Title: Follow Me
Author: Tiffany Snow
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Expected Date of Publication: 4th October, 2016
Page Count: 335pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Brilliant, quirky twenty-three-year-old China Mack is totally satisfied with her carefully ordered, data-driven life. A computer prodigy who landed a coveted programming job at the cutting-edge tech company Cysnet before even graduating from MIT, China is happiest when following her routine: shower before coffee, pizza only on Mondays, bedtime at ten thirty sharp.
But then things start to get a little…unpredictable.
First Jackson Cooper—Cysnet’s rich, gorgeous, genius CEO—assigns China to a dangerous and highly classified project for a government defense contractor. Her sixteen-year-old runaway niece suddenly arrives in town, begging to move in with China. And then there’s her sexy but oddly unsettling new neighbor, Clark…
Quickly the Cysnet assignment becomes disconcerting—and then downright scary—as key staffers turn up dead. China suspects she’s being followed and isn’t sure whom she can trust. For the first time ever, she’ll have to follow her instincts, rather than logic, if she’s going to survive.
Reading this was pure wish fulfillment – it made me so happy. 😀 I started reading in the evening and eventually had to force myself to put it away and go to sleep since it was after 1am in the morning! I was so reluctant to tear myself away, but then I told myself that if I didn’t stop, it’d be over way too soon.
In my opinion, it’s the rare book that equally masters both character and plot. Some I love for their amazing characters, and have to be a little forgiving with certain plot points that might be clunky, or vice versa. But Follow Me was the perfect combination of lovable characters and excellent plot!
Disclaimer: the reason I love China so much is probably equal parts because I relate to her and I want to BE her. I think we all have moments where we wish we too were beautiful prodigies with ridiculously well-paid prestigious jobs. 😉 But China was as far from being the bland vacuous self-insert as possible – usually this type of character is personality-free so that the reader can feel free to project themselves onto that blank cipher, and China’s anything but. I haven’t seen a character so brilliantly and authentically portrayed as a fangirl before (and yes, I am including the eponymous Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell) and I wriggled with glee every time I recognized a reference and identified another common area of interest with China.
It thrilled me that a grown responsible adult who’s contributing to society was also portrayed as a full-blown nerd and it was such a loving celebration of the female geek! I share the same fandom wardrobe, the same hoarding of pop culture merchandise (although my tastes aren’t rich enough to include Iron Man suits, alas!) and the same habit of structuring my evenings around new episodes of my favorite shows. I do acknowledge that those who aren’t part of the fannish culture themselves might find this boring and it could alienate the disinterested readers who aren’t invested in that aspect of her personality, but for me personally, it was perfect. It’s about time we had some representation in romances! I hope this is the start of a new trend. 🙂
Aside from her fangirl nature, another quirk of China’s character is her OCD. I liked how it wasn’t portrayed in the same tired manner as usual, for eg. with the character washing their hands over and over or simply being obsessively neat. Her compulsive traits were expressed through her strict schedule and precisely timed daily rituals, to the point where any deviance from the norm caused her distress. She also has serious difficulties identifying social cues or reading body language and is basically inept at communication with fellow humans (another area in which I totally relate).
It’s wonderful that the author didn’t simply pay lip service to the ‘quirky female Sheldon’ character, but actually followed through with fully embodying these traits and all the pitfalls associated with them. I’ve noticed that authors sometimes assign their protagonist a token flaw to make them ‘realistic’, for eg. clumsiness, which will crop up precisely once so that it can be remarked upon and then never again, but not so here. Being in her head, we see China struggle to understand the dynamics at play in her interactions with others and the strategies she’s adopted to try and cope with unpredictable humans and their inexplicable social rituals (oh goodness, her forced smile/grimace, another tick on the checklist).
Okay, that’s enough gushing about China now, moving on. 😉
Other Important Players
The menfolk were not so shabby themselves! We have Jackson, the dictatorial genius CEO, and Clark, the sweet friendly guy next door. Both of whom are handsome as sin, of course. To be honest, I hit the request button for this ARC as soon as I read the description of the young computer prodigy embroiled in conspiracy shenanigans and missed the fact that there were two attractive men vying for her attention. I’m glad I didn’t catch that because I loathe love triangles and it would’ve been a crying shame to miss out on this if I disregarded it on that basis.
For those of you who also hate love triangles, it is not obnoxious at all here! It isn’t a true love triangle, which in my opinion is where one character is torn between two romantic prospects and agonizes over choosing between them. That was never an issue here as China doesn’t act on her attraction to one character while harboring feelings for another, which is what I find insufferable in love triangles. If you care about two people at the same time, don’t willfully lead one person on!
I feel like deciding which suitor is best for China will be divisive and probably result in readers either cheering for Team Jackson or Team Clark. She has great chemistry with both men, and while I definitely had a preference for one over the other, her relationships with them were well-developed and fun to read. Often you can tell which love interest will be the endgame, but that was up in the air for quite a bit here! (I don’t know if the series will continue to focus on China, but as it’s titled ‘Corrupted Hearts‘ as opposed to being named after her, I hope the sequel focuses on the other romantic prospect finding love for himself)
China’s free time wasn’t entirely taken up with incredibly attractive men – there’s a significant arc with her niece, Mia, who comes to stay for a while. This was one of my few issues with the story – maybe I’m just heartless, but I wouldn’t be so willing to accept a stray family member showing up on my doorstep without warning. I thought it was so rude of her brother to expect China to put Mia up and have to pay for all the expenses without offering any compensation.
It doesn’t matter that China could afford it, the fact is that his daughter has just become someone else’s responsibility and it shouldn’t be on them to pay for the extra food and bills associated with her living there for a whole semester. Then once the conspiracy angle really took off and bodies began to pile up, it seemed unrealistic that China would allow her niece to be put at risk by staying with her when she could’ve all too easily become collateral damage.
Writing & Plot
The writing style is very warm and personable, it’s like chatting with a friend. Normally I prefer third person narratives, but this really won me over to the first person perspective. I snickered at China’s wry observations, for instance when her protective beau insists on answering the door in case the threat to her safety had followed her home:
I couldn’t argue because he was already on his way to the door, not that I was sure I would’ve. If he wanted to be cannon fodder for a possible serial killer, he could be my guest.
I just find this refreshing when so many times, the female character would be gung-ho to prove they’re the equal of any man and shoulder their way into being first in line to the potential danger, even though that’s ridiculously counter-productive.
Speaking of danger, wow, this story is filled with suspense and dramatic twists! I couldn’t predict what was going to happen from one page to the next, it really had me doubting everyone’s motives and whose agenda they were really pushing. As the famous X-files expression goes:
I was in agony watching China put her faith in someone I was pretty sure was bad news, and the mysteries just kept increasing even as the stakes grew higher. The plot was impressively intricate and totally took me by surprise, I was certainly blindsided with a few developments! I really enjoyed China’s sleuthing and her active engagement in resolving the conflict, without suddenly turning into an action hero, just using the wits, determination and intelligence we’ve seen throughout the novel. Overall, this was such a great read and I would totally recommend this to fellow fangirls and those who enjoy romantic suspense!
5 out of 5 kitties approve this book!
Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC free from Montlake Romance via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.