Title: Bittersweet Alliance
Author: Kathleen Rowland
Bittersweet Alliance is a story about a woman named Jolene who has just managed to move on
from a relationship when she is thrown back together with her ex-boyfriend for a work
assignment. Both are called to consult on a high stakes FBI case and she has to grapple with
her feelings for him all over again.
This is a complex novel with many subplots, some of which stretch plausibility. For instance,
Jolene, an ex-military-now-tourist helicopter pilot, is brought in as a consultant to the FBI to help
facilitate interactions between the agents and local Hawaiian residents, and because she knows
one of the victims in the case personally. In real life, however, her being acquainted with a
victim would make this scenario even less likely than it already seems.
Another issue with the number of subplots is that Rowland has not woven them together
seamlessly. At times we jump from one narrative thread to the next without clearly
understanding why, and not all the narrative threads come to satisfying resolutions by the end of
the story. An interesting thing that comes out of these subplots, though, is that Rowland ends up
introducing more than one antagonist in this story. With three antagonists, each with their own
motivations, at times the reader’s feelings of uncertainty mirror the main character’s in a very
As the novel unfolds Jolene progresses from investigator to potential target in the case. She
ends up in a safehouse with her ex-boyfriend, Danker. Close quarters speed up the progression
of their relationship considerably. Their relationship is multifaceted. They both share a deep love
for family values, which readers will find endearing. Their relationship is also marked by
interactions that follow surprisingly outdated gender-roles given what a confident, independent
character Jolene is in her interactions with others, which some readers may find objectionable.
The writing style in this book is strong. It is clear and easy to follow. The dialogue is the high
point of the reading experience here; it is sharp, and often funny. The novel is set on the Big
Island of Hawaii, and Rowland includes lots of Hawaiian words and details that make the setting
At times this novel gets quite steamy; it is definitely not appropriate for children. The sex scenes
themselves are well written, evocative, and inventive. They began a bit too early in the novel,
however. They would have had more heat if we had been more invested in the characters
before they got back together.
Bittersweet Alliance is geared toward readers who like high-stakes action and high-stakes
romance with a little bit of old-word charm thrown in. Rowland has fit a lot of story into one
hundred pages so be prepared for a wild ride, because this little novel packs a big punch. This
is a story that will remind you there are still happy endings to be had out there in the world.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Editorial Review written by the Book Review Directory Production Team. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.