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Review: When in Doubt (V. K. Powell)

Jeri Wylder has a problem: she’s told she shot an unarmed man during a raid on a drug house, but can’t remember any of it. She’s riding a desk and headed for therapy while the investigation of those circumstances continues.

Simone Sullivan also has a problem, as it happens. As the part owner of a building a developer wants to buy in order to knock it down and replace it with a new development. She also happens to be a therapist.

The two meet when Wylder shows up to a report of an arsonist at Simone’s building – against policy, and against her desk-riding current assignment. Since this is at least partially a romance, it includes the tried and true instalove between them.

Strictly speaking, I am not against this – it’s a trope for a reason, and it saves time. But in this case, I just did not get it, and through the book continued to not get it.

Jeri, on the outs with her girlfriend (and in an “open relationship” she claims), drinks too much and clearly suffers from PTSD. She treats people terribly. I really didn’t like her as a character, although I understand PTSD can significantly change how people behave – to the point of Jeri almost crossing a line when Simone was telling her no, something that I don’t think I would have excused. Simone, as a character, was fine except for what I thought was terrible judgment getting involved with Jeri. Simone’s “friends”, however, are nasty pieces of work.

The mystery part of the book was fine. The search and unmasking of the villain was expected, and it was rather straightforward.

There’s nothing explicit in this novel, which was fine, too – sometimes the characters are in bed having graphic sex so often you’d think they wouldn’t have time for anything else. It’s more mystery than romance, and the romance itself is carried out the way most are.

I’m giving this a four out of five stars for the mystery. The romance gets a two, because I didn’t like it. At all. I’ll split the difference and put it at three of five stars.

Thanks to Bold Stroke Books and NetGalley for the review copy.