By Susan Stoker
Narrated by Erin Mallon
This week I enjoyed listening to the audio version of Justice For Mackenzie: Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, Book 1 by Susan Stoker.
Mackenzie Morgan is generally uncomfortable in her own skin because she is a bit too curvy, a bit clumsy, talks too much when she is nervous, and according to her family is way too picky when it comes to dealing with men. She meets Daxton Chambers at a fundraising function for the non-profit where she works. Though they are attracted to each other they don’t exchange phone numbers at the event…something Daxton regrets.
Daxton gets a second chance and the two connect, building a romance that given Mackenzie’s history with men and her own issues around self-esteem doesn’t seem to suffer many internal relationship conflicts. Most of the conflict in this story comes from the outside in the form of a case that Daxton is working on.
A serial killer has been kidnapping women and killing them by burying them underground. He’s been taunting law enforcement with letters and phone calls telling them where to find the latest victims. When Dax and Mack develop a relationship the serial killer becomes focused on Mack.
Many of the conflicts in this story relate to the danger Mack is in and catching the serial killer. The romance seems a bit shallow and underdeveloped—especially in terms of relationship conflicts between Mack and Dax.
That said, I enjoyed this story. It was a good, solid read.
Among the things I enjoyed were Mack’s tendency to run off at the mouth when she’s nervous, Dax’s ability to take things in stride, accept them as they are, and accept Mack exactly as she is. I liked the fact that Dax actually values things Mack’s past boyfriends have seen as shortcomings.
I enjoyed the suspense elements of this story which kept me turning pages in order to find out who the killer was. There were elements of the suspense that I didn’t see coming and I always like it when there are unexpected and yet well founded surprises.
A bit more internal conflict in terms of the romantic relationship between Dax and Mack would have strengthened this story. It seems in a sense that the author set up these complex characters with their own internal issues and yet these internal issues didn’t really cause any major issues within the development of the romantic relationship. The hero and heroine met and fell in love a little too smoothly for my taste. The focus of this story is much more on the suspense than on the developing love story between the characters. The love story is there…but it occurs pretty much on the surface. Basically it could be summed up as boy and girl meet, boy and girl are attracted, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl are tested by outside forces.
I listened to this book in audio format and found the narrator’s voice for Dax’s character to be a bit distracting. Another reviewer on the Audible site said that the narrator made Dax sound like a country bumpkin and though I struggled to find a better way to word it, I find that description sums it up well.
All said and done, I enjoyed this book in a kind of average way. Based on this book I won’t specifically seek out books by Susan Stoker, or books narrated by Erin Mallon, but I won’t run from them either. This was an enjoyable read…perfect for keeping me company while quilting/cleaning/driving.