It may be short (just 25,000 words), but Roxanne St. Claire's Pick Your Poison
has everything you could ever ask for in a novella.
When the story starts, Bullet Catchers founder Lucy Sharpe is firing Ben Youngblood for botching an assignment and losing them a prominent client. His only hope of regaining his job is to prove that the client actually is
the target of an assassin, save his ass, and get him to rehire the Bullet Catchers for his private security detail. Easy peasy, right?! Well… not when Lucy refuses to provide him with any of Bullet Catcher’s resources. No private plane. No fancy gadgets. No back up.
Undaunted, Ben sets out to track down the killer and protect his pompous primary. When his one and only clue leads him to a flower farm in Florida, Ben naturally asks the florist (Callie Parrish) to help him identify the assassin. Naturally. I mean, if you can’t have a fully-trained Bullet Catcher watch your back, the next best thing is obviously
a florist, right?! Whatever. It’s a novella. Just go with it.
Ben and Callie are clearly a case of opposites attracting, because I’ve been wracking my brain and can’t figure out a single thing they have in common. He’s a super hot street tough turned muscle for hire and she’s a sweet, uneducated good-girl from Kentucky. Still, the chemistry between them is instant and undeniable. Ben gives some pretty sweet dirty talk (my kinda man!), and Callie’s not afraid to ask for what she wants (thankfully for my reading pleasure, she mostly wants Ben in as little clothing as possible and wrapped around her like a vine). Their desire sparks under the most ludicrous set of circumstances ever, but again… it’s a novella. Just go with it.
I do have to say that Pick Your Poison
let me down not once, but twice. Firstly, no one likes a tease, Ms. St. Claire! How could you introduce us to the male perfection that is Ben Youngblood and his dirty mouth, have him promise Callie some serious bedroom Olympics if they make it out of the freezer
alive, and then not deliver?! And no, delivering everything “off camera” does NOT count. Shame on you, Roxanne St. Claire! Shaaaaaaaame!
Secondly, refer to point one about the male perfection that is Ben Youngblood – he should have had a full-length novel! The man deserves
a full-length novel, dammit! In all seriousness, though, I do
prefer when novellas that are part of an established series revisit characters that readers already know and love, giving us a chance to peak behind the curtain and see what life is life for them after their HEA. Otherwise, I end up depressed, and mourning the fact that I only got to know Ben (and Callie too, I suppose) for 82 pages. It hardly seems fair.
Oh, I suppose a have a third minor beef with this story: the whole Jeremiah sub-plot was completely
unnecessary. In a 25,000 novella, Ms. St. Claire has got to realize that space is at a premium and those 2-3 pages could have been spent on pretty much any other relevant aspect of the story. Just sayin'...
Verdict: Overall, Pick Your Poison
is a sweet, fluffy read that packed in a surprising amount of action, suspense, and romance into a very short story. The only thing I thought it was missing was a little boom boom in the bedroom. But then again, I'm a bit of a horn dog.