The Best Revenge (Silhouette Romantic Suspense 2010) by Justine Davis is apart of her Redstone, Inc, miniseries. I had no idea how far back this series ran. The author has her own website, too. I’ve only read two titles in this ongoing miniseries: the one I’m reviewing now and Deadly Temptation. Cover comment: The hero looks like a young Keanu Reeves to me.
The previous titles are: One of These Nights (2003), Midnight Seduction (2004), In His Sights (2004), Second Chance Hero (2005), Dark Reunion (2007), Deadly Temptation (2007), Her Best Friend’s Husband (2008), Backstreet Hero (2008), His Personal Mission (2009) and The Best Revenge (2010).
Back blurb for The Best Revenge (Feb 2010):
Something in St. John’s intense blue eyes reminded Jessa Hill of her childhood friend. But Adam Alden was long dead….
The handsome stranger had vowed to help her defeat Adam’s father in the mayoral race. Yet St. John’s quest for revenge seemed too personal for a casual acquaintance. Could St. John and Adam be the same man…and would he disappear with Jessa’s heart a second time?
Dameron St. John returned home with a new identity and a score to settle. But he wasn’t prepared for the emotions that surfaced when he reunited with Jessa. Could he let her in once again…and together would they slay his demons once and for all?
I like a good revenge story just like the next but something was seriously lacking here. The hero had all the required characteristics for a good angst-ridden serious read but the author didn’t deliver on it. And the worst offense of all was that the romance felt forced.
The hero escaped his abusive father when he was a teen. The small town of Cedar thinks he’s dead because when he ran away, he let everyone assume that he drowned. He starts living on the streets but is taken in by Josh, the founder of Redstone, Inc. With someone to look after him, he changes his name from Adam Alden to Daman St. John. He only goes by St. John.
Many at Redstone, Inc have accepted St. John’s oddities because he’s damn good at his job. He’s very quiet and reserved. He only speaks in monosyllables. He’s a hard shell to crack. His father abused him so he’s drawn into himself. Over the years, St. John’s had to battle with his demons. He considers himself a coward for hiding. But one day he’s alerted about his father running for mayor. So he uses his vacation time for the first time ever, to return home and take his father down.
Jessa Hill runs a feed store in the tiny town of Cedar. Her father just recently died when the story starts. He was mayor for several decades and now his seat is open for re-election. Jessa is undecided if she will run in her father’s place but when she remembers Adam, the troubled boy of her childhood who shared his secrets with her about his father’s abuse, she decides to run against Albert Alden.
The story shows Jessa and St. John work together to defeat and destroy (St. John’s words) his father. Jessa doesn’t recognize St. John the man from the troubled boy she knew a long time ago. He’s had several surgeries to make recognition difficult. The two did grow up together and Jessa was the only one to reach him. She’s able to elaborate on his clipped responses. Immediately there’s a connection there but it’s paper thin. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them which is a shame because for St. John, Jessa was the only bright spot in a childhood that was full of darkness.
From the way this story sounds, it should be a page-turner but it wasn’t. I was looking for an intense relationship but that didn’t pan out for me either. It doesn’t bode well when the reader has to skim to get to the dialogue. Usually I don’t mind introspection much. I found it all kind of boring in here though. The characters: I felt bad for St. John and understood why he was drawn into himself but I felt that his relationship with Jessa could have been stronger.
Jessa sometimes sounded like an idiot to me. She was just so naive about campaigns and politics even though her father had been mayor for several decades as well as her grandfather. She didn’t think people should run just on a name (people do it all the time, idiot). She didn’t want to use her father’s name just to win votes (they do this too, idiot). There’s only so much silliness I can tolerate. As for Albert Alden, he was a cardboard villain. Every evil deed you could think of, he did it.
Overall, this book was a disappointment. I need to stop searching for another “Stevie’s Chase” type of category romance from this author that I use to read regularly. There are many titles I’ve enjoyed by Justine Davis but for the last 5 or 6 years, I’ve not read anything that comes close to her earlier, better written categories. There’s a review on Amazon that said this book was as good as Clay Yeager’s Redemption. I don’t think so. The book wasn’t the worst I’ve read but it fell somewhere close to just below average for me, C-. But to balance out my harsh review, here’s a review from the The Romance Reader that awarded this story four hearts out of five (reviewed by Thea Davis). Maybe one of you will have better luck.