It’s been a while since I last picked up a new Julie Garwood novel. I consider quite a few of her books DIKs and she’s long been one of my favorite authors, so I suppose it’s odd that I’ve been avoiding her work recently. After reading Fast Track, though, I’m reminded of why I kept away. Her romantic suspense books keep falling flat.
Cordelia Kane knew her best friend’s older brother was The One the first time she saw him—she was five, Aiden was sixteen, and it was love at first sight. Years later, she’s still unable to get him out of her head—in fact, it takes the death of her father to finally make Cordie realize that she has to move on from the dream of Aiden. In order to do so, she starts focusing on the other realization her father’s death left her with—Cordie’s mother, who she always believed died long ago, is actually alive and well in Sydney, Australia.
Naturally, when Aiden gets wind of his sister’s best friend’s search for her mother, he decides he needs to get involved. Because Aiden is The Big Brother. He helps everyone out, protects them, keeps them out of trouble, etc. Also, he doesn’t want Cordie running off to Sydney and hooking up with some hot Australian, because Aiden has finally started to notice how attractive she is. So Cordie and Aiden end up jetting off to Sydney together. They meet Cordie’s mother, an icy member of Australian high society who doesn’t want to acknowledge her daughter’s existence. Cordie is technically entitled to a piece of her mother’s family business, but after meeting her mother, she decides she wants nothing to do with the business or her family. It’s no surprise, though, when attempts are made on Cordie’s life after she returns to the States. Clearly her Australian relatives don’t trust her to keep her word.
None of this is particularly revolutionary, but that shouldn’t be a drawback, because Julie Garwood has always had a gift for taking clichéd plotlines and transforming them into wonderful books. Based on her past work, it seemed entirely possible that she could turn out another DIK with Fast Track. Unfortunately, though, most of the book is just mediocre. Were it not for her hero, Aiden Madison, I would have given this book something in the C range, at least. Not stellar, but not terrible either.
Sadly, Aiden exists, and he is as flat a character as any I have ever read. I didn’t quite realize this at first, because I usually like Ms. Garwood’s overprotective heroes. It wasn’t until I was partway through that I realized Aiden’s personality could be summed up in two words: Big Brother. He’s the oldest brother of Cordie’s friend Reagan, and he seems to have let that attitude take over his life. In fact, if he weren’t always having sex with Cordie, I would swear he was her big brother too.
Of course, this instinct to protect isn’t always bad. When paired with some vulnerabilities it makes for a nicely rounded, attractive hero. Unfortunately, Fast Track is far more about Cordie than it is about Aiden, so we never really get the chance to discover his weak points.
In spite of my dissatisfaction with Fast Track, I still hold out hope for the future of Julie Garwood’s romantic suspense books. I know she can write better characters and more interesting plotlines than the ones found here, and I’m content to wait for her to do so.