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Fabulous Reads: Romantic thriller fails to impress

Book review - Never Tell by Stacey Abrams (aka Selena Montgomery),

Never Tell, Stacey Abrams (aka Selena Montgomery), Pan Macmillan, ISBN: 9781250805829

THIS book was originally published in 2004, and in the interest of an honest review, I believe that’s where it should have stayed. Its premise had so much potential, but it was problematic from start to finish.

Criminal psychologist Dr Erin Abbott is running from a dark past with equally dark secrets. However, when she receives a letter, along with several obituary clippings, she realises that her past has followed her to New Orleans. Hotshot journalist Gabriel Moss quickly realises that Abbott’s theory of a serial killer with a vendetta against her, stalking the city, is spot on. With the police unconvinced and unwilling to assist, Abbott begrudgingly agrees for them to team up in an effort to catch the killer after the killer claims yet another victim.

My first and biggest gripe with the book is the ‘romance’ aspect. It screamed toxic. Moss does not respect Abbott’s boundaries, privacy or her autonomy. Despite her repeatedly verbalising that she does not want his assistance nor a relationship with him, he ignores her wishes and continues to push until she is too exhausted to protest.

This is particularly problematic since it is quite clear from early on in the book, to both the reader and Moss, that Abbott had been the victim of some form of abuse.

As readers, we are privy to the thoughts of both Abbott and Moss. And while Moss admits that his motivations are fuelled by his own selfish desire to get the scoop on the story and save his newspaper, he also tries to soothe his own conscience by claiming that he is pushing Abbott for her own good.

Moss is also way too affectionate with Abbott – touching her intimately from early on in their encounters – from touching her hands to kissing her forehead. This just made me feel uncomfortable.

He also constantly ogles her – despite her being incredibly smart, he drones on about her physical appearance. It was just cringeworthy. To me, it felt like Abrams was forcing their sexual attraction, and it did not come across as authentic or endearing.

The uninspiring ‘romance’, at least in my opinion, overshadowed the thriller aspect. The book failed to push me to the edge of my seat.

The clues left by the author regarding the identity of the killer were sadly, a bit obvious, and I did develop a suspicion quite early on in the book.

Finally, I was disappointed by how little reference was made on the cultures, traditions, or the local dialects – especially when the book is based in New Orleans. None of that was incorporated into the book. – Mariclair Smit 1/5 stars

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