RogerBW's Blog

Detect Me, Selma Wolfe 16 February 2018

2013 romance novella. Nikki is an unsuccessful artist in the process of giving up on her dreams by taking a marketing job; Mark is the private detective whose office she walks into by accident. But it seems he needs some help catching an art thief…

The writing is shaky at times, but the book has drive. Both Mark and Nikki have lust-at-first-sight for each other; but both of them have had problems with lust-at-first-sight before, that stop them from simply leaping into each other's arms, and that's frankly more plausible than the standard romance trope of Big Misunderstandings that delay the principals' realisation of what is obvious to everyone else.

The standard romance trope of the Psycho Ex does show up, to a thoroughly disconcerting degree; if anything I found it a bit overdone, because we're expected to believe that one of our protagonists could have been seriously in love with this person who's clearly fairly mad. It just about holds together, mostly by putting the Psycho Ex on stage with their new rival rather than with the old partner.

This is an unusual romance in that the principals get roughly equal time as point of view characters; that's a much tougher job than writing exclusively from inside one person's head, and I applaud Wolfe for trying – and succeeding, as they come over with quite different mental voices.

This is not a well-researched book. The police procedure is implausible and probably borrowed from crime shows, and it's not really clear just how Mark became a detective even after it's been explained. And Wolfe appears to think that Amsterdam is in Iceland. But the basic emotional connection is what's at the core of the book, and that does work.

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