Blog Book Tour | “Uneven Exchange” by S.K. Derban with a Guest Post by the author about her approach to writing Romantic Suspense!

Posted Tuesday, 12 April, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for “Uneven Exchange” hosted by iRead Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “Uneven Exchange” direct from the author S.K. Derban in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I enjoy Romantic Suspense:

I must admit, one of the sub-genres of Rom I am a bit under-read inside is #RomSusp as I have the tendency to shy away from most of what the market offers – across both INSPY and Mainstream. The reason being is because this is one of those particularly particular genres I read! (laughs) It’s because I like to hone in on the psychological suspense aspects of the stories intermixed with strong layers of narrative depth, with character driven plots and a heart of the story shining through the shocking bits where the mystery unfolds at a deeper pacing of ‘horror’ in the midst of an ordinary life.

The two best selections I’ve come across in the recent past were ChocLit novels: Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Up Close – of the two, it was the latter which proved to lock a hold on me so etched close to the pages, it became an unputdownable read of mine! And, one I championed recently as a ‘best of the best’ via my End of the Year Survey for 2015. I have other titles by ChocLit I want to read for future #ChocLitSaturdays, but whilst I await meeting those stories, I’ve decided to try seeking out a few others, as well.

When I saw Uneven Exchange pop up on tour, I felt it was well-timed, as one of my favourite authors for INSPY fiction is Deeanne Gist and she totally convinced me she had the chops for writing Romantic Suspense when she gave us Beguiled – so much so, I took it upon myself to ask her if she would ever consider writing more stories in that vein of exploration to which she told me she’d leave the door open but did not have current plans to write one. I felt she should re-explore it because she gave such a strong first novel – this was the first time I recognised that I liked the genre from both markets and it genuinely piqued my eye towards finding more authors who were writing the kind of #RomSusp I appreciate.

I love reading relationship-based Rom as my readers are fully aware of but I also appreciate strongly writ stories full of suspense and that moment where your just not sure how everything will turn out in the final chapters. Mystery & Suspense were the stories I championed as a young reader and it’s carried through into my adult years where seeking out a diversified palette of reads is my greatest joy!

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Blog Book Tour | “Uneven Exchange” by S.K. Derban with a Guest Post by the author about her approach to writing Romantic Suspense!Uneven Exchange

Like fire and ice, Alexandra Callet's life runs hot and cold. At the age of thirty-three, Alexandra owns a stunning home and a successful interior design company. But she is in love with her business partner, Jake Taylor, and he doesn't even seem to realize she's a woman. She should be on top of the world, but instead she feels dragged down by the void in her heart. Hoping for answers, she decides a trip to Mexico might soothe her soul.

Jake Taylor only pretends to be a confirmed bachelor. Jake has been entranced by Alexandra's determination and exotic beauty since the moment they met, but she has no idea how he feels. He considers confessing his love, but fears jeopardizing their friendship and business. He's caught in a web of pretending he doesn't care, and doesn't see a way out of it. Alexandra is recruited for a dangerous mission. Following her trip to Mexico, her resemblance to a member of an assassin's family leads Alexandra to be recruited by the DEA. Her training leaves her distracted, and her business begins to suffer. Jake notices her sudden change, and feels her slipping both personally and professionally beyond his reach.

Should he finally take the chance...before it's too late? After all, he has nothing to lose. However, when Alexandra returns to Mexico for her mission, things go terribly wrong. Will she be able find the strength to fight and escape the peaceful haven that has now become her prison?

Or will Jake lose Alexandra forever...

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781680582673

on 26th August, 2015

Pages: 344

Published By: Limitless Publishing (@limitlessbooks)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

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My review of Uneven Exchange:

Definitely a jolt of an intensive scene gives you a proper sense of foreboding as your entering this novel as before you can even alight into the setting where the story is set, you’ve witnessed a horrific death! It’s a bit nebulous about why the person died – a lead-in to an expanding back-story surely, but it’s such an unusual way to set the tone of the novel, because before you can even contemplate what is happening or why the point-of-view has shifted so decisively – you’ve found yourself meeting one of the lead characters.

Not one to back down from specific details, Derban’s style doesn’t quite fit the INSPY side of the ledger, wherein the details are generally glossed a bit over or withdrawn. I did not classify this novel as INSPY as it’s not written in manner that speaks to me in that vein. Especially because she also chose to use harder language to describe her less than heroic characters which simply did not fit the same tone of voice Inspirational (INSPY) stories encompass.

To me it felt like the set-up for this Rom Suspense wasn’t actually a ‘Rom Suspense’ by definition as it is such a strong step away from my previous readings (not just of the three novels I’ve mentioned on this review, but in general – I’ve read several others as well) – this is more of a traditional thriller similar to Michael Crichton or Tom Clancy because of the way the chapter sections are being treated and how your meant to know more than you do as your reading the story. Although I’ll admit, reading Crichton and Clancy never left me wondering ‘what was going on’ as both men gave you a lot to contemplate before the heat of the action ever started to take place. I appreciate writers who give a bit of back-story or at the very least a Prologue before jumping straight into ‘wherever’ they want to take you, as this story felt muddled from the beginning because who do you invest yourself into? There are too many characters popping in and out to even follow properly!

