My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.
With a good mix of action, suspense and romance Amazing Grace is one of those books that I found hard to set down when I started reading it. The story follows Sheriff Grace O’Malley and undercover Texas Ranger Max Ridel as he ventures into Hell, Texas in the guise of an EPA officer. Max’s true work involves investigating illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico, which may involves the Sheriff’s office or someone else local. Max and Grace’s initial encounter involves her arresting him, and a local man, for fighting in public. Certainly not the normal way for couples to fall in love, but hey that was half of the appeal of the story, that it wasn’t a love at first sight everything was perfect sort of thing. Though he is released shortly after Grace warns him that EPA officers are not overly welcome in Hell, so he’ll have his work cu tout for him with the locals. Plus there’s the fact that he doesn’t look like your typical EPA officer either, which makes not only Grace but everyone else a bit suspicious about him.
Grace is a great female heroine. She is not drop dead gorgeous as most heroines tend to be, and that adds an extra appeal to the book for me. Nice to see an average woman end up as a lead character for once. Though she is tough as a sheriff Grace also has a soft side for animals, taking in strays and rejects at her home. This is something that the bad guys use to rile her up further in the story and it adds some realism to the situation. Grace is also protective of her friend Connie, who’s involvement in the story turns out important near the end.
Max on the other hand was a bit less enjoyable of a character. He just seemed to fit the mold of male hero far too well falling into several stereotypes. He struggled with everything it seemed, hiding his true identity, his feelings for Grace, and I found some of the exchanges between him and Grace to be awkward. Overall he was a decent enough character and became a bit more bearable as the story went on.
Now one thing I did have a little bit of a problem with, well two things actually, was that Grace was still a virgin at the age of thirty one. Not that such a thing is completely impossible but I didn’t see it as something that the book needed. The second issue was how Max got mad at her for not telling him she was a virgin. That really irked me. They were in the middle of a lust filled moment and she had tried to say something but couldn’t find her voice, then he got mad at her. Newsflash Max, we all start out virgins so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Plus let’s face it, so many romance novels go with the theme of virgin girl hooks up with a man who has a ton of sexual experience under his belt. It’s all a bit overdone.
As things progressed in the story I found myself waiting to see what would happen next. Max eventually reveals his true identity to Grace, they manage to solve the case together. However it doesn’t go perfectly to plan and Max must save Grace from danger. Then there is the awkward end where Max is torn between going back to his normal job and leaving Grace behind or staying and possibly giving up his job. Through a bit of a guilt trip Grace wins the day and the couple is finally together.
With plenty of action from beginning to end Amazing Grace was a great afternoon read that kept me turning the pages until the very end. While there were the odd spots along the way that I felt unnecessary or unpleasant towards the story it was an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to others.
On a small side note, I am glad to see that this book got a cover update from the original published version. As far as I am concerned the old cover is likely one of the worst covers I have ever seen and would never have picked up the book in the store because of it.