Review & Author Interview for Obsession

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Obsession by Sharon Buchbinder

book cover

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Page Count: 288

Word Count: 71392

ISBN : 978-1-61217-867-7

 Book Description

A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive.

She’s finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney.

But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent’s worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the “Chosen One.”Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help.

Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord’s right-hand man.

Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover–and falling in love with her.

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Book Review

Obsession is a perfect name for this romantic suspense with a touch of the paranormal because it reflects character motivations, drives the plot, and emphasizes the overall theme of how our own obsessions have the power to stain our souls and destroy the lives of others.

There are numerous literary aspects of this book that I found enjoyable and well-executed. I chose to read this book because of its unique storyline that integrates the corruption of religious cults and drug cartels in the overall quest of one woman to rescue her kidnapped son.  Throughout the book, Buchbinder describes how a position of leadership can lead to manipulation and disregard for others.  She gives a glimpse of cult mentality that blends in nicely with the plot. She also provides a look at the overall greed and selfishness of a fictitious Mexican drug cartel’s desire for power and dominance. Here, the cult leader and drug lord both use human trafficking for their own gain. Buchbinder also provides a list of sources for her research in case readers want to learn more, which is helpful.

I love and admire Angie Edmonds, the heroine of the story. She grew up with a delusional father who leads a religious cult that gives him the freedom to abuse her and other members as well. However, when she is introduced after the prologue, we see a strong, confident, and resourceful woman who is determined to find her son, Jake . Her father has escaped prison and taken Jake because he thinks Jake is “the chosen one” with the power to heal others. I like that Angie isn’t a passive protagonist who plays the role of a victim and sits back to let others take over a rescue attempt.

Angie has experienced devastating abuse and trauma that may have broken others.  Even though she isn’t perfect and she’s made some mistakes, Angie has been emotionally strong enough to break away from the constraints and abuse forced upon her by her parents and, she has overcome her drug addiction to become a successful defense attorney.

By getting her backstory which is described over the course of the novel, I was able to understand her fears of having her son in the hands of a madman. When she sees the futile efforts of the FBI to rescue Jake who is being held in Mexico, she takes the initiative in forming a plan for rescue no matter what it takes, even working with a ruthless drug lord in her quest.

After being betrayed by parents who are supposed to love and protect her, Angie has learned to rely only on herself and she’s taken defensive steps to ensure her safety. She has been trained in martial arts and knows how use a gun when necessary. Now she is forced to put her skills to use as she becomes immersed in a world where trust and loyalty are constantly in question.  Her success depends upon whether she can learn to put her faith in others. Having Alejandro at her side and guidance from an angel give her the support she needs.

Overall, Buchbinder has created a well-rounded three dimensional character whose personality and actions are realistic. Angie doesn’t always make the best decisions and this creates more complications and reveals her strengths and vulnerabilities .  However, I did find it hard to believe she has 3 NDEs  in such a short amount of time.

Alejandro is the hero of this story, and I the author’s physical representation of him in the book trailer is exactly how I pictured him. Alejandro is working undercover for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATFE) to expose the illegal activities of drug lord Isabel Rameriz.  Yet, Alenjandro also has a personal interest in this job as well and getting revenge is one of his goals. I wish there was more development with his character so I could get the full story behind his emotional wounds.

I can see why Angie and Alejandro are drawn to each other. Both are in emotional pain and seek revenge against the ones who hurt them. Their obsessions play a major role in driving the plot.  Both characters have to come to terms with their pasts before they can have a real relationship.  Although I didn’t pick up a sizzling passion between them, their growing affection and love for each other is definitely shown.

There are several antagonists in the book who use people for their own benefit and are motivated by greed and power.  Angie’s parents Zeke and Miriam are two clear antagonists. They are two-dimensional characters without virtue who elicit no sympathy from me.  Also, I found a few instances in the book where their actions seemed exaggerated and unrealistic. Although I get an idea of why Miriam blindly follows her husband, I needed more details to help me understand Zeke’s behavior.  In contrast, several other characters’ have questionable motives, and this kept my interest in what happens next.

This story is full of action and suspense right from the start, but there are a couple of events that seem a bit too convenient and contrived to unify the story, and I was also disappointed with the easy resolution of Alejandro’s conflict in seeking revenge.  The last part of the book seems rushed, but I was glad an epilogue is included that provides resolution and lets readers know about the future direction of other significant characters. The conclusion is too abrupt for my satisfaction; I still wanted to know more about Jake’s abilities and what the future holds for him.  Yet, I’m sure others may believe the conclusion wraps up the story very well.

I obtained a copy of this book earlier this year when it was free on Amazon.

Rating

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About the Author

sharon-buchbinderI’ve been writing fiction since I was in high school and have the rejection slips to prove it.

After I graduated with a BA in Psychology and no job, I realized my dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over my head.

Fast forward a few decades, and I had a career path that would make all but the kindest say, “What were you thinking?” After working in health care delivery for years, I became a researcher, then an academic. I had it all– a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning me to “come on back” to writing fiction. I spent one whole month away doing nothing but writing fiction, the first of many drafts of my first novel.

My genres include horror, mystery, romance and weird blends of the three. For a sampling of my work (fiction and nonfiction), click on “Stories and Links“.

When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh, I can be found herding cats and dogs, golfing, deep sea fishing, or writing.

Author Links

http://sharonbuchbinder.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sharon.buchbinder.romanceauthor

https://twitter.com/sbuchbinder

Interview with Sharon Buchbinder

I appreciate Sharon taking the time to share more about her writing experiences with us and help us get to know her better.

What made you initially want to write?