I did not continue reading this novel because by the time I reached Chapter 3, I felt disheartened. To be honest, I never had the chance to even warm to Alexandra – she was barely allowed space on the page to draw me into her life and her internal conflict with her walk of faith and her choices in relationships. They are only hinted at but never clearly defined. The first 18 pages of this novel are so frustrating as a reader because they quite literally take you out of the story – are you reading a thriller? Is this part espionage and part suspense? Is there any relationship in question or emerging into view at any point? To be a proper Romantic Suspense there has to be something that bridges the gap between the suspense and the romance – this story felt it was in conflict with itself.

I believe the author’s own words about what she reveals about her opinions about what drives a novel such as this is what did not work for me. She’s writing against her own instincts – why write a Romantic Suspense if your heart lies in a different genre? I think she would be best to switch to Crime Fiction and write mainstream fiction without the whisper of INSPY because she does have a strong case for traditional Crime Dramas with thematics that would appeal to certain readers. For me personally, this felt like the story I was looking forward to reading was not aptly presented to reflect the story I was sent to read. Similar to my misgivings about Turning to Stone.

Fly in the Ointment:

Normally I appreciate shifting points-of-view and multiple characters and/or segues within a tightly written story of suspense or historical fiction; however, some of the pacing of this novel is off a bit. The sections are not fleshed out enough to explain the presence of some of the characters in the beginning of the story, whilst giving me more time to question why we are switching so quickly from one section to the other. Another thing that rankled a bit, is that Derban gave a few hints towards why her character was a bit miffed with herself in regards to her walk of faith and her relationship choices but she left a throwaway comment a bit too vague to lend further meaning behind the revelation. I think it would have benefited from fleshing out why Alexandra felt the way she did when she thought about Jake rather than leaving it up to the reader to sort out – especially as in the opening chapters a bit more information is helpful.

In regards to cover design, I loved the effect of the book cover but I did not appreciate the colours and typography used for the back jacket – as the only bits you can read in the paperback edition are related to the publisher, image copyrights and the ISBN section. The synopsis itself is completely obscured due to the light hue of colour and the faint way in which the text is not highlighted to be bold against the black background. Although I was provided with the synopsis for this review, I like to examine the books I am reading – cover design and the back jacket are part of what I look for in regards to synchronicity with the story, as design is as important as context in regards to how a book presents itself. I do not judge a book by it’s outward appearance but if the design falls short of the story it’s a disappointment. Similarly, a book can have wicked good cover art but if the story falls short, the writer has lost me.

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Topic of Interest: What do you love the most about creating crossover romantic suspense which find readers of both mainstream and INSPY markets equally enthralled with your stories? What led you to write your own Rom Suspense releases with such strong male leads who champion a realistic hero for today’s world?

For me personally, romance driven books are not my cup of tea. I prefer a story with more depth, like enjoying dinner plus dessert. Then, like the satisfaction of a delicious meal, I love to hear how my books have made a difference in the lives of my readers. Throughout all of my stories it is my goal to bring them joy. I also hope that their strength and faith will increase by reading about the strength and faith of my characters.

It was also important to create strong male characters who can be both masculine and caring. My husband was our high school quarterback, and he is definitely masculine. He also opens the door for me, makes my lunch, and treats me like a lady. My older brother does the same for his wife, and so do many other men I know. It is important for women to recognize that good men exist, and there is no need to settle for less.

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I definitely concur with Ms Derban on the level of gentlemen and the social graces of men who fully respect women and treat them with loving kindness. I grew up with grandfathers and a father who were the epitome of this as well, and it’s one reason I am a champion of the heroes of Rom who uphold this character trait and genuine decency to such a level of recognition. It is truly sad in today’s world where the opposite tends to draw attention away from the fact good men do exist and they do lovingly care about the women they love. Stories full of the light of hope and love will shine the joy of romance and relationships. It is wonderful to find stories that not only uplift our spirits as we read but truly remind singletons about the blokes who will fully support them in all aspects of their lives whilst encouraging their dreams and their passions.

About S.K. Derban

S.K. Derban

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, S.K. Derban moved to London within the first three months, and remained in England until the age of five. Her father, an American citizen, was a decorated veteran of the Second World War. Derban's mother, born and raised in the United Kingdom, was involved with the London Royal Ballet Company, and a great fan of the arts.

Even after returning to the United States, Derban's life was filled with a love of the theatre and a passion for British murder mysteries. S.K. Derban has always remained passionate about writing, and is thrilled to finally share her work with others.

Her personal travel and missionary adventures also help to transport readers virtually across the globe. When writing, S.K. Derban relies on all aspects of her life, from her faith in the Lord, to her love and knowledge of the arts. ​

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Uneven Exchange”, book synopsis, author photograph of S.K. Derban, author biography, and iRead banner were all provided by iRead Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Author Guest Post Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 12 April, 2016 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, iRead Book Tours, Modern Day, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense

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