyn McSparren

Bachelor Cop

(A book in the Count on a Cop series)
Author: Carolyn McSparren

Publisher: Harlequin (Super Romance)

Buy link

There's a reason his cold case colleagues call him "Randy" Randy Railsback. And he's never been ashamed of his reputation with the ladies. But he is surprised by his intense reaction to Helena Norcross, one of his defense class students. He usually steers clear of women who aren't sending the get-to-know-you-better vibe. So what is it about Helena?
The English professor is clearly bent on revenge against her perpetrator, but Randy's research leads him to believe the guy's crimes are escalating. Not on Randy's watch, buddy. Because for the first time in his life, he's fallen hard. And nobody's going to hurt the woman he loves.

 

Review

For readers of this blog, you would know I read alot of Harlequin and Mills&Boons before bed – I have done this from as long as I can remember and I don’t normally say anything about them here – However Carolyn McSparren is the exception, and BACHELOR COP is a book that just needs talking about.

Ms McSparren starts off BACHELOR COP with an immediate introduction to the hero and the heroine in literally arm to arm combat, yup you heard me right. Why, because Detective Randy Railsback is a Shelby County cop and also a self defence class teacher who just happen to be the immediate  target of one Dr Helena Norcross, who  Randy has cheekily nicknamed Streak.

Streak has a chip on her shoulders a mile wide and Randy knows if there is one thing that will work against her moving on in the class is the amount of rage that she channels in the wrong direction, not only is he concern about her progressing in the class – he is also fascinated by her, she looks like a bag lady, dresses like a bag and for the oddest reason, does not give him a second glance at all.

Randy is a cop through and through and knows just after meeting Streak for one class that something was off with her, not known for his staying power and not upset about the fact, Randy does not want to get involved in Streaks life in any way shape or form – but when duty calls coupled with natural attraction, Randy had to get his priorities right.

Helena is not happy about the name that Randy has labelled her with on her first day of class – Streak is not a big deal, what grates her the most is Randy just being Randy, however Streak has the good sense to have a friend who does not sugar coat the truth and makes her see that any man would be subjected to the same outpouring of anger that Streak laid on Randy.

Streak is trying to get her life together and one of her first step is the self defence class, after that she has a plan A, B, and C but some things are unexpected and one of them is Randy, then there are the new friends that she is making and then there is a killer out for blood that Streak cannot forget.

Randy and Streak are caught in a trap of connecting at a point in their life's when they need each other. Streak is plotting and her first step is knowing how to defend herself and ultimately taking out the man who has cost her so much. Randy  unexpectedly finds himself privy to information about one Helena Norcross that makes him being a cold case detective the best place for him to be – because as much as Streak has her issues, he cares about her and there is a stalker turned killer who has not forgot her and who knows who else might get in his way before he gets to her. Randy is literally in a race against time.

When a book starts off with a group of trigger happy women right within the first three pages, I knew I was going to be in for a great time and BACHELOR COP did not let me.

"Excellent question. I'm not about to teach you how to start fights. I'm going to teach you how to finish them."
"And disable our attackers?" Streak asked.
"If that's what it takes. We have three objectives." He counted on his fingers. "First, get free. Second, get away, and third, get safe." He grinned at her.
"And avoid a right cross while you're about it."
"Why not just shoot his ass?" asked a plump and cheerful lady who looked like Mrs. Santa Claus. "My husband says shoot until the gun goes click, click,
then if you have time, reload and do it again."
There were nods all around.
"What if you don't have a gun handy?" Randy said. "How many of you have gun permits and carry a weapon in your car, or have one in your house?"
Every hand went up.
"How many of you feel comfortable shooting it?"
Everyone except Streak raised her hand. A cross section of female West Tennessee America, and every one of them owned a gun. If he were a perp,
he'd be terrified. But then, if faced with shooting someone for real, so would they. He didn't usually do this until later in the course, but after Streak's little
episode, he decided to move up his demonstration. "'Scuse me a second," he said.
He came back from his gym locker with the .38 Smith & Wesson short-barreled five shot he carried in his ankle holster as backup to his Sig Sauer .45.
He unloaded it, checked it twice, dropped the bullets into his pocket and offered Mrs. Claus the weapon, butt first. "I carry a weapon at all times, even off
duty." He winked at them. "So I can take down your friendly neighborhood ATM bandit at Kroger's. I've never shot anyone and I pray I never have to, and I
definitely hope you never have to, either. Now, Mrs C¦."
"Ellen," she simpered. She held the gun low with her trigger finger safely along the side, even though she had just seen it unloaded. Someone had taught
her well.

Bachelor Cop © Carolyn McSparren

The main theme of the book is quite dark and deals with not only physical abuse although told in hindsight, but also lots of emotional issues that I thought was masterfully crafted into the storyline.

What worked for me.

