There's absolutely nothing wrong with Toni Blake's Whisper Falls. Both lead characters are nicely developed and each has a personal issue they work to overcome during the course of the story. That said, though, the book did nothing for me; I never felt the immense chemistry Tessa Sheridan shared with Lucky Romo, and as a result, labored to finish the book because of my commitment to review it.
Tessa Sheridan returned to small-town Destiny, Ohio after her newly-diagnosed Crohn's disease disrupted her interior design career. She bought a cabin and works part-time at the local bookstore while trying to start a small design business. Her first client is neighbor Lucky Romo, also recently returned to Destiny. He left after high school, got involved in an outlaw biker gang, and a decade after extricating himself from it, determines to make a real life for himself and be a father to the son he never knew he had. In the back of his mind, though, he worries that the leader of his old gang might seek him out and hurt him or those he loves because the crazy criminal holds a grudge. That's just one reason he hasn't sought out his parents or brother. The other is that they're part of the reason he left in the first place - after the death of his sister, he'd become the family's forgotten child.
At first Lucky intimidates Tessa; his reputation precedes him, and all those tattoos don't help. But Tessa yearns to rejoin the land of the living and stop being fearful; her motto might as well be "Just keep swimming," the line Ellen DeGeneris' character Dory is known for in Finding Nemo. Part of feeling alive includes feeling like a woman and being sexual, and though she knows Lucky is attracted to her, his staying away from her for her own good doesn't cut it for long. She asks her close friend Rachel, who's engaged to his brother Mike, to accompany her to a local dive owned by Lucky's friend and former biker gang compadre, and just as it appears she's convinced him to have his way with her, Mike arrives on the scene. Their family reunion goes badly, but later that night Lucky and Tessa finally become intimate.
Tessa plays a major role in his reunion with his parents, although Mike isn't buying what Lucky's selling until Rachel convinces him to listen to his little brother and hear what he has to say. Meanwhile, Lucky begins a relationship with his son, including Tessa as his girlfriend. Each remains tentative about sharing the bad along with the good, yet both profess their love and their relationship develops believably. But Lucky fears an annoying man from his past might mean trouble for his future. He's no longer the man he once was, yet when faced with danger, will he revert to form, and if he does, will "good girl" Tessa understand?
Nothing egregious about the storyline, right? Right. Toni Blake's journeyman effort fails in no particular way, although too-frequent musical references annoyed me for some reason. The author writes competently, but to use a musical reference of my own, "I felt nothing" while reading her book. It's not as though Tessa and Lucky are stereotypes, or that she doesn't create romantic moments for them - or that she tells rather than shows their love and their attraction. Even so, I never felt a connection to either of them, and nothing in the story surprised me as it unfolded. I keep turning pages in some books because I can't wait to see what happens next; in this instance I kept [virtually] turning them hoping something would happen out of the ordinary. But nothing did...and I felt nothing.
Whisper Falls won't be released until December; I read an advance copy provided by the publisher.