Release Day Review: What the Carpenter Saw by Vicki Reese

Wounded warrior Jake Cramer returned from the Middle East missing part of one leg and with a partially paralyzed left arm. He feels useless in his family’s construction business, but carpentry is all he knows. He needs to relearn how to work and how to live. He can’t even consider finding a man to love. Who would want him this way?

Alex Ford is a top-of-the-line architect who’s tired of big cities and wants to settle down, maybe run a small inn. The mansion he inherited from his grandparents might be the ticket to his dream, but it needs a lot of work. When he meets the handsome builder, he knows he’s made the right decision. He just needs to convince Jake that his scars don’t matter. Unfortunately Alex’s greedy family has other ideas, and they’re determined to ruin Alex’s plans and take the inheritance for themselves—even if they have to kill to do it.

If you like Lifetime movies, this book will be for you.

Unfortunately I do not.

The story of Alex and Jake just skimmed the surface of every plot point so everything got wrapped up quickly and cleanly, but there was no true conflict, no meat to dig into and make the characters relatable. It’s hard to connect with one dimensional MC’s and I was bummed because I wanted to connect with these guys.

The set up was gold. A wounded veteran, Jake, is back home and working his way back into civilian life, his family’s construction company bids on a remodel of a historic mansion which happens to be owned by a world renowned architect, Alex. There’s attraction, because, of course there is, but Jake doesn’t think he could ever be worthy of someone like Alex and Alex is longing for a quiet life with someone who loves him for himself. And THAT is where the focus should have stayed. While the idea is not overly original, it’s one that many readers love. Character depth would have been enough to carry this story as is.

But, there was a murder mystery and a LOT of family time thrown in there that detracted from the Alex and Jake time that I wanted. The two actually spent little alone time together so I never got a real feel for them as individuals much less as a couple.

The murder mystery was unnecessary and the evil villain/s were textbook. I don’t want a textbook villain, I want someone with motives more than money, if a book is going to have a bad guy I want one with issues, I want a bit of a character study, I want to feel some empathy and then feel icky for feeling it. With this one I got some money hungry, jealous caricatures and little else but a distraction from Alex and Jake.

The family involvement wasn’t just present it was excessive. I think I knew more about Alex’s sister than I did about Jake. The conversations between Alex, his sister and Jake’s family were so familiar, so fast that it read false. No one makes that many confessions and observations at a first get together or a second or even a third. And then there were so many dialogues that ended with one character making a crack and “everyone laughed” it felt like I was reading a laugh track that wasn’t necessarily funny, just forced.

What was really good was the writing overall. It read easily, it flowed well and it wrapped up all the random strings that were presented throughout the story. For that reason alone I’d read another book by this author. I’m hoping with some additional stories there will be more of a unique voice to the writing and the characters.

For more info on What the Carpenter Saw, visit Dreamspinner Press

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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