Gotcha!
by Christie CraigAUTHOR
(Love Spell, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-505-52797-4
***
Gotcha! Is a light, fluffy, romantic suspense story.  Macy Tucker is our insecure, guilt-ridden, acid-tongued heroine.  Jake Baldwin is a tough-talking, hardheaded, cynical cop.  Somehow, once they meet, their chemistry works.

Jake is the son of a Baptist preacher, and though he no longer attends church religiously, he tries to be a good man. Recently though, his fiancée left him and quickly married his brother, effectively severing his two most important relationships. Near the same time, he cared for his father while he suffered and died from cancer. Reverend Baldwin had been faithful and good, and he had suffered so much at the end that Jake is no longer sure about the presence of mercy and justice on earth.

Macy Tucker thought she was set up for a great life. She was married to Tom, and she put him through college. He was supposed to return the favor once he finished, and Macy planned to fulfill her dream of going to law school. Macy’s dream and her marriage were shattered the day she caught her lowlife husband in bed with his blonde, bouncy secretary. Her man-trust issues started way before then: her dad beat up her mom and was just starting to threaten Macy when he left on her 12th birthday…oh, and her Grandpa dropped dead in his pasta right as Macy was sure he was going to promise to take her to the circus.

Now, Macy’s little brother Billy has “accidentally” robbed a convenience store when driving Macy’s Saturn, and has been sentenced to 3-5 years in prison. Billy claims that he didn’t know why his friends needed a ride that day, but not surprisingly, the judge didn’t believe him. Macy visits Billy in prison, and he tells her that he’s now incurred the wrath of very scary bad guy named David Tanks by stealing his girlfriend, Ellie.  Tanks is mad, and has decided that raping and/or murdering Macy will make up for his lost girlfriend. Billy warns Macy to go to the police, and she ends up running into Jake Baldwin later that day.

While Jake and Macy have a rough start, their quirky chemistry is instantaneous. Its development is slowed by the fact that Tanks and Billy have escaped from prison. Jake’s boss doesn’t take the threat to Macy too seriously, so Jake decides to shadow Macy’s every move until Tanks is caught. 

Gotcha! is a decent story, with a little action and a little romance. It never quite gets past a little of either, though. There’s a lot of drama without emotion, a lot of criminal activity without suspense, and some professions of love and lust without much heat behind them.

Macy’s had a bad life and has emotional baggage; I get that, and I like a heroine to have a past that isn’t as pure as the driven snow. While her sharp tongue and one-liners were often hilarious, her other “sassy” traits are mostly annoying. Her incredible stubbornness, to stop herself from being protected or facing facts when she is a very dangerous situation, comes off as stupid rather than gutsy.

Macy’s distrust of men seems well-founded after her history’s explained, but it seems like her cheating ex and her abusive father get off easily while she focuses most of her rage on her Grandpa’s sudden death. A man can be blamed for a heart attack but not so much for his willingness to bring another woman home to his wife’s bed or attack his young daughter?  It seems unrealistic that Macy would view it this way.

Jake is an alpha male, take-charge hero, and the contrast while he fights his dominating ways with his Baptist upbringing provided some funny, poignant and real moments in the story. Bravo to Craig for bringing a three dimensional hero to life; often the reader is just asked to extend faith in the hero’s tormented mind to explain his actions, while here we get Jake’s thoughts in full color. 

While Jake and Macy’s relationship is a developing entity throughout the book, and they have a good connection, there isn’t much else in the story to hang onto. Billy’s actions, and those of his girlfriend Ellie come off as suspiciously silly. Tanks doesn’t seem like much of a threat in the early part of the story. Since he is the catalyst of the drama, it plods along like an unmotivated elephant until something finally happens. 

Summer reading is supposed to be light, wicked and funny, or that’s my opinion. While Gotcha! has some laughs, it’s lacking the magic to make it a must-read for a long, hot evening.    

--Amy Wroblewsky


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