The northern hemisphere may have fallen into autumn, but these romantic suspense’s are on point to keep temperatures and tensions high. If you’re like me, these thrilling stories are the catharsis I need to get me through the first few weeks of school, and settling back into the regular rhythm of life.
I can’t believe Louise Dawn has slipped through my sites, because I loved Jade in the Snow. And even though it’s the fourth book in her Mobile Intelligence Team (MIT) series, I didn’t feel lost. This book is both exhilarating and heart-breaking, because Derek “Slater” Banez and Kathleen Quinn started out as a great couple. Then Slater’s PTSD drove them apart and a serial killer set his sights on Kat. These are two immensely likeable characters, richly developed with strong, emotional depth and a realness to them. Dawn does a great job of creating a setting where life happened to Slater and Kat, separating them, before the action and danger of the suspense takes hold. Great twists, steamy romance, and compelling plot.
I’ve been enjoying both of Layla Reyne’s Fog City books, even though she leaves us with a killer cliffhanger … again … in King Slayer. All the best ingredients for a sexy suspense are there: vengeance, chemistry and risk. The stakes are even higher in this second installment, because assassin Hawes Madigan is now the king of his organization, having taken the reigns in Prince of Killers, and Fed Chris Perri’s cover as Dante is blown. The two were never meant to fall for each other, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Hawes is like an assassin with scruples, but it’s clear not everybody in his org is interested the changes he’s trying to make. And while Chris is single-minded in figuring out who killed his partner, his undercover work as a P.I. works to keep the two men in close proximity. It’s his information that will unmask the king slayer, who is likely also his partner’s killer, which means that this symbiotic relationship must endure. On the one hand, it’s an opposites-attract kind of story, you know, between an assassin and Fed. But on the other, it’s a magnifying glass clarifying that deep inside where their true selves are, Hawes and Chris are more alike than they are willing to admit.
Julie Rowe always bolsters my faith in science and ethics. Her latest Outbreak Task Force novel, Search and Destroy, is as thrilling as always and focuses on the Outbreak Task Force’s director, Dr. Carmen Rodriguez. Carmen is authentic, capable, and smart. Paired with her is Homeland Security liaison John Dozer, who fell hard for her nearly a decade ago when she was an aid worker in Afghanistan and he was a soldier, and they a night to remember. I think the thing that makes Rowe’s outbreak suspenses so thrilling is the very plausibility of them. For years I worked in the HIV field and closely with the State Director of Infectious Diseases in NC, and what makes the reality of real life and books like Search and Destroy is not the fiction of Walking Dead zombies walking down the street, but a weaponized measles outbreak that can take out entire towns. Julie Rowe makes my heart sigh with heroes like John, as much as she makes me rush to wash my hands when I’ve been at the Apple store. That’s the sign of a great storyteller!
The thing that drew me to Laura Griffin’s Total Control, aside from the fact that she’s an instant-buy for me, is the cover model who could wear the crown of “Best Zoolander Blue Steel Mouth.” I love her Tracers series, after all. Then I cracked it open and started reading and got back to the basic facts that make Griffin a juggernaut in romantic suspense: exciting pace and great characters. Navy SEAL Jake Heath has been attracted to FBI Agent Alexa Mays for months, but it’s just not something Alexa is willing to take a chance on—Navy SEALS ship out, after all. But when it turns out her counterterrorism group and his team are tracking the same extremist who’s now on American soil, she’s going to have to deal with the smoldering attraction. The suspense was more prominent than the romance in this one, but it was still good.
Kat Martin is a perennial favorite of mine, and The Deception is a reminder why. She consistently delivers a fine balance of action, suspense and romance, with exciting plot twists and relatable characters. Kate Gallagher is fresh off the experience of identifying her sister at the morgue when she winds up a roadside bar, dancing with a sexy stranger. When Jason Maddox takes her out to the backseat of his SUV, though, reason cuts through the haze of desire and cooler heads prevail. Turns out, when she goes into Maximum Security to hire someone to investigate her sister’s death, Jason is the one to step up. Their chemistry is off the charts, and their descent into Dallas’ criminal underbelly of sex, drugs and human trafficking is exciting and nerve-wracking. This is one that was hard to put down. On a side note, Martin also released Shadows at Dawn that offers a glimpse of Maximum Security bookkeeper Mindy Steward and P.I. Jaxon Ryker. It’s a novella and a quick read with a quickly-solved suspense, but perfect for when you don’t have a ton of time to invest in a longer novel and want resolution before heading off to bed for the night.
And rounding out my August and September round-up is the always Beatles-scream-worthy Rebecca Zanetti, who’s back with another exciting installment of her Deep Ops series. Fallen is a sexy opposites-attract story with a dark, brooding hero and unrestrained, unpredictable hacker. Renegade Fed Raider Tanaka and computer genius Brigid Banaghan are both part of a secret government dark ops agency (the HDD), and have to pose as fiancés to get back into the good graces of Brigid’s father, a former member of the Irish mob. The stakes are high, the characters characteristically robust, and the pace breakneck. The Sin Brothers will always be my favorite set of Zanetti lost boys, but this Deep Ops series is enjoyable, too.
Happy reading, y’all!