Brooke Bennet is in hiding. She used to be a music superstar as part of the duo Nocturne, but then she was kidnapped and tortured by a fanatic stalker. Safe now, recovering from the emotional and physical trauma, she is trying to carve out a quiet life in the French countryside, but is struggling with panic attacks related to her ordeal.
Cameron Dexter, head of Dexter Security Consultants, shows up unexpectedly one day to tell her Brooke that her stalker, Andre Spinks, has been released from prison. Cam and Brooke have a complicated history. He was her head of security back in her Nocturne days, and Brooke had pursued him romantically. Cam coldly rejected her, and it was under his watch that she fell prey to Spinks. He was also the man who rescued her, finding her strapped to a metal gurney in Spinks's lair.
Cam is consumed with guilt for letting Brooke get hurt, and he refuses to let Spinks get to her again. Initially the two of them go into hiding living in a yurt (no, really, a yurt) in a “luxury campground.” Then Brooke decides she’s sick of living half a life, constantly in fear. She wants to confront Spinks, to get her life back.Cam agrees to take Brooke back to England, to lure Spinks into the open and get him sent back to prison. With the help of Brooke’s former manager and band mate, they formulate a plan to make it appear as though Nocturne is getting back together. They hope the media frenzy will drive Spinks out of hiding.
Meanwhile Cam and Brooke are forced into close quarters. Cam was always attracted to Brooke, but never acted on it because she was his client. Now he finds it more difficult to deny the beautiful woman he failed to protect. Brooke is still attracted to Cam, and finds comfort by being close to him (snuggle time!), but she’s afraid to completely trust anyone again.
Spinks hides in the shadows, threatening Brooke, and driving her closer to Cam. Even with the danger pressing in around them, they look to each other for healing and love.
On its face, The Waiting Game has all the elements I enjoy in romantic suspense. The main characters have a complicated, traumatic past that they must get over in order to find love. There is a constant, increasing threat that force the hero and heroine together. There’s a truly villainous bad guy. All of these things should have made me a happy, luxury-yurt camper, but there were just too many inconsistencies in character and plot that irked me.
Let’s talk about Brooke for a second. When Spinks kidnapped Brooke, he tattooed her body as a way of branding her as his possession. Once Spinks was safely locked up in prison, Brooke had the tattoos removed, but is now covered in scars. They are a reminder of the torture she suffered, and she hides them from the world. Brooke is often described as being deeply self-conscious of them. At one point her band mate, Megan, suggests they go swimming and tells Brooke she can borrow one of her bikinis.
“Despite the twenty yards from the balcony to the beach, Cameron couldn’t fail to notice the sudden horror dull the joy in Brooke’s eyes. Or the way she went deathly pale. The way her knees wobbled.
‘Oh, God,’ Megan whispered. ‘I didn’t think about the scars.’” (Devon 102).
So clearly, having other people see her scars is a major no-no for Brooke. Then literally seven pages later, Brooke is making out with Cameron, and taking off her clothes with no apparent unease.
I couldn’t figure this out. She lusts after Cam, sure, but enough that she’s totally okay with him seeing the marks that she’s so ashamed of? Cam did rescue her from Spinks, and so saw some of the tattoos initially, I guess, but it still didn’t make sense. She was totally inhibited about her body…unless she was getting naked with Cam.
And I had issues with Cam too. First of all he read really hot and cold. He wants Brooke. He wants to push her away. They kiss passionately. He keeps her at arm’s length. It’s the basic romance novel hero attitude of “I don’t have the capacity for love” brought on by his guilt, but it got old.
We get a flashback of Brooke and Cam the night she was kidnapped. Brooke had been pursuing Cam, but he’d pushed her away:
“She’d known he wouldn’t agree to her proposed shopping trip, but arguing with him took the edge off the stifling claustrophobia. Pouting, hips swaying, she’d walked farther into the room. ‘Maybe you could help me satisfy a different urge?’
He’d studied her, his eyes narrowing. ‘What Brooke wants, Brooke gets. Is that how it goes around here? I’m sure Steven could arrange someone to stop by your room and satisfy any of your urges.’
She’d felt sick—hated that he could suggest her wanting him was akin to scratching an itch.” (Devon 138).
Yeah, Cam’s kind of a dick. And because of that dick-bag comment Brooke went AWOL, ditching her security team, and that’s when Spinks kidnapped her.
Also when they first start to make love Cam kind of freaks at the sight of Brooke’s scars. It’s out of guilt, but it didn’t make me like him any more.
So, I didn’t really dig Brooke or Cam. Unfortunately I couldn’t just escape into the plot either.
When Cam and Brooke are in the yurt, they reach the mutual decision to stop hiding and confront Spinks. Cam says:
“This ends with Spinks back where he belongs. In prison.” (Devon 29).
The problem is, they never explain how they are going to make that happen.
I figured they were going to tempt Spinks into violating his license for release, but no plan is ever explicitly discussed. I went back and re-read to see if I missed it. Then Spinks does a bunch of crazy shit that you think would get him thrown back in the clink. By the halfway point of the book he has:
Broken the restraining order by coming to the airport where Brooke is arriving.
Slipped a photo of her during her captivity into a magazine sent to her room.
FUCKING KILLED A MAN.
Assaulted her at nightclub.
- Assaulted another man.
No one knows where Spinks is hiding out, so I’m guessing that’s why he wasn’t taken back to jail immediately, but I found it hard to believe that the police just totally lost track of him. If he’s supposedly on the British version of parole, you’d think someone would be keeping tabs on him. The book made the British legal system look incompetent for releasing him in the first place and then for apparently never checking up on him ever again. If Lindsay Lohan gets an ankle monitor, you’d think Spinks would qualify.
I also got a bit ragey at two sections of the text. In one, Brooke magically changes clothes mid sex-scene:
“[Brooke] knew her unbuttoned dress was halfway down her arms, making her look like a half-unwrapped present.” (Devon 111).
Then a few minutes later:
“She peeled off her tunic, and flung it to the side…When his eyes followed her movements, the devil inside her had her unzipping her jeans to show him more.” (Devon 112).
Maybe she’s wearing the dress over the tunic and jeans? Is that what the kids are wearing these days?
Then later Brooke makes another regrettable fashion choice when going to the corner store for groceries:
“The dress she’d worn…was still in the washer, so she was in another of Cam’s shirts, belted at the middle. Stilettos were going to make her look like a streetwalker next to Ellie’s trouser and T-shirt combo. ‘I’ll go barefoot. It’ll be fine. Just let me grab my bag and the code to get back in.’” (Devon 208).
She’s like Britney Spears going into gas station bathrooms sans sandals. At the store she feels no shame:
“Judging from the woman’s frown, Brooke probably did look a little too bohemian without shoes. The woman passed by without comment.” (Devon 208).
I’m just going to say it: who the fuck goes to the corner store without shoes? Does England not have a ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy? Why didn’t Ellie say “Dude, no, go put on your hooker shoes.” Just…why?
I would have forgiven Brooke’s barefoot jaunt, and the spontaneous clothing change, had The Waiting Game been executed a little better overall. As it was, I had to give it a D.