When an earthquake hits Courage Bay, California, fire captain Joe Ripani leads his crew to a collapsed parking garage to rescue survivors. He knows one trapped person all too well. He and veterinarian Lisa Malloy were involved with one another until she wanted to know where their relationship was going. Joe has no interest in any kind of long-term arrangement, so they broke things off. When he learns Lisa is trapped in her car deep inside the parking garage, he enters the structure alone to save her.
After the rescue, Lisa is transported to the hospital. When the doctor examines her, a routine test reveals that she’s pregnant. Naturally, Joe is the father, and he just happens to be eavesdropping outside the room when the doctor delivers the news. Possessing the usual amount of common sense for a romance heroine, Lisa decides she’s not going to tell him. She knows Joe doesn’t want a commitment, but if he does find out about the baby, he’ll insist on being a part of their lives, scaring off all other men so she’ll never find a suitable father for the child. Don’t you just love romance novel logic? Joe has just as much common sense, and decides that he’s not going to say anything about the baby until Lisa gets around to telling him first. Really, why would anyone want to be honest and upfront when they can be coy and evasive?
Lisa and Joe’s plans go about as well as can be expected. When Lisa’s partner at the veterinary clinic learns of her predicament, he offers to marry her. Since he’ll make a better husband and father than Joe, she says yes. Of course, Joe is having none of that, and he informs her that he’s the one she will be marrying.
Despite the characters’ foolish decisions, they’re not unsympathetic. The author does an able job portraying their thoughts and emotions, so they come across like real people. Early on, the story is engaging and moves quickly. But once Joe and Lisa are married, the book becomes increasingly frustrating and annoying.
I should have known that characters who were that determined to keep secrets from each other early on weren’t going to change their ways after they were married. Sure enough, Lisa and Joe continue their stubborn refusal to talk to each other even after they say “I do.” The story settles into a rut with these two people locked in an unhappy marriage where they refuse to talk to each other and communicate why they’re both miserable. They both want very different things from the marriage. Lisa wants love and to feel like Joe really cares about her. Joe wants to get laid. No, really. That’s about as deep as his thought processes go. The only good part about getting married is guaranteed sex, so why on earth can’t he get some? That Joe’s quite the charmer. Chapter after chapter passes with them having one uncomfortable encounter or argument after another – but there’s no real communication. I had the feeling that these two could have been locked in a room for a week together and still managed to not talk to each other. Late in the book the author writes, “Lisa was sick to death of misunderstandings and tension-filled moments.” You and me both, sister.
The seventh book in the Code Red series, Tremors is an easy enough read. But 240 pages of misunderstandings and a lack of communication doesn’t make for a satisfying romance.