Held Against You
I went into Held Against You expecting something edgy and a little different. A tattooed bounty hunter and his murder suspect love interest sounded like they could be an interesting pair. And they were, at first, but then minor irritances grew into major headaches and the wheels started coming off of the plotting.
A nameless bounty hunter starts off the book searching for one Kat Percle, murder suspect who has jumped bail in Texas. The hunt doesn’t take very long as he snags her early on, but since she was up in the Pacific Northwest, they’ve got quite a drive ahead of them. And so begins their road trip romance.
Told in first-person with chapters alternating between the hero and heroine, we see Kat and the hero (who ends up being called “Steel” after Kat tries a variety of nicknames on him) alternately disliking and being intrigued by one another. Spending many, many hours on the road together gives them plenty of time for conversation and for letting down their guard around each other. And since it turns out that someone else is after the two of them, there’s plenty of external plot excitement, too.
As a reader, I got to have glimpses into both Kat and Steel’s heads, so I could see how the secretive Steel intrigued Kat, particularly as we start to get a sense that he is a much better person than he would have Kat believe. And Kat? Well, she’s a little more complex. She has an obsession with 80s entertainment and her tendency to quote from movies can come off as endearing or annoying, depending on your tastes. Her enthusiasm does at times make her come off as a bit naive, even as the experience of her home life gives her a rather jaded view some of the time.
Throughout the opening chapters, I found Kat and Steel intriguingly different and wanted to get to know them better. And as the book went on, I kept wondering what the deal was with these people. The characterization just doesn’t run deep enough to satisfy. After a while, what I did know stopped working for me, too. Without going into spoilery detail, let’s just say that Steel has some big secrets. And as a reader, once I learned them, I found it a little hard to see him as hero material. He does turn a corner, but it came a little late for me and it seemed a little too convenient.
Speaking of convenience, readers will notice as they reach the end of this novel that there are all kinds of plot threads still dangling out there. They actually do get resolved, but the resolution involves a series of coincidental occurrences that turn the plot from mildly improbable to trainwreck in Crazytown. I can forgive a certain amount of wacky plotting if I really like the characters and their romance, but I just didn’t have that going for me here.
I suspect readers will find Held Against You somewhat unfulfilling. It does start off well and holds promise to be an interesting story. However, by the end, I found this one a serious chore to read. Edgy plots and characters can be downright refreshing, but like everything else, they only work when written well. In a book which is pretty darn average when all is said and done, these aren’t enough to save it.