It is well-written, the egregious errors that occur when editing is treated as optional are few and far between, the characters are interesting, the scenes of affection—oh lawdy, they do melt linoleum—tell you something about each of the MCs and (mostly) move the plot forward. The locales, the buildup of suspense… all that is handled with authenticity and an understanding of how to snare your attention and keep you focused on the sense of dread, fear and loathing that forms at the edge of terror, when the mind retreats under the assault of evil, and survival becomes an art form with unintended consequences.
These characters—Matty the survivor, the profiler, the client and Grant, the healer, the under-the-table go to man when the FBI’s valued internal assets break—are of the type where you peel back layer after layer, revealing frightening glimpses into personalities tip-toeing on the edge of psychic breaks. These are men who are so fearful of their inner selves it’s like watching two out-of-control locomotives on a ramming course when attraction trumps good sense and their individual histories legitimately call for mental non-repeat clauses.
Several levels of supporting characters, and a truly menacing antagonist, round out the cast. Grant’s sister is an annoying harpy with some major baggage. Sam is the rock. Diaz is Matty’s friend and facilitator. Jaeger (the mega Big Bad) is the glue that keeps this train on the rails and propelled toward an uncertain future for everyone involved.
Lots to love, seriously. But. Oh yeah, big buts.
Meridian cries out for a different treatment than the standard romance trope where the two MCs do nothing but crawl all over each other, even with bullets flying (of the physical and mental variety), where every second thought is will he-won’t he, where circumstances that turn a normal person’s bowels to liquid are nothing more than fodder and excuses for hands-on groping or woe-is-me’ing.
Meridian sorely needs ACTION, and I’m not talking about the against the wall, between the sheets, hanging onto the back of a transom kind of action. Less talky, more doing.
Meridian also requires a fairly strong suspension of disbelief, an ability to ignore the poorly constructed first chapter with names and situations flying about in a way that encourages DNF instead of providing the necessary “hook” to make you want to join in Matty’s journey without prejudice. It also cries out for delivery on promises and allusions to what a character is capable of… again, action, show don’t tell.
Honestly, by the end of the book, all I saw were plot holes and eye rolls and you’re kidding me… right? reactions that overrode the final bit of real action, real danger and real consequences. The coup de grâce, for me, was the final scene where a pissed off (he’s changed, Matty!) Grant capitulates and acts out in a way that made this reader feel like she’d accidentally fallen into a different book. Now, Grant’s character is less fully developed than Matty’s, but there’s enough said, enough implied, that this ending didn’t sit well with me.
Consistency thy name is king when a book is as character-driven as Meridian. When it fails, boy howdy it goes down in flames.
This story felt truncated, incomplete and underdeveloped. Since it’s a series, perhaps my questions and concerns will resolve favorably. And yes, that means I’d look favorably on reading book 2.
So, despite all the above, I still liked it, a lot. Except for this ‘n that. I liked it enough to forgive. For me, that means chewing my bottom lip and debating… 3.5 or 4 Stars?
Let’s go with 4*. I’d tell you why, but then I’d have to… You know the drill.
Grant Baines runs a specialty-tour company with his sister, Andie. The tour part is ushering frat boys around the Gulf of Mexico in his charter yacht. The specialty is that he’s an ex-military psychologist who does favors for the government. When Grant is asked to spend a week evaluating traumatized FBI Advisor Matty Sawyer, he agrees, thinking it will be just another babysitting assignment.
Grant is more relaxed in a bondage playroom than he is going on a date, so he’s amazed at how strongly he’s attracted to the damaged but brilliant man who arrives in his town. Grant’s job is to assess Matty’s stability to return to the FBI after Jaeger Koning— Matty’s former lover— is charged with multiple assassinations.
Knowing Matty’s past poses a danger to his family, Grant is determined to keep his distance, until Matty reveals a submissive side that Grant finds impossible to resist.