Going Down Hard
I’ve written many a C review in my time; a quick check at the reviewer scorecard shows that I am approaching 200 of them. Books receive Cs for a variety of reasons, but generally it comes to down either mediocrity or unevenness. Going Down Hard is in the latter category. The good news is that I would consider this to be the better type of C read. The bad news is that it’s still a C.
Sierra Donovan has a lot going right in her life. Her new business, a event-planning company called Eventfully Yours, is really taking off, and she and her partner (Belle, whose story is told in a previous book) are finally making some serious money. The bad news is that she has a creepy stalker who is sending poorly doctored photos of her – all in creepy, compromising positions. He seems to be escalating his attack at the worst possible moment; Eventfully Yours is in the final stages of a delicate contract negotiation with a conservative, “family values” oriented magazine. When the magazine’s editor receives one of the doctored pictures, Sierra and Belle manage to save the contract only by promising to hire security.
The obvious choice for the job is Reece Carter. He’s Belle’s fiance Mitch’s cousin, and he runs a security firm. The problem is that Sierra and Reece share a past. He pursued her doggedly years ago (when Belle and Mitch were about to get married the first time), and Sierra didn’t feel like a relationship would be a good idea. Then in recent weeks Sierra and Reece had a hot, tension-filled quickie in a closet. Convinced that any relationship with Reece would be bad news (mostly because she doubts her ability to control herself), Sierra would really rather not be around him at all. Most of Sierra’s issues stem from her difficult teenage years. her mother died when she was thirteen, and she went to live with her aunt and uncle – both of whom are real pieces of work. Her uncle tried to grope her every chance he got, and her aunt dealt with this problem by drinking herself into oblivion and blaming Sierra. Her mother’s trust fund paid for her to go to boarding school, which became her salvation. She met Belle there, as well as Tristan – still a good friend and the go-to photographer for Eventfully Yours.
Primarily, the plot centers around trust, sexual tension, and suspense. Sierra is terrified of her stalker, but still warns Reece not to investigate anyone from her past. Since this is the most logical avenue of investigation, Reece proceeds with it anyway – and has to face the relationship consequences. At the same time, they can’t help giving in to their sexual attraction, and in many ways, Sierra is happier than she’s ever been. Pessimistically, she doesn’t think it can last. Reece’s home is in Kentucky (which explains the cowboy hatted hero on the cover), and she doubts he’ll give up his life there for her. They’ll need more honesty between them before they can really pursue a relationship, and obviously they need unmask the creepy stalker as well.
First the good part: The sexual tension – and the love scenes – are terrific. They’re modern, sexy, and inventive without seeming completely contrived. That’s not easy to pull off, especially during an anything goes era rife with erotica books that are always pushing the envelope. Nearly everyone wants to write a sexy story, and this book succeeds where others fail. When Reece and Sierra are in the bedroom (or headed there) this book is at its best.
Reece is another bright spot. He made mistakes in his past (specifically, a failed marriage), but he’s honest about his culpability. Generally, he’s a nice, sexy guy. I don’t usually care for cowboys or their hats, but I found Reece to be pretty fun.
Sierra is more problematic. Her refusal to confront her past lasts through most of the book, and it’s not a long book. Sure, many people struggle with past mistakes and issues they’d prefer not to confront. But there are times when logic and common sense dictate a thorough perusal of one’s past. Surely one of those times would be when you are being pursued by a sex-obsessed psycho.
Which leads me to the major problem of the book: The villain is obvious. Glaringly obvious. As in, might as well be wearing a t-shirt proclaiming “It’s Me!” obvious. It’s perfectly fine to write a book where the villain is known to the reader but not the protagonists; frequently they call that suspense. But when the villain is merely thinly veiled but easy to figure out, it makes the protagonists look like idiots. Worse, it makes the author look as if she thinks her readers are idiots too. Maybe there are readers who like their foreshadowing applied with a trowel, but I’m definitely not one of them.
So Going Down hard is uneven – a mixed bag. But the bright spots are pretty bright. Tawny Weber has some talent, and I would definitely give her another shot. Blaze fans might try it for the love scenes alone, even if the suspense is not so suspenseful.