As May McGoldrick:

Beauty of the Mist

The Dreamer

The Enchantress

Flame

 
Trust Me Once by Jan Coffey
(Mira, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-55166-859-9
***
The writing team of Jim and Nikoo McGoldrick, who write historical romances under the name May McGoldrick, have written their first romantic suspense under the pen name Jan Coffey. Trust Me Once opens with a bang, but quickly disintegrates into a succession of abrupt scene shifts that are more confusing than enlightening.

Attorney Sarah Rand has been in Ireland for the past two weeks attending the funeral of her estranged father, John Rand. On the drive from the airport to her home in Newport, Rhode Island, she is stopped by the police. But this is no simple traffic stop, the two police officers attempt to kill Sarah and she is forced to run for her life.

Television actor and producer, Owen Dean has just escaped from a tedious party of boring socialites when he nearly runs over an obviously distraught woman. Although she insists she’s all right and simply needs a lift because her car has run out of gas, Owen is uncomfortable leaving her alone.

Owen reluctantly leaves Sarah at her office where she discovers she is a dead woman. According to a newspaper account she found in her office, a woman who the authorities believe to be Sarah Rand, was murdered in her home by Judge Charles Arnold. Judge Arnold is Sarah’s business partner and mentor and is obviously being framed for a murder he didn’t commit. Especially since Sarah is very much alive...at least for now.

But things are not looking good when a second attempt is made on Sarah’s life at her office and she is forced to call Owen Dean, a virtual stranger, for help since there’s no one left she can trust.

Trust Me Once could have been a first rate romantic suspense, if it wasn’t for the jarring scene shifts that left me annoyed and confused. There are a multitude of characters and subplots that jump too quickly back and forth. As soon as I was beginning to feel some slight emotional attachment to one of the characters or storylines, I was abruptly jerked away and into a different subplot.

This really affected my ability to connect with the characters, particularly with Sarah. For this book to work for me, I really had to sympathize with Sarah’s plight. But as soon as the authors began to reveal what made Sarah tick, I was suddenly whisked off into another direction entirely and the connection with Sarah was severed.

Owen was another mystery. Why he decides to help Sarah, at risk to his own life, was never entirely clear. Being attracted to a stranger, at least for me, is not reason enough to put your life on the line.

As the book progressed, the suspense became nail-biting and all the disparate elements finally came together. But overall, I felt a bit dizzy by the end. I know I would have enjoyed Trust Me Once quite a bit more if the pace was a bit less frenetic and the characters of Sarah and Owen a bit more clearly defined.

--Karen Lynch


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