Review: Crow’s Row by Julie Hockley

September 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

Rating: 4 Stars

Crow’s Row by Julie Hockley is a contemporary romance story about Emily and Cameron, who from the outset seem as if they’ve been thrust together out of coincidence and that their magnetism towards one another builds up into a beautiful love. It’s a nice ride of a story, with thrills and spills and some deeply emotional decision making.

Love is excruciating, especially when you can feel it slipping through your fingers and there is nothing you can do about it. Like someone was playing tug-of-war with my limbs, ripping to shreds whatever was left behind.

Enter Emily Sheppard, your average college student living off take-out, once a month laundry days and sleeping in a broom cupboard big enough to fit a single bed. She’s perennially poor, but this doesn’t mean she doesn’t come from money – oh no. Her parents are jaded blue bloods with enough money that covering up the not-so-legal antics of their eldest son from the media was no problem.

Enter Cameron Hillard, the top dog for the local drug lords. Broody and timid, he is a force to behold and it’s obvious the kind of authority he wields when his colleagues treat him with such fear and deference.

Hockley’s writing style is elegant. It borders at times on more “telling” than “showing”, but she paces well and is big on environmental descriptors. Her characterisation is fair, as is her storytelling.

One thing is for sure in this novel: nothing is what it seems.

Spoilers under the Read More!

Plot twist 1: When it is revealed that Cameron, Spider and Carly all actually knew Emily’s older brother Bill – didn’t just know him, but were very close friends and business partners in their shady dealings. Emily loved Bill so much, and it cripples her to realise that her capture and imprisonment isn’t coincidence; that she’s there because of who she is, not because of the money that backs her.

The romance between Cameron and Emily is almost nonexistent, and happens through shy blushes, subtle reading between the lines and stolen looks and shared timid smiles. Then out of nowhere it’s open declarations of love and ultimatums. This leap from not even kissing to “I love you, Cameron” was just too fast. I didn’t even feel like I had been a part of their romance at all, and that their love story was tacked into the story just because. If Crow’s Row was simply a mystery novel about discovering your brother’s past and the world of drugs, it would have still been great. But the added so-called “angst” of having a love story unfold amidst a kidnapping? Yeah, doesn’t fit so well with me.

Emily’s character actually bores me. She’s too average, too nosy, too curious – kind of like an insistent yelping puppy. I thought Cameron had a lot of potential at first, he has a great Alpha male character, but his frequent absences and others talking on his behalf didn’t cut it for me. I felt that their love was borne of circumstance (and the fact that Cameron had been stalking her for six years) and it felt unbalanced. How did Emily’s physical attraction suddenly leap-frog into all-out love?

I mean, take any reasonable person and put them in Emily’s place – it is case in point for Stockholm syndrome, and those kinds of stories have never fared well to me. It just doesn’t make sense to any reasonable person. I mean, wouldn’t you question the ethics and boundaries of your kidnappers? How can you fall in love with them, even if you saw their ‘other side’? Can you truly say you love somebody if you knew another side of them that was everything you hoped for – but you can’t handle the whole package? The kidnapping, the killing, the money laundering and the drug pushing? Does Emily not have any morals and ethics towards that kind of behaviour? Hell, with the way she carries on and her immediate acceptance of Cameron’s “job” seems like she almost condones it just because her brother was in the business. Her brother died of a drug overdose, for god’s sake. Wouldn’t you be repulsed with anything to do with drugs? And here Emily is, falling in love with the one man who was Bill’s business partner, and you could rightly lay blame and say that Cameron is possibly a catalyst to Bill’s eventual demise?

“It’s not worth hiding your love away”, I added artfully.
“This is why I don’t want to talk about this with you,” he said with exasperation.
“You’ve got this cute view of the world”
His smile was warm, but his eyes were tight.
“You’re beautifully naive Emmy…I don’t want to change that.”

Yep. Naive. That’s Emmy to a T. Close to the end of the book when Emily is introduced into Cameron’s dealings with the distributors, her conscience and her attitude towards his “job” are revealed, but to me it felt too little too late.

The last 10% of the book was absolutely frantic. I mean, come on! The ending was tragic!! 

But, to be honest it was something I expected.

AND (major spoiler alert!) I expected Cameron to still be alive at the end of it, and I was cheering that my suspicions were correct! Why? Even though the reasoning behind Cameron’s decision to break away was pure grief for me, it meant that Emmy and Cameron still have a chance!

I was daydreaming about Crow’s Row and thought that the way it concluded made for an excellent setting for the sequel Scare Crow. In my head, Emmy becomes a successful lawyer following the path that her parents set out for her. Book two is six years later (following the canon of “six years later” after Bill died in the first book) and Emily is given a case – and who must she defend? Who else but Cameron Hillard, who is trying to get out of the vicious cycle of gangster life. Would make for a great premise, right?

I hated the ending, most especially because their relationship really, really wanted you to hope it worked out for the better and that they’re given a chance.

Thought it was a great read, and would definitely read the sequel when it comes out next year.

4.5 Stars!


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