Out of Control
Out of Control is one aptly named book, careening wildly between rampant passionate encounters and unpredictable villainous pursuits, rarely allowing the reader a rest from the intense action. Shannon McKenna writes a forceful yet highly provocative suspense novel like no other. With each of her books, I have held on tight, stomaching squeamish details and raging conflicts just to experience the fascinating fast ride to the end.
Davy McCloud is a private investigator and martial arts instructor. Having assumed the responsibility of his two younger brothers at an early age, he is a serious and resolute man. From the windows of his dojo, he has watched Margo, a new exercise instructor next door, for weeks, thoroughly vexed over the strong attraction he feels for her that borders on obsession. From his observations, he discerns that she is hiding from someone or something and he avoids her, certain she spells trouble.
Margot Vetter has taken on a new identity and is barely holding onto her life by working three jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Eight months earlier she fled her home in terror after being framed for two murders she didn’t commit. Fearing discovery, Margot left behind her comfortable residence, successful business, and longtime friends – now her only companion is a finicky dog. Failing to find the peace she desperately seeks, weird and disgusting things are now happening all around her and she slowly realizes someone is stalking her…or worse.
Learning that the mysterious man next door is a private investigator, Margo approaches Davy for advice regarding the frightening stalker’s actions. Although Davy gruffly rebuffs her request at first, he quickly reassesses her situation and forces his protection on her. But Margot wants none of his hard-line protectiveness – she has too many secrets to keep and adamantly refuses any offer of help. As both possess true antagonistic natures, a fierce push/pull relationship is well established prior to page twenty.
Margot is a hardened, aggressive heroine who needs to be in control, while Davy is the typical McKenna hero – extremely domineering, arrogant, and uncompromising. If I could use only one word to describe the relationship between the leads, it would be “conflict.” For the majority of the book, they argue, throw insults, and sexually intimidate one another. Their strong sexual relationship begins early and is effectively utilized to better understand both of these characters. Their affair is tough, tumultuous, and certainly erotic.
Davy is a brooding, rather angry man, possessing great inner passion even though he exhibits little or no emotion – though goading Davy into showing it appears to be one of Margot’s primary purposes throughout the book. Despite their mutual contrariness, however, each exhibits moments of vulnerability that warmed me to their characters, even as I was drawn to their dramatics. Usually I have a low conflict tolerance, but I found myself appreciating many aspects of their relationship, uncommon as it is for romance. However, Davy’s emotionless nature made him appear more callous and insensitive than other McKenna heroes.
Out of Control works well as a stand-alone read, although it is the third in a series following Behind Closed Doors and Standing in the Shadows. While the leads from both of the previous books appear in this book, Seth from Behind Closed Doors does have more than an obligatory appearance. Davy’s youngest brother, Sean, plays a secondary role and appears to be a likely future hero.
On the downside, the villains are too evil for my taste and I could hardly stand to read, much less appreciate, their creative uses of torture. Equally, since the time frame is short (only a few days transpire from beginning to end), I was uneasy with any use of the word “love” or thoughts of lasting commitment and, therefore, I felt uncertain about their HEA. And, while Davy and Margot are not endearing leads, I don’t believe they were ever meant to be – they are gritty and assertive characters. Still, in the end, when I combined the roller coaster nature of the romance with this author’s definitive erotic/suspense setting, these scenarios all worked for me – not perfectly but successfully. Ultimately, although the shock value I experienced when I first read McKenna has lessened, Out of Control still kept me riveted.