Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell

PAGES: 416
SETTING: Contemporary Mexico
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: 1st book in St. Kilda Consulting series
SENSUALITY: Maybe kisses only, maybe subtle. Nothing memorable.
REASON FOR READING: I have loved so many of her past books and was hoping for the best.

Orphaned at thirteen, Grace Silva clawed her way out of poverty and violence to become one of the most respected judges on the federal bench. Grace believes in the rule of law -- lives it, breathes it. She has always been buttoned up and buttoned down.

Except once.

Joe Faroe has learned that laws are made by politicians and politicians are all too human. He believes in the innocents, the ones getting ground up by governments that are too polarized or too corrupt to protect their own citizens.

Now Faroe is out of the business. Retired. He's through trying to save a world that doesn't want to be saved.

Then Grace comes to him, past and present collide, and Faroe finds himself sucked back into the shadows, tracking a violent killer who holds the life of Grace's son in his bloody hands.


"Wrong" is a good word here because there was so much about this book that just struck me as wrong. First the heroine, Grace Silva, is a supposedly strong intelligent woman who is a federal district court judge and I liked her at first. But then we learn about all the incredibly stupid things she has done. Grace was dating her future husband, Ted, when she has a brief weekend affair with the hero, Joe Faroe. They part ways and she marries her boyfriend anyway not telling him that she is not sure if he is the father of the child she is carrying (not a spoiler).

I'm making excuses for her at this point thinking, well she was young. But her stupidity continues. Eventually they learn that Ted is not the father and he is pretty pissed when he finds out. He has affair after affair and treats her and her son like dirt and still she stays with him for years. She never tells her son or Joe, the biological father, the truth. Ted is a real slimeball and does some pretty bad things and she finally divorces him. This is all back story. When the book begins her son, Lane, now 15, had been caught hacking into his school's computer to change his grades and Grace sends him away to a strict private school in Mexico at the insistence of her ex. Now, I ask you, what kind of idiot mother would do this? Ted is not the boy's father and treats him like dirt. Yet she agrees to send him away to another country to a secluded private school on his recommendation.
Let's make a list of how highly intelligent this woman is, shall we.

1) Has an affair and cheats on her future husband
2) Gets pregnant (where is the birth control)
3) Lies by omission to husband about pregnancy
4) Doesn't tell biological father or her son when she finally figures it out
5) Stays with rat bastard cheating husband who treats son like dirt
6) Sends son away out of the country to private school because rat bastard ex-husband insists

One or two of these things would not bother me at all. I've seen them all before in lots of other books and it doesn't make me fly off the handle. But that last item really threw me. I just don't buy it.

Grace receives a call from the principal demanding she come to the school in Ensenada, telling her he needs to discuss something about Lane, and she drops everything and drives from San Diego into Mexico. When she gets there she discovers that Lane is a prisoner and will be killed unless millions of dollars stolen by her ex-husband from one of the most powerful drug lords in Mexico are returned.

Grace can't go to the law if she wants to keep her son alive so she contacts her former lover (and Lane's father) Joe Faroe. And what a coincidence, he happens to be a kidnapping specialist for a private firm called St. Kilda Consulting. He agrees to help because of their past history, but when she finally reveals that Lane is his son, he is understandably pissed. And she deserves his disgust.

The plot was full of fast paced action and suspense but it was very confusing and sometimes boring. But the worst part - there was very little romance. The spark between Grace and Joe was almost non-existent.

What has happened with Elizabeth Lowell? I used to love her writing. I loved the steamy sex and alpha heroes. Loved the Only series. Loved the Donovan family series (except for some minor irritations). Loved Running Scared (OK, just the sex in the elevator scene). Loved To the Ends of the Earth, Too Hot to Handle (sex on horseback scene) and Love Song for a Raven. Lowell was famous for her sizzling sex scenes. But there was no sex in this book. Zilch. Nada. Did I miss it somehow? Were there two pages stuck together? Or was my copy missing some pages? Did I accidentally skim over it because I was so pissed off or bored with it all? Did they print a G-rated abridged edition for Sunday School teachers and little old ladies? Someone help me out here.

Maybe it's her age. How old is Lowell, anyway? Since she has been writing for 30 years, she must be in her 50s or 60s. Why has she left out the sex? I can't think of any other authors who have stopped including sex scenes the older they got. I know NR must be in her 50s and she's still going strong (with the sex scenes, people).

EL was one of the BIG romance authors, almost right up there with NR. EL has 30 books that have been on the NYT list. She just puts her name on a book and it sells millions of copies. But Nora is still consistently good. EL ... not so much any more. Is she just sitting back and resting on her laurels? I don't know but I think she has officially jumped the shark for me.



Rosario said...

I suspect she wants to be "respectable"... so no more sex scenes, otherwise her non-romance readers won't read her. This one sounds blergh. I was actually planning to read this, but I think I'm putting it right at the bottom of the TBR.

