Bittersweet Alliance (Donahue Cousins #3)


Seven years ago helicopter pilot Jolene Kualoha walked away from private investigator Danker Donahue for honorable reasons, even though she broke both of their hearts. Now, someone is targeting wealthy indigenous Hawaiians as victims of robbery, kidnapping, and torturous death. This author creates a strong sense of insiders versus outsiders in Hawaii based on ethnic origin and social class. Hawaiian culture and customs are also smoothly woven throughout the story. 

The main idea of having Jolene and Danker forced back together in order to investigate a series of disturbing crimes that seem to be motivated by ethnic hatred is dark and edgy, and feels relevant. It is the odd swings in tone from serious to comic between the investigation and Jolene and Danker’s second-chance love story that makes “Bittersweet Alliance” read like a mismatched blend of two different stories roughly mashed together. Add Jolene’s careless attitude toward her own safety when it becomes clear that she is in danger, and her outdated thoughts about being single, as other elements that stick out as odd in a storyline with abrupt transitions and a choppy narrative style. 

On page 101, when Jolene says, “I’m thinking of girl food rather than guy food,” it is an example of an assortment of gender-based comments that read as inconsistent with a woman of Jolene’s age and profession. A running thread about broader expectations for the quality of life for differently abled children resonates with present-day authenticity. Overall, “Bittersweet Alliance” is a good read that could have been great. Fans of intense women-in-jeopardy excitement will enjoy it. 

Cardyn Brooks