Saturday, May 17, 2014

Amanda's Return by June Kramin

Note:  I recived a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review
My Experience:  A
Synopsis:  After a move and name change, Amanda thought her days with dealing with the FBI and Mob were over. Her past comes back to haunt her as Eddie, the right hand man of the kingpin himself tracks her down, claiming to need her help. Amanda’s instinct is to refuse, until she discover what it is he needs. The return of the kingpin’s son, Angelo.
Vince Menusco’s men are being killed off with no explanation of who is behind it. Learning of Angelo’s disappearance is enough for Amanda to agree to return to the streets of New York and help find him. Against her wishes, Hunt goes along to help.  Even after getting Angelo to safety, Eddie refuses to free Amanda from their deal. Threatening her family, he insists she puts an end to the killings. Finding out who is causing them and why was more than Mandy was prepared to deal with.

Additional Note: You can read this well paced action-adventure romance as an adrenaline rush, or you can read a bit deeper and catch the subtle battles beneath the war.  If you haven't read Hunter's Find, I wouldn't skip it.  It's possible to read this book and understand what's going on but it won't be as interesting, trust me.

Honestly...?  I wasn't sure I wanted to read Amanda's Return.   I loved Hunter's Find, the conflict, the confusion, the confrontation of idealistic naivety and reality; the role reversals that weren't anything but a man and a woman living up to their full potential.  What troubled me at the thought of a sequel is how easy it would be for full potential to equate with thuggery - is that a word.  I dreaded seeing Amanda devolving in to a  characterization of a female  bully with semi-automatic style.  There were some tense moments, and a few when I just wanted to give up on her, but overall, Ms. Kramin pulls it off, again.

Writing is sharper than that double edged sword and even when Hunter and Amanda are fussing over ovulation - you feel every single word.  Secondary characters are believable, rich and many - which I happen to adore.  I get tired of the two best friends, boss or parent, and love interest being the only other characters involved in a story.  How many of us live in such a vacuum of acquaintances?  The dialog is groovy, advances the story and character development without being exhaustingly witty.  Humor is just right, gallows and pathos topped with word play that eases the transition from one scene to the next so you can catch your breath.  Best of all, Ms. Kramin is not afraid to reveal just how inconsistent people are.  She exposes our petty rationales of what is good or right for US isn't always true for THEM without shoving it down your throat, well, much.  With flourish, she flaunts truth like demanding mercy for ourselves but screw the jerk that cuts us off on the highway, they deserved to crash and burn not just get a ticket.  We know it is wrong to BE that way but a little vicarious enjoyment of someone else being all Midnight Run or Blues Brothers is well, perfectly fine, right?

There is just the right balance between the loyalty of family - that unconditional love none of us should but often do take for granted - and doing what's *right*.  The world Amanda walked away from hasn't really changed and neither has Amanda, not at her core.  For all her big talk and bone breaking abilities, she still believes she can Fix Things for those she loves, whatever it takes.  Fortunately for the Menusco's, there's enough of the Old Amanda to use and she's willing to allow that, if she gets what she wants.  It's a slippery slope, and as I said, it troubled me even before I started reading and didn't really fade, not even at the end.  I imagine Amanda at 60 will still be trying to fix everyone and everything in her world ... only then they'll call her an interfering old bat and no one will care that she's still *hot*.  I'd probably like to know her then.

In other words, yes, Amanda is still the uber strong woman.  So much so that us lesser women might find her obnoxiously overbearing.  That is, except for the fact she's safely in a book, not living next door or two cubicles away getting all the glory while we work just as hard though it still hasn't occurred to us to kick the arse of the boss's son as a legitimate route to a raise.  Her reflections on motherhood, being a wife and daughter-in-law are all spot-on but they seem less real once she's shoving her way back in to The Business.   Hunter's unwavering support is stunning (and pretty miraculous considering) as he takes a walk on her side of the street where no one is really what they appear to be, except his wife and at times, she forgets just how well he knows her.  I liked those parts best - his pinches of Remember Me?  Us?  Why we are here?  Good ... just checking in, now, let's have sex, yes I mean now, what's wrong with now?

BTW, there are NO graphic sex scenes in this books.  The implication is there, the innuendo is played up, the locations are numerous, and the afterglow endearing; however it's mostly fade to black so for those that hate stories slowed by paragraphs of sex or those desperate for the same - you've been warned.

The plot was confusing.  It was supposed to be, why else would The Family bring in an outsider to track down the shooter.  The deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes would've been worthless here.  He'd have needed too large a string map and gotten tangled up designing his social network connections thereby missing the next clue.  No, it was better to strap in and catch the clues on the fly.  Reaction to lies, betrayals, assassinations and near misses was the method of the day.  In this case it worked out in the end.  I doubt it would work on actual streets, but it sure was interesting!  I was surprised by who was behind it all though it made perfect sense at the reveal.  I want to say more but it would be a spoiler and I don't do that.

ARG how hard it is to *not* do that -- I just deleted three paragraphs of ah ha and Oh Yeah and well, darn.  If anyone wants to discuss this later:  e-mail me, we can wallow in it all!  Which is to say, this is a book and characters you invest in, feel something about and remember even when the story is done.  A keeper for my e-reader and definitely an author worth watching for even groovier things from (no pressure intended Ms. Kramin).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for all the time & thought you put into your reviews! I'll try my best to keep you entertained in the future. ;)
    You're the best.