Under the Gun
I used to read a fair number of Harlequin Intrigues, but lately most of my romantic suspense reading has been of the single title variety. I missed my series reads, so I picked up several recently, including this one by an author I’ve been curious about. While I liked the author’s tone, the timing felt off in the romantic relationship and the characters sometimes frustrated me, rendering Under the Gun something of a mixed bag.
As the story opens, Luke Hathaway is working undercover in some mysterious capacity and finds himself incredulous as he spots Claire Samson on a surveillance monitor. Not only did Claire jilt him two years earlier, but, in more recent history, she is suspected of killing her ex-husband. As soon as Luke spots Claire, he takes off in pursuit. Before the chase is over, he has not only captured Claire, but has also rescued her from an armed assailant.
At this point, I was sure that I was going to love this book. The writing is clear and crisp, tension runs high, and the action-packed chase just flowed. Things move along so smoothly that I couldn’t help getting sucked into the book, wondering what really happened to Claire’s ex, why she’s running, and who exactly is after her – and after Luke now, as well. In addition, one can tell that Luke not only still feels hurt and angry over Claire breaking off their engagement, but that the two definitely still have a strong attraction to one another.
Things continue in this vein for several chapters, but then the wheels start to come off. The first bobble happens shortly after the great chase when Luke takes Claire back to his office. Readers then get to see Luke hacking into an FBI computer and showing off some of the tricks of his trade. As it turns out, he is an agent of sorts, but his office operates outside the government and claims to do things that red tape would not allow government bureaucrats to do. Straining credibility much here?
Having Luke and Claire go from, “You hurt and betrayed me,” to “Hey, where are the condoms?” in a ridiculously short period of time did not help matters. Had the author drawn out the conflict and its resolution more, I probably could have bought into Luke’s secret agent world. However, having two such major items requiring suspension of disbelief jerked me right out of the story. In addition, the second half of the book often felt a little jarring because while the action heats up, the relationship feels like it stalls. Claire just doesn’t work well with Luke and she seems to hinder more than help while the two are in danger, so I grew frustrated. I don’t need all my heroines to kick ass, but Claire dithers, frets, and generally has a knack for making some truly boneheaded choices. As I read, I felt myself muttering, “Don’t do that!” in much the same way that one does while watching a horror movie in which some twit decides it’s a fantastic idea to go tromping off into the serial killer-plagued woods alone at midnight.
Even with these major issues and a few rather minor ones (learning how to correctly spell the place names used in the story would be nice), I did find myself enjoying the author’s voice. The suspense plot’s pace moved at a good clip and, with similar good pacing in the romantic plot, this book would be an easy one for me to recommend. Unfortunately, it just has too many issues for me to grade it higher. However, I like this author’s style and would be curious to try another of her books.
I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.