Death, Taxes and Green Tea Ice Cream
There is a trick to combining romance with other genres like mystery and suspense. You need to have more than a romance novel with a mystery tacked on, or a mystery novel that has a relationship – there has to be an actual blend of the two, in my mind. Unfortunately, I’ve read far too many that simply don’t fit the bill. While this one was a bit hit-or-miss with the mystery, the characters carried the story well beyond what I was expecting.
Poor Tara Holloway – she’s not having a good couple of months. After an 8-month tenure as an IRS Special Agent (think tax cop), Tara has been fired after Internal Affairs ruled against her shooting a man in the leg. Four times. Well, it wasn’t like he was a very good man, right?
But now the scumbag is filing a civil case against her for his medical expenses and “damages” (Tara is starting to wish she had “damaged” him more…) and to add injury to the insult, there are criminal “excessive force” charges being brought up against her. At least she has the support of her former partner and current boyfriend Nick to support her.
But with the loss of an agent at the IRS, her old job filled has been and Nick is working with the new guy, traveling across the world to track down a fraudulent vendor, and Tara finds herself temporarily (she hopes) working as an IRS auditor. But trouble manages to find her still, even without the backup of her gun and ever-faithful pepper spray. Well, at least her dad got her a new long-range rifle for Christmas! Just what she wanted! (No, really, it actually is just what she wanted.)
Oh, Tara, you really do have the worst luck, don’t you? Luckily, Tara Holloway comes across as endearing rather than a martyr, because that would get old fast. She is a flawed, feisty heroine who has, in her own words, temporarily “lost her gumption.” Life has beaten down on her hard recently, and she is having trouble keeping an upbeat attitude. Luckily she is surrounded by a great group of family and friends rooting for her. Every character has their own unique flavor and you can really feel the individual motivations in a way I wasn’t expecting. The story is as upbeat as the title suggests – dealing with a bunch of different problems, any one of which could send your average individual spiraling into a depression, with a sense of humor and just a bit of cheek. I liked that.
Unfortunately, there was just a bit too much going on for my personal tastes. Tara has lost her job, is facing a civil suit, is being prosecuted in a criminal case, and is hunting for a new job (and the adjusting to her new job), while dealing with Nick jumping all over the world, solving the two cases she had before she was fired . . . there was just so much to keep track of. There were times I felt absolutely bombarded by the drama. Also, I didn’t feel like there was much of a mystery going on. The various cases are all incidental to the court case and job issues Tara is going through, almost like the story was more of a filler for the series as a whole. Perhaps I am picky or have series fatigue, but I would have liked to see more individual storyline and less carry-over from previous novels.
Even with these admittedly major issues, this read was so much fun and so entertaining I read it all in one sitting, in about an hour and a half. I have not read all the Tara Holloway novels, but if this particular one is a good representation, I just might have to track down the rest.
I can definitely recommend this book to someone who enjoys their romantic mysteries with a lighter heart. Tara Holloway’s family and friends help her keep a lighter heart than most would have, and her ability to focus on what is in front of her makes her a heroine both admirable and fun to read about.