Grant Baines runs a specialty-tour company with his sister, Andie. The tour part is ushering frat boys around the Gulf of Mexico in his charter yacht. The specialty is that he’s an ex-military psychologist who does favors for the government. When Grant is asked to spend a week evaluating traumatized FBI advisor Matty Sawyer, he agrees, thinking it will be just another babysitting assignment.
Grant is more relaxed in a bondage playroom than he is going on a date, so he’s amazed at how strongly he’s attracted to the damaged but brilliant man who arrives in his town. Grant’s job is to assess Matty’s stability to return to the FBI after Jaeger Koning— Matty’s former lover— is charged with multiple assassinations.
Knowing Matty’s past poses a danger to his family, Grant is determined to keep his distance, until Matty reveals a submissive side that Grant finds impossible to resist.
Karen: first of all a disclaimer, I beta read this – and I loved it. I am capable of being impartial of course but I may be more exuberant than usual.
So first off the bat I would say that generally I have been disappointed in contemporary romance recently, the paranormal and historical books I’ve been reading have been great, but less so with the contemporaries. Whats I particularly enjoy is when what you think will happen (based on similar type books and you’re own expectations) is subtly changed. And Meridian did that.
For a short book it was both emotional and exciting, and yet you still got a strong sense of characterisation. And for me this was achieved by dealing with a very specific point in time. There was little preamble and no epilogue so all the focus was on what was happening now.
Fra: I thought the writing was elegant and taught and sparse without becoming simplistic and retain a whole lot of evocative power.
I also loved that the book starts and ends in a very tight time frame and without compromising either the plot or the character development. This is a trait of Kirby Crow’s writing I pretty much fell in love with when I read her short stories and that I am looking forward exploring further.
Karen: There were a couple of issues in Meridian which in other books have caused me problems, there is insta love, and there is sexual submission. And for me they were intertwined, alongside the initial reason for Matty going to Grant in the first place. The closeness between the two came about initially because Grant was counselling Matty. Through this process he figured out that Matty was submissive sexually. Then they had to disappear together.
All this created an intense bond between them, which combined with their attraction made the falling in love so quickly very believable.
The submission also worked, now this may be because I am extremely vanilla, and I don’t particularly enjoy books with props and pain, but also because it felt honest and real. These guys weren’t perfect and were actually more attractive for that.
Fra: I loved the writing, the strong characterisation and the narrative ability to tell a complex story in very tight confines – both time line wise and environment wise.
I did have a couple of major issues with my enjoyment of the story though:
First the insta-love: I mean one moment Grant is explaining the morality issues linked to his profession and the next he is “taking liberties” after rescuing Matty – I thought that was slightly unrealistic – but suspension of disbelief and all that.
I am not particularly comfortable with BDSM stories however I must admit that this element did work very well with the two characters as they both gain control over their lives through the shared intimacy and the “scenes” they partake of.
Karen: So the romance worked for me, what about the suspense ? Totally, in Konig KC created a really disturbing villain, amoral and chilling, all the more so when it came to how he ‘loved’ Matty. Given how much manipulation he experienced it was testament to KC’s skill as a writer, that she created a strong and yet vulnerable character.
Fra: The suspense, the thriller aspect of this book is what really did it for me: it was so well done. Konig is the exact image I have of the villain who thinks he is the hero of the story and his presence is malevolent and pervasive.
I found myself drawing parallels to Cape Fear: Kirby Crow builds a world that is contained to the point of becoming claustrophobic, palpable in its oppression.
I agree with Karen re Matty: in fairness with the amount of manipulation he was subjected to one really would have expected much less strength and a whole lot more weakness. The decision he takes to remove himself from the situation was unexpected and therefore made me warm up to him more as a MC.
I also think that KC managed to create two parallel stories in a very short narrative time: Grant and Matty story echoing Grant’s previous experience and offering him a completely different denouement and possibly closure.
Karen: I also loved the latter part of the book, there is a tendency to have all the ends tied up, characters married and about to adopt a baby, but Meridian was a little open ended on a couple of counts.
Fra: Yes! I also appreciated the open ending especially in view of the initial insta love.
Karen: Overall an intense and enjoyable contemporary romance, which as a result of reading made me go out and buy the entire Scarlet and the White Wolf series, as well as Malachite. I love KC’s style of writing and look forward to more books !
Fra: So did I Karen. All in all I think Kirby Crow’s talent in world building and characterisation will take a whole extra dimension in a fantasy setting and I am really looking forward discovering more of her writing.