Drive Me Crazy
Nancy Warren being one of my two favorite Blaze authors, I was excited to see her put out her first single title, Drive Me Crazy. While the book retains the charm and heat of her shorter works, I’d have liked to have seen more relationship development between the leads. Still, the book is satisfying, fun, and sexy.
Alex Forrest is a librarian in the small town of Swiftcurrent, but she has big plans and a wardrobe that the hero describes as “high class call girl.” She longs for excitement and opportunity, and dreams of the day she can escape to a city, a place where there’s more to do on a Friday night than watch a year-old movie at the town’s only theater, and more chance of meeting a man with looks, intelligence, and a future than Swiftcurrent offers. The kind of excitement she’s looking for isn’t exactly the kind she gets when Duncan Forbes walks into her library, however. He may be handsome, intelligent, and perhaps a little too fresh for her comfort, but his future’s questionable. What can you say for sure about a man who shows up at the same time as a dead body on her library floor?
Duncan Forbes is a professor of art history, but he’s also a leading bounty hunter in the stolen art-retrieval field. He says he’s in Swiftcurrent working on a book, but it’s really information on a WWII-era theft of a Van Gogh that drives him. If sleeping with the gorgeous granddaughter of his prime suspect is a price he has to pay, he’ll gladly grin and bear it. But when a dead body turns up, someone is obviously sending a warning – but to whom?
Duncan and Alex were both interesting characters, who possessed a great deal of chemistry between them. Both are intelligent – excepting a painful incident in which Alex mistakes dried red paint for blood (something it’s hard to believe any woman past puberty would do) – and both have goals and emotional sympathy. Duncan could have used a bit more fleshing out, but it’s mainly as a couple where they could have grown, I thought.
The secondary couple actually probably had more depth and emotional connection to the reader, in fact. I won’t say much more for spoiler reasons, other than the fact that this couple will probably remain with me longer than Alex and Duncan.
There was a suspense element, as you may imagine, but it was pretty predictable. The villain, I’m afraid, is obvious almost from the beginning, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Although this was decidedly a letdown, the scenarios involving this villain opened up opportunities for us to see the characters at their most vulnerable moments, making very human mistakes, and growing because of them.
Another plus was that the two main female characters in this book are sexually liberated – neither promiscuous nor inhibited – without being so because of childhood trauma, low self-esteem, or other usual cliche. They simply dress sexily because they want to, flirt with men because they’re attracted to them, and sleep with the men they choose out of healthy desire and love. This seemed to me to be a refreshing change from all too many books wherein the heroine dresses in a risque manner to mask her insecurities, or the secondary character sleeps with men because she was abused as a child. Neither of the two female characters are perfect, but neither are they simply cliches.
While not as full-fleshed out as I would like, I am very hopeful that Drive Me Crazy signals that this author will continue to entertain and grow into a single-title writer to watch. This one’s a B. I suspect her next grade will improve.