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Big Trouble In Little China

A review of Forgiven by Janet Fox, which earns the dreaded dishonour of a Chad Michael Murray casting call.

Big Trouble In Little China

BOOK REPORT for Forgiven (Faithful Book 2) by Janet Fox

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Thanks, But No Thanks
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: No Surprises
Bonus Factor: San Franscisco
Relationship Status: Second Date Fizzle

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

Ugh. Stock photo, cut-off head, the usual suspects.

The Deal:

Kula Baker - outlaw Nat Baker's daughter - is looking forward to the day her father gives up thieving and starts a normal, respectable life. When a frightening stranger turns up at the Baker camp looking for a stolen box, Kula thinks it's the push she's been hoping for, but instead her father sends her away alone while he pulls one last job -- the job that gets him arrested for murder. Kula heads from Montana to San Francisco to find the box and save her father, and ends up tangled in a sinister web (P.S. it's 1906, so guess what else happens?).

BFF Charm: Thanks, But No Thanks

I liked Kula as a supporting character in the companion book, Faithful. She was bitter and bitchy and prickly, sensitive about her Native American ancestry and looks and her position as a servant, but in this book she kind of loses her head. She still is bitter about her looks and position as an outsider, and desperate to claw her way up the ranks, but it never sounds genuine to me. Besides, she's always jumping to conclusions and dashing off into the city after bad guys without planning ahead (she does this TWICE - you'd think she'd learn!) AND she refers to herself in the third person. As in, "Kula Baker doesn't fall in love." So no, I don't think I'd be her bff.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

There's a rather transparent love triangle -- the kind Chinese boy who rescues Kula over and over again but who (she thinks) has no money vs. the charming, blonde, loaded white guy who's a total snake. Kula's struggle over whom to choose is pretty thin, and while there are descriptions of sparks between her and Will (the loaded white guy), it's so obvious he's an asshole, so there were no swoons for me. I give it a 2 because Kula really did swoon once, when she was wearing a corset for the first time and it got really hot in the ballroom.

Talky Talk: No Surprises

Kula thinks she's simply recovering a box of gold from a corrupt lawman, but she stumbles into a nasty enterprise -- "dealing in evil" as one character puts it. She doesn't know who to trust, and usually gets it wrong the first -- and second -- time around. Unfortunately, the misdirection and red herrings are transparent and instead of being suspenseful, the story just felt like an episode of Scooby Doo.

Bonus Factor: San Francisco

The seamy side of San Francisco -- brothels, human trafficking, all that fun stuff -- is a big part of the book. The villains are no David Lo Pan, but the Bay Area makes an interesting setting, especially with the Great Earthquake. Plus, it's the home of my baseball team (Giants 4EVA!), so score, even though they won't move there for another 50 years.

Casting Call:

I wasn't really inspired, if you couldn't tell. But here's a guy who plays rich, white douchebags, so here's your Will.

Chad Michael Murray as Will

Relationship Status: Second Date Fizzle

I was pleasantly surprised by the first book in this series, so I went into this one with highish expectations. The date started out well -- we went to an exciting place I don't visit often, and there was a bit of mystery and a hint of danger, but then it settled down into tame predictability. At the end of the night, I offered a handshake and my cheek for a peck, and wished it well but didn't want to make any future plans.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Forgiven is available June 2.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.