Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Zipper Fall by Kate Pavelle

Title: Zipper Fall
Author: Kate Pavelle
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Genre: contemporary, mystery
Length: 350 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Wyatt Gaudens, an advertising executive and adrenaline junkie, has fine-tuned the art of breaking and entering into apartments, misusing his considerable rock climbing skills. Once inside, he steals a pretty, shiny thing or two. When his friend Reyna complains that her jerk of a boss makes her workplace a living hell, he breaks into her boss's home to get even. More than any other pretty thing, what really catches his eye the most is her boss, Jack.

Working hard to overcome his own lingering problems, investment specialist Jack Azzuri focuses on his second chance at making his business grow. But grief for his sister, Celia, recently killed in a suspicious climbing accident, sabotages his attempt to start over. When he meets Wyatt, he's strongly attracted even though Wyatt is the last person he should associate with. With Jack's explosive temper and Wyatt's adrenaline addiction, the path to a stable relationship will be a tough climb. They might succeed if they can sort out what really matters, as well as learn to take the good with the bad. Wyatt hopes to speed their progress by solving the mystery that’s weighing Jack down: how did Celia really die?


I have seldom been as perplexed by a book as I am with this one. Maybe I should put it on the “Guilty Pleasure” shelf, because while it had some flaws that normally send me frothing at the mouth, I ended up enjoying it a great deal.

What’s to like? The MCs, for starts. Wyatt Gaudens has both a devil-may-care attitude and a sense of honor, both tested out every time he chooses to break into someone’s home. While his overarching motivation for slipping some locks and taking a little this and that didn’t entirely make sense, it’s still good fun. The vicarious heart-pounding from following along while casing the joint, getting in, and even going too often to the well was definitely a high point. He reacts to Jack very viscerally, and has to examine his own motivations quite often. He’s fun. Occasionally not too bright, but I enjoyed his first person narration.

Jack is a force of nature, and we don’t spend any time in his head, for which I am actually grateful. He’s got some seething long term anger that I don’t want to cuddle mind to mind with, but he’s complex and balances enlightened self interest with an unique moral code that occasionally goes crosswise standard behavior. There’s explosive chemistry between them, which, oddly for me, I found engrossing enough that the external plot came as something of a shock when it reappeared. The author didn't mistake hawtsex for relationship; she made them work for it.

This story kept me off balance in a way that meant I couldn’t completely submerge in the tale. Bits and pieces of backstory got thrown in that didn’t seem to have any real connection to the story at hand, and didn’t always make sense. Motivations seemed like afterthoughts, tacked on in discrete chunks. Simmering issues got turned to a high boil and then shoved back in the fridge. New characters got dragged out of the woodwork in such a way that I had to scroll back and see if they’d swung by before, because the implications seemed to be that I should know who they are and why they belong in there. Friends of friends got dragged through by name only for no discernible reason. This all hits my converted fanfic button, a little checking, and yeah.

A couple of plot points seemed awfully familiar, but the source turned out to be another of this author’s own stories. A few were natural consequences of a particular action, but one was kind of eye-rolly both times.

Well. Like I said, I still ended up enjoying it.

Because anyone who references Bernie Rhodenbarr correctly gets two points.

The external plot, finding Celia’s murderer, had a few clues scattered here and there through the story, but didn’t actually come to the forefront until the last third of the book, and then with the air of it being something on the to do list, like getting the dry cleaning. The method was unique and referenced a lot of what went before. The howdunit, whydunit, and whodunit looked straightforward but had some good twists. I actually would have been perfectly content with the story had it ended at the 60% mark.

Basically, the problem here is of pacing, and of origins where the reader is assumed to have a basic grounding in who’s who and why they do what they do. This story would probably work marvelously in its original fandom, but as a work de novo the story isn’t entirely cohesive. I think this author can write, but I would really prefer to read something from her that owes nothing to any work but her own.

But the MCs are amazingly hot together, even if Wyatt occasionally can’t seem to find his butt with both hands. Jack clearly knows where it is. 3.5 marbles

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