Friday, December 23, 2011

Cold Comfort by Ellis Vidler--a Review

Cold Comfort
By Ellis Vidler

Review by Patricia A. Guthrie

If you like romantic suspense novels, a feisty courageous heroine, who didn’t know she had it in her, a hunk for a hero who hadn’t found his sensitive spot–yet, and a few really nasty villains who will do anything to murder the heroine thrown in to muck up anyone’s day, you’ll love “Cold Comfort” by Ellis Vidler.

Picture yourself as an owner of a cozy little Christmas shop called “The Mistletoe.” You’ve been talking to people all day, keeping an eye out on the lines of children brought in by parents to see your finely decorated Christmas trees. You’re dead tired, and your feet hurt. Home at last. You get out of your car and—wham! You’re attacked from behind. And not in a purse snatching way either. Someone is bent on murder–yours.

That’s what Claire Spencer faces in the beginning of Ellis Vidler’s romantic suspense novel “Cold Comfort.” And the deadly games have just begun. Someone really wants her out of the way.

Fortunately, Claire has friends who has friends with law enforcement backgrounds., Enter Ben Riley who doesn’t want to protect anyone, much less a woman. Women get in the way. And get in the way she does, just not in the way Riley expects. In fact, Riley muses “When he finished this job, he was moving to Tahiti—with no forwarding address.”

I loved this story. It has many twists and turns, taking our hero and heroine off in one direction then another, and I, who was convinced knew who the culprit was, am no longer sure.

Vidler fills her story with details that either sent a chill up my spine or made me laugh. Her description of the car of the attacker with its mismatched headlights led to furthering the plot. One of the characters had wide expresso eyes. Sentences like “Appearing out of the shadows cast by the streetlights, a shapeless figure in a dark overcoat jaywalked toward Claire’s side of the street.” And the clouds that formed from Riley’s mouth. These are examples of the richness of the text.

The dialogue was fun. One choice goodie from Claire to Riley “I’ve met pit bulls easier to talk to than you” and the description of a psychopath, directly from his own mouth: “I could have handled it if you hadn’t hooked up with that Riley guy—this is all your fault.”

I could make a few criticisms. In general, as fast paced as I think this novel is, I found dead spaces that slowed it down a bit too much. Claire’s need for a “stable, conventional life and a husband to share it with, a nine-to-five kind of guy who’d be there for her. She needed children to bake cookies for.” (She likes to bake cookies a lot) was one of the redundancies I found along the way.

Some clichés stepped me out of the story. “. . . angry red scratches marked her right cheek, and to complete the picture, she sneezed.” I liked the sneezed part but I’m tired of reading about “angry bruises, scratches etc” and the “complete the picture.”

I saw and felt the growth of both characters as the story moved on. Claire, the sheltered girl with little experience of the outside world uses all her instincts and courage to outwit the villains. She’s brave, feisty and has a bad habit of doing things her own way, even when it was against bodyguard rules. Riley finds the sensitive part of himself he didn’t think existed and didn’t want to exist.

I found “Cold Comfort “an absorbing well-written book, with fun dialogue, expressive detail and generally face paced. What faults I found, were miniscule and not even noticed had I not been looking for them.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ellis Vidler. It won’t be the last.

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