Book Review: I’m Watching You by Karen Rose

I have a confession to make. I love trashy crime novels. Something about the combination of lurid sex scenes, gore and suspense just totally does it for me. Especially if it involves a sassy-yet-secretly-damaged female lead and a gorgeous-strong-and-silent-type male. Especially if there is sexual tension for half the book and constant smooching for the rest.

It’s bad fiction. It’s an anathema to literature. And I can’t get enough.

I know that Karen Rose’s books do have a reading order, but it’s fairly loose. The books of hers that I have read have linked together in a way which makes them perfect as stand alones or in sequence – this particular novel is linked to You Can’t Hide (Aidan Reagan, Abe’s Brother) and Nothing to Fear (Dana Dupinsky, Mia Mitchell’s friend) and probably others that I haven’t read. I love the idea of coming back to characters I’ve met before, while being introduced to new ones. This technique means Rose’s books are new and fresh, but with some familiar faces and stomping grounds.

I’m watching you is the story of Kirsten Mayhew, a prosecutor who feels each loss in the courtroom keenly as she pours her whole life into her job. Abe Reagan is also a man living for his work, after the murder of his wife Debra left him hollow and angry. When a serial killers starts targeting criminals who escaped justice ay Kirsten’s hands, Abe and his new partner Mia Mitchell are put on the case. Soon Kirsten and Abe fall in love despite their best intentions, but can he protect her against the growing number of criminals crying for her blood, a vindictive reporter who will stop at nothing to get her scoop and a vigilante killer who dedicates each kill to Kirsten?

Of course he can, but you already knew that. Karen Rose’s novels do have happy endings. The characters always realize that they were meant for each other. The bad guys always end up dead or in jail. And if a few bystanders get shot or maimed along the way, well then you’ll know they won’t appear in the next book. It’s crime lite and while there is gore aplenty and enough suspense to make me stay up past my bedtime in order to finish, these books do focus heavily on the romance and s-e-x. Don’t worry – the sex scenes are juicy, realistic and not overly corny. No turgid members here! This attention to detail is also put to good use in character development – Rose’s novels are filled with single mums, single dads, grandparents raising children, dedicated professional types who work long hours and mobsters who just have their families best interests at heart. The main characters and their occupations are documented faithfully, their neurosis are well researched and believable and if everything wraps up a little too neatly at the end, rather than giving up on the series, I’m more inclined to sigh and think “god I wish my life was like that. Maybe I should become a lawyer..”

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