Trace Elements would not be on my renewal list.

imageKate Donovan’s Trace Elements is a book that I wanted to like, I did. In fact, I put off writing about it, so I could ponder it a bit more. But I have to say even though I was really excited about the premise – an actress who portrays a take-no-prisoners FBI agent being consulted on a case by a real FBI hunk – I was just disappointed in the story.

In many ways it is a fun read, but it’s almost like Donovan took the television concept a little too seriously and instead of focusing on the plot, I found myself midway through the book wanting to flip channels instead of pages. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. It’s not that it’s not well-written. It is. The characters are interesting, though pretty predictable. There are enough lingering unaddressed issues to practically guarantee a sequel or two in the Gower and Saxon franchise. But it was if I had planned to curl up with a chocolate bar and instead found myself with only a spoonful of non-fat unflavored yogurt. This book just didn’t hit the spot for me.

What troubled me the most was the repeated premise that the actress/lawyer/would-be real FBI agent Nikki Gower could appear in a series with a producer and co-star who knew she hadn’t “had any” from the first episode through the 15th (one season) in order to supposedly heighten sexual tension between the actors. Well that just set off the creep factor for me and made me highly doubt her as a character. Sorry, but method acting is one thing, but having people in power have that intimate knowledge and being frightened of repercussions if you do “do it.” Ummm, sexual harassment anyone? Creepy, very creepy. This in fact may be a plot point to set the stage for future sequels, but it just sets bells off that if Nikki were in any way “real” should have had her running not walking from that series, producer, and co-star.

And that was the main problem, I never felt like these were real characters or could be real people. It was as if they were written to be watched on television – at several steps removed from reality.

I’d only recommend this book if you’d like a super light read that you don’t want to take too seriously. I hate to say this as I have really enjoyed reading other Kate Douglas books (Game of Hearts, for one). She’s a really great writer, but somehow just missed the mark, in my opinion, with Trace Elements.

From the Publisher

Trace Elements by Kate Donovan
A Gower and Saxon Book
Beyond the Page Publishing
ISBN 9781937349769
Price $2.99

Special Agent Annika Trace is the hottest thing in law enforcement—at least on TV. Her long legs, designer suits, and hunky sidekick have garnered millions of fans, one of whom—a four-year-old kidnap victim named Linzie—is refusing to talk to the real FBI. In desperation, Special Agent Trace—a.k.a. actress Nikki Gower—is called in to help.

Special Agent Josh Saxon became a hero when he brought Linzie back safely. Now he’s out to catch the kidnappers and doesn’t need some Hollywood caricature of a federal agent interfering in his case. But when Nikki establishes a rapport with the child, Josh admits she might just get him enough information to track down the culprits. And even as Josh and Nikki spar over the best way to get the job done, another rapport is being established—on a much more physical and decidedly more adult level—as Josh discovers firsthand how Nikki makes the airwaves sizzle.

* Bonus Material! This book includes the pilot episode from Nikki Gower’s hit TV show, Trace Elements. The episode is also available at and

About the Author

Kate Donovan spent her childhood in Ohio and Rhode Island, where she wrote mysteries with pen and paper and stashed them under her bed. When her family moved to California, she headed to UC Berkeley, where she met her future husband, Paul, and together they survived college and law school (UC Davis). They’ve been married and practicing law ever since while raising two great kids—a son and a daughter. Kate has had 18 novels and 3 novellas published in genres including fantasy, historical romance, legal thriller, romantic suspense, and young adult science fiction. You can visit Kate’s website at

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