Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Against My Better Judgment tells of freshman Sara Donovan, who has choices to make as her first year of college draws to a close, leaving her to face both finals and new possibilities. She never expected that her impulsive purchase of an Egyptian souvenir funerary mask would add intrigue into her life, but Sara’s increasing certainty that her purchase is authentic and illegal leads her into dangerous territory tempered by unexpected romance.

Sara sees herself as being passionate about life, her discoveries, and her future even as others brand her “stubborn and hardheaded.” This quality serves her well as she pursues the truth despite her sometimes-clumsy, awkward attempts to confront the world.

Her spunky voice and determination provide the grit and sass in a lively story, narrated in the first person to capture the extent of her experiences and determined nature: “I’m thinking hard about making some changes in my life. Fast. Starting with ditching that fricking independent drumbeat of mine and taking up something else – like the glockenspiel. Otherwise, kiss ‘Bama goodbye and say hello to living back home with my parents. And the exciting life of a commuter student.”

Sara is an effective snoop until romance thwarts her. And then there’s her canine companion Mauzzy, who adds further insights into her life on many different levels.

Readers who enjoy mystery, comedy, and romance will relish the special blend created by B.T. Polcari. Sara’s feisty manner and fun view of life keeps her stubborn, yet she also harbors an ability to rethink, recreate, and reformulate her plans of attack. These approaches keep readers on their toes as she consults her family, dog, and friends and revises her game plans accordingly.

Blissfully ignorant of the real devices of being either a spy or a problem-solver, Sara is at her best when confronting the professionals, as in an FBI interview: “I cracked a smile. “Ohhhh, I think she can take care of herself. Pretty sure she owns a very – colorful – past.” Grant cocked his head. “Colorful? How colorful?” “I’m not sure, but she told me her walker was part of her – cover? And last Friday while we drove around talking, she made some crazy maneuvers in her truck. She said she had to ‘take care of some dry cleaning,’ but we never even passed a dry cleaner.” The G-men made eye contact. “She specifically used that term?” Agent Walker asked. “Yup. Dry cleaning. Why?” “In certain circles, the term means eluding or evading surveillance,” he replied. “Certain circles?” I asked.”

Readers who enjoy laugh-out-loud moments and the winning combination of a clumsy but effective amateur investigator who stumbles into unfamiliar territory will find Against My Better Judgment wonderfully entertaining, refreshingly different, and just the ticket for a lively read.

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