Texas Summer by Leslie Hatchel

I finished this book during Gencon, which my husband and I go to every year. With as insane as the con gets, you’d think I wouldn’t have had time to read, but I needed at least one down night, and finishing this was how I spent it.

It’s rare that I come across a book that I have a hard time getting through, but sadly, they do happen. I wasn’t going to do a blog review on this book, but I decided that just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. So even though this wasn’t for me, I’m putting it out there for others who might want to pick it up.

Trigger warning: This book contains themes of sexual abuse and pedophilia.

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I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A writer finds himself stranded in a small town where murders are happening and the town is blaming the waitress he’s fallen in love with. For a fully synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
I think the book had potential. I liked the set up of a hero getting stranded in a town where crazy things are happening. I like the idea of the outsider having an affair with a waitress who no one likes for various reasons. It was a good concept, I just wasn’t sold on the execution.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
The first thing that made this book hard to read were technical issues in the writing and the format. The dialogue ran together instead of being separated, and so at times it was hard to keep track of who was talking. There was also a lack of contractions which made the dialogue sound too formal.

I think the book was supposed to be a romantic suspense, but it lacked in both departments. The heroine is accused of murdering her half sister, but the reader isn’t given any mystery. You know from the start who’s behind it. The only thing you don’t know right away is who’s assisting the killer, and even that isn’t a big surprise. There are no major twists, and the point of view flips between the couple and the sociopath (I’m not going to tell you who it is, but you’ll find it out in the first few chapters if you read the book) several times.

Also, I don’t mind dark subjects in my romance novels, but blatant pedophilia bordering on incest doesn’t work for me in a book that’s supposed to be a love story, even if it’s coming from side characters. Then, it goes from dark subjects to a very trite “I hated you because you were the prettiest” scenario. Really? The cliche was too much.

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The Romance Factor
Insta-love has to be done really well for me to enjoy it, because as a rule, it bugs me. In this case, I didn’t buy that the hero fell in love with the heroine after just meeting her. I really didn’t buy it when he asked her to marry him after just a couple days. It wasn’t believable and there was no angsty lead up. In fact, neither of the characters had any emotion or sensuality. Heck, neither of them really seemed that upset that they kept being accused of murder. No warm fuzzies at all, but there was at least an exposition of a romance, so 2/5.

The Steam Factor
There was actually quite a bit of sex in this story, but I didn’t feel any excitement or titillation from it. Like my romance, I like my sexy times to have some foreplay. And even in a story where the main characters jump into bed, there’s usually some sort of conflict afterwards. I didn’t get any of that here. Still, it was there, and I think if I had been invested in the characters, I would have liked the scenes in general, so I’ll give it a 3/5.

Final Thoughts
I really hate not liking a book, even though realistically I know that not every reader is going to like every book. I think readers who enjoy plot driven stories are going to enjoy this one more than I did, and I know that insta-love is some readers’ crack, even if it’s not mine.

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