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Julie Doe

Covert Lessons - Mari Carr This has to be one of the worst books I've struggled through. I won't summarize the plot again; the product description above does a decent enough job of that. So why did this book suck?

First, the writing is clumsy and amateurish. The author almost completely avoids the use of "said" as a dialogue tag, choosing instead to use "grumbled", "admitted", "argued", "teased", etc. This is a beginning writer's mistake and leads to some hilarious-sounding prose. We are also treated to the POV character repeatedly making unlikely inferences about what others are thinking and to being told something in the narrative only to then have a character say something that imparts the exact same information. Some of the dialogue is also horribly stilted. I initially put this book down after about 15 pages because the writing was so bad.

Second, Mac is unlikable. He immediately starts acting like an arrogant Type A jerk, telling the heroine what she can and cannot do, yelling at her, grabbing her butt, and kissing her. Then he asks her out for dinner. Remember now, he supposed to be in the middle of an investigation and he's getting sidetracked lusting after the heroine.

At one point, he sees Kelly get shoved trying to break up a fight between two students and he "fought the urge to pound his fists against the boy's face." A cop -- who routinely deals with violence like this -- gets so angry that he has a hard time *not* pounding on a 15 year old kid? A kid? Later Mac spanks Kelly because he told her she wasn't allowed to break up fights anymore and she disregarded him...because, of course, Mac has the right to dictate to someone he just met how she should live her life and to treat her like a child if she thinks for herself. Yeah, pretty condescending.

I have to admit that Mac's infuriating reactions are a pet peeve of mine - heroes who are used to violence almost losing control when minor violence is done to the heroine. It's unrealistic. It's unattractive. And this is not the only time he has this reaction.

Bad writing, unlikable hero. One star.