Since KILLJOY is my first Julie Garwood novel, I can't say that I'm
disappointed with her departure from historical romance. And I
don't believe her old fans will be either. This second foray into
the romantic mystery genre sees her gathering strength with her
contemporary tales and promises to be a smashing success. She has a
Sidney Sheldonesque way about her of putting together a
page-turning story, with the plot twists popping up right at
chapter's end, so you simply cannot put the book down until you're
into the next. Well, you know what happens then. Right, another
cliffhanger, and you're compelled to read on. Plus, many of her
characters are classic: The spoiled villain who flies into a rage
when the smallest thing goes wrong; the drunks falling on top of
each other in a raggedy heap; a peach of a boss wrapped in a
tyrant's clothing; or a bumbling pair of backwoods storekeepers,
complete with flannel shirts and gold-capped teeth. Working one's
way through the myriad clues turns out to be a great deal of fun,
and readers are rewarded with some pretty darned good surprises
Our beautiful blond heroine, Avery Delaney, survives a horrible
trauma at age 11, when her estranged mother, after years of no
contact, sends her boyfriend to snatch Avery from her Grandmother
Lola. The kidnapping goes awry, and in the process of resisting,
Avery is badly beaten, shot and left for dead alongside her
grandmother. An FBI agent first on the scene becomes her hero.
Thereafter, she strikes out to become part of that elite team.
Years later, when in her 20s, Avery takes a break from her job as
an information analyst at the Bureau to meet her Aunt Carrie at a
spa in Colorado. There, the ugliness of the past returns. Carrie
never makes it to the spa, and Avery is frantic to find out what
happened to her. The spa insists her aunt canceled at the last
minute, but a phone call received while arguing with the staff
convinces Avery otherwise. By happenstance, she hooks up with
ex-agent John Paul Renard, a huge hulk of a guy with a scarcity of
smiles and an abundance of good looks. Wondering whether he's a
rogue or a man of high principles, she fights her growing
attraction --- and him --- for much of their budding relationship.
Abundant dialogue of barbed exchanges links the relentless series
of obstacles and setbacks.
The action is nonstop, with the couple's escapades spanning several
states while enduring cliff jumps, swollen rivers, a forest sniper,
and dodging the FBI team dispatched to protect Avery. Their
survival depends on their own instincts, ingenuity, and stamina ---
and a little outside help.
Ms. Garwood knows well how to build conflict. The bad guys are in
no way subtle, bordering on being over-the-edge evil. The good guys
sparkle. The clash between them is spectacular. A day spent reading
KILLJOY is a day well spent.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011