2008, Romantic Suspense
Brava, $14.00, 288 pages, Amazon ASIN 0758221843 Part of a series
Superb and Sexy is the third book in Jill Shalvis’ Sky High Air trilogy, featuring three pilots of a luxury charter airline. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t anywhere near sky high, but more along the lines of irritating and frustrating.
In a previous book, private pilot Brody West and concierge Maddie Stone finally acted on their mutual attraction – and then Maddie got shot and disappeared for several months. When he arrives at the cabin where she’s staying in an attempt to get his best employee back, he is shocked to discover two Maddies, or rather, Maddie and her previously unmentioned identical twin Leena. The sister is a milquetoast, the polar opposite of Maddie’s dominant personality and she’s being threatened and blackmailed by their criminal uncle, who forced her to design fraudulent jewelry. The twins plan to disappear, but Brody’s appearance disrupts things and Leena runs off by herself. When Maddie goes to rescue her, Brody tags along. Maddie pretends to be her sister, but when Leena is captured, their strategies fall apart.
Maddie and Brody are both uninspired cardboard characters in a stock pairing: The sexy, feisty, independent woman and the arrogant, bossy, over-protective alpha-male. And even though the two share physical chemistry, no matter how hard Shalvis tried to convince me they were in love, I didn’t buy it. Their bickering was more annoying than endearing and, instead of progressive growth over the course of the book, their characters remained stagnant, sometimes even regressing, before the big conclusion.
One of my biggest issues is Brody’s train of thought. Many times – even as Maddie is confessing something or in danger – he picks up on double entendres in his own thoughts, bringing him straight back to sex. Maddie’s constant strip-teasing also irritated me. I get that she has a banging body and looks great in her various colorful, stylish, and flattering lingerie...and that Brody is completely incapable of anything but drooling at the sight of her. I didn’t need constant reminders.
Side characters also annoyed me. Leena seemed weak and ineffectual and the uncle and his various minions lacked originality and were relatively interchangeable. Leena redeemed herself in the end, but it took too long for me to like her.
Another problem was pacing. The first scene lasts nine chapters, and the plot goes back and forth in an unnecessary way. The twin mix-up was, at times, confusing. The dialogue and writing style may work for some people, but if failed for me; I found it uninspired, and the attempts at humor fell flat.
Despite all of this, the last chapter or two weren’t bad and there were a few good moments between Brody and Maddie at the end. However, several hundred pages of annoyance, poorly delivered humor, and a weakly paced plot meant this book just couldn’t be saved.
-- Jane Granville
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