Fast Track (Buchanan-Renard #1)
Penguin Books AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Cordelia Kane was raised by her father after her mother died when she was just two. He worked hard and taught her the value of working hard. Her father went from being a mechanic to owning a chain of 1600 auto shops and Cordelia, now grown up is working as a teacher whilst she completes her PhD. When her father has a third heart attack, there’s no doubt that he will not survive this one. But before he passes, he manages to tell her that he’s lied to her all these years, to protect her. And it involves her mother.
Armed with this new knowledge, Cordelia can’t contain her curiosity about the woman that gave birth to her. She does a little bit of digging, helped by some friends and finds out that her answers lie all the way across the Pacific in Sydney, Australia. She’s determined to go there to get them and her friends think that for some reason the brother of her best friend, Aiden Madison, should take her in the Madison company plane.
Cordelia has loved Aiden ever since she was little girl but she’s always known that it’s never been returned. However on the trip to Sydney, things begin to change. Their relationship develops, although Cordelia doesn’t expect it to be the lasting happy ever after that she craves. When they return to America, it becomes apparent that their little visit to Sydney has ruffled some feathers, placing Cordelia’s life in danger. Aiden is determined to do whatever it takes to protect her and keep her safe.
This is the third book I’ve read in Julie Garwood’s rather loosely linked Buchanan-Renard series but it’s the first one where I really felt like I’ve missed something. Cordelia’s two best friends have appeared in previous books, finding their own happy ever after, both with FBI men and Cordelia and Aiden are obviously a part of those stories, albeit in a minor way. Here they get their own book but maybe because I missed earlier groundwork (or maybe not), I felt like this one really missed the mark in some ways.
The story is really good – I was enjoying the introduction to Cordelia and her friends and also her relationship with her father, which is only explained but you get a really good picture of how close they were and how much she admired him and how devastated she is by his passing. The bombshell he dropped was predictable but still enough to move the story forward really well but the biggest problem I had was with Aiden himself. I don’t mind a bit of an Alpha male who likes to take care of his woman (or the one he wants to be his woman, even if he hasn’t realised it, etc). What I don’t like is when they treat the woman like a child who can’t take care of herself. And this is basically what Aiden does to Cordelia. Every time she approaches him, he snaps up with a “What do you need?” Um, maybe she doesn’t need anything? And maybe if she does need something, she can get it herself? Maybe she just wants to talk, or has a question, or wants to be in the same room as another person. This became doubly annoying when they arrive back from Australia and someone attempts to kill Cordelia. Aiden whisks her off to the penthouse in his hotel in Chicago without consulting her. He has someone else pack her clothes and bring them. He places a guard outside the door that is to prevent her from leaving, unless accompanied by Aiden. And that Aiden, is where you totally lose me.
Now sometimes romance-suspense heroines suffer a little of the Too Stupid To Live syndrome and they need to be wrapped in cotton wool and locked away so they don’t hare off into the villain and get themselves killed. But Cordelia actually doesn’t even get a chance to indicate what she might like to do. Her two best friends are both married to hotshot FBI agents. I’m pretty sure either of those would be perfectly adept at keeping her safe. And because Cordelia loves Aiden, she just goes along with whatever he says. She tries to argue sometimes but Aiden basically treats her like a child and either just laughs at her or goes away. There’s a classic moment where she witnesses him being nice to someone else:
“How come you’re so nice to everyone else and so mean to me?”
His response didn’t please her. He laughed.
I’m really not sure what he finds amusing about that? They’re sleeping together by this point but when they’re not in the bedroom he really does tend to basically just pat her on the head and tell her to do what she’s told, like a good girl. The locking her in the penthouse really bugged me. There’s wanting to keep someone safe and then there’s being way too controlling and Aiden didn’t just cross the line so much as take a running giant leap over it and be happy and smug with himself on the other side. I was grinding my teeth whenever he was on the page, which was a shame, because I really enjoyed the actual mystery part of the book, with Cordelia searching for the truth about her mother.
I also liked her two friends and their husbands, so I think I might go and have a look and see if I can find the books about them (numbers 4 and 7 in the series). Maybe those books will also help me get the Aiden-Cordelia dynamic too. But I don’t know, it’s a very fine line with control and everyone has different limits with what they find acceptable.
Book #151 of 2014