Once a Ranger
The (sadly) defunct Superromance line tends to deliver great stories about normal, non-billionaire people, so when I saw a book promising a plotline dealing deceit and a con man, I was all over it. Once a Ranger’s plotline had promise, but it delivered a fairly humdrum read.
Kat Monroe has come to the Phoenix Rising Resort to regroup and relax a bit after, among other things, winning some money in the lottery. Phoenix Rising prides itself on getting its guests to mix and mingle, so Kat finds herself thrown into group outings and meals that are supposed to be congenial. Some of the guests, such as a pair of beer heiress sisters, end up being fairly pleasant but others, such as Tony Perez, rub her the wrong way from day one.
Kat thinks Tony is just another arrogant consultant type. However, Tony is actually at Phoenix Rising investigating a fellow guest believed to be a con artist who took advantage of a wealthy widow, who died after his betrayal. As you can tell, plenty of elements in this book fit the theme. After all, we have an accused con artist among the guests, and Tony is lying to Kat (and everyone else) about who he is.
As the book opened, I could figure out pretty quickly who the con artist and his mark were going to be. In addition, Tony doesn’t make a great first impression on Kat when they meet because he reminds her too much of an overbearing ex of hers. I settled in for what I hoped would be a great game of cat and mouse with the wrongdoer, as well as perhaps some increasing chemistry between Tony and Kat.
It did not go as planned. The mystery plotting is heavyhanded, and feels way too obvious throughout the story. I almost expected to see the villain pause to sneer at the reading audience. While this is not romantic suspense and the mystery is not the primary focus of the story, that plotline still did not need to be this clunky.
The romance didn’t quite work for me either. Kat goes back and forth between being attracted to Tony and feeling like she needs to be with someone she’s just met out of some odd feeling of obligation. That aspect of her inner conflict makes no sense. In addition, while Kat and Tony mention being physically attracted to each other, the chemistry between them on page is sorely lacking. In the end, I felt mildly glad that they got together, but I didn’t feel terribly invested in the story.
Once a Ranger isn’t a terrible read, but it does feel a bit “blah.” I generally liked the Superromance line, but this is not one of its stronger entries.
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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.