The Bombshell line has opened up the series world to a wealth of new story material and subject matter that’s far different than the typical Silhouette release. Kathryn Jensen’s Hot Pursuit is a prime example. The heroine is a NASA scientist dealing with a hijacked satellite. The fresh and unusual storyline that keeps it fairly interesting, though the execution is lacking.
Dr. Kate Foster is the scientist in charge of Project Heat Wave, a NASA experiment studying the potential of using microwave energy as an alternate power source. The project has one satellite in orbit over the earth, which they’re using to test the viability of collecting solar rays and transmitting them back to earth in microwaves. One night, terrorists storm the NASA command center where Kate and her team are working. They demand she enter a series of commands in the system which will transfer control of the satellite to them. To show they mean business, they kill one of her colleagues and shoot another, threatening to finish off the rest. With her back to the wall, Kate does as ordered, but not before entering an extra code that should delay their ability to communicate with the satellite.
In the aftermath, Kate finds herself dealing with criticism from various bureaucrats and Homeland Security officials. They blame her for not handling the situation differently and keeping the satellite entirely out of the terrorists’ hands. One of her critics is security consultant Daniel Rooker. A former Marine colonel and ex-CIA agent, he’s in charge of the mission to regain control of the satellite. With no way of telling how long it will take the terrorists to break Kate’s makeshift code, the government is in a race against time to track them down before they can put the satellite to use in some nefarious purpose. Before long, Kate and Rooker are traveling together, first across the country, then around the globe, trying to figure out what it is the terrorists plan to do with the satellite before it’s too late.
This intriguing premise made for a brisk, easy read that was never boring. From a layperson’s perspective, all the scientific aspects felt authentic. The author believably captures the political maneuvering between the various agencies that comes with this kind of crisis. It flows pretty well, and I had no trouble turning the pages from beginning to end.
Unfortunately, there are a number of weaknesses that detract from the book’s potential. The story is never quite as exciting as it should be. There are lulls in-between the action scenes where the plot slows and the momentum drags. Part of this is due to the nature of the story. There’s a lot of downtime as the characters first wait for and then chase down leads on the terrorists’ computer signal. These sections tend to focus on a lot of discussion or on the uninspiring character interaction. It’s a roller coaster ride with some good peaks, but many more long valleys.
In what seems to be an unfortunate trend in this month’s Bombshells, the love interest is arrogant and rude. Rooker got on my nerves early on and never stopped. Both cocky and childish, he tries to undermine Kate and orders her around. In one instance, Kate’s team provides him with a lead on where the terrorists might be. Even though she’s supposed to accompany him so that she can access their computers, he purposely leaves without her and turns off his phone so he doesn’t have to listen to her complain about it. However, Kate suspected there was something off about the information. Sure enough, it was a false trail and one of her colleagues soon manages to come up with the real location. Of course, she can’t contact Rooker since he doesn’t have his phone on, so she takes off to the real location with military backup. When Rooker finds out what happened, he’s ticked off and says she never should have left without him. Whatever, chump. Late in the book he throws a hissy fit by shouting, “I don’t know why I ever wanted to screw you!” Classy, isn’t he? The attraction between them is only somewhat convincing, and it was difficult to care about their relationship, especially once the terrorists’ devastating plan is revealed.
Kate is a more sympathetic, but also shallow character. Her character development amounts to a sad story from her past that continues to haunt her. As a result, she doesn’t like guns, something she’s forced to overcome over the course of the story. That’s really all the reader learns about her. She’s a hollow character, and her reactions after the terrorist’s scheme came out bothered me. It felt like she only really cared after her own family was put at risk, rather than faceless millions she doesn’t know. The villains, and most of the secondary characters, are one-note. The back cover reveals that a traitor in Kate’s own team may have helped the terrorists, so I guess I can reveal it too. Without going into details about it, I will say I suspected the truth very early on and none of the final revelations came as a surprise. The book also has a very abrupt ending that’s nearly gave me whiplash.
While Hot Pursuit wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, I am glad I got to read it. Personally, I’d rather read an average book that’s different than one that’s simply the same old thing. At the very least, the novelty kept it from becoming boring. If only the execution had risen to the level of the premise, it might have been more than just an interesting read.