I tend to shy away from writing reviews for writers I know personally. A review places two reputations on the line, the author’s, and the reviewer’s. To write a proper review I have to be honest and accurate about my impressions. It is a responsibility I take seriously.
I met Joan Swan in the fall of 2010 on a mountain top in Colorado. We were classmates, Joan and I, in Margie Lawson’s Immersion Master Class. I fell in friend with Joan, and fell in love with her writing.
As the release date of FEVER (Kensington Publishing Group) approached, Joan sought reviews. I’d had a taste of Joan’s writing that had only whetted my appetite for more, and the usual qualms over reviewing a friend’s book vanished.
My hand shot up. Pick me, pick me!
My copy arrived. I opened the package. Drooled over the cover model. << YUM! >> Cracked the spine.
Page one, paragraph one, I had not made a mistake.
Swan rivets the reader to the page with a pace that flows like hot taffy down a milk chocolate slope. Quick. Smooth. Scrumptious.
No back-burner simmer here. Embers ignite in hot hot hot chemistry, a raging plot, smoldering sensuality, and a charred line between good and evil.
I could talk about story line, but the back cover blurb and other reviewers have that fire under control. Instead, I’ll tackle craft, as Joan and I studied on Margie’s mountain.
A plot can be intriguing, full of twists and turns, but if the writer can’t hold a reader’s interest with quality prose and a competent pen, success and sales go up in smoke.
A penny for a page-turner? How’s this for a hook at the end of chapter one?
Primal anger sank deep and overlaid the fear. She’d be quiet all right. And in the silence, she’d watch. And wait. And plan.
Dialogue fills us in not only on a character’s attitude, but on his prejudices:
“Shut the fuck up, you goddamned gook.”
No scene, no set up, yet I sure as heck don’t have to tell you that was not one of the good guys.
As for heroine Alyssa’s spark:
“If you hadn’t gone all NASCAR on me, I could have settled for a frostie.”
When the pressure is on and our heroine needs a plan, Joan knows how to kick up the embers and set fire to the pace:
A crowbar, hammer, lighter, screwdriver, wrench, paint supplies, bag of weed killer, can of gasoline.
Introspection provides powerful insight into a hero’s heart, but narration can bore us with drawn out explanations. Not so in FEVER. Teague’s internalization stokes the fire with some smoldering description.
Had he really walked out on her lying naked, tangled in a sheet, still warm and damp with their sweat from hours and hours and heavenly hours of lovemaking? Had he? Really?
And now for the smoky plume of simplicity:
“You’re getting a little bossy, Lys.” Teague bit his way down her neck. “I like it.”
The purpose of a good review is to light a fire under the reader’s keister to buy and read the book, but with Joan’s own words sizzling up and down the page, my job has never been easier.
Join us for Friends on Friday, and Joan’s guest post, My Favorite Turning Point. Joan shares a sneak peak at her first chapter, and a chance to win a copy of FEVER!
Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, releases February 28, 2012. Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.
Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish…
But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble…. Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.
A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose…
Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.