Line of Fire
Harlequin’s new Code Red continuity series – featuring the first responders (police, firefighters, EMTs) of Courage Bay, California – promises excitement, adventure, and romance. While Line of Fire certainly delivers its share of excitement, in the end this book is merely average.
As the story opens, defense attorney Faith Lawton has just learned that her client, a doctor charged with attempted murder, will go free due to some poor handling of the evidence against him. As she prepares to escort her client through the crowds outside the court, she runs into Adam Guthrie, Courage Bay’s chief detective. Adam is understandably upset about the outcome of Faith’s case, but the two are able to have a civil – actually somewhat flirtatious – discussion.
However, as Adam, Faith, and her client exit the courthouse, shots are fired leading Adam to protect Faith from the sniper as people fall around them. When it’s all over, it appears that Faith could be the target of the sniper so Adam decides he will guard her until the shooter can be caught. Naturally, the mutual attraction between the two starts to catch fire in the meantime.
The first half of the book is definitely the stronger portion here. The opening scenes involving the sniper attack and its aftermath are fraught with tension and very well-written. I really felt like I was right there in the courthouse plaza alongside Faith and Adam. Additionally, the romantic tension between Faith and Adam is initially drawn well.
However, as the book progresses, the character development didn’t progress along with it. By the end of the book, Adam still felt like a standard-issue “good and dedicated cop” with few other dimensions to his character. Faith is also somewhat problematic. She is likable and obviously a very dedicated criminal defense attorney. However, her intelligence and dedication are simply explained as the product of a troubled childhood tempered by the love of a rather stereotypical ethnic foster family. I got the feeling that the cliches of a troubled past and charming ethnic family were used as props to avoid the more difficult work of character building.
Since Faith and Adam are both likable, if a tad underdeveloped, it’s fun at first to watch the relationship between them develop. Without giving too much away, I can say that while a lot of the standard-issue ploys to throw them together are present in this book, Leto does a good job of evoking believable chemistry between Faith and Adam. Towards the end, however, the relationship seemed to develop a little more quickly than I would have been comfortable with, but the interaction between them is still not wholly unbelievable.
Unfortunately, the resolution of the suspense plot is not so well-drawn. It all starts off very well and the hunt for the sniper is exciting indeed, but the mystery starts to veer too far off into the realm of the implausible. In addition, there are too many questions that do not get answered. This factor, combined with the rather generic characterizations, made Line of Fire only an average read for me.