Title: Little Miss Straight Lace
Author: Maria Romano
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Price: $10.95 Kindle Edition 3.29
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner
Book Description: When a dedicated researcher learns a bit too much about her client's new drug, the horrors from her past seem destined to return. Just as her life begins to spin out of control, a dashing computer security expert arrives from South America and seems the perfect antidote. But is his sudden arrival just the happy coincidence it seems? Find out in this complex novel of romance and suspense that takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of murder, mayhem, sex, and drugs—of the pharmaceutical variety, of course—until the very last page.
This book is a romantic suspense novel, but I felt it was a little more heavy on the romance than the suspense. Josie Natale is a genius bio-statistician who works primarily on pharmaceutical trials. She's your average brilliant person, great with the numbers, but not so great with the basics of life. She can't cook; she's always late; her apartment is a chaotic mess, and she has some difficulty forming lasting romantic relationships. Her current boyfriend Henry is younger than her, a bit mentally distant, and all her real friends think he's a prick. Josie Natale is one of those women who barely seems to have control of her life. Everything happens TO HER in this book like she is some sort of lightning rod. She knows this, and she blames her weakness on an assault she suffered as a teenager and then a later assault by a client when she refused to alter the data on one of her research projects, which would inevitably bankrupt the company. Josie's take-no-shit attitude and her closed off emotional state makes for no shortage of enemies and haters.
This all sets the stage for the suspense plot in which we have threats from a religious cult called the Warriors of God, leading to subsequent break-ins at various clinics. Research data is being stolen and altered, and when Josie's friend winds up in the hospital, it's time to call in the big guns: Enter security agents Nic and Robert. Nic is a security expert and his friend Robert, who looks like the man who assaulted Josie when she was a teenager, is an expert in cult ideology, having been rescued from one when he was a child. This will come in handy later in the story, which is a rollercoaster ride of drinking, eating, shopping, golfing, sleuthing, kidnapping, attempted murder, actual murder, and medical experiments with nefarious drugs.
The plotline of this book is all over the place with a lot of twists and well placed coincidences in order to lead the reader down various assorted sinister paths. Is Nic really a good guy or not? being the most obvious. There are a lot of characters coming and going – some readers might find this on-stage off stage scene setting a bit hard to handle -- but all were firmly grounded in their world. No one was super extraordinary, which made them believable. Nic seemed a little too perfect in the beginning, but he has his flaws too. In real life, you could run into any one of these characters on the street or in the boardroom. The romance is messy, all the characters are not without a few uncomfortable secrets here and there, and the detail is almost impeccable. My only problem with the book was that I thought it was a bit long, and the pacing slowed for me during the mundane moments of shopping and girl talk and golf games and evenings with friends along with all the Freudian internal exploration and examination. I was more into the suspense plot not the romance between the sexy petite genius and the uber wealthy Latin security god, but that’s just me: I am not a big romance reader. However, those who love romance will be thrilled with this one. The emotions are well articulated, and the romance is not without it's struggle.
As for the suspense plot, I thought everything was tied together quite well, and even though the HEA ending was predictable, it was not without its thrills. The book tackled quite a few unpleasant and important issues such as rape, religious cults, and most importantly the safety concerns we have about the pharmaceutical industry. Overall, I enjoyed the mystery, and I especially enjoyed the close knit friendships that existed at the start of the book and the new ones that were made by the end.
This book was reviewed from a PDF provided by the author.