Thursday, October 22, 2020

#TBRChallenge 2020: Lawman on the Hunt

The Book: Lawman on the Hunt by Cindi Myers

The Particulars: Romantic Suspense, Harlequin Intrigue #1649, 2016, part of series, out of print, available digitally

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR: My catalog notes on this book were non-existent, but I have an autographed print copy which means I more than likely picked this up at a conference - probably RWA 2016 (San Diego). 

The Review: I will die on the hill that Harlequin Intrigue is the hardest category romance line to pull off successfully.  They're in the ballpark of 240 pages and the author has to pull off both the romance and suspense. But when Intrigues are done well?  Oh, they're heaven. Fast-paced, exciting, back when I was traveling I called them the perfect "airplane reads."  Unfortunately while Lawman on the Hunt had it's moments, there were elements of the romance and the suspense that annoyed me.

Special Agent Travis Steadman is part of an FBI task force tracking down a known terrorist, Duane Braeswood.  It's his job, but it's also personal.  Duane's lady love is Leah Carlisle, who used to be engaged to Travis before she left him for Braeswood, leaving behind a Dear John letter and dropping off the map (quit her job, moved out of her apartment, disconnected her cell phone etc.).  The FBI moves in to infiltrate the compound but naturally it all goes sideways.  A shoot-out goes down, Travis arrests Leah, and they take off into the surrounding wilderness with the bad guys in hot pursuit.

Leah did not leave Travis willingly - Braeswood targeted her. He threatened both the lives of her sister and Travis.  When Sis ends up dead, Leah does everything the man says.  Quits her job working for a Senator, signs over her assets (her dead parents left her financially well-off), and lives the life of a hostage.  Now she just has to convince Travis that she's a victim and not a willing accomplice.

This is a cat-and-mouse style Intrigue with our couple on the run in the Colorado wilderness by the second chapter.  I love man vs. elements story lines, where the couple has to forage for food, boil water so it's safe to drink, travel over rough terrain all while evading the bad guys.

Blessedly Travis realizing that Leah is a victim and not a femme fatale is sorted out fairly quickly. Unfortunately I was less enamored with the moments in the story where Leah is reassuring Travis over his hurt feelings. Look, I get he's had a hard time - but girlfriend is the victim here, being held hostage by a man who forced himself on on her and murdered her sister.  I'm a heck of lot less concerned about Travis's man fee-fees than I am with Leah's ordeal.

The plot is exciting and fast-paced although it gets a little absurd at the end when Braeswood catches up with our couple.  Also the whole thing was a bit too loosey-goosey for me and I'm assuming some of this stuff is ironed out in the other books in the series.  I get that Leah worked for a Senator, but WHY exactly did Braeswood think she was a good target?  What exactly is Braeswood's motive and end-goal.  I mean, yeah a terrorist and I get that some men just want to "watch the world burn" but terrorist organizations tend to have some sort of ideology.  It all comes down to motive for me - I want motive in suspense stories and this just wasn't fleshed out enough for me in this book.  But like I said, maybe in the other books in the series.

So yeah.  This was fine, and it was a quick easy read - but there were things that bugged me and it didn't light a fire under me to continue on with the series.  I'd probably try another book by this author though.

Final Grade = C-


Jill said...

I read BREAKING THE RULES by Barbara Samuels/Ruth Wind, which also has a woman-on-the-run plot. It was a 1994 Silhouette Intimate Moments and if I had read it then, I probably would have enjoyed it. Samuels writes beautiful descriptions of the mountains, but the romance left me cold and the suspense was barely there. The hero doesn't involve himself with "nice girls" like the heroine and I really wanted the heroine to hit him after he said it the 10th time.
Also, spoiler alert (?), they have sex without a condom b/c they are "swept away"(the hero actually thought of buying them and didn't!) and 21st century Jill has very little patience for that.

Wendy said...

Jill: OMG - that condom scene would have sent me over the edge. I once read a Harlequin Desire where the hero actually had condoms UPSTAIRS in his bedroom but golly they were just SO HOT for each other that they possibly couldn't have climbed a few stairs before doing the deed. Ugh. Book meet wall.

21st century Wendy lacks patience as well LOL

Whiskeyinthejar said...

Romantic suspense is one of my top sub-genres but I always have to find the balance between what I'm willing to go along with and absurdity. I like open-door romances but fitting that in while they are "literally" running for their lives is tricky.
I too need the suspense side to be fully fleshed out, I even want the "villain" to have povs so they can be a good foil to the protagonists.
I agree with the "hardest category romance line to pull off successfully"; so many moving parts.

Wendy said...

Whiskey: I was a mystery/suspense reader long before romance, so I really need solid suspense execution in romantic suspense. Taking a few sentences to beef up the motive would have gone a long way for me. And LOL our couple did have sex in this story, but blessedly the author chose a good moment that wasn't completely absurd.