Oh nostalgia, you fickle fickle tricky beast.
I read Julie Garwood because my mom read Julie Garwood. When I was a pre-teen and desperately needed something new to read that wasn’t a kids book nor school book I found on one of my mom’s numerous book cases called Saving Grace. It was about an abused woman who has to escape to the highlands of Scotland and marry a stranger to be safe and survive. It was a historical romance and what I liked most was the characters and plotlines. It was never just an A to B story. None of her books were. I read through everything she had published going through garage sales and used book stores to complete the set, and I’ve re-read many of her books through the years without regret.
Grace Under Fire Is the last of a current series (Buchanan-Renard) that is loosely tied to a series she started writing over 30 years ago (Kincaid-Buchanan-Sinclair). I’ll admit when the first of the Buchanan-Renard novel came out called Heartbreaker, I was really skeptical. It was the first ‘modern’ book set in modern times and had a much darker edge as it has a full on serial killer. But it was a good book with good characters. I fell in love with the characters and I couldn’t wait for the next book to be released.
13 books later the horse is dead, the well is dry, the pasture picked.
Grace McKenna is the sister of another character who married into the very large Buchanan family. Her sister’s story involved a storyline of a ridiculously large inheritance from an obscure uncle and family infighting over it. The sister (Kate’s book ended with Kate getting money and Grace getting land). That book, Slow Burn, was released in 2005! That’s right, I’ve been waiting since 2005 to find out what Grace McKenna is going to do with the land and how it’s all going to tie in together. Well, the book starts wonderfully with a good hook – Grace kills a man and she needs help. I’d say the beginning in many ways is classic Garwood. Funny, engaging, and what I expected. Unfortunately, after that it took a nose dive into what I can only assume is an AI written drivel. I couldn’t care or engage with the characters, the re-occurring characters were barely recognizable and in no way interesting. The story itself is somewhere between bloated thriller and character trying to find her place in the world.
Julie Garwood is now 79 years old and an incredibly successful author. We’ve all heard about ghost writers and big publishing houses conitnuing to publish under a successful author’s name after they have retired and I can’t help wondering if that is what happened here.