I’m a voracious reader, and as such am always on the lookout for new authors to try. After all, there’s nothing quite like discovering a new and talented writer. So, when I read the blurb for Sister-in-Law, the first novel by M.R. Morgan, I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately however, I won’t be adding Mr. Morgan to my list of favorite authors. In fact, I think I’ll be adding his name to the list of authors I plan to avoid.
Suzanne Dahlstrom hasn’t had the easiest of lives. In fact, it might be fair to say hers has been pretty tragic. Her father rapes her when she’s only ten, and her mother shoots and kills him in an attempt to keep her daughter safe. Unfortunately, although Mrs. Dahlstrom’s actions are ruled justifiable, the fact that she is a very heavy drinker who is subject to long bouts of depression causes a judge to terminate her parental rights. Suzanne is put into foster care where she is subjected to still more abuse by the people who are supposed to be caring for her. Three years later, Suzanne and her mother are finally reunited, and while Suzanne’s lot in life improves in some ways, she’s still a deeply damaged young girl desperate to get even with those she thinks of as her tormentors.
Suzanne matures into a very beautiful woman, and, as she grows, so does her plan for revenge. She knows she can’t get even with the specific men who hurt her, so she decides to make all men pay for the abuse she suffered. She views them as weak and malleable beings who are little better than slaves to their sex drives, so she learns everything she can about how to seduce men into giving her exactly what she wants. Her actions won’t undo the horrible things she’s been through, but she figures she can gain some much needed power over men in this way.
After graduating from high school, Suzanne moves to New York City where she eventually begins working for an escort service. Because of her stunning good looks and sensual manner, she soon becomes one of the agency’s most sought after escorts, and the money begins rolling in. To Suzanne’s way of thinking, her life is pretty close to perfect now. Sure, she spends her time with men she can’t stand, but she’s well-paid and she feels more powerful than ever before.
A year or so into her career as an escort, Suzanne comes to the attention of a radical political group, the members of which are searching for a way to discredit the man who will soon be elected President of the United States. They disagree with his policies on gun control and want him out of the way as soon as possible. He has a much younger brother who is single, and this group of men and women come up with a plan for Suzanne to seduce and marry him with an eye toward eventually turning her attentions to the President himself. Once he is caught in a compromising position with his brother’s wife, his career will be over and a more suitable man will take his place.
At first, Suzanne is naturally wary of getting involved with such a scheme. She has absolutely no interest in politics, and she isn’t sure she wants to be forever linked to such a huge scandal. However, when she learns she is to be paid one million dollars for her participation, she agrees and moves to San Fransisco where Adam McNeil, the soon-to-be President’s brother lives and works. She is given a new name and identity, as well as an introduction to Adam, but the rest is up to her.
I went into this expecting a fast-paced mix of romance and suspense, but what I got was a very slow, meandering story that barely held my interest. The first half of the book is taken up with copious information about Suzanne’s early life, and while I realize a certain amount of backstory is necessary, this was way too much. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, but nothing did until just over the halfway point. Then, once the story did get going, everything was incredibly implausible, causing me to roll my eyes on several occasions.
The characters are barely two-dimensional, and I never felt like I knew any of them very well at all. Suzanne, who is supposed to be the novel’s main character, comes across as the stereotypical female victim of abuse, and Mr. Morgan doesn’t give her character much in the way of depth. She’s just a pretty, not very bright young woman who possesses a ton of knowledge about sex. I wanted to know how she felt about the various situations she was embroiled in, but the author reveals next to nothing about her thoughts or feelings. It was almost as though she didn’t have any, something that was a huge turnoff for me.
Suzanne and Adam have absolutely zero chemistry. Mr. Morgan tells the reader again and again how attracted they are to one another, but the story itself doesn’t really bear this out. I wanted to see them falling in love, but I was told it was happening instead and it just wasn’t satisfying or believable. Also, Adam’s reaction when he learns who Suzanne really is lacks anything resembling plausibility.
In short, Sister-in-Law is not a book I can recommend. The plot reminds me of something one might see in a very cheesy film, and there was nothing even remotely redeeming about the characters. If you’re looking for something sexy and action-packed, you won’t find it here.