High Risk is the first in a new series by Vivian Arend about Lifeline, a high-risk search and rescue group in the Canadian Rockies. While the characters spend way more time exercising than I care to read about, the book was compelling enough to make it a quick read.
Becki James has always been an adrenaline junkie, but after a tragic climbing accident which killed her boyfriend and left her with gaps in her memory, she’s been understandably nervous about returning to the cliffs and mountains that she loves. Looking for a change of pace and scenery, she takes a training position at the Search and Rescue school she attended seven years ago, and is reunited with Marcus Landers.
Marcus and Becki knew each other back when she was a student at his brother’s school, and by “knew each other,” I mean they spent 3 days in bed together before amicably parting ways. Things have changed since then, not the least of which is that Marcus lost part of his arm in an accident. He no longer does searches and rescues, but is the captain of an elite S&R team that has gotten a bit cocky after some media attention. He enlists Becki to help train his team and keep them grounded, but Becki might need more help that she lets on. She’s plagued by nightmares, and still haunted by what she doesn’t know about that climb.
Marcus and Becki spend a large portion of this novel having sex. While they do have chemistry, I also got a bit bored. It’s not that the sex was boring — the author took great pains to prevent that from happening by making parts of it quite detailed and inventive — but I didn’t go into this book expecting it, so by the fifth or sixth sex scene I was sort of over it. There were a few things that were supposed to be “sexy” but fell utterly flat with me. Genital piercings, really?
That said, their relationship wasn’t just about sex. There was a strong enough emotional component to make their HEA believable. There’s an interesting power dynamic between them; while Becki tends to be submissive in the bedroom, they also strive to find a balance of control. Marcus sometimes thinks he knows what’s best for her, but she maintains control over herself and makes those boundaries clear. And, for the most part, he respects them. He is a rock for her, and I appreciated how supportive he was while she regained some memories and struggled with her role in the accident.
As the first in a new series, this books lays some groundwork for future novels. I’m fairly certain I know who the next hero and heroine will be, and there are a few other potential pairings in sight. While High Risk wasn’t perfect, I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to read another Adrenaline novel. It just probably won’t be at the top of my list.