Beyond Innocence – Carsen Taite (Bold Strokes Books)




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Buy it direct from Bold Strokes Books

I closed (or “turned” the last Kindle page of) Beyond
last night quite satisfied with the read and anxious to begin my
review. Browsing Facebook the next morning, I came upon a picture of Carsen at
a lesbian fiction festival brandishing a copy of Battle Axe, HER
BRAND-NEW BOOK. Crap, I thought, she has another one out already?
Nevertheless, here it is—despite the fact that Carsen writes more words weekly
than I say in a month, and I’m a book behind.

Cory Lance is a Texas prosecuting attorney who has been
suspended for some questionable tactics and, as penance, has been temporarily
demoted to work a public defender clinic. Enter one Serena Washington, whose
brother is on Death Row for a murder he didn’t commit. Cory, of course, is
assigned to the Washington case, and she and Serena fall for each other—or they
would if they could get out of each other’s way. Can Cory switch career gears
and defend Serena’s brother? Will they get together in spite of the obstacles
they keep throwing in each other’s path?

It’s reasonable to assume they will, but Taite keeps you
guessing with delicious delay until the very last minute. Typical of a real
life lawyer. However, Taite’s time in the courtroom lends Beyond Innocence
a terrific verisimilitude someone not in the profession couldn’t impart. And
damned if she doesn’t make practicing law interesting.

This would be nothing, however, if the story and the
characters were slight but Taite comes up a winner here as well. The plot works
nicely, but it’s the characters that made me keep turning pages—chiefly Cory
and Serena. Cory suffers a comedown both personally and careerwise, and the
lessons she learns from this provide some palpable growth.

Serena is more of a mystery—and more of a frustration. Her
brother Eric follows many of the same paths as their junkie mother, but Serena
was taken from that environment and raised by an adoptive family. Both
experiences have left Serena in emotional denial, rendering her incapable of
personal commitment. The miscommunication between Cory and Serena provides for
some of the most insurmountable obstacles to romance I’ve ever seen. I shook my
Kindle severely—no, you idiot, I shouted, she didn’t mean
that. For Chrissakes, go talk to her!
Now, that’s getting me involved in
the story.

The wear and tear on my electonics notwithstanding, Beyond
was a great read with a very satisfying conclusion, and I can
heartily recommend it. And next week, she’ll have something new out, and I’ll
be two books behind.

Thanks, Carsen, for inspiring me to write faster.

©, 2013, Jerry Wheeler

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