Call me old-fashioned, but when you've got the guts to put a name like "Sizzle" on the cover of your novel, I expect a tale full of sparks and a hefty dose of spice.
This book had as many sparks as wet fireworks and as much spice as vanilla pudding. I wish I could say that the story was a startling new take on an old favorite with quirky, humorous characters and epic intrigue. But, as much as you can call me old-fashioned, you can't call me a liar. "Sizzle" is the same book I have been buying for the last ten years. Yes, it was ten years ago this year that Julie Garwood authored a little book called "Heartbreaker."
Ironically, she's been breaking my heart ever since.
If you haven't read "Heartbreaker," that's OK. You can basically pick up the same plot in "Sizzle," "Slow Burn," "Killjoy," "Mercy," or any of the other contemporaries she has published since 2000. You have the "smart" and "gorgeous" heroine named (insert ultra-feminine, but still slightly masculine name here), who works as a (insert job title here), but stumbles into trouble through no fault of her own when she (insert thing she did here). Then the evil, bad, murderer-dude/chick named (insert sinister name here) decides it is time to kill the heroine because she inadvertently holds the key to bringing him/her down and because murderer-dude/chick's insanity just rolls like that. Here comes the hero named (insert cool, buff, hardened hero name here) to the rescue. You see, he's a (insert job title here that has something to do with an aspect of the law or law enforcement) and he's been (assigned/asked/pressured/blackmailed) to watch over our quirky heroine until above-named murderer is caught (which won't be until the next to the last chapter of the book, in case you didn't know). The one thing our hunky, gun-toting hero didn't count on was the heroine being such a beautiful, witty, gorgeous, unselfish, pretty, funny, and lovely creature that he can't help but put his hands on within five minutes. And, hey, that hero is pretty irresistible himself. So, by page 16, our lovers are checking out the threadcount on the sheets, and by page 132, we are talking serious commitment. The fact that they have spent most of the book dodging bullets and arguing about the heroine's safety should in no way give the reader a sense that they probably won't last long as a couple after the final page is done.
In any case, I have written reviews for Ms. Garwood in the past where I begged her to return to the historical romance world where her characters shined and her storylines were like a cool drink of water after a hot day in the desert. However, like winning the lottery, finding the perfect man, and having someone pay off your maxed out Visa bill by mistake, I have accepted that Garwood writing another great historical is just a dream that isn't going to come true. So, I am not going to ask for that this time. No, I am going to make my plea a simple one.
Pick a different plot.
Any plot will do. Just not the same one you've been using.
No, really. I mean it.
Don't do it just for me. Do it, Ms. Garwood, for all of those people out there who haven't read your historicals and still think this crap you're churning out is great literature. Do it before they start putting two and two together and figure out that writers do not usually just keep slapping the same plot in a new wrapper and sell it in hardcover for a whopping $25 a pop. Do it while you still have some cred left. Do it for all those starry-eyed individuals who still believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and that you're coming out with a sequel to "Ransom" next year.
As for me and my love of "Sizzle," we've both fizzled out.