I’m all about some drama in a story, but Blown Away by Sharon Sala went a bit too far. When the reader (in this case, me) is rolling her eyes more than she’s engrossed in the story, something’s gone wrong.
Cari North has a pretty terrible day in the beginning of the book. During a walk in the woods, she stumbles across her ex-fiance burying a dead body. When she runs away, a tornado touches ground outside her house. While she miraculously survives, her only family – mother, father, and cousin – are brutally killed by the storm, and everything she owns destroyed. Knowing that her ex is after her and afraid no one would believe what she saw, she switches identities with her cousin Susan, with whom she shares nearly identical looks. Her town assumes it was her killed in the storm, and Cari takes up Susan’s identity.
One person isn’t fooled, though: Susan’s boss. Mike Boudreaux calls her bluff, but when he hears the whole story he decides to help Cari out. Together, they have to find out the truth of who was murdered and make a case to the police, all while coping with the loss of Cari’s family.
Heroines frequently get put in tough spots, but this one takes the cake. It may have been possible to forget that the situation was a bit ridiculous, but whenever Cari decided to come out with the truth, she had to say, “Sorry, I’m not dead, I saw my parents brutally killed and took my cousin’s identity. Why, you ask? Long story. Basically my ex was burying a dead body, and now he wants to kill me.” It’s all a little much for one afternoon. At the same time, Cari’s grieving was at once too much and not enough. Realistically, the average person would be catatonic. In terms of plot, it slows down the flow of the story. She repeatedly is reminded that she’ll never see her parents again. It gives the whole process a cyclical feel; she’s up and down, back and forth between being okay and being utterly grief stricken. I understand this is probably the more realistic and natural state of things, and I don’t mean to be callous towards the character, but given the pace of the story, it just slowed down the progress of the novel.
This said, she and Mike do manage to develop a sweet and believable romance. He’s a good guy, but does fall into some painful romance stereotypes; I would have preferred him to not be a corporate magnate millionaire, and I really wish he didn’t call her “cher” all the time like every other character who is ostensibly Cajun does in books. I also wished we had gotten to know him more; there is very little discovered about his past, but what little was revealed hinted at an interesting person.
Blown Away tipped a little bit too much over the edge into overkill for me to really enjoy it, but at least it had at its core a solid romance. If it only had been a bit more grounded in reality, I would have been able to recommend it.