Tuesday, November 2, 2010

B.J. Daniels' Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch

Have you ever read a book so amazingly bad that you have to finish it just to find out what sort of crack the author is on and what else they can come up with to fill a few hundred pages? Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels was that book for me. I was so stunned by how sucktacular this book was that while reading it I felt compelled to share passages with my sister, who was also amazed that not only was it as horrible as I was saying, but also that I was somehow still reading. Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch was one of the first free books I got for my Nook(ie) a full year ago, but I didn’t get around to reading it until I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago.  And it’s still free pretty much everywhere... including as a pdf from Borders: http://media.bordersstores.com/pdf/harlequin_crimescene.pdf if you want to follow along with me on our quest to find out what exactly is going on in this book.

Now, I’ll admit that I do usually stay away from the Harlequin Intrigue line in general because I have yet to read one I like. Seriously, there are so many romance authors who manage to throw together a mystery and a good bit of romance and yet Harlequin’s entire Intrigue line in rather blah... though I haven’t read them all, so if there’s an amazing one let me know.  

The first tip off that there might just be something up with this book is that it is roughly 250 pages and it has a full page list of characters in the front of the book. Now this tells me one of a few things: 1) this is a series and the characters have been developed in other books but not this one, 2) the author didn’t have time to do any character development so figures a list of characters will be sufficient, or 3) the author was told there are too many characters in the book for the reader to keep straight.

1.    Apparently this is meant to be a series, “The Montana Mystique series”... and yet, it’s the first in the series, so this is where the character development should happen. (BTW, I will not be reading the rest of this series.)
2.    This is the one I’m going with... thought being the operative word.
3.    There are a lot of characters in this book... it’s only 250 pages for cryin’ out loud. And important characters like the best friend, Hilde, and Dana’s dad, Angus (a main suspect for the murder), are not mentioned in the list, which is a bit spoiler-y in its descriptions.

The book has a too stupid to live heroine, seriously, she almost gets killed by the murderer because she’s not perceptive enough to realize what the one thing mentioned over and over and over and over in the book signifies when the killer comes a callin’, named Dana who used to run Cardwell ranch but now is part owner of a sewing store?

The hero of the book, Hud (which is probably the worst shortening of Hudson, ever) apparently ran away from home to work for the LAPD and has now come back to be interim marshal... because that makes sense. Yeah. He also may or may not have accidently slept with Dana’s sister back when he and Dana were engaged, but he doesn’t remember it.

I had the hardest time keeping people straight in this book. Hud and Dana’s fathers, Brick and Angus, read like the same character, despite the author’s firm “one’s bitter and one’s a drinker” it’s like she wrote the same guy twice. Every scene just sort of bleeds into the next, leaving the reader’s head spinning trying to figure out who is where and what characters are involved.

Finally... the hero and heroine decide that they were meant to be and hook up... and seriously, if there were any more purple prose to go with the dumbest apologies to share one scene I would have killed them both with a red high heel myself.

But wait... that’s not the end. There’s still a killer (maybe) and a stalker (also, maybe) on the loose. And a crazy family made up of people from that list at the front of the book. And a missing will????

Really the whole end of the book is a tying-up-loose-ends-apaloosa and I’m sure some of these loose ends were never mentioned until the very end of the stinkin’ novel.

Anyone else read this freebie? What did you think?

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