Thursday, February 9

Buddy Review: Don't Tell by Karen Rose

Zeek:  A couple weeks ago Ames, whom I’ve “known” for a couple of years now, noticed I was reading Don’t Tell by Karen Rose. When she asked if I would want to do a buddy review with this book, I leapt at the chance! See, I love talking about books with people who love the same genres I do, but alas, the opportunity to do so in the non-cyber world is almost non-existent. Having met Ames online over our mutual passion for reading, I knew it would be fun way of sharing the love, while doing a review without much effort. I was right- and I killed two birds with one stone. Nothing more satisfying in life. :D

Ames:  I love when things just fall into place like that. I had decided to read more Karen Rose this year and lo and behold, I notice Zeek reading the same thing. And how odd that we've never done a buddy review before in all the years of us being blog buddies?! I'm glad you enjoyed the experience. :P

Don't Tell by Karen Rose
Published by Warner Forever in 2006
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake. Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he's closing in on her- and everything and everyone she loves.

Zeek: So what did you think??

ames: I’ve read Karen Rose before and Count to Ten is my favorite book ever. So I kind of compare every KR book to that one. I thought Don't Tell was really good! Especially for a debut novel. What about you? Have you read her before? What did you think?

Zeek: Yes Die For Me was the first one I read by her and I’ve only ever read Count To Ten as well- both were top notch, as well as better written novels technically. That said, Don’t Tell totally engaged my emotions- I think more so than the first two I read, although it has been a number of years since I’ve read them and I may be forgetting.

I have a love/hate relatioinship with suspense-thrillers. I love a book that makes me want to scream from tension and rise to the defense of the characters. But I could hardly sit still reading the Bad Guy’s inner thoughts- I wanted to beat the crap out of him so bad- And that’s why I hate them. I feel as helpless as the heroine.

Still it’s the mark of a good author to be able to engage the readers’ passions with such ease!

ames: Yes it is the mark of a good author. Right from the get go I was sucked into Caroline's story.

And I have said for years and years that I do not like romantic suspense as a genre. But I'll always make the exception for Karen Rose. Kind of like my feelings towards mystery, I can't handle the suspense sometimes! I know I was on the edge of my seat a few times when we were in the villain's POV and we realize how close he was to Caroline. I couldn't put the book down.

I also have to agree with something you said when we first started reading this book, that it was more romance-y. I agree and it's in a good way. It set up a nice tension between the romance and suspense. I found Don't Tell very balanced that way. And it wasn't corny romance either - something I've found with other romantic suspenses.

Zeek: Yeah- she had me immediately too. LOATHED the bad guy from the beginning. (I believe some of my comments were- "geeze this guy better die a bloody horrible death." "dickwad a-hole bully. DIE.” To be specific! Haha!)

I’ve gotten bored with most romantic suspense, serial killer/psycho plotlines because frankly, Linda Howard did it best with Dream Man way back in the day and ever since it’s been downhill. But I‘ve left Karen Rose as one of the exceptions to that rule. She does do it so well and if I hadn’t had such a busy couple weeks I would have read it in one sitting!

As far as the romance, I liked it very much. This one was definitely more romancey than her later ones, which, as you’ve said, is not a bad thing at all! But the romance felt very germane to the story, in that she kept Max, Caroline’s new love interest, feel damn real. He had flaws- and not in a broody, tortured kinda way which is so rampant right now. Rose didn’t gloss over those flaws- I love that. I love that Max was not perfect- he totally blew it still wallowing in his pity over not being a big basketball star- but he saw the error of his ways and made it right. Love. That.

He also was not the typical “alpha” hero- which I usually need in a romantic plot- but still had strength of will and an innate nobility that I can’t resist. I agree that the romance vs. stalker plot felt well balanced and dare I say necessary to show the heroine’s growth?

