Allison Brennan’s newest is a romantic suspense with the emphasis strongly on the suspense. While I found the hero and heroine to be interesting, I was left wanting more romance and less graphic violence. <a href="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Click&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” target=”_blank”> <img src="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Get&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” width=”150″ height=”200″ border=”0″ alt=””>
When Sonia Knight was 13 her father sold her to men who raped and murdered another young girl in front of her and threatened to do the same to her. Fortunately, she killed the man and was rescued.
Skip ahead a number of years, and Sonia is a senior agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, focusing on human trafficking. She has chased a criminal involved in a major human trafficking ring for two years, when the FBI blows her stakeout. To her disgust, the Bureau doesn’t seem to care about the human trafficking and is after her criminal for money laundering and racketeering. Most of her disgust is focused on the lead FBI agent.
Dean Hooper has risen rapidly through the Bureau, and is currently an Assistant Director. He seems to have it all; he’s brilliant, successful, and gorgeous. Sonia and Dean agree to work together to gain more evidence, although neither completely trusts the other. For a good part of the book, the two only have professional dealings with each other and I found this to be more realistic than a quick hop into bed. They get to know and respect each other professionally before anything happens between them. However, after awhile, I really wanted them to get on with the romance.
I found Sonia and Dean to be interesting, but would have preferred more focus on them and less time spent on villain POVs. We know far less about Dean than Sonia, but I did find it interesting that Dean likes the grunt work more than leadership, and went to college to be a CPA. I also appreciated that Dean and Sonia aren’t involved in lots of feats of daring do, but with the mental part of the investigation. While they’re both gorgeous, that isn’t the focus of their relationship. It’s really more on their minds and abilities.
The problems of human trafficking are described very clearly and vividly. And, while this is a nice change from terrorists (or Navy Seals), it was just too graphic for me. There are some brutal murders and torture scenes described in the book. If not reading for review, I would have skimmed and skipped a lot of the villain POVs to get to the romance.
This was a tough book for me to grade. I finished reading it two weeks ago, but have spent the intervening days trying to decide on a grade. It’s well outside my comfort zone in terms of graphic violence. While I was reading it, I had nightmares one evening, and couldn’t get to sleep another night – not because it’s poorly written, but because the images were so vivid, that I couldn’t put them out of my mind. And some of these images are very unpleasant. The author definitely sucked me into the story, and had me thinking about human trafficking at many different times of the day. Readers who are less squeamish, and who don’t mind a strong emphasis on suspense, may like this more than I did. I don’t think I will soon forget Fatal Secrets, but it was ultimately too weak on the romance side for me to give it a higher grade.