Dancing with the Boss by Clare Gutierrez: review

Dancing with the BossDancing with the Boss by Clare Gutierrez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In the American Southwest, criminal organizations from all over the world conspire to control everything from human trafficking to drug running and gun smuggling. Caught in the midst of all of this is the smart and sassy Annie, the owner of a rare-art dealership in Arizona. In a chance encounter, Annie meets Tony, a veritable gangster and mafioso who finds himself at odds with the brutal nature of his work and his growing feelings for Annie.

When Annie learns that her brother Allen, a former special ops agent for the FBI, has gotten himself into some deep trouble, she finds an unexpected ally in Tony. The two of them—along with Annie’s other two siblings—set out to help Allen, maneuvering through mysterious data files and dead bodies as they travel from coast to coast—and abroad—in their search. As the tension builds, so does the number of casualties.

Explored through rich descriptions and populated with complex, likable characters, Dancing with the Boss—part thriller, part romance, part action novel—will keep even the most jaded readers hooked.

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Spoiler alert: there are a few plot reveals in this review; I have tried to keep them to a minimum and they are only there to explain my points.

This was an excellent story with lots of tension and plot twists. The story moves along at a good pace; sometime a small pause in the headlong rush to make an important aspect clearer to the reader would be useful, I think. A little polishing to the writing style would turn Dancing with the Boss from a good book into a great book.

There were a couple of problems with the kindle formatting, but I put these down to this being a NetGalley ARC – time to iron out such issues before publication. For the record, I found that the chapters ran into one another and that the word was printed “chaPTer” each time. The first letter of the first paragraph of each chapter was lower case and printed on its own line.

Whilst talking about style and formatting, there were a couple of other points I wanted to mention: I found the direct speech internal monologue inserts clumsy and distracting; finding another way to include these elements would improve the book for me. There was a classic spelling mistake: at one point Mr Hernandez became Mr Fernandez, but quickly reverted. Was this a typo or a previous incarnation, I wondered!

For me the book was somewhat spoiled by a couple of, to me, daft plot happenings. These made the main character, Annie, appear, in my eyes at least, rather stupid, something which most of the rest of the book made clear she wasn’t.

In the first place, having done some quite clever sleuthing and discovered not one but two vital pieces of information into the crime, she heads off, for an indeterminate time, and leaves both pieces of evidence behind! I’m not sure how she planned to investigate (her intention) without at least copies.

Secondly, towards the end of the book, when Annie and her sister are ensconced as investigators, she suddenly produces a huge amount of information from her friend, Rhino, who died some months earlier. No previous mention of this data was made…and given the desperate nature of their need to solve the crime and find those responsible, why would Annie sit on this information?? Non sequiturs like these really annoy me in books.

Rhino’s demise I found unnecessary. The baddies hadn’t found his lair and had his precautions and preparations been as previously described, he could have used his house instead to defeat the intruders.

Throughout the book, the passage of time, particularly when there is significant time between the end of one chapter and the start of the next, is badly described or indicated.

I got a little tired of Tony’s overbearing, nineteenth century attitude, possibly because its description and manifestation varied so little.

Despite all these areas which I believe can be improved, I enjoyed reading Dancing with the Boss. I found the characters for the most part reasonably well drawn; the polishing I mentioned earlier would include refining their description and behaviours a little, removing a touch of the stereotype that tends to creep in. I mostly cared about what happens to the characters; in some cases, the minor characters were in better focus that the major ones!

I recommend this book to ladies who love thrillers and mysteries. I suspect most of the men who read this genre would not enjoy the romance aspect. Personally, I feel this adds to the book, but thought it could be a little less front and centre, but rather a little more subtle. In some ways, I thought Dancing with the Boss couldn’t make its mind up if it were a thriller or a romance: I guess I was looking for it to be a thriller first and foremost! Dancing with the Boss is an enjoyable, entertaining read and I would pick up other books by Clare Gutierrez without hesitation.

I thank Clare Gutierrez and her publishers for making this ebook available for me to review through NetGalley.  Parts of this review also appear there.

View all my Goodreads reviews
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I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge. [Link in right hand sidebar]

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