Kate McPherson is set to step into her father’s footsteps and take over the family business when she is slightly derailed by a sexy stranger who turns out to be her biggest competition. Will Sam Shanahan prove to be her greatest professional nightmare or her greatest personal joy? Shanahan’s Revenge tells their story, and does so very quickly at that!
Clocking in at 150 pages, Shanahan’s Revenge moves at blistering speed. For this particular book, I’m not sure I mean that as a compliment. The pacing feels wrong and there was too much is happening for me to actually settle in to the storyline, Kate, or Sam. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, allow me fill you in on the plot.
The story opens with Kate flying a plane and making a landing on what she believes to be empty land. It’s been in her family for generations and she anticipates a smooth and uneventful landing. Instead, she ends up injuring a horse and getting into an altercation with a stranger. He’s being coy and readers are given the impression that he knows exactly who she is even though he is unknown to her. It does not appear Kate picks up on this at all; she’s too distraught by the injury to the horse, so much so that throughout the rest of the book she tears up whenever the horse comes to her mind.
The horse, for the record, lives. I’m not a heartless lady by any means, but this reaction of Kate’s was the first indication that she may not actually be particularly suited to function as CEO of a major corporation. It reads as disproportionate and also reveals Kate to be someone who reacts out of emotion first and for whom it takes a long time to work her way through those emotions. Thus, I was never really rooting for her to get the job she is heir-apparent for. In fact, had she been sitting in front of me as a friend, I’d try to gently tell her it seems like she has a lot going on and maybe this is not the time? Again, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the plot!
Kate and the coy stranger share a blistering kiss before she climbs back into her plane and flies off to prepare for her big meeting with the board of McPherson & Co. the next day. Of course, if you’ve read a romance novel before or have seen Grey’s Anatomy, you know the sexy stranger with the injured horse who was potentially trespassing is indeed her competition for the CEO job at her family company. So when he shows up the next day looking all professional, Kate is taken aback but we readers are not.
Where I was repeatedly taken aback was the twists and turns and character shifts throughout the story. Ms. Mac makes it clear that Sam has a secret, or actually a lot of them, and the title implies some of those secrets may be motivating his application to McPherson & Co. The disclosure to Kate is slow, however, and tied to secrets in her own family. Instead of disclosing to her, Sam chooses to let Kate find out for herself and the whole thing reads like an odd power play game of cat and mouse.
The revenge revolves around the fact that Sam’s mother was banished from New Zealand many years ago due to family drama which involves the McPhersons. As Sam and Kate got to know each other, there is some serious foreshadowing that they’re connected more intimately than Kate may suppose. This could be clumsy plotting or intentional, but either way, it turned on my personal alarm bells and took me so far out of the story at that point that I found myself not caring if they ended up together or not. They do turn out to be related, as some sort of cousins I think (it was honestly a little confusing at the end and I’m not fully clear on what happened). By the point of that revelation, however, so much had happened so quickly that I was completely out of the story.
Ms. Mac needed about 150 more pages to tell the story she wanted to tell. Some of the themes in this book are dense and deserved to be unpacked properly. When they’re not given the page space they deserve, emotional choices seems trite, love seems saccharine, and the happily ever after with which this book ends just happens instead of being earned. When given the space to properly plot a book, I have a feeling I would love Ms. Mac’s books. The writing is gorgeous and her descriptions of New Zealand forestry makes me want to book a flight right now. It makes it extra frustrating that this novella doesn’t quite work; I’m not sure anyone could cram this much story into this limited amount of page space and make it work.
In case you haven’t picked up on my tone, I wouldn’t really recommend Shanahan’s Revenge, but I would recommend keeping an eye on this author. If she produces a full-length novel, pick it up. I know I will.