Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: Merciless

By Gail Allison
With over one hundred novels under her belt, Diana Palmer has crafted "Merciless," the dramatic story of a man dedicated to putting criminals away and the tender realization of his true love. The story flows well, and is a nice easy read. This book is par for the course when it comes to what you’d expect from someone as well-versed in the field of romance novels as Diana Palmer.

Jon Blackhawk is one of the good guys. Tall, dark, and handsome, he is a hard worker, he wants to keep the scum off the streets, and he’s absolutely dedicated to his job with the FBI. His mother Cammy is constantly trying to set him up with "eligible" ladies, all of whom he sees right through. He has no time to hear about the latest fashion trends and hairstyles: he has an important job to do, and he’s devoted to making a difference in the world. Cammy is also incredibly condescending and icy towards Jon's paralegal assistant, Joceline, simply because she’s a single mother and she sometimes struggles to make ends meet. Cammy’s holier-than-thou attitude was a little tough to take throughout this book, but she mellowed out towards the end (thank goodness!).

Jon's assistant, Joceline is hilarious. She refuses to do menial tasks such as making coffee, she’s sharp as a tack, and has a tongue to match. Her banter with Jon all through the novel is fun and playful. She has a son out of wedlock (she tells everyone that his father was killed in action in the Middle East) whom she keeps well-hidden from those around her in her daily life. When her son’s bad asthma starts affecting her work and Jon comes to find her in the ER with him one day, you can definitely witness a spark between Joceline and Jon. This is quickly overshadowed, though, by Jon finding out that a man he put in prison is now out, and is looking to settle a score with Jon by whatever means necessary.

If you’re looking for a mystery, you may want to keep looking. The cover blurb sounded like this would be a dramatic mystery novel with romance sprinkled in, but I ended up solving both parts of the mystery before the first 70 pages were over. Also, if you’re looking for a western romance, as the cover appears to be, it’s not. Don’t judge this one by its cover!!

As far as I understand, this novel is part of a group of books with intertwined characters that Diana Palmer has penned. Some of the family ties may have been easier to understand if I had read her previous books, but they are explained fairly well and this book is fairly strong as a stand-alone. I noticed a bit of an overabundance of characters, and a number of them all appeared at once, and all seemed to be related to one another. It gets confusing, to say the least, especially considering nicknames as well, but in the end it made sense, and all the loose ends were wrapped up.

"Merciless" wasn’t controversial (although everyone’s viewpoint seemed to be strongly conservative: people had negative opinions about sex before marriage and single mothers, which felt exceedingly old-fashioned and narrow-minded to me), and the mystery part of it wasn’t too tense. It was a simple story, and a nice easy read that rolled along comfortably.

More by Diana Palmer:

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