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I enjoy a good suspense novel now and then. They're fast and intense and good for distracting myself from a boring afternoon. PERFECT BAIT sounded like a fast-paced thrill ride from the back copy - "a riveting story of kidnapping, rape, and murder" and "a fight for their lives."
Well, I made it 111 pages (out of 381) and there was only the faintest suggestion that someone might be missing. Instead PERFECT BAIT was about Corey Phillip's failed relationship with his first wife, Karyn, his new relationship with Jennifer, and Corey and Jennifer's restoration of a boat. Michael Fowlkes isn't a bad writer, but he did not write a thriller.
But when I received my review copy and noticed that the
publisher classified PERFECT BAIT as an erotic romance, not a thriller. (So why the thriller title and back copy? I don't know.) But the erotic elements were also missing. I found the relationships sort of awkward. Both begin with a friendship followed by sex, an immediate exchange of "I love you," and then dating. Considering that Corey's relationship with Jennifer is supposed to be unlike his relationship with his ex-wife, it is unfortunate that the two relationships follow the exact same trajectory. Corey and Karyn get a detailed sex scene, one of those hilariously unrealistic ones where two virgins come three times a piece. After that, all the sex was of the vague purple prose that doesn't actually describe anything resembling sex variety. I don't mind a lack of graphic sex scenes, but it seemed like another mislabeling.
And, well, I was turned off the story pretty early on due to this line: "Men go to war; women pick up the pieces. Men kill; women nurture (30)." It was such an eye roller that I didn't care to dissect whether that was the character or author talking.
That brings me to the point that PERFECT BAIT is written in first person, through Corey's point of view, but the narrative had an odd tendency of slipping into someone else's point of view for several paragraphs before returning to Corey's. There didn't seem to be a point to this technique, so it was simply distracting.
Maybe PERFECT BAIT did eventually turn into a thriller. But I gave it more than a hundred pages and nothing thrilling happened. I got tired of waiting.