TBR Challenge 2011 – Romantic Suspense

rescueme This month, picking a book for the TBR Challenge wasn’t too difficult for me even if getting a chance to read something that wasn’t a trial brief proved a little more tricky. I figured that if I reached into the TBR of Doom and just grab a book at random, chances are it would be romantic suspense or have some kind of paranormal element to it. Testing out my theory, the first book I pulled ended up being Rescue Me by Christy Reece. As I skimmed the back cover blurb, it sounded like I’d picked up one of the dreaded “special ops” series books. Not that I have anything against hot special ops guys, it’s just that these things are the Regency romps of the romantic suspense world. I’ve read too darn many of them and they keep multiplying like rabbits!

However, just like the Regency romps, there are still creative authors out there who write special ops books worth reading. If Rescue Me was anything to go by, Reece is one of those authors. I’ll freely admit that I wasn’t 100% on board with reading another “damaged heroine meets awesome black ops guy and has an adventure” book and I might have started off muttering things about the TBR Challenge under my breath, but this one stood out. Yes, the heroine is damaged and yes, she is kind of a special snowflake. However, she also manages to be very vulnerable and quite human on occasion. And the hero isn’t as perfect as he looks; that helped as well.

As the book opens, we get a little background on both of the lead characters. Devon Winters is the stereotypical poor little rich girl. Her mother is a truly awful human being who managed to marry a man for money. Fortunately, the man she married is a good man and he has compassion on his stepdaughter. His treatment of Devon and Devon’s hero worship of the man’s godson, Jordan Montgomery, are probably the main things that keep her life from being unrelentingly awful. We meet Devon as a child and then we get to fast forward to Devon at 21. By this point, Jordan is 29 and has spent several years working as a government operative. It’s obvious that this work has taken a lot out of him, but when the now-grown Devon sees him at a ball, she is drawn to him. The two end up spending a night of passion together, which goes horribly awry at the end.

The story then jumps seven more years ahead in time. We learn that Devon disappeared after that terrible night when she was 21, survived horrible trauma, and now she is Eden St. Claire, an operative at Last Chance Rescue(LCR). Eden is both vulnerable and yet a pretty kickass recovery specialist, rescuing women and children who have been kidnapped. LCR sounds a lot like other clandestine organizations in Romancelandia – lots of cool toys, travel to exotic locations, rescuing people from the bad guys while working outside the law a bit. If you read a lot of romantic suspense, you’ve probably heard this stuff before. What makes it special in this case is that the author shows us some real character developement. Eden is not purely an action heroine and even if he starts off a little too good to be true, Jordan shows a rather multifaceted character himself.

Eden and Jordan meet ostensibly because Jordan’s background would make him a natural for the work LCR is doing. In reality, Jordan has approached LCR because he is trying to find Devon. He can’t accept that she simply disappeared seven years ago. Eden’s boss manipulates things so that Eden and Jordan are thrown together. Surprisingly, the two find themselves very attracted to each other even though neither had any intentions of starting a relationship.

Eden and Jordan work together on an international case that uncovers a network of criminals stealing children and selling them around the world. Their story is full of action, and the criminals they work to bring down are truly slimy. Things veer way over the top on occasion, but the author’s style is compelling enough that I found myself lapping it up rather than rolling my eyes. Had I read the book for review, it would get a B+ from me. Having made it through a very challenging series of trials for work and now getting to read a good book has made October end on a good note. I’ll be curious to try the rest of the series. Has anyone else out there read them?

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