I love romantic suspense, though I have to admit to having some secret ops and serial killer fatigue. There are good authors writing both types of stories, but I’ve just read too many. The bioterrorism angle of Deadly Contact caught my eye, though, and I decided to give it a whirl. I’m glad I did because it wound up being a fine adventure.
Scientist Kelly Jarvis and FBI Special Agent James Reynolds have been friends for a while. They meet for drinks, chat about their jobs and life in general, and it’s all fairly simple. Until it isn’t. One night they end up giving into attraction and sleeping together, something that in the normal course of things might lead deeper into a relationship. However, it turns out that Kelly has a secret she keeps from James (and I’ll leave you to discover that one on your own), so instead of exploring things further, she bolts.
For many of us, this would end up being one of those “what could have been” moments, the sort where each might wonder now and again what ever became of the other party. And that’s where the mystery in this book plays an integral part of the story. Kelly’s lab finds itself implicated in a terrorist attack and James shows up to investigate. Kelly’s role in the plot feels realistic, as does James’ need to figure out what is going on in this lab and how much Kelly knows about her supervisor’s activities. Not surprisingly, the investigation puts Kelly and James on the bad guys’ radar and a great chase ensues. Much of the book entails James and Kelly trying to solve the crime and stay safe while at the same time sorting things out between them.
The story is quite action-packed and since the plot involving the lab is somewhat complicated, things take more than a few twists and turns. The suspense does take center stage in the story, but the romance gets plenty of time and given James and Kelly’s history, their ability to pick up their relationship where it left off to an extent makes sense and also helps avoid the dreaded “insta-love” that sometimes creeps into these types of stories.
Even better, the author by and large knows how to handle her pacing. The suspense plot moves along in such a way as to hold the readers attention and Lacombe has a knack for slipping romantic moments in at times where they fit the story and make sense. James is not only a pretty likable hero, he also has sense enough to know that being on the run from the bad guys is not a good moment to be starting up sexytimes – a lesson other romantic suspense leads could stand to learn at times.
Things get a little rushed and the action at the end is of the seriously over-the-top variety, so readers who like a bit more realism in their romantic suspense may roll their eyes a little. Personally, I was so far into the story by that point that I could just go with it. I could have used more insight into the crime itself and less “bad guys chasing the good guys” action but overall the book worked for me. I enjoyed this debut and would definitely try another book by this author.