An After Hours Review!
Pages: 51,058 words
Publisher: Siren Publishing
Review source: Publisher
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Series: The Callens, 9
Ninth in the Callen erotic romance series based in Intrigue, Wyoming and revolving around the Callen family. The threesome focus is on Mandy Duncan, Victor Callen, and Cam Longworth.
Oh. My. God. This story was an excellent example of tell. It's ALL tell...well, okay, show might'a snuck in somewhere, but I sure didn't notice it.
It reads more like an outline draft that Monroe started to fill in with complete sentences. Unfortunately, it never got any further, especially when it came to logic and ensuring that what was being said made sense. Oh, lord...bad, so very, very bad. It's so bad that you have to laugh at it! I can't believe Monroe has written nine of these!
Why is Mandy still living with her husband if she's served him with divorce papers? Especially if she's afraid of him? Why isn't she heading to the FBI office? She talks about her three best friends but doesn't confide in them? She doesn't trust them? Actually, it does make sense that she doesn't tell anyone at all, but it would'a been nice if we'd had some back history on her friends, on their friendship. Oh, no, wait, she goes to all this trouble to not tell her friends, and then...yup...tells 'em.
Um, I think that's marriages that can be annulled. Not divorces.
If she loves her horse so much, and is fairly sure she's getting a job at a horse ranch, why doesn't she just take him with her?
Typical of the "loquacious" writing:
"Only, the job wasn't quite as she'd expected. Sure, the first day was good. Sam introduced her to her bunkmates, Lilly and Trinity, both of whom were cool. The ladies showed her around the ranch and detailed how they handled the expeditions. Being out in the open, free of worry, helped soothed her soul."
Yup, in just one short paragraph with four separate topics, we obviously learn all we need to know.
Oooh, Mandy's gonna clean out stalls for a month… When told she'd be starting at the bottom, what did she expect? And a whole whopping month. A frickin' month and she's whining?? Her first encounter with Vince simply reinforces my draft assessment.
Well, I do like the concept: women being scarce in Wyoming so the men share. Wonder if the men in Wyoming know this? I am impressed by how easily Mandy accepts the concept.
Mandy swears up and down (metaphorically) that she wants nothing to do with men, so naturally, she immediately falls into several relationships. When informed of the boys' penchant for sharing, does Mandy lift an eyebrow? Heck no. Not at any time in the story. No wondering. No thinking that it's wrong. Nada.
She says Craig will be livid when he realizes she's gone. Why don't we see this? All we get is a bitty chunk of text when Craig "finally" figures out that Mandy might be a threat to him.
She's wearing a diamond necklace. In the daytime? I thought Monroe was attempting to portray Mandy as a class act? How would a young girl working at a nasty, cheap motel recognize Michael Kors clothing? I'd be wondering more about someone like her with a Mercedes convertible checking in. She's smart enough to get a burn phone, but stupid enough to run around under her maiden name?
"He hopped up on his horse…"? Calling a horse a hag? Maybe Monroe mistook and meant to say nag??
Oh, lord, she has a job as a stablehand, later to help lead trail rides, and she's still wearing her false nails??
"No sooner had she cracked it open than the rain arrived in earnest." And, yep, this is the first we knew there was a chance of rain. There's the bit where Vince pulls Mandy in against him and almost immediately backs off because the brim of the hat he put on Mandy's head is poking him in the eye. And he's hard as she turns around to face him. From "Vince pulls…" to "...face him" is thirty-eight words. It took Monroe thirty words to tell us the same thing. Where...WHERE is the emotion? The thoughts? The pulling in of the reader's interest?? WTF?
Huh? Wyoming has light rain that stings. Dang, guess I ain't gonna move there. I mean, what happens if there's a hard rain? Does it slap you silly?
Oh, oh, crack me up...and catch me 'cause I'm about to fall over with wonder at how lame this next bit is. They're soaking wet from the rain (which we discover later), and Vince is worried about their getting wet as they rush from the bunkhouse to the car. Uh-huh…
Um, I guess I'm not understanding this bit in which Mandy both considers the private school system and rejects it? I am so missing the logic here.
