Wednesday, April 11, 2007

FAB Pick - SIGHT UNSEEN, by Samantha Graves

This whole FAB thing is hard. I mean, we love featuring new authors, and blogging about their wonderful new books. We love getting the word out. But sometimes, it's just difficult to find a book that is FAB. Have you read our FAQ yet? Check out those guidelines for FAB. It's not easy to meet those, ok? There are months where I pull my hair out searching for a great book. Once in a while, I get lucky and know of a book coming out soon, and the author will send me a copy (March). Occasionally, I find a book in my TBR pile that really resonates with me and I feel the need to feature it a few months after its release date (Feb). I have even featured an author, and highlighted all of their books (Jan). Each of those books are special though. I mean, every single one of the books I've picked as FAB has really had something about it, you know that something I mean, that has reached into my heart or mind, and just shaken me. So you understand how it is sometimes hard to find that very unique book to highlight as FAB?

You wanna know how incredibly difficult it was to find a book this month? Ok. I'll tell you. The book was handed to me. At lunch. With the author. Yeah, sometimes my life is SO rough, right? But actually, this brings a different set of issues. What if I don't like it? Do I tell her? What if I find issues with the story? What if there is just no way I'd want this book on my review blog? What if I read it and love it, but just don't want to feature it? Do you get the idea that I worry about stuff excessively? Yeah, you're right. And most of the time, I really shouldn't worry. Because let me assure you - none of those silly questions is true this month(except for me worrying a lot!).

I have an ARC of the book, so I'm hoping my BCC will match the one on the back of the book that YOU are going to buy. Mine says this:

Clues only this psychic can see
Can an art thief earn an honest living? Raven Callahan does, with the help of a rare psychic power that lets her read the emotions locked inside ancient objects. But when her partner is kidnapped and Raven is forced to steal a priceless masterpiece to save him, ESP take a backseat to quick wits, steely nerves, and the lethal skills she needs to survive.

A Killer only this cop can catch
Ex-cop Dax Maddox made just one mistake on the job, but it took a young rookie's life and cost Dax his ability to see color. Now stalking a killer brings Raven into his life - and floods his gray world with vivid and conflicting emotions: anger and lust, suspicion and awe. Are the criminals they seek one and the same? If so, Dax and Raven's growing need for each other could inspire a madman's terrifying scheme for the ultimate revenge.

While you know that BCCs aren't my thing, you also know that I read them and sometimes remark on them. This one is pretty spot on though. It is honest, without any glaringly obvious "mistakes". It describes the conflict, touches on a few plot points, and basically draws you in. So, no problems with the back cover. It gets a thumbs up from me. :)

The thing is, this isn't really my kind of book from the cover, ok? You guys know that I love books, and I read lots of different genres, but I find myself drawn to "Women's Fiction" (though I hate that name for it, but that's another post!), or straight romance. Once in a while, I'll pick up a mystery or suspense, but most of them have plots that are either really convoluted or incredibly boring. Not my cuppa. So when Samantha handed me this book and I read the back cover, I almost groaned. Then I opened it up and started reading. MyOhMy, I was hooked from the first page!

The heroine. Raven is just the type of heroine that I like. She is strong, independent, stubborn. She has made a name for herself in her profession. She loves her sister Jillian with a fierce passion. She's even got a cool psychic-type gift that helps her get ahead in her job. But she's flawed, as all good heroines must be to me. She can't forgive her Dad for leaving the family so many years ago, and refuses to even see him, regardless of how much her sister pleads with her to do so. To go along with her feelings of paternal betrayal, she's built a wall around herself that nobody but also psychic-type Jillian is allowed to breach. Raven says it herself in the first chapter... That was the problem with sisters - they had ammo and they weren't afraid to use it.

The hero. Dax. Well, that about covers the hero. I mean, think about it. How much more do you need to know than his cool, sexy name? Do you really need to know that he was a cop? That he slipped up on a routine call one night and a rookie cop paid the price? That he's been searching for the person responsible for the death of that rookie since then? Do you need to know that he's also the kind of hero I must have - totally tortured and incredibly sexy? This guy is hot, smart, troubled, and totally perfect for our Raven. Of course, neither of them is willing to admit that, to each other or even to themselves.