The protags were a pleasure to be around, they were not chipboard people. McSparren not only gave them their own personalities but they were flawed and everyday enough to really like. Randy was just as randy as his name suggest and he was not shy about the fact “ that he did not do baggage nor commitment” and he has been true to that statement for too many years to change. Helena was just the right balance between neurotic and hard ass bitch to make knowing her an adventure…  

The support cast were the heart and soul of this book – there was a whole slew of them and they all came with their own history and little planet of baggage.

Time was clearly invested in finding out not only about the investigative side of what and how the police deals with cold cases, but also the inner workings of a traumatised victims was well thought out and  well describes.

The humour in BACHELOR COP was  black enough to suit the plot – there was not enough of it in my opinion, but the little snippets every now and then was a nice way to break up some of the more tension filled parts of the book.

"AS A GENERAL RULE, I don't even like children," Randy said. He poured creamer into Jack Samuels's cup and handed it to him. At her desk, Liz
Slaughter stirred bran into her yogurt. She was limiting her caffeine intake for the duration of her pregnancy. She had yet to switch to maternity tops, but
the baby bulge grew more prominent every day.
"Most of the kids we see in here" Jack took a sip of his coffee "are one step short of feral. They'd have been better off if they had been raised by
wolves. Wolves have a moral code."
"Half the kids expect to be dead before they hit twenty-five," Liz interjected.
"Too many of them actually are," Jack added. "My point is that they're anything but normal kids."
"The only kids I know are my cousins," Randy said. "They're loud, spoiled, selfish, have the table manners of warthogs and treat their parents with
contempt."
"So do you," Jack commented.

Bachelor Cop © Carolyn McSparren

I also liked the consistence of the book -  I know it sounds silly but let me explain – this book was more than a love story  - It has a stalker, a woman trying to get her live back together and lots of emotional drama happening. Ms McSparren kept to that angle of the story all the way through – there was no jumping into the stalker mind or little burst of scenes from the stalker point of view – nope none of that. I thought that was really good, while I will admit  I like the balance of victim and stalker POV, but getting caught up in the hunt and the finer details of getting a life and a family back together was worth the read.

The mystery was really well done – not only was the who done it kept until the end but with each new male introduction – the wording was crafted in such a way that any two or three people could have been the killer.

The book takes place over a fairly decent amount of time and this makes Streak growth more believable, as well as other subplot line more realistic. Where the timing worked the best is in the developing attraction between Streak and Randy…

People not happy with really traumatic events being told or even being relived will not have a problem with this book – there is retelling of the tale but from more an investigative stance point, so very clinical and matter of fact about it.

BACHELOR COP is the second is McSparren COUNT ON A COP series – and it can be read as a stand alone book -  I was really impressed with Randy’s colleagues and I will be reading the first book that I missed and looking out for the next book in the series.

Niggles

The ending was tied up too quickly and mostly too conveniently – I do get quite annoyed when after a wonderful detail plotline the ending is wrapped in a page or two and the culprit makes it too easy. That said it was only a niggle, because the emphasis was of the book was on other things – so it was genuinely only a niggle.

While I know what to expect from a Harlequin book- every now and then one jumps out of the mould and does  something magic for me – the name BACHELOR COP so did not suit this book. Hardcore readers of Harlequin might say – it is a reflection of the protag and his lifestyle, and that is what the readers will get – but this book was so much more and I honestly think a pretty decent book is buried by this titled..

 

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a book where from the moment you open the first page you are dragged through a series of emotion and events – coupled with a really strong support cast who are not unwilling to be vocal and demonstrative, BACHELOR COP  is the book for you.

I am a fan of Ms McSparren’s work and with every book I read she only gets better and better, her style is not  sugary, she write about real people and with real emotion, tying in family, kids and all the other challenges that will and can affect anyone trying to live right and do the decent thing.

BACHELOR COP is a nice balance between victim recovery and a police team caught and trapped by time and evidentiary politics. However what I absolutely love about this books is that as much as the plotline was about trying to stop a stalker turned killer – the stalker turned killer was not the story and I got to see the aftermath of what is left and can happen after a live is torn apart.

 

6 Speak To Me:

Chris on 23 March 2010 at 13:47 said...

Hmm. Maybe they didn't want to scare their regular readers away with a title that reflected the book better... ;)

Tracy on 23 March 2010 at 19:56 said...

as much as the plotline was about trying to stop a stalker turned killer – the stalker turned killer was not the story

I love this. It sounds like a great Harlequin. Sometimes the titles and book covers scare me but this sounds great.

Smokinhotbooks on 23 March 2010 at 20:36 said...

hmm I like book that don't sugar coat the story, like I always say bring on the gritty!

Great Review!

Erotic Horizon on 24 March 2010 at 10:01 said...

@Chris..

I think I have to agree with you there - but what a bummer for the author, because this was a really good book...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 24 March 2010 at 10:02 said...

@SHB..

Those are my favourite kind of read - edgy and gritty, I did like that about this book..

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 24 March 2010 at 10:03 said...

@Tracey

Please do take a chance on this one - it is a journey worth making...

E.H>