"'Maybe you should look into private schools.'
She hadn't thought of that. 'I might.' The first place Craig would look for her would be the school system.'"
Again, um. If Cam knows the difference between Mandy and Sharon, why is he going off about her? He claims he can tell that Mandy is lying? How? What tips him off? There's the whole bit (well, it's Monroe, so "whole bit" means a few paragraphs) in which Vince and Cam verbally slug it out over Sharon versus Mandy. And it, like the rest of the story, is in desperate need of fleshing out. Of course, Mandy hears some of the conversation including the words "gold digger". An ideal opportunity for some emotion. Oops, dropped that ball too.
Awww, Mandy hits some potholes in the road (no, I am speaking literally) and decides that maybe she isn't cut out for the wilderness. Awwww…my god. Who is this Monroe?? How is she not embarrassed to be writing such claptrap? How does her editor survive reading this, let alone publishing it???
I got hopeful that there might actually be some tension when Vince worries his older brother might cut him out and Mandy appears to want nothing to do with him or Vince, but, gotta give Monroe props for consistency. No tension a'tall, a'tall.
Yup, that's practical. And it is a good idea to know how to use a gun, especially when leading trail rides. And Mandy is interested in learning how to shoot a rifle. After all, ya never know when you'll need a rifle inside your camp to shoot a rattlesnake...oww, ow, my eyeballs are rolling again. They keep this up and they're gonna get detached. I'll need surgery...maybe even have to stop reading crap...
It annoys me that Monroe has Mandy swearing off men and falling insta-sex/love. If she would show us something. At least! Jesus, even the sex is all tell.
The scene between Cam and Sharon? Ripe, absolutely ripe with possibilities. And I know you remember what I said about Monroe's consistency… Oh, then the scene when Mandy learns Vince is gonna bull ride and she's all upset that he "could be crippled for life"? And she "wouldn't miss it". Yup, that'd be my reaction. Guess them bulls aren't so scary, or maybe it's just that there's no show about it when "the men on horseback descended on the wild beast and led him away". Seems kinda easy… How does Vince figure out that Mandy's been shot?
Awww, I'm just feeling the love when Mrs. Callen (their mom) tells the stablehands to grab food when it suits them as there are always leftovers...thanks, mom.
Um, I don't understand this sentence: "...he'll have an easier time finding the bullet, if we don't locate it first." Does that mean if the boys find the bullet, it'll be harder for the sheriff to find it? And why would Mandy think she has to go back to Denver now that she's spilled the beans about her past?
*Laughing at how ridiculous this is...* They know that someone is targeting Mandy, and naturally, someone attacks the camp and sets fire to Mandy's tent. Now, to my mind, the responsible thing to do is to get Mandy out of there. It would be safer for the paying guests, right? As for Vince being so protective?? How can he not imagine checking the trail in both directions? On checking that the horses are okay? I'd be heading back to the ranch. As for Mandy...oh, brother. Someone is sneaking up on the camp, and Vince goes out to check, leaving Mandy in the tent. What would your reaction be to this? I know mine would be to get dressed, be ready for anything. NOT crawl into the sleeping bag naked...
If the Callens are known for being such philanthropists, why is it that Y feels this need to take X up on the offer?
As protective as Vince and Cam are of Mandy, I'm surprised they don't insist on going with Mandy to Denver.
I did appreciate the reality of the sex scenes what with the guys spreading shirts, towels, and blankets on cold or rough surfaces. Even the brownie scene had a dose of reality to it. And I'm of two minds about it. I liked the reality, but I wish Monroe had packed more emotion, more show into them. I gotta confess, if I had two hot guys "heating" me up, I'm not sure I'd be compos mentis enough to be worrying about the crumbs...
