“ Genre: Fiction / Erotic / Author: Shannon Curtis / Kindle Edition / Book is published 2011-07-25 by Carina Press „
Viper's Kiss is the first novel by romantic suspense author Shannon Curtis and as far as I can tell her only published novel to date. It tells the story of librarian Maggie Kincaid and security expert/secret agent Luke. Maggie leads a somewhat dull life that's centred around caring for her terminally ill mother and working at a university library. When Maggie is arrested by the police, who believe that she is a spy called Viper she thinks there must be some mistake. When she is then kidnapped twice and almost killed several times she realises that someone has set her up. Luke is supposed to be finding the mysterious Viper and the item that she has stolen. When he rescues/kidnaps Maggie she tries to tell him that she isn't Viper and he is torn between believing her and thinking that she is just a really good actress. It doesn't help that there's an attraction between them that he worries is clouding his judgement. Maggie soon falls in love with Luke but how can they live happily ever after when he believes that she is a criminal?
I didn't know what to expect with this novel because it's Shannon Curtis' first novel and so obviously I have never read anything of hers before. As it was her first novel my expectations weren't particularly high. I tend to find that even my favourite authors have weak first novels. That's not the case with Shannon Curtis. Where some authors take a couple of books to make their writing style feel natural Curtis starts off on a high. I just found that everything in the book flowed so well. The dialogue doesn't feel forced, she describes everything in enough detail without boring me, she sets each scene really well so that I never felt lost...basically she doesn't fall into any of the holes that so many other authors do with their first novels. This didn't read like a first novel at all, it read like a novel written by someone who is very comfortable with writing and who has had the opportunity to really develop her writing style.
I really enjoyed this novel and I felt like the plot had real substance. The whole plot seemed to be really well thought out. It's not one of those suspense novels that really has you guessing at how it will be resolved, it's too engaging for that. I was always far too caught up in what was actually happening to try to piece everything together, I found myself just kind of going with it and wanting to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. There are some subtle clues throughout for those who do like to pre-empt the conclusion but I found it enjoyable enough without having to do that.
During the book Maggie is caring for her terminally ill mother and I found this to be a really difficult subject to read about. At first I wished that it hadn't been included in the novel because it just made me feel so terrible. Having lost a parent to cancer I really empathised with Maggie and this novel brought tears to my eyes several times and actually had me in tears at one point. It's not a light hearted read in this sense, it's actually very emotionally engaging and deep. I think that in many ways this part of the plot does add something to the novel, Maggie is an easy character to empathise with anyway but this just makes it that much easier. It also elicits all kinds of emotions in the reader and I think that is a real talent in any writer, that ability to engage the reader to the point that they actually feel such strong emotions. I think it was really at the point in the novel that addresses Maggie's mother that I found this novel going from an enjoyable book that I wanted to keep reading to a novel that had my full, undivided attention and that really gripped me to the point that I didn't want to stop reading until it was finished. I just felt that I was pulled into the novel right alongside Maggie.
The one thing that I felt was a bit of a weakness with this novel was the romance. The novel takes place over such a short period of time (I think it's no longer than a day or two) and I don't think this is enough time to really build a proper romance. I think that it's enough time to build the initial part of a relationship and a happy for now ending but Curtis seems to be going for the forever, happily ever after. You know when you first get into a relationship and you think that you're going to be together forever but then you pass through the honeymoon period and sometimes it does work and sometimes it doesn't? I felt that Maggie and Luke were still in this honey moon period and maybe it would work out for them but just as likely it wouldn't. I think that Curtis even knew this was a flaw because she does try to address this issue quite explicitly. I don't want to give anything away so I'm not going to tell you how she tries to address this but I don't think that what she does actually does address the problem. However, although I felt that the romance was a bit weak and lacking substance it was still enjoyable. I love dramatic romances and you don't get much more dramatic than this one.
I loved the characters in this novel. As I've said I thought that Maggie was really easy to empathise with and I think that this is because she's just so real and down to earth. I felt that she was particularly well developed and that she had a lot of depth. Luke was also a likeable character and he was also reasonably well developed but not to the extent that Maggie was. I didn't empathise with Luke in the same way that I empathised with Maggie, perhaps it's a gender thing or perhaps it is that the author developed them in different ways. We do get to read from Luke's point of view several times but I always felt that Maggie was the slightly more central character. I always tend to prefer novels where the focus is more firmly on the female character(s) but that's just a personal preference. I could relate to Luke, particularly when he's having dilemma's around if he should trust Maggie or not but at the same time I always remained firmly in Maggie's corner. I could understand his hesitance to trust her but I was frustrated by it too. So even when I was reading Luke's point of view I still found myself empathising with Maggie.
Viper's Kiss is an excellent first novel from Shannon Curtis. It's fast paced, has plenty of suspense and has really likeable characters. The romance did seem to be a little bit lacking in substance but it was still very enjoyable. Curtis introduces a host of other hot male characters in this novel so I hope that means that there are more novel's to come featuring the hunky secondary characters from Viper's Kiss. I know that I will certainly be keeping an eye out for more novels by Shannon Curtis.
I would recommend this novel to any fans of romance novel's, particularly those who love romantic suspense. I would actually even recommend this to those of you who aren't necessarily romance fans but enjoy a little bit of suspense because I feel that Curtis delivers well in that aspect of the novel.
Viper's Kiss is currently available from amazon.co.uk in Kindle format for £2.77.