I had the pleasure of meeting Erica Abbott during the 8th Annual Golden Crown Literary Society Conference in Minneapolis. She is a delightfully witty woman – a wicked sense of humor. Oh, yes. By the end of the conference, I’d not only met a new author, laughed my fool butt off, and generally had a great time…but I’d also promised that my first book review would be of her debut novel, Fragmentary Blue (Bella Books).
Perhaps best classified as Romantic Suspense/Intrigue, Fragmentary Blue keeps the reader at the edge of her seat as the main characters navigate their mutual attraction and their jobs. Since avoiding spoilers is incredibly important when it comes to suspense novels, I don’t want to give anything away – so, I’ve included the summary provided on the book’s back cover:
C.J. St. Clair’s success as a police officer has brought her a new job and a fresh start with Internal Affairs in Colfax, Colorado. It’s a long way from her hometown of Savannah, and among the many welcome sights on her new horizons is Alex Ryan, the head of the Detective Unit.
Captain Ryan loves her department, her detectives and her family. Loving another woman isn’t in the game plan, but C.J.’s southern charms are difficult to ignore.
Romantic possibilities are crushed when a murder and scandal erupt within Alex’s command. The system they have both sworn to uphold makes them enemies separated by mounting evidence – and there’s no honorable way to cross the divide.
What I especially enjoyed about this novel is that neither the Romance nor the Suspense were short shrifted. Not only that, they were woven together quite wonderfully. For me, the best part of Romantic Suspense/Intrigue is that moment when the labyrinth labeled “Romance” and the labyrinth labeled “Suspense/Intrigue” start sharing some of the same corridors. Abbott does a really nice job of weaving the developing relationship with the murder case, all the while ensuring that the waters don’t get so muddied that the reader has no idea what’s really going on. It’s a fine line, and Abbott walks it adroitly.
CJ and Alex are likable characters. What’s more important is that they have depth – these are multidimensional women, not carbon copies who are easily interchangeable. They have their demons; they have their secrets. Abbott gives us glimpses into the characters throughout the novel – enough for us to get to know them, but we still don’t know everything. Is Abbott keeping things open for a sequel? If she is, she’s one smart woman. I can certainly see CJ and Alex returning in future novels, and the secrets that have yet to be revealed could certainly come in handy.
One of the first things that grabbed me about this novel is that it is well written. Many may think that is a strange statement. “Of course it’s well written,” you might say. “After all, it was published!” (I’m sure we’ve all read enough to know that isn’t always a prerequisite for getting published.) Abbott uses language wonderfully and doesn’t “write down” to her readers. I appreciate that in an author. It seems as though she understands that her readers are astute. Thanks for that, Erica.
I have but two small bones to pick. First is the use of “ya’ll” – which I believe was used a bit excessively. I’m sure that there will be many who find that the spelling (“ya’ll”) is a little disconcerting. We’re so accustomed to “y’all” instead. However, either spelling is actually appropriate. Others might find it equally awkward that CJ uses “ya’ll” when referring to a single person. However, in the South, this is also appropriate. So, while the spelling that is used was a bit jarring for me, I was able to get over it. I just felt that it was used a lot – perhaps, too much.
The other bone to pick has to do with solving the murder case. I felt it was given away a bit. Oh, it wasn’t obvious, but when the reveal was made at the end, it wasn’t overly surprising. I didn’t have that “OMG! I didn’t see that coming” reaction. Fortunately, I was so invested in the developing relationship between CJ and Alex, I wasn’t all that put out by the lacking twist in the plot. Had this been a flat-out mystery – no romance on the horizon – I might have been more bothered by it.
Overall, this is definitely a book worth reading. I have no doubt that Abbott’s future as a novelist will be a bright one. I am really looking forward to her next offering. And I really hope that we’ll see CJ and Alex in the future.