All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Grand Slam by Kathryn Ledson

on January 5, 2016

Grand SlamGrand Slam (Erica Jewell #3)
Kathryn Ledson
Penguin Books AUS
2015, 416p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Erica Jewell can’t worry about hunky hired gun, Jack Jones, and his commitment-phobic ways right now. She’s flat out managing Dega Oil’s sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis tournament, and doing a pretty good job. That is until a devastating oil-rig explosion sends Dega’s reputation and share price plummeting.

Public outrage over the incident upsets Emilio Méndez – the Open’s biggest drawcard – and he wants to cut all ties with Dega. When Erica is sent to calm him, superstitious Emilio becomes convinced he needs her by his side to win. He demands she stay close, and the media annoyingly misinterprets their relationship, much to Jack’s irritation. Meanwhile danger lurks, threatening Emilio and Erica, and she must race against time to discover: Who’s trying to kill them and why?

From the elite inner sanctum of the Australian Open to the packed halls of Chadstone Shopping Centre, can Australia’s favourite accidental heroine save her job, Emilio, and her so-called relationship with Jack Jones?

Grand Slam is the third book in the Erica Jewell series, which seems amateur investigator Erica embroiled in yet another mystery that could possibly (will probably, ok definitely) threaten her life. In this installment Erica is back close to home as Melbourne gears up for the Australian Open, its tennis grand slam event. The company Erica works for is sponsoring one of the hottest players, Emilio Mendez and through a strange series of events, suddenly taking care of him falls to Erica. And he is a lot of work.

I do have to admit, I have struggled with this series. I see bits and pieces within it that I really like and I loved the way that the first book was set up…the idea of it. But for every bit that I do see potential in, there are others that I just can’t really get into. I’m not a fan of making characters irritating for comedic relief and Erica’s mother seems to revolve around this premise. I find myself grinding my teeth almost every single time she’s on the page and as Erica is staying with her parents in this book, that’s often. The irritating, overbearing mother and mostly invisible father isn’t a new idea and the Australian spin on this one isn’t enough.

And then there’s Jack. There are times when I like Jack but I’m not sure that he knows what he wants to be. Is he that enigmatic black ops type? Is he a wounded soul with a tragic past? Is he a commitmentphobe who enjoys jerking people around or is he just afraid to love again? His character tends to flip-flop back and forth between all of those things but at the same time, isn’t really given enough page time to create depth for each of those facets of his character. He kind of flits in and out of the story, a cranky voice on the other end of the phone when Erica does something stupid or dangerous and there’s a few interactions here, mostly spoiled by his ‘room mate’. Jack is annoyingly clueless in this – or just an ass, I can’t decide. He has a beautiful woman staying with him, a former colleague whom Erica is clearly worried and insecure about. I mean she spends half the book attempting to decide if Jack is sleeping with this woman when Erica isn’t around. Jack knows that she’s insecure about it, she drops enough hints. But he doesn’t actually attempt to reassure her or explain their friendship in anything other than a deliberately vague way. He smirks and brushes her off and ignores her obvious concern, especially as it’s because of Jack and his commitment issues that Erica doesn’t know where she stands in the first place. I know Erica is at times, comically insecure but I think most people would be thrown off balance by the surprise arrival of a beautiful former colleague in their…whatever Jack is to Erica’s, house. In a way, this woman Sharon embodies everything Erica isn’t. She’s trained, clearly possessed of good skills and she works out with a killer body. Erica fell into everything more by accident than skill or design. She’s muddling through and has some pretty good instincts but I think she feels she’s a long way behind where Jack is (and she is), which this other woman is obviously not.

Erica’s instincts are I think, the strongest feature in these books and it is rather good watching her put pieces together. She’s never afraid to jump in with both feet, even when it looks like it’s going to be extremely dangerous. Jack puts a minder on her in this book and she becomes remarkably adept at slipping away from him in order to attempt to investigate things that are happening. I get the feeling that if they took the time to actually train Erica a bit more, she could become quite good, but this would probably cut down on how much humour could be included within the story because she would probably avoid getting into so many scrapes. And I think that might be my issue – I’d prefer to read about how she trains and becomes more skilled rather than how she staggers from one disaster to the next. It was the thing that got on my nerves in the end about the Stephanie Plum series. Twenty-something books and Stephanie is still as much as a loser as she was in the first book. I love to see progression and development otherwise it just feels like you’re reading the same book over and over again.

I just think that unfortunately for me, this particular humour isn’t my sort. I like the character of Erica and the way in which she’s putting herself out there and I think that her relationship with Jack could eventually become something I get on board with, once it develops further. I’m just not sure if the other characters – ones like Erica’s mother and the tennis player – are so easily overlooked that I can focus on the stuff that I do enjoy.


Book #206 of 2015


Grand Slam was book #92 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2015

One response to “Review: Grand Slam by Kathryn Ledson

  1. Bethany says:

    I feel the same way about Stephanie Plum!! After 5 books, I was like ‘I’m done!’

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