Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Into The Crossfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Warning! Unlike many other reviewers I am going to give this book a totally glowing review! That is because (unfortunatley) I seem to be the only reader in the whole universe who appreciates its brilliance. So there.

A relatively short book with big print. All the action and the whole romance takes place over about 3 amazing days. Like. 3 days that changed Sam and Nicole's lives forever. Basically beautiful classy Nicole becomes the target for some chillingly ruthless tangos and uber-protector Sam rescues her. That's the plot.

When I first got the book I was so happy to be reading a Lisa Marie novel again (despite the fact that I hated the last one 'Desperate Drake') that I guess I was just too excited to read the story properly. And basically missed all the detail and subtleties that make, particularly, the romance work.

So 2 weeks after the first read, just as I was typing out another indifferent review I picked it up again...

Despite the story being quite short many pages are used to reinforce the notion that the hero, Sam, a big overwhelming type of guy would never never, under any circumstances harm or coerce a female in any kind of way. So all the info about Sam running some kind of Underground Network for survivors of spousal abuse has a purpose to convince the reader that the heroine, Nicole, never comes under any kind of pressure to sleep with Sam, apart from the call of her raging hormones.

In a way it didn't really matter for me because it was made clear throughout the novel that Sam was getting as much from being with Nicole as she was from being with him. If in the future they go their separate ways that's ok because they both made each other very happy for the time they were together. (I hope they don't break up though.) The reason I say this is because Sam and Nicole have completely different backstories.

Remember Jack from Dangerous Boiler? Well, Sam has some of his characteristics. In that he basically fell for Nicole from the first time he saw her. And engineered his entry and exit from his office to coincide with Nicole going into her office across the hall for the whole month after she rented it. And. He calls her 10/20 times after their one night stand together.(ie discretely obsessive.)

However Nicole is also totally effectively characterised. A reader is left in no doubt that she is capable of off-loading any guy she doesn't like. And having told Sam she has no time for romance in her life she then agrees to a one-night stand for no other reason than strong mutual attraction. Her hesitation at Sam's office door the following day is probably an indication that she would have come round to being with Sam in the future. Even without the cataclysmic events that happened next. Then of course there's the fact that although she was grateful to 'low-life' looking Sam she wouldn't have dreamt of going on a date with him if he hadn't told her he owned the successful security company across the hall from her office...AND had the Mayor of San Diego give him a character reference. (And what a standout scene that was!)

Absolutely without Sam there would be no more Nicole. She is riding a total cockamamie speeding juggernaut to oblivion. Not that she seems aware of it. First. She's about to be shot dead by tangos. Second. She's in danger of being brutalised by real low-lifes living in the rooming house across the street from her. Third. Her father's illness would probably have bankrupted her in the end. Sam rescues her from all three. But just so the average reader doesn't think that beautiful classy privileged Nicole gets off too easy, she gets physically thrown across a room by one of the bad guys. Which I thought was a horrible thing to happen to a romance heroine.

Again. All the bad guys, although somewhat cartoonish in a first read turn out to be very capable and horribly efficient people. Although I knew from the very beginning that everything would be all right I really felt Nicole's terror in the deserted warehouse. Mr Paul Preston had better meet a nasty painful death in the final Protectors novel.

Being me. I just totally loved the richness of the incidental details in the book. The references to Geneva, Lebanon, philosophy professors, Louis XV Philippe Starck consoles (huh?)...and Thuraya satellite cell phones. Thank you for sharing.

There's even an insignificant thread running from the beginning to the end of the book. I missed it on the first read. When Sam first saw Nicole he noticed her bare ring finger and thought that if she was his girl he'd buy her a huge stone to show other guys she was spoken for. In the final chapter, yup, he's the guy that's bought her the egg-sized diamond. This so-called short book even has space for a happy little epilogue.

Presumably Mike and Harry will be getting their own Protectors novels. I struggled on the first read with Sam calling them his 'brothers' when they clearly were not and the three guys didn't even serve together when they enlisted. I think the brotherhood idea is supposed to explain why Mike and Harry are willing to drop everything to help Sam rescue Nicole before she gets shot. Their presence allowed Sam to loose his cool a little without compromising the race to find Nicole. Most writers wouldn't bother with details like that.

There's also just the right amount of technology in the story and just the right amount of weapon use. There's 3 big love scenes and they are par for the course for the author. One of Sam's more unusual idiosyncracies is that he has quite good visualisation skills...along the lines of...what if this or that terrible thing happened to Nicole...Make of that what you will.

Lastly. Nicole can sometimes read as being too helpless. But what else could she do with her father's life at stake? I'm not a big fan of romance heroines being slaves to their parents but in this case the construct worked. Mainly because it was made clear that Nicole had already had a good life of her own and that caring for her father was a time-limited activity seeing how he was terminally ill. And she could think under pressure. It was she who discovered the file with the info about the tango target. Bless.

Of course, now, I keep reading my favorite pages over and over again.

It'll be 2011 before the next Protectors novel comes out. Shame! I absolutely loved this one. Hope you do too.