I have always been a story-teller. As a child, I got into a lot of trouble for “making things up.” Now, I get rewarded for making things up. I love being able create heroes and heroines that people can relate to–even crazy cat ladies, as I did with CATASTROPHE, my first publication with The Wild Rose Press (WRP). I’ve been writing fiction since I was in middle school and have the rejection slips to prove it. In high school, I even submitted a script to “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” on yellow-lined paper in pencil. Not surprisingly, that was rejected, too.

What was your inspiration for writing Obsession?

I’m one of these people who reads the crime blotters, like some others read the obituaries. When I saw an article on human trafficking, which was literally in my back yard, I realized modern day slavery was not just in third world countries. I became obsessed, if you will, with the topic and discovered that it wasn’t just cartels and crime bosses that were involved in human trafficking, but also so-called religious organizations and cults. Then I had a crazy idea, sort of like F. Paul Wilson’s Nazi’s versus vampires out of the box thinking when he wrote The Keep. How about drug cartels versus cults? Which is worse: someone who tells you he is in the crime business, or someone who claims his or her evil actions are in the name of God?

Which character in Obsession is your favorite?

Don’t tell my husband, but I confess. It is Alejandro Torres, the hero. Not just because he is hot (oo-la-la!), but because he is a compassionate and caring person. Working as an undercover agent, Alejandro is on a secret mission to bring down a drug cartel. What his handler doesn’t know is he’s also out to avenge the death of his nephew and the maiming of his brother, a surgeon who lost his hands because he refused to work as a cartel physician. His Achilles heel is women who have been victimized, especially those with little kids. So, when he is forced to work with Angie Edmonds, the heroine of the story, to rescue her one-year-old son from the clutches of a cult leader, he loses his heart and struggles to keep his cover under wraps.

What have been the most enjoyable and challenging experiences for you in writing this book?

The most enjoyable experience has been reader response. I have written two other full length novels and seven short stories and novellas. None have received the kind of overwhelmingly positive response that Obsession has received. Part of it is because my writing has grown stronger over the years. The other part, I think, is that readers resonate with the theme of a mother who will fight all odds to get her kid back.

The most challenging experience has been getting the setting right. I have been to Mexico one time, many years ago before all the drug violence. I spent a lot of time researching the country and the people, especially the Sierra Madre, Copper Canyon and the Tarahumarans (Rarimari) indigenous people. When you read the Acknowledgements in Obsession, you will find four pages of non-fiction resources that I drew on for this book. Fortunately, I love research, so the two years I spent researching material for the book was also enjoyable.

What scene was the most difficult to write?

There were several, but the Prologue was probably the hardest scene for me to write. In the Prologue, Angie Edmonds, the heroine, is in childbirth and her mother is the midwife. At their home. With no medical back up. And Angie is essentially nothing but the vessel to carry and deliver the infant into the hands of her father, a cult leader who believes the child is the Chosen One. I had a Near Death Experience (NDE) at the age of fifteen when I was electrocuted, so many of the emotions I felt with the NDE were revisited in writing this scene. I also had to inject a feeling of hope in desperate circumstances, otherwise who would read the book? It was a difficult scene that I rewrote about a hundred times with a lot of feedback from other NDE experiencers and from my critique partners. I was exhausted by the time I was happy with it.

Is there a specific message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

Be your own hero.

You are the heroine (or hero) of you own life. No matter what life throws at you, you must remember that you are loved, lovable, and worthy. Keep that in mind always. Angie has demons. She is a recovering alcoholic and addict, her parents are con men and cult leaders, and her baby is stolen. She perseveres. We, too, must persevere. My childhood was not a good one. I experienced significant physical, emotional, and psychological neglect and abuse. I was beaten, starved, and every day of my life my mother told me I was unwanted. Had it not been for my deaf grandmother’s unconditional love, I would have been crushed by my mother’s hatred. Instead, I drew on that well of love and “damn stubborn streak” (my mother’s words) to work hard at school, get out of my mother’s house, and create a happier life.

What authors have had a significant influence on your writing?

I’m an omnivore when it comes to books. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and everything by Heinlein and Bradbury–then I fell in love with King and Koontz. And, then Katherine Neville blew me out of the water with The Eight. I’ve read that book about eight times. Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth is one book I’d take with me on a desert island. I read John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire on a Chicago city bus, and laughed out loud so hard, the entire bus was staring at me. Oh, and how could I forget Caleb Carr and the Alienist or Angel of Darkness? And Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum books. And Nora Roberts and JD Robb and Heather Graham and Linda Howard and Nalini Singh and Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krantz…and I should stop now.

What do you like to read when you are not writing?

I do a lot of beta reads for my friends and give them feedback on manuscripts. I’m very selective about whose work I will review. I don’t do this for everyone because I would never get my own books written. I also read a lot of non-fiction for my book research. I also have three best-selling textbooks in health care management, so keeping up with the field keeps me busy. When I’m on a plane, I like to always have my e-reader and a print book in hand. The e-reader is filled with romance, mystery, paranormal, and horror stories. I can read a book in about two hours if I’m not interrupted, or if I’m not reading it for edits. If I run out of books to read on a plane, it is very frustrating.

What are your current or future writing projects?

I’m about one-third (39,000 words) of the way through a historical fantasy. Structured like Katherine Neville’s The Eight, where the reader goes back and forth between biblical and contemporary times, my work-in-progress, Kiss of the Virgin Queen, takes place in the spaces between history, religion, and the paranormal.  Kiss of the Virgin Queen explores that space and the effects of the epic romance between King Solomon and Queen Makeda that continue to ripple down the centuries to their descendant, Homeland Security Special Agent Eliana Solomon, aka the Jinni (Genie) Hunter.

Thank you for taking time to answer the questions for this interview!

Thank you for having me as a guest!

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