The only time I was a bit exasperated was unfortunately when Rose chose to give Caroline and Max’s their first time together. She juxtaposed it with the douchewad finally tracking her down and rummaging through her apartment. By then I wanted the confrontation to happen and the jump back to Caro and Max irritated me. Plus that feeling of aggression doesn’t work with enjoying a love scene…. however- I got over it fast because they were HOT together! :)

ames: I have a confession to make, I've never read Dream Man yet. I've read a few LH's but not her older novels, so I can't really compare. But if KR makes me read a genre I don't like, then she must be exceptional. LOL

I like how Max did have his flaws but so did Caroline. As much as Caroline was a survivor, Rose didn't make her a saint/martyr and she showed how Caroline's stubbornness (for example) grated on her friends nerves and even Max's. This was what made it real. I liked how she portrayed Max.

Actually, Rose did an excellent job with all the characters, wouldn't you say? Dana, Tom, even Evie (oooh I wanted to smack her!) and David. I liked seeing David here, I know he was a character that I enjoyed in Count to Ten as well.

I agree with that juxtaposition of the love scene. But oh so hot. I was also wondering how Rose was going to get around Caroline's son on that one. The makeout sessions on the couch could only go on so long before they got interrupted. haha

Zeek: All of the characters were fantastic and I kept going back to her booklist to see if (or when) she was going to write their stories. I was happy to see that she has done so already for most of them! For some reason I don’t remember David in the other books but let me tell ya, I surely wont forget him now and am anxious to get to his book, and Dana’s too! Evie? Yeah I wasn’t so much interested in getting to her story (I Can See You) until I read the blurb. MAN does that look good!

One thing I had a hard time with? Ben Jolly turning green after realizing he was wrong about the bad guy. That I don’t buy. A-hole like that would have rationalized it away imo, especially because he assisted him in covering up his deeds. But what is that compared to the rest of the book? Nothing really! :)

For a book to really hit big for me I need it to be character driven-and Don’t Tell certainly was- but I gotta tell ya, the plot in this one isn’t bad either. I could almost see the circle of danger winding tighter and tighter around Caroline. I was almost pulling my hair out watching the bad guy get closer and closer to finding Caroline.

ames: I have a thing for jealous heroes and I only remember David because Reed was jealous of him and Mia's friendship in Count to Ten. hehe And also that he falls for Dana. I love David's character, so I'm pleased to see that he gets a book as well.

I know what you mean about Ben Jolly. But I think KR did a good job of making him get some comeuppance by being so torn up about it. The jerk. The only person who didn't really get their just desserts imo was Monica Shaw, the uppity b*tch that Caroline didn't like. Yeah David pulled a good one on her, but her character kind of petered out.

Oh I mean to ask you, what made you pick up Don't Tell? For myself, when I recapped 2011 I realized I hadn't read anything by KR and I decided to remedy that in 2012 by reading all her books.

Zeek: Ohhh see I don’t remember that and I’m usually all over something like that because I like the heroes to get jealous too! ::guiltypleasure::

Monica Shaw did just sort of disappear now that you mention it- sure the way they handled it was ok, but, as a woman, I wouldn’t have minded her seeing Max choose Caro over her!

What made me pick it up? It was released free on kindle awhile back. :P

Wait- I didn’t really answer that right- I bought it because it was free, I picked it up because, well I’m not sure? Perhaps because I was in the mood for something other than paranormal romance which is my usual go to?

Was there anything you didn’t particularly like about the book?

ames: Ooh that's a good deal, getting it for free. Will you continue on with her books after this?

I didn't like that I couldn't put the book down! LOL

But really, I thought this book was so well done, if anything did bother me, I completely overlooked it. I was sucked into it right away. What about you?

Zeek: Most definitely I’ll continue on- I have Steven Thatcher’s book and also the ones after Count to Ten. I had already planned to go back and hit them all- when this came up as a Kindle freebie I was like, YES!!

Was there anything I didn’t like? Like you said, the things that might have bothered me a little were easily overlooked because- what I loved about the book- I loved!

