Jake Jenson, a man determined to find his best friend’s killer at all costs. Jake is instantly attracted to the standoffish Lisa yet can’t understand why Lisa keeps him at arm’s length...
The Good: Bruised is a romantic "who-dunnit" style mystery/suspense story by author Stacy-Deanne. That said, I feel that it's only fair that I separate this book in two categories: mystery and romance. As a mystery, Bruised was entertaining and had me stumped as to who the killer was for a good portion of the book. As far as the characters, kudos for creating a capable hero that wasn't diminished in any way for being in a wheelchair. The fact that he was handicapped added color and depth to the story and was well done. The story of how Jake lost the use of his legs worked for me as well. This was very powerful to me and showed the hero as a real person with very real flaws. Enough time had past since his injury for it not to be the biggest issue in the book, but how it happened was important to the story and I think played out well. I also liked how the author touched upon how Jake felt that his best friend's character was being dragged through the mud, even as he learned that his not-so-perfect friend was less perfect than he realized. Another plus in my book? (Very minor spoiler in the next three sentences so skip if you prefer) Believe it or not I'm happy that there was no sex in this book. You can tell by the books that I review that I don't have a problem with sex in books when it makes sense. This story didn't need it and I'm glad the author felt the same.
The Bad & Ugly: As a romance this story didn't work for me. It wasn't believable at all and seemed to come out of no where. I get that there was an attraction, but it didn't play out naturally in my opinion and seemed forced. I would have preferred growing attraction as they solved the murder with an ending that hinted at more. Jake's character at times was annoying beyond belief and the idea of him tagging along and questioning leads was just silly to me. Another problem -the character of Lisa. I get she had bad things happen to her as an adult and during her youth. I get it. But I just didn't care for her that much, not when it came to her and the budding relationship with Jake. But then this could be due to my disbelief in the relationship between these two...
The Bottom Line: I wish the author had taken the romance away or at least muted it more so that it was very minor to the mystery. The romance I just didn't feel at all, it was too rushed and I couldn't understand what Jake was seeing in Lisa or what she saw in him. The mystery was good and could have been even better if it were more of the focus.
For the romance portion of the book I'm giving this two stars. For the mystery three stars. That should make this a two and a half star read, but I feel that rating does this book an injustice. I give Bruised a solid three stars because despite my opinions about the romance, it isn't a bad story. In fact, there's a second book coming and I look forward to it and seeing what develops. Hopefully there will be a better balance as we get to know the characters a bit better. Ultimately I would recommend this book.
Rating: 3 stars
Estimated Publish Date: 01/04/2014
Publisher: Sugar and Spice Press
*A review copy of this book was given to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.*