Sizzle and Burn
A year or two ago, a professor of mine lectured on the very possibility that is the center of Sizzle and Burn: that a well-placed bomb in the Azores could create a tsunami that would devastate the East Coast of the United States.
This is one example of Mia Austin’s theory regarding ways in which terrorists could manufacture environmental disasters by taking advantage of natural risks and weaknesses. She’s a young recent PhD at the Smithsonian Institution and, with the support of her mentor and colleague, will be giving a presentation on her work at a major global conference. However, her work has caught the eye of terrorists and they need her to provide them with the information to do what her work is warning against.
This is where Ryan Mason comes in. Ten years ago, he and Mia shared a brief but intense affair that ended when they both chose their respective careers over a relationship. While he was just a recent West Point grad then, now he’s on an elite Delta Force team that has been charged with monitoring terrorist activity during the conference and protecting the scientists. Neither he nor Mia holds hard feelings against the other, only regrets, and their reunion is as charged as things were a decade earlier.
The relationship between Ryan and Mia embodies the idea that sometimes the love is there, but the timing is wrong. I was glad that they were so mature and understanding about their break up; each was on the cusp of something important, and had they foregone their potential I think each of them would be worse off for it. They needed the time to mature and pursue their interests. Their reunion was both sweet and passionate, and it was clear that their timing was now.
The suspense plot worked far better than I expected. The back cover summary is a bit misleading; it refers to Mia as a “weapons expert,” which is a loose interpretation of the truth. I found it plausible (with a few minor exceptions) and thought it put an interesting twist on the usual terrorism-suspense fare. The fact that the main characters are minorities also adds a further dimension to their careers and personalities, Mia especially.
I also can’t help but mention that the writing was better than other books I have read recently; there was occasionally a lyrical quality that is rarely seen in romantic suspense. This book was hard to put down, and generally very good. Maybe not DIK-level great, but still fun, exciting, and romantic to read.