The theme for October’s TBR challenge was a horror book, which is a real challenge for me, as I’ve not picked up a horror book since V C Andrews nor watched a horror movie after Poltergeist 3 and Omen 3.
Ever since reading Keishon’s guest post at Borders True Romance blog, I had a craving for some mysteries, thrills and spills. So as an alternative to horror, I decided to dedicate October to romantic suspense thrillers, and one of the authors I most wanted to try is Roxanne St. Claire. I was introduced to her when she guest blogged at True Romance, where she talked about her inspiration behind the hero in her latest Bullet Catcher book.
The synopsis of the series hint at an adrenaline-filled roller coaster ride with a melting pot of pulse racing intrigue, heart thumping action, in and out of bed. Boy, did Rocki deliver the goods. Well, since I started with book 4, First You Run , and realized that it’s a linked trilogy, I automatically bought Then You Hide and Now You Die, and enjoyed all three tremendously. Without further ado, here’s my review of the three books:
“I need to find a woman. I don’t know who she is or where she is. And when I find her, chances are I’m going to get her naked, rock her world, and then make her wish I were dead.” Bullet Catcher Adrien Fletcher (Fletch) told his boss, Lucy Sharpe, in First You Run .
With lines like that, how could you resist the rest of the book?
The object of his obsessive hunt is the key to solving a 30-year-old homicide mystery, not to mention a possible life-saver to the dying Eileen Stafford who chose to stay jailed and silent. His only clue to tracking down this sheila: a tiny tattoo found in an undisclosed part of the body. Keeping investigation strictly professional met with a challenge in the form of anthropologist and up-and-coming author Miranda Lang who accepted his protection as body guard for her book tour when her book signing debut erupted into a protest. As her tour turn into a series of sabotages, each increasingly threatening, the electrifying attraction between them is overshadowed by the secrets – of Fletch’s mission and her hidden past.
Saving Miranda from a deadly trap that has been sprung around them, while trying to fulfill his mission will force Fletch to choose between duty and his heart’s desire. Can he indeed have his cake and eat it?
“I’m not in the business of killing people anymore.” Wade Cordell told Lucy Sharpe when the story opens in Then You Hide.
“… Go take a few days in paradise, and find a woman.” Lucy told him, in an attempt to get him to sign on as a full-time Bullet Catcher.
How difficult could it be to track down Vanessa Porter, a highly successful and aggressive asset manager, on vacation in the Caribbean and persuade her to meet her biological mother in South Carolina, right? Except that they rub each other the wrong way when they first met, and Vanessa is not really on a vacation. She is, in fact, desperately seeking her best friend, whom she thinks is in BIG trouble. There was a plot twist at the end of First which leads into this book, Then You Hide. Eileen Stafford didn’t have a baby … she had triplets. The last daughter, Kristen, died in a hit-and-run accident, and since Miranda’s not a bone marrow match for her birth mother, it’s imperative that Wade persuade Vanessa to return home.
After hitting a dead end, Vanessa decided to strike a bargain with a wary Wade: help her find her friend, and she’ll return with him to complete his mission. Wade, who thinks that the potty mouthed, Wall Street-smart high-end tart spells BIG trouble, doesn’t trust her to keep her end of the bargain, but has no choice but to seal the deal with her. While Vanessa got busy turning the Caribbean upside down and attracting lots of unwanted attention, including those who may have ulterior motives in wanting her to locate her friend, Wade got more embroiled in the intrigue of Vanessa’s missing friend. It seems that someone would stop at nothing to silence all involved. Would Vanessa be willing to sacrifice her pride, her life and her future? Even her heart to keep her friend safe?
“I always thought my guardian angel would be a lady,” Eileen told Bullet Catchers owner Lucy Sharpe.
“So when Jack showed up, I didn’t believe in him. But you’re the one I’ve been waiting for. You are.”
The plot thickens in Now You Die. All the clues point to a powerful enemy who would stop at nothing to ensure that Eileen remains imprisoned, and the first person on the suspect list is US Supreme Justice Spessard Higgins, a.k.a Higgie, who is reputedly more popular than the pope, and tipped to be the next candidate for Chief Justice.
Lucy saw through Jack Culver’s manipulation alright, she realized that he’s using her connections and company resources to further the investigation. However, she intends to stay a step ahead, and way out of Jack’s touch. Outraged by the injustice of Eileen’s trial, she only wishes to see the right person convicted of the crime, and Eileen freed. But Jack seems to be out for blood, and his thirst for vengeance threatens to colour his judgement. When the investigation scene moves to the prime suspect’s home grounds in Charleston, and both of them became the killer’s targets, both will be forced to face their shared passionate past. Will they end up risking not just their jobs and hearts, but maybe their lives?
Without giving away the entire story, I had a hunch that the ultimate villain isn’t the obvious suspect, but halfway through the book, Rocki threw in another curve, a subplot which introduced another suspect. It made the suspense all the more nail-biting, and when the story hits an explosive climax, with bombs, betrayals and a revelation of the true villain, that was the high point of this book.
While the first two books had a really good balance of romance, action and suspense, the 3rd book was more of a resolution … of the mystery, of justice, and of the emotional baggage between the protagonists which tripped them up in the past. Together as a bundle, the three books made for compelling page-turning reading, and the likeable characters helped establish this trilogy as keepers on my shelf.
I enjoyed the slow-building chemistry that cackles between Fletch and Miranda and was very much entertained by the “opposites attract” push-and-pull relationship between Wade and Vanessa, who’s adorable even at her most annoying, bitchy self. It was a good thing that Ms St Claire kept hinting at the disrupted passionate episode in Jack’s and Lucy’s past, although one senses that there’re still some unexplored areas in their relationship that were not revealed. It’s one of the reasons I decided to hunt down the Bullet Catchers backlist.
Another character that I would love to read about is Dan Gallagher, Lucy’s right-hand man, who was accidentally shot by Jack in a past mission, a mistake which Lucy used to fire Jack. Particularly when Dan buried the hatchet with Jack in the end and in the epilogue, he seems to be off on a personal project.
As a bundle, the series warrant a 4.0 rating. Individually though, my favourite is First You Run: 4.5
followed by Then You Hide: 4.5
and Now You Die: 4.0.