Finding Margo (Jen Turano) – Review

3 stars

 

turano-finding-margoPublisher’s Description:
International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small Dutch town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions… the kind that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone.

Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brock considered her for a long moment before he nodded.  “Okay, now I’m getting a clearer picture of what’s going on.  Tell me if I’m right.  You’re from a really wealthy family, your parents recently decided to cut you off so you’ll appreciate the value of a dollar, and that didn’t sit well with you.  So you ran away.”
“Not even close.”
“Then who are you?”
“I’m just an ordinary woman, taking a little road trip across the country.”
“Ordinary women don’t bother to disguise their appearances, nor do they make up unusual names for themselves.”
“Marge is a very ordinary name.”
“If you’re over sixty, which, clearly, you’re not.”
“Maybe, like I said back at the clinic, my parents wanted to name me after their favourite cartoon character.”
“I didn’t realize the Simpsons had been around so long.”
She narrowed her eyes.  “What do you mean by that?”
Blinking, Brock smiled a charming smile.  “I think this is one of those times where it would be in my best interest to stop talking.”
“I’m not old.”
“Of course you’re not, but you’re also not a Marge.”
For a moment, he thought she was going to continue arguing with him, but then she shrugged.  “Okay, fine.  You’re right.  I lied about my name.”
“But you’re not going to tell me what your real name is, are you?”
She frowned.  “How did you know I was trying to disguise myself?”
“Your skin and hair have lightened up considerably since you got out of the lake.”
“I knew I should have bought the permanent hair dye, but there wasn’t really any time to have my spray tan touched up before I got on the road.”
“Usually only really wealthy people get spray tans.”
“No, they don’t.  I read an article in GQ a few months back about exotic dancers who spray tan all the time.  It increases their tips if they can show really sharp tan lines.”
“You read that or you actually are an exotic dancer?”
She tilted her head.  “You know, that would have been a great cover, me being an exotic dancer.  And I could have told you I’m on the lam, running from my Neanderthal of a manager.  But . . . no, I’m not.”
And then, before he could ask another single question, she suddenly set the duck aside, jumped to her feet, dashed straight for the lake, and dove in.
With a flutter of wings, the duck took off after her, leaving Brock sitting by the side of the lake, feeling as though he’d missed some pertinent part of the conversation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My review
Having heard that Jen Turano has a reputation for creating lively, witty, and even humorous characters, I have to confess this one didn’t quite meet my expectations.  There were definitely some lighter moments – including some situational comedy and some banter between Brock and Margo – but overall, the story and characters fell a little flat for me, particularly Margo’s parents, who I thought were too caricatured to be realistic.  Gabby the duck, on the other hand, was a charming addition to the cast!

The story begins with Margo deciding she’s had enough of the punishing schedule her mother and her agent set for her.  Without a word to anyone, she embarks on a road trip that comes to an abrupt stop when Gabby makes a dramatic entrance just outside Millersburg, Ohio.  From the moment Margo enters the town, people comment on her likeness to local Amish woman, Sarah Yoder, and it is obvious where the story is going with this fairly early on.  What is not so obvious is: Who is targeting Margo?

Brock is in Millersburg for his own purposes.  His sister’s death was ruled a suicide, but he’s not buying it and has taken temporary leave from his position with the FBI so he can quietly investigate the matter for himself.  Margo intrigues him from the moment they meet – and it’s little wonder, really.  She wasn’t exactly convincing in her attempt to come up with an alias!  When it becomes obvious that Margo is being targeted, Brock’s interest becomes professional as well.

I think there were two main reasons this story fell short of the mark for me.  Firstly, while I enjoyed seeing Brock and Margo together, I didn’t feel much romantic tension or chemistry between them beyond the banter in their dialogue.  Secondly, I found the sentences unwieldy and awkward at times (and prone to tell rather than show).  For example, the repeated use of present participle phrases to begin sentences (eg. ‘Cresting another small hill, Brock glanced…’ ‘Flooring the gas pedal, Brock turned the Jeep…’) gave the writing an uneven gait rather than a smooth, forward direction, and often resulted in awkward sentence construction.

There was also a tendency to combine too many ideas into one sentence, and to use imprecise or overly wordy phrases to convey them.  For example: “Breaking into a jog when he heard what sounded exactly like the battle cry that signalled an attack of zombies in a movie, Brock steadily increased his pace when the horde started running after him.”  If that sentence doesn’t cause difficulties for you, then you may not share my opinion, but I found myself tripping on sentences like this too frequently.

In spite of what I felt were some shortcomings, there is still entertainment to be found in Finding Margo for readers who are looking for a contemporary romantic suspense that has a light-hearted side to it.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher.  This has not influenced the content of my review.

Buy from US:                                      Amazon

Buy from AU:                                      Amazon

Release date:  15 November 2016
Pages:  320
Publisher:  Gilead Publishing
Author’s website:  http://jenturano.com/

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
Image | This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Romance, New Releases, Romance, Romantic Suspense and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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