Review: The Investigator by Anna Hackett

Review: The Investigator by Anna HackettThe Investigator (Norcross #1) by Anna Hackett
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense
Series: Norcross #1
Pages: 253
Published by Anna Hackett on September 15, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon
Goodreads

It should have been easy. Stay away from her boss’ hot brother.
Museum curator Haven McKinney has sworn off men. All of them. Totally. She’s recently escaped a bad ex and started a new life for herself in San Francisco. She loves her job at the Hutton Museum, likes her new boss, and has made best friends with his feisty sister. Haven’s also desperately trying not to notice their brother: hotshot investigator Rhys Norcross. And she’s really trying not to notice his muscular body, sexy tattoos, and charming smile.
Nope, Rhys is off limits.
Investigator Rhys Norcross is good at finding his targets. After leaving an elite military team, he thrives on his job at his brother’s security firm, Norcross Security. He’s had his eye on smart, sexy Haven for a while, but the pretty curator with her eyes full of secrets is proving far harder to chase down than he anticipated.
Luckily, Rhys never, ever gives up.
When thieves target the museum and steal a multi-million-dollar painting in a daring theft, Haven finds herself right in the middle of a deadly situation. With the painting gone and Haven in danger, Rhys vows to do whatever it takes to keep her safe, and Haven finds herself risking the one thing she was trying so hard to protect—her heart.

My Review:

The Norcross family of next-level badasses/security consultants was first introduced in Mission: Her Safety when Team 52 needed some high-level intel on the villainous badass they were hunting for. They got in touch with Vander Norcross, and we got the seeds of this series of contemporary, high-octane action adventure romance.

Which does not begin with Vander’s romance. Instead we have his younger brother Rhys on the trail of a bunch of seriously high-end art thieves who have just stolen part of Monet’s Water Lilies series from the high-class art museum owned by business mogul brother Easton Norcross.

(Norcross is also the name of two towns in the U.S., one in Georgia and one in Minnesota. I live near the one in Georgia, so every time I see the Norcross name I have a bit of a giggle.)

This series opener introduces readers to the four Norcross siblings, brothers Vander, Easton and Rhys, along with sister Gia, whose new best friend Haven McKinney is the new curator of Easton’s museum.

You would think that Haven would finally have achieved, if not a happy ever after yet, at least a solid sense of life finally being unfair in her favor. She left an abusive ex and a douchecanoe job behind in Miami, while life in San Francisco has provided her with a dream job, a fantastic new best friend, and a whole lot of seriously yummy man candy in the persons of her boss and his brothers to drool over in private.

Because publicly she’s decided she’s over men. Mostly she’s still smarting after her misjudgment of the abusive ex back in Miami.

But it seems like the roller coaster ride of Haven’s life in Miami isn’t nearly done with her yet. She thought she was through with shit happening when she switched coasts, only to discover that all of the bad stuff she left behind has reached all the way across the country to mess up her life one more time.

Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow, 1916-19 by Claude Monet

Over and over and over again, just starting with that theft of Water Lilies.

But things are different now. In Miami she was on her own, and her best course of action was to flee. In San Francisco, she has the Norcross family in her corner. They’ll fight to protect her, because she’s theirs. And she’ll fight to stick, because they’re hers. And not just her bestie Gia.

Because Haven McKinney isn’t really over men at all. And she never wants to get over Rhys Norcross. Not ever.

Escape Rating B: I have to say that while I certainly liked The Investigator, I didn’t love it as much as I have most of this author’s previous series openers like Marcus (Hell Squad), Edge of Eon (Eon Warriors) and Mission: Her Protection (Team 52). Actually, this is an author I just plain like – and often more, period, so liking the book was a given. This one just didn’t have the something extra that wows me the way that her science fiction romance generally does.

But I still had a good reading time with The Investigator, and if you’re more into contemporary romance than SFR this would be a great place to start with Anna Hackett.

That being said, I have to talk a bit about why this was a like and not a love – unlike Haven and Rhys who are gone on each other long before either of them is willing to admit it.

As I was reading Haven’s story, it felt like she was someone to whom bad things kept happening, generally through no fault of her own. It felt like a “heroine in jeopardy” story where every single thing turned out to be yet another way for Haven to end up in such deep trouble that she needed to be rescued by the Norcross family.

Poor Haven often felt like a vehicle for the plot rather than a participant in the story. She isn’t in a position where she can act, she’s always in a position where she has to react. And after a story of Haven having one bad thing after another center on her, the final plot screw where the evil, villainous art collector takes one look at her and just HAS to add her to his collection pushed things well over-the-top, at least for me. It was just a cliche too far to maintain my willing suspension of disbelief.

At the same time, the walking, talking cliche that was Haven’s abusive ex-from-Miami played into all the stereotypes about men who are abusive, blame it on just how much they love the woman they’ve abused and expect to be taken back because they really, really love her, read like a terrific expose of just how rotten this stereotype is and just how entitled the male brat thinks he is. He read as a total jerk and Haven as utterly righteous for dumping him in the trash where he belonged.

That he didn’t stay in that trash is both an example of exactly what an entitled bastard he is AND the starting point for every single bad thing that happens to Haven in the story. Except for the cliche, evil, villainous collector of women as well as art. His attempt to collect Haven was entirely his own evil – except that he wouldn’t have met her at all if not for the ex and his stupid shenanigans. See, it does all come back that ex!

So, I had a good but not great time with this one. This series continues next month with The Troubleshooter. If that turns out to be Gia’s story, as the hints in The Investigator suggest (and it is! YAY!), I expect to be wowed because Gia is definitely going to be the star of her own story!

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