Every Move She Makes
The kids were outside yesterday. It was quiet in the house and I wanted to spend a few of hours pleasantly passing some time, so I picked up Beverly Barton’s Every Move She Makes. It wasn’t a story I’d never read before; it was neither incredibly good nor incredibly bad. It was just an ordinary story for a lazy and ordinary Sunday afternoon.
Barton’s book takes place in a prototypical Southern town. Ella Porter, a judge, is the adult daughter of a prominent politician and his invalid wife. Reed Conway is an ex-con. Sent down the pike fifteen years ago when he was only eighteen for a crime he didn’t commit, he has returned home to clear his name and start life over. When he and the judge meet, the proverbial sparks start to fly. His return home also makes the real killer a tad bit uneasy. As a result, a good portion of the story is the villain perpetrating various acts designed to make Reed look bad enough to have him sent back to prison.
Ella and Reed have some good, natural chemistry, which is something I always look for in a romance. They have something together, they know it and they don’t fight it. It makes them both better people. Together they are quite likable. At first Ella has a hard time with her attraction to Reed; he is an ex-con, her parents would not approve, and her father was prosecuting lawyer who convicted Reed. But Ella’s a big girl and stands up for herself. She doesn’t kowtow to daddy or her whiny invalid mother. She falls for Reed and she falls for him hard, and vice versa. Their romance is a strong point of the book, which is a good thing, after all, because it is their story.
The other strong point of the story was the truly evil killer. The villain’s nefarious deeds were the best and also the sickest parts of Every Move She Makes. This book has a worthwhile “whodonit;” I was totally surprised when the real killer was revealed.
If the romance works and the suspense works and the book is a romantic suspense novel, what’s the problem, you ask? One problem was the too-large cast of characters connected both by past liasons as well as convoluted family relationships. It seemed every character had issues to deal with, either personal or with one of the other characters. As a result the narrative was more saga or melodrama than romance. The romance was good, there just wasn’t quite enough of it. I was also turned off when Reed picked up a woman at a bar on one of his first nights back in town. Keep in mind that he was especially horny since he had been in prison so long. Is it any wonder then that he thought to himself that, “He needed a woman so badly right now that he would gladly screw a three-toed sloth as long as it had tits and a c*nt”? All I can say is “Ewww.”
I’m not at all adverse to a book based on the premise of a not-really-guilty ex-con returning home to redeem himself and finding true love in the process. Indeed, One Summer by Karen Robards is one of my favorite keepers. Judged against that book, Every Move She Makes doesn’t quite measure up. While everyone’s definition of a good romance is different, I look for a little more focus on the hero and heroine and a little less on intrusive sub-plots and secondary characters. I’m sure there will be many readers who enjoy it more than I did; for me it was simply not a bad way to spend a few hours.