Into the Crossfire
It’s rare that I start a book with rolling my eyes and finish wondering when the sequel is coming out, but that is exactly what happened here. It wasn’t so much that the prose got better but that I was able to overlook some of the writing elements that had initially annoyed me to really, really enjoy the tale as the story got going. In this case, having to finish the book because I was reviewing it resulted in my finding a new series to add to my TBR pile.
Ever feel like you are on the bottom of the roller coaster that is life? That is certainly true for Nicole Pearce. Just two years ago, she had a high paying job, a beautiful apartment, all the designer clothes she could want, and men falling at her feet. Now she is stuck in a house in a questionable neighborhood, with a father whose illness eats up more money in a day than she makes in a week and a startup business that could be finished off by the slumping economy. And today may be the day the death knell sounds. She has lost the keys to her office with an important client calling in just moments.
Enter Sam Reston, owner of the office across the hall. He’s been eyeing Nicole since she first moved into the building but hasn’t dared approach her. Being a PI means working some pretty funky jobs and his latest scruffy bad boy look wouldn’t exactly make a favorable impression on his classy new neighbor. But with the job successfully behind him, her damsel in distress routine is just what he needs to break the ice – and introduce her to the reputable side of him. Picking her lock is a piece of cake for a former SEAL. Getting her to agree to a date is the sloppy, sweet icing on it.
But as things heat up between them it is clear that this beauty has bigger problems than a lost key. Bad enough to have her family and financial problems. Now mysterious men are gunning for her, people are breaking into her office with murder on their minds, and it looks like she can thoroughly expect to end up on the wrong end of a terrorist plot. Most men would run screaming from all this trouble. But Sam is determined to show her he’s a heck of a lot stronger than most men.
What gave me trouble initially was the incessant lust thought (from Sam) and the mention of the fact that he was a SEAL what felt like every other paragraph, which I’m sure was much more like every other page. Unless a reader has amnesia, I’m not sure exactly why it would need to be mentioned that often or be used to explain every darn thing he did. Add to that the fact that Nicole was one of those self-sacrificing daddy’s girls and I was certain I was headed for hell on a neatly typewritten page. But Sam and Nicole turned out to be more than just clichés. Nicole is smart, talented, and – in spite of all the trouble in her life – fun. She is confident and unapologetic about her sexuality. Sam stays more firmly in romance-land familiar territory with the expected friends who are closer than brothers – whom he in fact calls brothers – the hard childhood etc. but he makes a really good match for Nicole. She needs someone strong, not just to save her from the problems the terrorists have begun but to help her handle her rather tough life. But Nicole is no wilting flower, just waiting for a hero to save her. She can stand on her own feet and does show us that throughout the book. I really liked that – sometimes it can be hard for an author to get that balance between a completely dependent heroine and one who is better with the hero but not helpless without him. and Ms. Rice certainly accomplished that here.
Their romance is hot and sexy, with them moving rapidly in this area. If first date sex offends you, this one might not be the novel for you. I thought it was well handled, though, with Nicole being firmly aware of what she was doing and why and Sam making the decision emotionally as well as physically in terms of taking it to the next level with Nicole.
The suspense plot is nothing new but it is used to further the story along, not overrun it. How Nicole got involved and why made sense and I felt it was deftly handled.
Well, as you can see, the book certainly overcame its shaky start for me and I would recommend it for any fan of military/suspense romance. I am already looking forward to book two in this series.