This book reminded me of some of the better Silhouette Shadows category novels I read in college. While some had the vampires and werewolves associated with paranormals today, many more featured everyday people whose lives were touched by something otherworldly. Don’t get me wrong – I love my critter-studded battles of good vs. evil, but the quietly creepy draws me in, too. This novel isn’t perfect, but it’s a pleasant read and it truly does recapture the feel of those stories.
Theresa Crawford runs a New Age shop in New Orleans and when her former boyfriend Max Lamoreaux walks in, she immediately feels uneasy. There has always been chemistry between the two, but in the past it tended to cause more problems than anything else. She quickly learns that Max’s brother Remy, one of Theresa’s dearest friends, sent him to her. Max is suspicous of Theresa’s claimed psychic abilities, but he is so desperate over his latest case that he appears willing to try anything. His teenage godson has gone missing and Max has a gut feeling that he has not run away voluntarily.
When Theresa manages to find the exact spot of Tommy’s disappearance without being told and when she goes into a trance and sees some of what happened to him, Max stops doubting her abilities quite so much. From this point on, the story really picks up. Max and Theresa try to find Tommy, while all of the loose ends from their past relationship start to crop up once again. Max still feels highly attracted to Theresa, and she definitely has an interest in him as well. However, Theresa has some secrets and much of their relationship hinges on both of their abilities to deal with the past.
At its best moments, this story has some real originality. Portions of the book show us the story through the eyes of Tommy and his captor. I give the author major points for not having the villain be an eeeevil serial killer or anything of that nature. Without giving away too much, I will simply say that this part of the story is written in such a way as to grab the reader’s interest and also to evoke some sympathy both for the captor and the victim. If this originality had extended to more of the interactions between Max and Theresa, Desperate Choices might have been a DIK for me.
However, even though I liked Max and Theresa, their love story relied a little too much on cliche. Max is the alpha investigator and Theresa is very much the wary, damaged heroine. This dynamic obviously has its fans; witness the success of Catherine Anderson and Sharon Sala. However, it’s a delicate balance. If the heroine is too damaged, it’s hard to imagine her healing enough to form a healthy relationship over the short time span of the story. On the other hand, if she “snaps out of it” too quickly, it feels unrealistic. In this case, things swung a little too far in the direction of the latter scenario. Theresa’s story is truly heartrending and her doubts feel very real, but it’s seemingly cured with a round of Magic Max Sex and that felt hackneyed to me.
Even so, this is an engaging read and there is a lot of emotion and darkness running beneath the almost deceptively quiet tone of the writing. The pacing and style of the novel worked for me as did the suspense plotting by and large. With a little finetuning of the romance, this could really be an author to watch.