Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MONARCH by Michelle Argyle--book review

I met Michelle at a baby shower for a mutual friend a few months ago and instantly hit it off. She writes thrillers, I write thrillers. She’s very savvy in regards to the publishing industry and is fantastic at marketing her work. In a word, Michelle is brilliant. And did I mention that she designed her cover? Oh yeah, baby!

So naturally, when I had the opportunity to read and review her debut novel MONARCH, I was super excited.

Nick’s life as a VIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lillian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long . . .

Monarch is a fast, interesting read. The characters are complex, the plotline compelling and the monarch butterfly symbolism created a great thread to tie everything together.

I’ll admit though that I had trouble getting into this novel. As you know, I write thrillers. I love thrillers and everything about them so when I picked up Monarch expecting the super-duper speed and action of a thriller I’m afraid I was disappointed. I couldn’t pin it down for the longest time. Why couldn’t I get into this book like I had so many thrillers before? Well it took a long time to pin it down but I finally figured it out while listening to an episode of Writing Excuses by the phenomenal Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells and friends about making promises to your readers.

Authors make a promise to a reader by the book blurb, the opening chapter, the title, the cover and multiple things in between the covers that the writer must deliver on or risk disappointing their readers. However the very first promise we make is through our book genre.

Monarch is marketed as a thriller and technically has all the earmarks of a thriller. CIA Agent, guns, life threatening situations, dead bodies. However, the real genre of the novel doesn’t technically exist.

This is a book about relationships, thus when it didn't thrill me like a thriller...well there was my problem. Anyone know the genre name for relationship books? I don't. Don’t say romance because it’s not the same, and there’s way too much angst and fighting in this book to be considered Chiclit.

So we have guy meets girl, girl meets guy. Guy likes girl, girl likes guy. Guy betrays girl, girl betrays guy, like, hate, will we, won’t we, etc. etc. This is what the book is about. The balance of thriller vs. relationship leans way too much on the relationship side for this to be considered a thriller. I understand the need to be able to place it somewhere on a shelf, but will someone please create a relationship genre for these books so they don’t get overlooked or lost in the wrong-ish genre category?

I don’t say any of this in anyway to trash on MONARCH. I love Michelle and appreciate all the work she’s put into making this novel the best it can be . . . Michelle Argyle style. As a relationship book it works very well and does have its share of thrilling moments. However if you’re looking for a thriller and are expecting one, you will be disappointed as a whole. Read it for what it is, rather than what it’s marketed as and I think you will find it quite enjoyable.

I have an advanced reading copy available to one lucky commenter. Yes, it’s the same one I read so it might have some telltale signs of wear since I love to cuddle my books to death . . . erm, so with that little disclaimer, comment anyway, yo.


  1. I had to skim past some of your post because I feared spoilers! I pre-ordered this book from Amazon 3 months ago. After a little detective work just this afternoon, I discovered they never received the order. Figures. I love thrillers but I love "relationship" books (not romance novels) just as much. I think my book falls firmly into the thriller/sci-fi/relationship market.

  2. LOL. No spoilers here, purely personal speculation. I love sci-fi/thriller/relationship too. Thanks for commenting. Leave your email address and if your copy of MONARCH still isn't ordered I'll be rooting for you to win this one. :)

  3. ME ME ME ME! You have definitely peaked my interest in this book and I'd love to win your pre-cuddled copy. You know where to find me if I'm the lucky one! :) Thanks for the honest appraisal, by the way. Much appreciated by anyone who will read I'm sure.

  4. As an author myself, I don't care for genre, I care for stories. May I ask what you thought about the story?

  5. Me! I can't wait to read all of Michelle's books! :)

  6. email addy: Just in case.

  7. Add me to to the draw, if I'm not too late.

  8. I would love to read this book!

  9. Excited for this one.


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