The plot. Raven works as an art recovery specialist. She heads to Miami as part of a job, to purchase a painting at an auction in order to authenticate another painting. While there, bad things start happening that put her right in the path of Dax. When Raven's friend is taken hostage in exchange for a piece of art, it becomes obvious to Dax and Raven that the person they are looking for wants them working together. They just have to figure out why. The book goes from underwater in the Gulf of Mexico to New York City, from Miami to Havana, and a few places in between. The places are described with enough detail to be realistic, to actually have you feel like you are there too. One of Ms. Graves talents is being able to paint a picture of a place so well that you feel you are sitting there in the city with the hero and heroine. She did that more than once in Sight Unseen. There were enough twists to keep me guessing, but I didn't feel that she was just throwing things in to muddy up the waters. The sequence of events was fast paced, but believable. I mean, I've actually driven the route that Dax and Raven take from southern Florida to the NorthEast, and the pacing was accurate. That was refreshing. The conclusion was amazing. There were enough clues that I figured out most of it, but there were still a few surprises at the end, which hardly ever happens for me. So that was a BIG bonus. Overall, even without including the romance, I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline.

The romance. Wow! hotHotHOT. Scorching. It sizzled me, ok? No, I'm not kidding. It had me cracking up in a few places (Raven gives us her attitude on foreplay, lol!), panting in others (Dax shows her why her attitude needs adjusting, OhBoy!), and rooting for these two to reach out and grab each other for good. Ms. Graves pulled off quite a feat, in my opinion, by having the first really hot scene be from Dax's point of view. It's not often that I get to read sex from male POV, and I wasn't sure that I'd like the scene. However, it's beautifully written and full of desire, and one of the better scenes I've read in a while. Here's a taste:
Lightning lit her face, unguarded and consumed by the moment. He made her feel like that... she wouldn't do this for other men. He knew that to his soul. Realization shifted to a possessiveness that he acknowledged with a growl.

But frankly, it pales in comparison to a scene later in the book. I won't tell you the details of the other scene, because it's really too amazing to spoil. However, I will say that since reading that scene, like Raven, I haven't felt the same about foreplay either!

Problems. Uh, nope. Pacing, POV, Plot? All solid. Not too many POVs. No crazy twists, no unexplained happenings, no far-fetched love story. Just solid, solid, solid writing. Seriously, solid book. It was so far beyond my expectations that I had to have it as my FAB. I'd originally hoped that it would be ok, but I had no idea how much I would get sucked in, or how I would re-read it 3 times to try to catch more of the breadcrumbs that were sprinkled along the way. It's one of the very few books that has blown away any preconceived expectations for me. Possibly the best part? Jillian's story is next, and I can hardly wait!

Stay tuned for an interview with Samantha Graves later this week. And don't forget to get the book blurb and the cover of SIGHT UNSEEN up on your blog, with a linkback here, for your chance to win a signed copy of the book. If there are enough entries, maybe we can get Samantha to donate more than one copy. You just never know what's going to happen around here! Until then...

Keep turning those pages!



Michelle said...

I just have to say again how much I love, love, LOVE Samantha and Lani's podcast, Will Write for Wine. I'm not caught up and have two or three still cued up on itunes just waiting for me. Seriously, if anyone hasn't heard it yet, you should definitely grab a glass and check it out.

Sam said...

I find you everywhere, Michelle! LOL How are you, hon?

Thank you for listening to our podcast! We are having a blast doing it. :)

And many many thanks to Dee for the amazing review of Sight Unseen. I haven't stopped crying since I read it.


dee said...

You're more than welcome, and I'm hoping they were happy tears!

Michelle, I love the podcast as well. Like you though, I'm not totally caught up. I missed a bit last month, but have them all stored in my iTunes library. I've started listening to them as background when I'm writing. The big problem is that I end up listening instead of actually writing, so I've really got to figure out something better. My hubby suggests putting them on my iPod then listening to them in the van. I think he may just be on to something there. :)

Sam said...

LOL Yes Dee, definitely happy tears!

And thank you for listening to the podcast as well. Lani and I are really trying to offer good stuff to both readers and writers and just general podcast listeners. What a great idea listening to it in the van! And I will tell you that the show is pretty clean. So I think it's safe for the kids. ;)

It's great to be here. If anyone has any questions they'd like to ask me about the book or the podcast, please do. I'll be checking in all week.


Michelle said...

Oh, I pop up all over like a little writing gopher. I'm trying to find ways to multi-task with the podcast too. Maybe while I do my blog surfing? I'll have to try that and let you know how it goes, dee.