Such a Pretty Girl
I picked up Such a Pretty Girl in hopes of losing myself in that perfect blend of romance and mystery I’ve been fortunate enough to find in many of the romantic suspense novels I’ve read recently. For the most part, I got what I was looking for, but this latest novel by Tess Diamond isn’t without its problems.
Grace Sinclair is a best-selling crime novelist, a volunteer counselor at a center for troubled teens, and the FBI’s top profiler. Her life is steeped in darkness, but she seems to like it that way. She wants to make a difference in the world, and her various jobs all help her to do that.
She doesn’t have time for romance. Two years ago, she shared one night of passion with a fellow FBI agent, but the two of them haven’t crossed paths since, and that’s fine with her. Sure, she still thinks about Gavin Walker, but she knows that’s as far as things will go. Love and marriage are fine things for other women, but not for Grace, who considers herself far too busy to waste time on something as frivolous as romance.
As readers of romantic suspense can probably guess, Grace and Gavin are thrown together as they investigate a series of brutal murders. Both have fond memories of the night they spent together, but neither seems overly inclined to take things any further. At least, not at first. Instead, they focus on unraveling a series of strange clues the killer leaves for them.
As the body count rises, so too does the sexual tension between Grace and Gavin. They have a wonderfully intuitive professional relationship, but things aren’t quite as smooth when they’re off the clock. Gavin makes several small overtures in the early part of the story, but Grace doesn’t take him up on them until a little over halfway through the novel. I appreciated her need to take things slowly, but her reasons for doing so are pretty complicated, and didn’t entirely ring true for me. It’s not that I want people to jump into bed with one another straight away, but the chemistry between these two was very obvious, and I found myself anxious to see them working toward their HEA.
I would also have liked to learn a bit more about Gavin’s back story. Ms. Diamond does a great job helping the reader to really know Grace, but Gavin never feels fully fleshed out. I like to understand the motivations of the characters I read about, and so many of Gavin’s – both personal and professional – are sort of glossed over. It seemed as though Ms. Diamond was in too big a hurry to get to the meat of the story and just didn’t take the time to create the kind of fully-realized hero I’ve come to expect from a good romance.
Grace is a bit of a Mary Sue, and this makes her a difficult heroine to fully embrace. I couldn’t relate to her because she’s absolutely perfect at everything she does. She seems to have no faults; her coworkers and supervisors go along with everything she suggests without question and the one time someone does question a theory she brings forward, they’re quickly forced to come around to her way of thinking. I’m drawn to more three-dimensional characters. I obviously want them to have strengths, but a few weaknesses help to make them seem more like actual people.
If you’re a frequent reader of romantic suspense, I’m willing to bet you’ve come across a story that’s pretty similar to this one. Grace and Gavin are racing to put a stop to a serial killer, but, before they get very far, they realize the killer is probably after Grace. Ms. Diamond does a good job putting her own spin on this too-familiar tale, but, if formulaic books tend to put you off, you might want to pass on this one.
While Such a Pretty Girl does have its good points, it’s not a book I can, in good conscience, recommend. There are so many great romantic suspense novels out there, and this one didn’t meet my expectations in all the ways I hoped it would. I won’t say I’ll never read anything else Ms. Diamond writes, but, for now, I’m moving on to something else.