Back when Stephen King was writing a column for Entertainment Weekly, he recommended Sandra Brown’s novel Hello, Darkness as a must-read book for that year. It was part of a Top Ten list and I thought, okay, I’ll give it a go. I bought it; I read it, and I was sort of ‘meh’ about the whole thing. Thus, when Brown’s newest suspense thriller Seeing Red was chosen as the first selection for my book club’s 2017-18 year I was not overly excited. Perhaps it’s unfair, but after reading only one book I sort of considered Brown a grocery store author….not that that means anything really: she’s written 68 novels, sold 80 million copies and been on the New York Times Bestseller list 30 times.
But I gotta say – Seeing Red was just bad. Like, laugh-out-loud bad.
Kerra Bailey is a rising-star journalist about to land the biggest interview of her life. She’s convinced The Major to go on national television and talk about the day he’d heroically saved lives when a hotel was bombed twenty-five odd years before. One of the lives he’d saved was Kerra’s, so interviewing him isn’t the only big deal; she’s outing herself as a survivor, too.
The interview is over and while Kerra is using the restroom she hears shots fired. At first she thinks The Major has discharged the shotgun he’d been showing her, but then she hears voices and realizes they’re not alone in the house. Trapped in the bathroom, she makes her escape out the window and all that happens by page six.
Six days earlier…that’s where the story begins with Kerra meeting John Trapper, a former ATF agent (I had to look that up because I had no idea what that was, but apparently it’s a specially trained member of law enforcement who deals with alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives), and estranged son of The Major. Kerra’s been having trouble getting The Major to speak to her and she’s reached out to Trapper (he goes by his last name because of course he does) for help. The problem is that Trapper is “the last person on the planet who could convince [the Major] to do anything.”
This is the meet cute, of course, because we already know from the prologue that Kerra got her interview and now she’s been witness to attempted murder. Trapper is convinced his father was shot as part of an elaborate conspiracy that he’s been chasing for years, the very same conspiracy that got him fired from the ATF.
But none of that matters because Trapper and Kerra have chemistry…of the you-can- smell-it-coming-from-a-hundred-paces variety. Kerra describes Trapper as “everything bad-boy wrong, which makes you everything desirable, and, yes, even knowing better than to fall for the sexy charm, I did.” And it’s not just Trapper’s incredible sex appeal, he’s also a wounded bird, having had to live his entire life in The Major’s considerable shadow. Boo. Hoo.
So, while Kerra and Trapper chase around for answers to who tried to kill The Major (and Kerra) they also chase each other because, y’know, they’re hot and that’s what hot people do.
Some of the descriptions were literally snort-inducing.
“The wedge of damp, softly curled hair over his pecs tapered to form a sleek, yummy trail. The landscape beneath the towel was so well defined it was decadent.”
Yummy is used twice to describe Trapper’s treasure trail and I laughed both times because um, ew. And, trust me, I am not a prude. I love well-written sex scenes. Well-written being the operative words.
When these two crazy kids finally do get it on, I literally had to put the book down.
“As he worked his jeans down, a drop of escaped semen slicked his thumb. He was that close.”
“She came long and lusciously.”
Well, of course she did. Trapper had wanted “this to be the fuck Kerra remember[ed] for the rest of her life.” He’s good like that.
I could go on, but I won’t.
I bought my copy of Seeing Red at the Superstore. It was 40% off and I had enough points that it only cost me $2.00. That was $2.00 too much.