Title: Circle of Desire
Author: Carla Swafford
Genre: Erotic Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Ms. Swafford’s Circle of Desire is action-packed from the first page when we meet the heroine Olivia St. Vincent, a woman who has been trained to kill since she was “rescued” from the streets by The Circle. After knocking off a target, she eases the stress of her job as any female assassin today would (in an erotic romance suspense): she finds a man.
Meet the hero Collin Ryker, who plans to abduct Olivia and bring her into his mercenary organization, the OS, in order to destroy The Circle. The immediate sexual tension between the two characters sizzle and explode off the page from their first meeting on a plane.
Olivia’s past, present, future, and everything she cared about was clear by the first quarter of the book. I knew exactly how this woman ticked and how she would react. Ms. Swafford did a great job with Olivia, keeping her motivations consistent and her character development believable. I wished I could have seen that more with Collin. He’s hot, he’s brave, he cares about his organization…and he has this little family situation that left him…what? I wanted to know more about our hero and how his past affected him and it seemed Ms. Swafford spent more time on her heroine than her hero.
The romantic relationship between the hero and heroine was above average. They’re killers. I’m not expecting professions of love and Ms. Swafford didn’t disappoint me there.
The pacing of the book was great for the first half and waned a little bit toward the end. Goals and objectives of their characters were also clear. For an Erotic Romantic Suspense however, I began to wonder if there should be more “erotic” and maybe even just a bit more on the “suspense.”
There were several characters I felt were inserted purely to set them up for future novels. That made me a little sad as I really wanted to know about them more. A few of the characters came in rather late in the story and given some of the significance, I wish they had shown up earlier. Other characters felt like throwaways.
I think my one complaint for the story was that I found the ending anticlimactic. I was reading and suddenly, it was over. The characters in the book seemed to feel the same way. As a reader, it let me down. I expected a big finish and it didn’t happen.
(On an editing note, I found errors in the last quarter of the book. Unfortunately, there were two sentences within a few pages of each other with missing words. That took me out of the story as I read and reread.)
Overall, Circle of Desire was a fast read and one of the better ones I’ve read recently. I’m looking forward to reading her next installment, Circle of Danger.
Heat Level: 4 of 5
Romance: 3 of 5
Overall: 4 of 5