Debbie Valley has an unusual affliction. She can no longer recognize human faces due a head injury she sustained in an automobile accident a few years earlier. Since the accident she has taken up photography as a therapeutic way of dealing with her condition. In addition to specializing in nudes, she is often called upon by the local police department to photograph crime scenes.
One night, she is called to the scene of a murder. The victim is unidentifiable except for an unusual clown tattoo on this thigh which seems curiously familiar to Debbie. Also working the crime scene is Detective Marshall Scott. He was instrumental in getting Debbie the job with the department, partly due to guilt over his involvement in the accident which left her impaired. The two have secretly lusted after each other for years, but not wanting to take advantage of Debbie, Marshall has resisted getting involved with her until now. When Debbie thinks that her photographs may contain a clue to the dead man's identity, she and Marshall begin working in close proximity to solve the perplexing murder case. Almost instantly, the years of lust explode into a sexual torrent, but Debbie must come to terms with her condition and discover the answer to whether she truly can love someone in spite of it.
In my opinion, this novella had a lot of potential that it just didn't quite live up to. I thought the premise of the story was a fascinating one, that of a woman who had lost the ability to recognize faces due to a head injury. I like it when an author can teach me about something I didn't already know or expand on my previous knowledge of a particular subject, and I find things of a medical nature to be especially interesting. While the author did give an overview of what this condition entailed, she never once called it by it's actual name, Prosopagnosia aka Face Blindness. She also did not fully express in any depth what it was like for the heroine to live with this affliction, which I felt would have created a much more compelling story. Instead the author opted to tell the reader more about the heroine's photography endeavors and sexual conquests than about her life and feelings. The cover blurb also implies that the heroine's special condition somehow plays a pivotal role in the criminal investigation, but I never quite saw how that was the case.
The Nekkid Truth reminded me in some ways of old black & white detective movies. It is written in first person with a rather dry, "just the facts ma'am" type of presentation. I felt like I was being told the story rather than experiencing it. This writing style made it very difficult to get a good grasp on any of the characters, particularly the hero about whom readers are only given tidbits of information, most of which doesn't come out until toward the end. I am not opposed to the first person perspective, but I think it can be very challenging for an author using this writing style to convey the feelings and emotions of other characters in the story unless they are very deft at their craft.
The love scenes showed some creativity and with a little more tenderness and less matter-of-fact attitude, could have been truly romantic and steamy, but without the incorporation of emotions, came off as being little more than a string of sexual encounters that lacked any real spark and to me felt very crude. I'm afraid that certain aspects of the heroine's photography, as well as a rather hedonistic attitude from her and other characters, only lent to this atmosphere. I also found my eyebrows shooting up at a couple of unrealistic descriptions of the size of the male anatomy (not the hero's) which simply added more fuel to the fire.
As far as the heroine's work, I have no issue with nude art and in fact have found many pieces to be quite beautiful, so I had no real problem with her specializing in nude photography. What did bother me however, was her penchant for wallpapering her studio with nude photos and even more so, her seeming obsession with taking photographs of that certain part of the male anatomy and then meticulously filing them away. Apparently, this all had something to do with her face blindness, and at one point she tried to explain this all to the hero, but it still just never made much sense to me. In general, there simply wasn't enough depth of emotion to be found in this story to really draw me into the characters lives and make me truly care about them or believe in their love for each other and a lasting happily-ever-after ending.
Though not incredibly compelling, I thought Ms. Camden did do well with the mystery element. This part of the narrative was fed to the reader bit by bit, so that the solution to the puzzle was not really discernible until the reveal. Although there was room for improvement in this area as well, I did find it to be interesting. In my opinion, she also did a good job with keeping the plot tight and the story moving along at a steady pace.
The Nekkid Truth was the only novella in the Big Guns Out of Uniform anthology in which it is found that featured a hero and heroine who had know each other for a while before becoming intimately involved which was an aspect of the story I could appreciate, but again, with the lack of emotion, I still found the other two novellas to be much more compelling and believable. Usually anthologies group together stories with similar themes and styles, and while the cop hero theme was there, the writing style of The Nekkid Truth was very different from the other two, making it seem somewhat out of place in this grouping. This appears to be Ms. Camden's first and only published work, so I am willing to allow that with some sharpening of her writing skills and/or perhaps a switch to a mystery or edgy chic-lit genre, she could have potential.
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