Raleigh in Rio

Cassidy Kent
2006, Contemporary Romance
Phaze, $3.00, 27 pages, Amazon ASIN 1594264988

Grade: C-
Sensuality: Warm

The price and ISBN above are valid at Phaze Books.

Though I'm a big e-book fan, I feel like I should start a checklist for those I'm reading these days. In the case of Raleigh in Rio, my list would look something like this:

  • Poor editing: Check
  • Simple grammatical errors: Check
  • Spelling mistakes: Check
  • Cliché-ridden: Check

Which is a shame really, because this story - of a woman recently separated from a cheating crook of a husband, then taken to Rio by her best friends for a fantastic sensual holiday - would be quite strong if not marred by simple mechanical errors and some amateur writing problems that could have easily been cleaned up.

For example - and a little plot detail - Cristo, our hero and intrepid PI, is tracking Raleigh to see if she has any connection to her husband's embezzlement scheme. During the three months that he's tailed her, he developed feelings for her, but at the same time he worries that he's become too attached, that he can't do his job. He agonizes about letting down his father-figure and boss, James, but finally he decides that he needs her, he has to have her, but only for the one night. We learn this in the space of about a page (one of only 27) in a series of long, descriptive paragraphs of Cristo's thoughts. The information is nice, but mostly unnecessary, and, when presented this way, unfortunately becomes boring. I understand that in shorter stories, there's just some times when an author must tell and not show, but big block paragraphs of angst and back story ruined any momentum that the story displayed thus far.

There are also times that the words read as if the author is writing what she thinks a romance novel should sound like, as opposed to a true description of how her characters think and feel. Similes and metaphors are often over the top, the sort of prose that is often ridiculed by those outside the genre.

Luckily, the characters are solid, and the story does manage to come through in the end. I would have liked to have seen more of the friends, but in this shorter length, I understand the size ramifications. About half way in, the story really hits its stride and the momentum pulses along in a good rhythm. Though Cristo's thoughts keep popping up and overpowering, they become fewer and further between as the plot takes over. It’s also nice to see some character growth in a short story.

Short stories are notoriously hard to pace, but Kent has done well. Many authors are afraid to leave their characters alone for a couple of weeks, as if readers need stalker-like information of every movement and every day. Not so here, where we leap into the middle of the trip to Rio, past Cristo and Leigh's first encounter, over his betrayal, and beyond. These leaps, as well as moving the story forward, have the added benefit of allowing a certain authenticity to the characters' feelings. While love at first sight has its supporters, it's nicer for the story to draw along some, to show some depth to both the characters and their interactions.

In the end, though, Raleigh in Rio is disappointingly overpowered by mechanical errors that become impossible to ignore.

-- Kate Cuthbert

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