Page Count: 360
Release Date: 9 April 2013 (paperback)
Publisher: Montlake Romance (Amazon)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Tiffany!)
Special Agent Erik Langston has been tracking Clarissa O'Connell for nearly a year, always one step behind the cyber hacking thief. She's escaped his clutches often and easily.
In the snow-covered switchbacks of the Colorado mountains in a worsening snowstorm, a car crash robs Clarissa of her memory and lands her as Erik's prisoner.
Riding out the storm in a cabin, Erik is forced to protect someone he knows to be a criminal, though O'Connell isn't anything like he'd imagined her to be.
In a race to stay one step ahead of those who'll do anything for what she knows, Clarissa and Erik must dig into her locked memories if they're going to survive. But revelations of her past prove to Clarissa she's everything Erik despises. Can she trust his feelings even when he knows the truth?
Is it really possible to start over with a blank slate?
"You can try to shield yourself from me and pretend there's nothing between us but a survival instinct, but I know all about you, Clarissa O'Connell, and a week ago, I would have arrested you without a second thought. But it's too late now. I've seen the good and the bad, your weaknesses and strengths, and I want you in spite of and because of them ... We've both changed, and there is no changing back."
However, as a romantic thriller, Blank Slate disappoints. As you know, I'm a huge fan of Snow's Kathleen Turner novels and was eager for something along the lines of that series when I picked up this book. There's definitely lots of conflict involving governmental and cyber warfare—plenty of situations where characters are held at gunpoint and dodge both literal and figurative bullets—but I feel this book just didn't crack and sizzle like I expect suspense stories to. Two rather poorly integrated plot twists are shoved into the last few chapters which upsets the weightier, more deep-set pacing and content the previous chapters carry. I guess I should have seen this coming, considering the book was first published as a Kindle serial—meaning it wasn't originally released as a full-length novel, but rather in episodes (a few chapters per episode) as each was written; the suspense aspect just wasn't all that suspenseful for me.
I was glad to see such compelling characters, though; they definitely make up for the lack of excitement in plot. Erik seems too sentimental and rigid at first, but he absolutely made me melt; he's the genteel, chivalrous, loyal hero that's difficult to come by in romance these days. At times, his hardheaded decency makes him a bit foolish (can we say whipped?) but he's so sweet, the kind of guy who's swoon-worthy not for being dangerous and sensual, but rather for standing moral ground and serving the greater good with his sexy FBI status. (However, he's definitely no Kade. Sorry for the shameless Kathleen Turner plug, but if the comparison helps, you should know: I liked Erik, but didn't LOVE him. He isn't dark/brooding/twisted enough to have me ripping my panties off or anything. If you want that kind of hero, you need to read No Turning Back ASAP).
Clarissa is such a likable, hilarious character. She's admirably strong even at her lowest lows, and super freakin' wicked smart. Yet she still has room to be playful and bring out the blushing, crushing schoolboy in Erik... can't go wrong with that. While the memory loss premise is a little shaky—I'm not sure it's neurologically possible to experience a complete brain wipeout while retaining rudimentary memories she still apparently has, such as shooting a gun or picking a lock—the attraction between Clarissa and Erik is a huge elephant in the room, and it's obvious what she feels—and what he discovers is love—is much more than duty's call.
Explores a complicated emotional bond very well // Light, fluffy banter between characters // Erik is a knight in shining armor! // Clarissa is strong and intelligent heroine with a great sense of humor
Not that thrilling // Not substantial in style... reads like a mildly smutified (I just made that a word!) version of White Collar
She watched in silence as Langston added more wood to the fire, stirring it back to life. He disappeared into the bedroom, then reemerged while angrily jerking a T-shirt down over his chest. Clarissa briefly mourned the loss.
I wasn't a huge fan of the irregular pacing of Blank Slate because it prevented the huge climaxes from being all that surprising, but I was impressed with the steady and meaningful unexpected connection that blooms between Clarissa and Erik. The basic story line is linear and predictable, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. The elusiveness of identity and the definition of betrayal are effectively examined in Tiffany Snow's newest single-title romance; it's no Kathleen Turner, but it's still a pretty worthwhile read