Soooo, the boys get proof and do they go to the police? Heck no… Oh, another crack up! "The man tossed Vince on his back. 'You won't get away,' the goon shouted." Um, well, no I guess not. Not if Vince is on his back. I re-read that sentence a few times, trying to figure out if I had missed Vince running down the hall or if it was supposed to be Vince yelling at the goon.
I'm impressed. Vince "kneaded his fingers". I'm wondering if he used both hands. I can't imagine being able (or wanting) to knead one's own fingers, but hey, to each his own. What does one tug on when pressing on someone's rear?
Chapter nineteen's starting paragraph was odd. That statement about Mandy and pregnant felt like it came out of left field. I do wish someone would inform Monroe (and her editors, ahem) that the general rule is one topic per paragraph.
Do wish her editor(s) had had a proofreader do one last go-through: "is that want you want"; "cursed up storm"; "only the senior most women"; "the wide plains afforded them to ride side by side"; "mother nature" (should be capped); "set her tent of fire"; "other looking a bit lost"; "but she yet to visit it"; "think of it like being in a jury"; and, "I know the Clairbourne's are" are the ones that leapt out as I read.
There is a tiny, wee, bitty touch of tension in this, and of course we know how it'll turn out, so technically, there's no tension at all. There sure isn't any drama in this. It's all words. Words that don't evoke emotion, don't make your heart race. Words that tell you what's happening, 'cause you sure ain't gonna feel anything except the need to either find a bucket or try to stop your eyeballs from rolling. As for logic, oh honey, that never made it in the door...
I gotta wonder if Monroe had a word limit since she was so keen to not develop her characters or the story...
Unhappy in her marriage and shocked by her husband's dealings, Mandy escapes her marriage and hides out on a Wyoming ranch that caters to women.
She soon captures the attention of Vince Callen and his roommate. And it's insta-love for all three.
Mandy Duncan Clairbourne was a schoolteacher before she met and married the snaky Craig Clairbourne. Charger is the Arabian she loves more than Craig. Charles Fenwig is Craig's trusted assistant. Whom we hear of once.
Vince Callen is part of the wealthy Callen family located in Intrigue, Wyoming. While most of the family is in ranching, Vince's forté is in finance. Daniel is Vince's older brother; Camille is a sister. Vince's roommate is lawyer Cameron Longworth. Collier is Vince's horse. Samantha Callen Watson is Vince's cousin and owns the ranch, the Circle Bar where Mandy is employed. Heath and Wade Watson are Sam's husbands. Juliette is their three-year-old. Jenny is Sam's sister and a schoolteacher. Jackson is her husband, and he runs a bar in town. For some reason, as Jenny is coming down the drive while Mandy and Sam are talking, it's just not possible for Sam to introduce Mandy to Jenny. It'll have to wait a few days. April is another sister who's in med school; Taylor is one of her husbands. Ian is Sam's younger brother. Cody Callen is another cousin and owns the Intrigue Sun.
Lilly and Trinity are Mandy's bunkmates at the Circle Bar. Crystal will be her immediate boss. Wind Song is the horse Mandy chooses. Will Sutton is the local sheriff. Tara works for Jackson at his bar.
Sharon Lipman is Cam's ex-fiancée. Bill Christopher is one of the investors being bilked. Darby Atkins is a local whose son, Joshua, needs dialysis. Brad Soliman runs a stable in Intrigue. Tamara Brandt is a local who owns a salon. Father Crenshaw has a church in need of help.
Candace Jackson, who works for Craig; Beth Simpson; and, Lisa Brightner are her best friends and incredibly accepting too. Rana is the photography teacher, and Ellen Flowers is one of the group as well as from Mandy's old life. Mitch Henley works for the FBI in Denver. Special Agent Jonathan Abrahams serves his subpoena.
The cover is almost G-rated what with the bikini and underwear as Vince and Cam gather 'round Mandy.
The title is from Candy's line as she appreciates Mandy's luck; she's got Diamonds and Spurs.