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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ARC Review: Come Hell or High Desire by Misty Dietz

I have a confession to make: I don’t really enjoy paranormals. Maybe it’s the scientist in me, but the fastest way to have me running from a book is to have the magic word(s) ‘vampire’, ‘werewolf’, ‘shifter’, or some such. The only remotely parnormal-ish thing I can tolerate is a slight psychic undertone. So when I started reading Misty Dietz’s debut COME HELL OR HIGH DESIRE (henceforth CHoHD), I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into. Sure, it’d been vouched for by one of my favourite romantic suspense authors, and yes, it is first and foremost a romantic suspense title… but the heroine sees dead people. Well, not really (she can ‘read’ objects and feel people’s energies), but that was about the amount of trepidation I approached this book with. I needn’t have worried: despite being a bit slow to get going and at times feeling like the middle of a series rather than a first book, CHoHD is an intense, thrilling read with a lot of twists you won’t see coming and two great characters with combustible chemistry you can’t help but root for.

I’m tired of tripping over those suave, dominant, Armani-wearing, billionaire CEOs that are all the rage in romance right now, so hero Zack Goldman was a refreshing change of pace. He’s a CEO (of his father figure’s construction company), but he’s a man’s man who spends more time on construction sites than the office, favours jeans over suits, and has a sculpted physique earned through manual labour rather than some fancy fitness centre. He has a rough past littered with betrayals that have made him hesitant to open up and trust anyone (especially women) again—but he is extremely loyal and committed to those few he does trust. But the best part about him is that he doesn’t try to make the heroine the little woman who needs a man to solve all her problems for her. He’s definitely alpha and protective, but he’s not overbearing or autocratic and helps the heroine accept and embrace her abilities and who she is. And he’s remarkably calm in the face of the WTFery thrown his way from the second he meets heroine Sloane Swift—definitely book boyfriend material. Have I mentioned the dark hair, green eyes, and taut abs? Swoon.

Sloane is the kind of spunky heroine I can genuinely root for. She has unsuccessfully grappled with her psychic “gift” and her failed attempt to follow in her mother’s footsteps working with law enforcement to solve cases all her life. Wracked by guilt over her failure to use her abilities to save a child, she’s convinced she’ll hurt anyone close to her and has closed herself off from others. Until sexy Zach strolls into her store looking for his surrogate sister (and one of her employees) who’s suddenly gone missing. She wants to help but is afraid that doing so will require trusting Zach with her secrets and that her gift will do more harm than good. Despite the physical and emotional toll her visions take on her, she has the fortitude to do the right thing and help Zach—and in so doing really comes into herself. I really enjoyed Zach and Sloane as a couple, from the intense, almost primal attraction the second they lay eyes on each other to the emotional journey they both undertake over the course of their search for the bad guy(s), and how their connection and abilities intensify as they grow closer and learn to trust each other. And the love scenes were plenty hot and beautifully written.

While the novel is well written, with sharp, witty dialogue and gripping plot with plenty of twists, I had two minor issues with the book that kept it from being a 5-star read for me. First, it was a bit slow to get going: nothing much happens in the first few chapters, other than meeting Zach and Sloane and learning that a secondary character is missing. But the pace does pick up later, and once it does it became a real page-turner I could not put down. Second, Zach’s interactions with a number of secondary characters seemed important to both him as a character and to the plot, but we were never really given insight into those relationships. There were dynamics and allusions to events that at times made me feel like I’d been dropped into the middle of a series with no knowledge of the previous books. I’m not sure if CHoHD will be/is planned as part of a series (though I certainly hope so!), but there were times when it felt like it wasn’t quite a standalone—probably just a newbie author’s growing pains.

Overall, COME HELL OR HIGH DESIRE was a thoroughly enjoyable, gripping read and a solid romantic suspense title—paranormal elements and all. I’m excited to see how Misty Dietz grows as an author and hones her already-superb romantic suspense voice, and what she delivers next. If you’re looking for a suspenseful thrill ride with a paranormal twist that will keep you going “Just one more chapter!” until you’ve read it in one sitting, I definitely recommend this book.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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