**I was given a copy of this book by the author, Aneta Quinn, in exchange for an honest review. Also, full disclosure, I happen to like Aneta a lot as a person and her blog is really great.**
Chasing Charli by Aneta Quinn
Published: September 11th, 2015 as a self-published novel in the Kindle Store
Genre(s): Romance, erotica, suspense
Pages: 95 pgs (as an ARC pdf)
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
After witnessing a murder, Charli is forced to move away from her city life filled with champagne and high society lunches.
Some terrible situations can lead to better circumstances though, like Charli moving away with her bodyguard and best friend Jax; who incidentally she has wanted ever since he came into her life bossing her around.
Will moving help her outrun whoever is after her, or will everything eventually catch up? And is there something she’s hiding from Jax?
Being in a long distance relationship really, truly sucks; my partner and I are about three-and-a-half to five hours away from each other, depending on how bad traffic on I-95 can get between Fredericksburg, Virginia and the Vienna Metro stop on the Orange line. We don’t get to see each other much. It should really go without saying that in times of desperate needs, he and I have to resort to alternative means to make up for our massive amounts of lost time together. While I’m absolutely fine going through a dry spell, it doesn’t mean that I’m altogether immune to at least indulging in some fantasies every once in a while. That’s the beauty of short little romances like Aneta Quinn’s first novella, Chasing Charli: it’s so easy to get lost into the whirlwind love story sparking between the two romantic leads. However, like most romances I’ve read, Chasing Charli does have some areas outside of the steamy plot that need tweaking to make the book more well-rounded.
This quick-reading novella follows Charli, a twenty four-year-old woman forced to go into hiding after witnessing a murder performed by a criminal mastermind’s henchmen. She finds refuge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — a total departure from her previous lavish life as a New York City hotel billionaire’s stepdaughter. However, as she still has a target on her head from the criminals, the young woman is not alone in her move; Jackson, her completely gorgeous bodyguard, moves into the apartment above hers to make sure trouble doesn’t head her way. Even though Jax has been tasked with keeping her physically intact while she’s in hiding, he starts feeling like he needs to make sure her heart’s just as safe. Sparks fly between the two, but the blossoming attraction between the two isn’t exactly what a major crime syndicate has in store for our heroine, because it’s not just Jackson that’s chasing after Charli. See what I did there? Clever.
Where Quinn succeeds in her mission is creating a captivating, entertaining romance between the two leads that just makes readers want to root for their success as a couple. I’ve actually come across a few romances in my time where I, admittedly, find myself irritated by both partners and don’t care if they achieve their main goal because they’re so freaking annoying. (Beautiful Creatures, anybody? Just me?) I really enjoy the tension that boils underneath the two in the beginning, especially in the scenes where Jackson teaches Charli some self-defense techniques. Of course, sexual tension comes hand-in-hand with close physical contact like that, but such scenes established a good sense of comfort and familiarity between the two so that their transition into lovers felt like a natural progression rather than hopping in the sack out of nowhere. I also enjoyed how Quinn made sure that both Charli and Jackson had their own narrative voices in their word choice and where they place their focus. Oftentimes when writers present their stories from the perspectives of different narrators, they end up sounding exactly the same, which defeats the purpose of the separate narrators. It’s always a risky choice going that route, so I commend Quinn on that particular tactic. And, yeah, the sex scenes were really hot, but I won’t go into too much detail about that.
Because this is Quinn’s first novel, I do have a little bit of constructive criticism to offer, especially since she currently is working on her next novel. Coming from a technical perspective, the completed product did have no shortage of grammatical and spelling errors throughout. There were also some inconsistencies within fight scenes that made them feel a little bit hard to follow. My background is in news and literary editing, so to come across these errors in a completed work did come across as distracting. However, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with shooting the manuscript through a beta reader or editor before publication. Furthermore, we read a lot about how much Charli hated the lifestyle afforded to her from her parents’ wealth, but she ends up benefiting from it all the time from the extravagant apartment in Pennsylvania, top of the line electronics in said flat, to the mere existence of the hot bodyguard tasked to spend time with her. I’m all about eliminating the bourgeoisie as much as the next girl, but it would have been nice to have been shown exactly how uncomfortable she felt in these luxuries rather than Charli telling us through her narration. Furthermore, whenever her distaste for high society is brought up, it’s mentioned with the same turn of phrase: prissy cocktail hours in uncomfortable dresses. I would have loved to see some insight into what other details about high society made her feel out of her element or, barring that, what she did in her daily life apart from her mother that made her feel more like herself, other than putting on a pair of sneakers. I also felt like there were far too many characters introduced all at once. Up until a certain point, the only two characters the readers are actually treated to are Charli and Jackson, however, near the end, we become inundated with a bunch of different mobsters and operatives that aren’t all that distinguishable from each other. Only one of the mobsters do we get to meet before the deluge, and even then, he’s not really all that distinctive when he’s reintroduced in later chapters.
All in all, Chasing Charli definitely served its purpose in providing a nice, steamy little romp that provided me some solace while my partner and I are apart. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking in the world of romance, but I enjoyed that the characters were my age and had a nice, genuine spark between them. While things got a little swampy in terms of the actiony side-plot at times, it was still fast-paced and entertaining enough that it kept my attention and focus throughout the story. I honestly think that, with some tweaking, Quinn could have a great romance on her hands, but this was, overall, a good first novel. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the couple in her next book has the same electricity that kept me wired throughout this one.
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