Shock Waves is a gripping story of passion and suspense. While it has its flaws, Jenna Mills’s sharply written, sexually charged tale is never less than engrossing.
The story offers a different take on a familiar pairing: the psychic heroine tortured by her visions and the alpha hero skeptical of her claims. Brenna Scott long had dreams foretelling of death and danger. Though her efforts to share what she saw had cost her greatly, her conscience wouldn’t let her stand by without trying to help. When she dreamed that federal prosecutor Ethan Carrington was in danger, she set up a meeting to warn him.
Ethan knew of the danger he faced from Jorak Zhukov, the man who’d targeted the Carringtons. He just didn’t know what part the mysterious blonde played in the situation. He certainly didn’t believe her claims of psychic visions. When both are kidnapped shortly after meeting, Ethan believes she’s a plant, working for Zhukov while playing the innocent to win his confidence.
Zhukov’s men transport them to a palatial estate in Mexico, a place Brenna knows well. It’s the place Ethan dies in her dreams. Suddenly Brenna is caught in the middle of a deadly game she doesn’t understand, where the only person she can trust is one who doesn’t trust her. The passion between them burns hot and fierce. But is it real, or is he playing with her as part of his battle of wills with Zhukov?
Mills tends to write the kind of romantic suspense that is heavier on character interaction than explosions and external action. This is that type of story. The danger is definitely there, a threatening vibe that lingers in the air, from its cool, cunning villain and his henchmen. But there’s a heavier emphasis on the main characters as their relationship unfolds amidst the sinister backdrop. There’s a lot of interaction between them as they test each other and slowly get to know one another. Brenna and Ethan are two haunted people who share a smoldering sexual chemistry. Just as the story is infused with a sense of danger, their interactions are charged with sexual tension. It’s intense and a little dark, especially with Ethan’s doubts toward Brenna. The moment where he realizes she’s not working for Zhukov, like many of the author’s big moments, is nicely played though.
Mills provides a number of dramatic moments and powerful turning points. This is one of those books where the story is pitched at a high enough emotional level to make the relationship feel more believable than the short time span would otherwise allow. While Brenna’s history really isn’t notably different from most other psychic romance heroines, the author invests it with enough emotion that it felt as effective as if I’d never heard it before. I do enjoy her writing. It’s not too often that a romance writer’s use of language strikes me as quite nice, but there are moments when Mills’s did. She knows how to turn a phrase:
This man would never believe her. Never trust her.
Men like him, who needed to see the brilliant colors of a sunrise before they believed in dawn, never did.
Shock Waves is the third of three books about the Carrington family’s struggle against Zhukov. I barely remember the first and didn’t read the second, although neither seemed necessary to understand this one. At the same time, it does feel that the author withholds certain information from the reader that sometimes makes the plot inscrutable. On one level, there’s a reason for that. Ethan refuses to explain anything to Brenna for various reasons through much of the book.; it’s late in the story when he finally does so. But as a result, the reader is left clueless at Zhukov’s motives, why exactly he wants revenge and the meaning behind the highly charged exchanges between him and Ethan. The author offers just enough clues that the reader can sort of deduce what’s happening, but it’s still annoyingly vague at times. There were often moments I wished the character or the author would stop being so coy and spit it out already.
It is also a tad overwritten. There are times when Mills’s narration impedes the flow of the story, where she injects too much exposition or reflects on the characters’ feelings in the middle of dialogue that it slows down conversations. I like Mills’ writing, but there were times it could have stood some tightening.
My grade for this one fluctuated throughout the book, lower to a B- during some of the slower and more frustrating moments, higher to a B+ during the more powerful ones. A straight B seems about right for a book that is generally quite solid overall. It’s an intense read, and a good one.