|Domestic violence is all too prevalent, and getting away from it is
not as easy as might seem. Beth Cornelison has done her research
about survivors and their coping mechanism for her romantic suspense
novel. Too bad she ruins the effect by giving her lackluster
characters a flair for melodrama and an oversimplified route to
empowerment. Oh, and did I mention the dull characters?
Tess Sinclair has been living in an abusive relationship since a
teenager, but only plans her getaway once she realizes her common-law
husband is responsible for several murders, including her sisterís.
Not long after she hits the road, she runs a flat tire and
reluctantly accepts the help of a hitchhiker. Because one good deed
deserves another, she overrules her danger signals and offers him a
ride. Stupid, stupid, I was thinking and it wouldnít be the last
time. But for the hero, this friendly overture is proof of Tessís
resistance to the cynicism and bitterness so frequent in survivors
like her. Whatever.
So where exactly is Justin Boyd coming from? Well, at least, heís not
another undercover FBI agent like so many in this genre. Heís a small
town boy, hoping to hit it big on the Nashville stage. His profession
aside, heís just as guilt-ridden as others of his ilk. See, Justin
didnít do enough to get his sister out of a violent marriage. Now
itís too late for her, but not so for Tess. No dream-chasing for him
until heís certain sheís safe. With her husband vowing to take back
whatís his, it might take a while.
Needless to say all that time in the car breeds romance. Or it would
once Justin and Tess get their priorities straight. He thinks heís
not worthy of her; she thinks sheís putting him in danger. Which
means neither comes clean about imminent danger. At one of their
stops, she sees a flyer with her face on it. Does she tell Justin? Of
course not. He would only worry about her. At another resting place,
he is presented with the same picture and asked if heís seen the
missing woman. Does he warn her theyíre looking for her? No way. He
wants to protect her. I guess they deserve each other, but by this
point, I didnít care.
Justin and Tess eventually talk with each other, only to
have to deal with even more threats. Several tame sex scenes are
interspersed between their tragic confessions and the escalating
danger. They help with the pacing of the book and lighten its tone,
but they didnít do much to improve my impressions of the characters.
If you knew someone was in hot pursuit, would you stop on the side of
the highway for a quickie? If you sensed danger, would you spend a
night on the town dancing? And these are only some of the stupid
things these runaways do.
An authorís note appended to the book promises to donate a portion of
the sales to help survivors of domestic violence make a new start.
Iím all for this initiative, but I wonít let it guilt trip me into
recommending Chasing a Dream. If you feel charitable, cut out the
middleman: give the full $26.95 directly to the worthy cause.