Zeek said...

I agree with Ro. Iris Johansen has done the same thing, and I hate it. I stopped buying their books long ago because of it.

yeah I'm gonna pass on this one too.

Kristie (J) said...

I can't answer you 'cause I haven't read EL in years. She used to be an autobuy, but she just seemed to lose me as a reader somewhere along the way.

Rosie said...

We are all in the same EL boat. I love her older books. I keep hoping I'll see a review of a new release (like Sandra Brown's Ricochet last year) and find that she's returned to her roots. Guess it's just wishful thinking.

sybil said...

soooo if you are male you can write about sex in whatever way you want and be "respectable" but if you are female you have to skip it?


okay glad I didn't bother wasting my time to read this

As for you list, I would be cool up until the last two. I don't think I could like her after that.... of course I hated until the ends of the earth *g*

loved all the others though

poor elizabeth lowell, we loved you so

CindyS said...

SENSUALITY: Maybe kisses only, maybe subtle. Nothing memorable.

Check please!

I have listed the ones you loved on my TBB list so I can check my shelves. I read one of the Only titles maybe last year and it was great so I know I want to try more by her.

All these authors jumping ship. No sex? No thanks. But you knew that ;)


nath said...

I agree with ppl who said that she wanted to be more respectable or perhaps, wants to see in a different "genre." that's so sad though :( and the book doesn't sound awesome. Personally, I've only read a couple of her books and most of them, pretty recent and I didn't really enjoy them :(

and seriously, is there really a good private school in Mexico?!? Europe, I would have understood... but Mexico? that should have rang some bells of warning.

Crystal said...

Umm, I just purchased this book over the weekend. I'm not really sure why I got it. I think just cause it was on sale for $3.99, as I'm not a Lowell fan. For some reason she is a author I want to like, but just am not able to get into her books.

ReneeW said...

Rosario: I'm not sure respectable is the right word. Maybe 'serious' is what she's going for. Whatever it is, she sucks at it.

Zeek: I have heard that Johansen's newer stuff isn't as good as her older stuff. I have Reap the Wind in my TBR from 1991 that Keishon recommended. Need to get that out.

Kristie: I was really hoping this one would be better than some of the last few I have read but NO. She's off my list. So sad.

Rosie: You and me both. It's hard to give up a beloved author.

Sybil: Yeah, that's why a made a list. Here stupidity just kept piling up until that last item on the list which sent me over to the top. I know I may be one of the few who liked To the Ends of the Earth but I loved the alpha jerk in this one. :)

Cindy: Oh, no, you would hate this one. I loved the Only series, alpha males and sizzling sex. Yes!

Nath: Exactly! Mexico would have rang some bells for me too. It's still a third world country and they have massive problems. Would you send your kid there alone? No way.

Crystal: Well, maybe you'll like it better than me. I'd love to hear your opinion. Who can pass up $3.99? I've listed some of my favorites. Read Only His (wester historical) and see what you think.

Zeek said...

Reap The Wind is actually third in a series (The Wind Dancer being #1 and Storm Winds being #2)- though it's good as a stand alone. I think I read them out of order when I first got them too. (LOVED The Wind Dance series btw.)

But I will warn you; I heard that she reedited out the sex bits in newer re-releases of it!!

ReneeW said...

Zeek: Keishon warned me about that so the edition I have of RTW is the older version. But I didn't realize it was a series! If I like RTW, I have to go hunting for the rest. Thanks for the info.

Alie said...

I couldn't agree with you more on this. Lowell used to be one of my auto buys, but now I get them from the library and read them because I have been so disappointed in the past. She really started going downhill after Running Scared *sigh* My theory is that she's trying to appeal to a wider audience and make herself more suspenseful :(

ReneeW said...

Alie: I think Running Scared was the last one I like too. I remember hating Die in Plain Sight and this is the first of hers I've read since then. I hate when a romance author tries to appeal to a wider audience. They ending up losing most of their romance fans. I'm so disgusted I won't even get the next one from the library. Waste of time.

R-L said...

You're lucky you got through the book. By the time Grace had gotten the call, crossed the border, and pulled over on the shoulder to talk to some Senator who repeated some rubbish about her son I had put the book down. A friend and I are just now discussing how badly Lowell has fallen off form. I also bought Die in Plain Sight but someone else is reading it and every so often she complains of the confusing plot, numerous characters, and unbelievable relationship of the leads.

I too loved To the Ends of the Earth, the Donovan Series, Chain Lightning, Untamed, Untouched.... But now I hesitate before picking up her books or when I do buyt them I end up just giving them away and settling in with an oldie or a NR. Quite sad but I hope she pulls up her socks and SOON.

Wow, I haven't touched my blog in over 6 years and I'm still logged in!  Good thing because I have no idea what my password is.  In ...