In Too Deep
God, I hope this book was meant to be campy. Because the truth is that, despite the fact that I could show you a mile-long list of things wrong with this book, I really did enjoy it. It’s fast-paced, funny in parts, and very hot. It’s also far-fetched, melodramatic, and vaguely ridiculous. But as long I think of it as camp, it doesn’t really matter – it’s just a good old-fashioned love-you-because-we’re-good-in-bed boink-fest, and I think you need that every so often. Or maybe that’s just me.
Tally Cruise (poor thing is named Tallulah and even Tally’s preferable to that, I guess – but just barely) is on a boat off Paradise Island when several things happen in quick succession: 1) the boat she’s on blows up, killing the two men on board, although she’s thrown clear (naturally); 2) she gets rescued by a dashing one-eyed fellow who appears to be a strangely intense sail bum; 3) they get caught in hurricane-class winds, but survive; and 4) they have mind blowing sex within roughly 12 hours of meeting. Not bad for the first day of a vacation. But those are the least of Tally’s problems. She’s come to Paradise at the invitation of the father she barely knows, and from whom she desperately craves acceptance and love. But as if that weren’t enough for her nerves to take, she’s having at least one near-death experience per day, although she practically needs to be beaten over the head with the wild coincidence of it all before she realizes someone really wants her dead. Why is the question.
Lt. Michael Wright, former Navy SEAL, has a bit of a bone to pick with Tally’s father, Trevor Church. Well, actually that’s putting it mildly; to be blunt, he wants Church dead. Via a series of agonizingly unrevealing flashbacks, we eventually discover that a year ago, Michael and his SEAL partner Hugo had been involved in an operation meant to take out the modern-day pirate when Church turned the tables and Hugo ended up dead. We never do find out how Michael survived, but we’re told two things: 1) Michael wants Church dead at all costs, and has no qualms about using Tally to get close; and 2) Michael feels responsible for Hugo’s death (I know it’s shocking that the hero of a romantic thriller would feel responsible for the death of his partner, but Michael does). Michael has been living for the past year in typical tortured-hero vengeance mode, feeling nothing, wanting nothing but to kill Church. But now he’s distracted by Tally, and is torn between the need to protect her and the need to put her papa in a watery grave. Decisions, decisions.
First, let me tell you what I liked about this book. It’s funny, and I laughed a great deal while reading it – and frequently the humor was even intentional on the author’s part. Tally is fairly crudely drawn (although they throw in some deep-seated angst toward the end), but is spunky without making you want to backhand her. She sings – badly…no, make that horribly – when she’s afraid, which happens whenever she’s in the dark, or when she’s in danger, which encompasses about 90% of the book. Good thing I like showtunes, even mangled. And there’s action galore – the book is well-written in terms of pacing, with explosions, dead bodies, and tension everywhere. Also, the sex was very hot, and occasionally fairly kinky, as in a particular instance involving a pearl necklace. No, not that kind of pearl necklace. Get your mind out of the gutter. Honestly. Oh wait – the scene I’m thinking of is at least as kinky as do-it-yourself liquid jewelry, so never mind. Back into the gutter, then.
Of course, there are a fair number of things I could complain about. For example, Michael refers to Tally privately as “Tally Ho.” Because after having hot sex with someone you just met, you’d really want your name to be linked with the word “Ho” in the guy’s mind. And as someone whose name is suffixed with “Ho” on a regrettably regular basis by allegedly witty acquaintances, I can authoritatively tell you: it’s not that funny. Really. Certainly, that’s just a pesky detail, but to get into major issues like the fact that they don’t know each other except in the sack (or on the balcony…or on the beach…or by the waterfall…or…), but are supposedly “in love” by the end of the book, well that would be undermining the assumption that this review is based on, which is that this book should be read as a campy tale of hot monkey sex in the sun. And taking this book seriously would seriously lower the grade.
I mean, take the plot: Daddy’s an arms dealer and sterotypical bad guy who invites Tally to his lair for unknown reasons, which seem to coincide with her “accidents” and murder attempts. Meanwhile, Michael’s a cliched hero on a hell-bent mission against his archenemy (and who has archenemies these days? I mean, puh-lease…), with all the morals of an ally cat, who turns good guy when it’s convenient, and total prick the rest of the time. He even thinks remorselessly about having crushed a man’s skull in battle – and this is during a love scene, I kid you not – and about how it didn’t bother him in the least at the time, nor does it now. What a prince. But I was discussing the plot. So, in between bouts of no-holds-barred nekkid wrestling, everything builds to a stunning finale, in which, to avoid giving away spoilers, I’ll simply say that good confronts evil, evil gets more evil, good gets more good, and all’s well that ends well. Oh, and the reason for wanting Tally dead is completely lame. But anyway, that’s the plot. With work, it could be the description of a fairly good, serious action-romance novel. But as is, it’s either crap or camp. And I liked it enough, in my own way, to call it camp. I mean, the author even refers to one of the numerous disposable henchmen in the book as “the bad guy”. Can you really take this seriously? I think not. You’re free to disagree if you choose.
So, to wrap up, if you’re looking for a deeply moving romance, a cerebral and emotional journey into the meaning of love, or a tale of true love in the real world, don’t even think of opening this baby up. However, if it’s just one of those days where you need to shut down a few brain cells and go for something that’ll keep the pulses pounding, the juices flowing, and a smirk on your face, well, you’ve come to the right book. Come on in, the water’s fine.