roses_after_midnightSometimes my huge TBR pile fills me with excitement because there are so many possible treasures in there that I just don’t know where to start. Then again, sometimes my huge TBR pile fills me with dread because there’s just so much in there that I don’t know where to start. After seeing lots of folks online do the TBR Challenge last year, I decided to give it a whirl. I figure at a minimum, I’ll have sorted through 12 books in the TBR by the time the year is up. This month’s theme is category romance. I am a series romance junkie, so there is an entire BOX(okay, maybe more than one) of TBR devoted to these.

Since I have a lot of series books, I just picked this month’s read by closing my eyes and pulling one out at random. I ended up with Roses After Midnight by Linda Randall Wisdom. It’s a Silhouette Intimate Moments book from 2003. I miss that line! Silhouette Romantic Suspense just isn’t the same. At any rate, I have no idea how this one wound up in the TBR. I suspect I picked it out because it passed my two most shallow tests: (1) cover isn’t too cringeworthy and (2) title doesn’t sound like a plot summary or a Lifetime movie title. I hadn’t read this author before, but I ended up liking this book. It’s not amazing, but if I were reading for review, I’d probably give it a B- or so.

Unlike many romantic suspense novels, this one doesn’t center on murder. The heroine is a police detective investigating a series of rapes in a northern California town. Celeste Bradshaw and her partner believe that a local restaurant, Dante’s Cafe, may provide a link between the various victims, so they convince the owner to let Celeste work undercover as a bartender. Luc Dante does not want to believe that his cafe could have any link to the rapes and since the cafe is also his second chance at building a life for himself, he does not want it tainted by any hint of criminal involvement.

The book has a different feel than a lot of the other Intimate Moments books I’ve read. For most of the book, it almost feels like a police procedural rather than a romance. The romance itself is understated, the mystery really drives the plot, and the leads are even good mystery leads as well as characters one would find in a romance. Celeste is a dedicated cop and while her story has its unbelievable moments, she doesn’t suddenly become an idiot just so the hero can rescue her. Likewise, Luc actually is mysterious. He’s the grown up version of the guy in the black leather jacket who seemed to populate every school I ever attended. Smart, hides a secret or two, but has an interesting mind and a decent heart under the attitude.

I found the mystery intriguing, so I read along happily enough, but I could see where someone primarily looking for romance would not be into this. Much of the story focuses on Celeste’s efforts to solve the crime, her friendship with her partner, the dynamics of her undercover workplace and so on. Not a lot of hanky panky going on in the kitchen with Luc. The story leaves a few loose ends dangling and as I said, the romance is pretty mild stuff, but I still found myself pulled into the book and it was definitely worth the $1.00 I spent at the UBS – not to mention that reading it has me one step closer to the bottom of the TBR.

So far, the TBR challenge has netted me a decent read and 1 more book off the TBR heap. Woohoo!

The Book: Roses After Midnight by Linda Randall Wisdom
Silhouette Intimate Moments, #1235 (July 2003)

Note: For those of you curious about the TBR Challenge, Superlibrarian Wendy is hosting this year. You can find more information on the challenge here.

– Lynn Spencer