This action-packed romantic suspense novel definitely fits the “danger” prompt. The hero and heroine are in serious danger almost from the first page, and the action does not let up until the very end. Juno Rushdan has a great sense of pacing, and even if parts of it were hard for me to handle, Hostile Pursuit was quite well done.
Early on we learn one of the key facts that makes the setup of this book work: The hero and heroine have already met. Accountant Lori Carpenter has been in protective custody for a year, and Nick McKenna is one of the US Marshals who has been living at the safe house with her. In the opening scenes, as they discuss Lori’s upcoming move back to the city to testify, the author manages to show both the obvious chemistry between these two as well as the equally obvious maintenance of boundaries. Nick is not a creepster who keeps trying to push the envelope on consent, and I appreciated that.
Things have been tense but relatively quiet for Lori in protective custody, but everything changes when she goes on her approved trip to a store to buy her court clothes. After foiling an assassination attempt, Lori and the marshals run for safety only to find themselves in an ambush. Lori and Nick are the only survivors, and the rest of the book features the two of them trying to both survive and get Lori safely to court as scheduled.
The action in this book does not let up. Just when Lori and Nick reach apparent safety, the author throws another twist into the plot. While the suspense definitely dominates in this book, there is some relationship-building going on, particularly in the lulls between fights, chases and other adventures. Because Nick and Lori have an established rapport and friendship going into this book, the progression to romance feels anything but forced.
With regard to the characters, it’s fair to say that they hide some deep, dark secrets. And I do mean Anne Stuart levels of dark here. Some readers will struggle with the revelations of Nick and Lori’s pasts. If I’m being honest, I’d include myself in that number. As a reader, I had trouble accepting some of what these two had done in their pasts, particularly Nick. However, even as I acknowledged the darkness was something too much for me, I could also see how well Ms. Rushdan had written it.
Speaking of darkness, Ms. Rushdan also creates an intriguing villain in this book. Some of the villains are just bad from the word go, but there are more layers of character given to some in this book. For instance, there is a mastermind who does some horrendous things throughout the novel, but the author puts in enough detail to make this person human rather than simply a two-dimensional monster. Touches like this made the book stand out in my mind.
Because of that, I would say that this novel may not be for everyone. but if you like your romantic suspense to be on the high-action side and morally complex characters are not a dealbreaker, then definitely give Hostile Pursuit a try.