Still, I have to go back to my love/hate thing with thrillers once again. I love it when an author makes me care about the characters so much I cant stand to see them hurt- but I hate the anxiety it makes me feel when they’re in danger! In fact I literally have to stop myself from skimming because I’m so anxious to get through it. (I rarely watch thriller movies anymore either because I end up fast forwarding til I know they are safe! Haha!) I was the same way with another recent read of mine- The Girl Who Played With Fire. I was biting my nails and pulling my hair out because I could hardly stand the violence coming down on the main character- but I couldn’t stop reading either because I so wanted to see her safe- and avenged! I felt the same way while reading this one.

ames: I agree. I did skim a few pages ahead just to see what was going to happen within a scene. Like when Caroline comes home from spending the night at Max's and she's wandering her apartment. I couldn't resist!! LOL

Zeek: Don’t Tell was about domestic violence as much as anything else- how did you feel about that aspect of the novel? (for the record, as disgusting, bile inducing and gut wrenching as it is to look at in fiction, I know it happens in real life-worse- didn’t want you to think I don’t realize that.)

ames: I thought KR handled it very well. It's the little things, like Dana and Caroline discussing the women that eventually return to their husbands. And Caroline knowing she had to not judge them. I also felt that Caroline's experience and the aftermath, even 7 years later, seemed realistic. It wasn't over the top or pushed under the rug. I think Max was a bit dense for not figuring it out on his own. Just that he knew someone hurt her in the past.

Zeek: Agreed. :D

ames: Was there anything else you wanted to add? A grade?

I really enjoyed this one and gave it an A rating - but only 4 stars on goodreads. But it's closer to 4.5 for me.

Zeek: Yep 4.5 for me- very good! I know what you mean about GR- Sometimes I put 4 for my 4.5 but this one is more on the 5 side of 4.5 for me! :)


Rowena said...

What a fun buddy review guys! I haven't read anything by Karen Rose but from your review, I need to fix that. On my list, it goes.

Zeek said...

srsly? then yep- you need to add her to the pile! :P

nath said...

Great buddy review ladies!! :) LOL, when I saw that both of you were reading Don't Tell, I decided to re-read it :) I still love it so much :)

For me, Karen Rose is the Queen of RS. I just love the way she does it :) She doesn't shy away from any subject and often show both sides of things. For example, dirty cops and corruption... but at the same time, she has this cast of dedicated cops which definitively make up for the dirty ones! :)

I think her earlier books were more character-focused and romance-y. In my opinion, it was a bit more balanced that way. But I think she's trying to add back a bit more of romance with her later books :)

Anyway, I loved, loved Don't Tell. I agree with you two about the characters. The fact that they were flawed made them more realistic :) I also think that's the way to do injured sport professionals. I liked that Max had moved on, but was still bitter. Really, who wouldn't? And that his career ended so tragically... at the same time, I think he felt it was penance.

I'm surprised you two didn't mention Caroline and Tom's relationship. I really loved that aspect of the book. How they were protective of each other, their bond so strong after what they went through :)

Awww, definitively a great book :)

By the way, I did buy Ben Jolly's reaction. perhaps he should have been more in denial... but I can see him admitting he was wrong.

~ames~ said...

Wena-I'm shocked! You need to read something asap! I'd recommend Count to Ten b/c that's my ultimate fave. You'd love the couple in that one. :)

Nath-Lol I didn't even notice that! I thought Tom was cute, being protective of his mom. And I liked how Tom and Max became close at the end. That didn't feel forced.

nath said...

LOL, Ames, what didn't you notice? ^_^;

And yes, I really liked the way Tom and Max became close. It wasn't instantaneous and the fact that Tom was so worried. It made it real :)

Zeek said...

@nath Sorry- we did forget to mention that! (You should have told us you were re-reading, coulda added you in to the mix!!)

RE: Tom- kids can be iffy for me in stories but I like that his responses were very realistic. he didnt immediately "fall for" Max, in fact challenged him which happens often even with his history of an abusive parent. I actually wouldnt mind seeing him get his own story sometime too! :P

RE: Ben Jolly, ya know, I guess it's the cynical part of me that had a harder time believing he would own up to his misplaced allegiances- even tho she did show how sickened he was by his actions. I've just seen to many people just "disappear" or get stubbornly obtuse rather than suffer their pride being taken down a notch. :/

but again, i will give it to Rose in that she did a good job of redeeming him a bit...

Zeek said...

"in fact challenged him which happens often..."

I meant happens often in real life!