Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TBR Review: Sudden Death

FINALLY, my TBR Challenge Review!  See, this is my rationale -- I've been TBR'ing all year, so my challenge is in getting the reviews out when they're actually due on the third Wednesday of the month.  Blame it, this time, on the fact that I finally got a Smartphone almost two weeks ago, and I've been fascinated with it.  Love love love my AT&T 4G Vivid! 


I've been a fan of Allison Brennan for a while now.  Have I read all of her books?  Uh, nope -- but I'm getting there.  In March I closed my eyes, pointed at and picked up Sudden Death, listed as the first book in her FBI Trilogy on Brennan's website.  Whew, maybe it's not 'catching up on a series', but it's catching up on some Allison Brennan reading.  I kinda stayed within the loose guidelines that Wendy set this year!  Sometimes I'm a rules girl, sometimes I make them up as I go.

FBI agent Megan Elliott's latest case takes a turn for the worse when the most recent murder victim she's investigating seems to be part of a killer's serial spree.  Doing some quick fact-checking and after a few calls to her connections in the military and government, Megan realizes that her victim, a former Delta Force soldier, may have known other victims that have wound up dead by similar means -- torture and, ultimately, a bullet to the head as the pièce de résistance.

Jack Kincaid, a soldier-for-hire who conducts rescue missions across the world, returns to Texas for a bit of rest and camaraderie with his team of friends before the next job.  That R&R turns into a nightmare when Scout, a team member and one of Jack's closest friends, is found murdered in his own home.  When the Chief of Police, Art Perez, starts making accusation noises towards Jack, he takes matters into his own hands and begins investigating his friend's murder on his own.  There was never any love lost between Art and Jack, but it seems that Art's got a hard-on for Jack and plans on making his life hell.

Jack and Megan meet when she's called in to investigate the Hamstring Killer's latest victim, Scout.  Megan is proud of her accomplishments and is good at her job.  The fact is she's always been a rules kinda girl, so it goes against her grain when Jack proves that he lives life by the seat of his pants and anyone who protests can go to hell.  Despite Jack's sorrow for his friend and anger at the incompetent police chief, sparks ignite when he first meets Megan.  Even if she, a girl, just rescued his ass from a pummeling after he's thrown in jail by his best enemy, Perez, Megan looks good as a knight in shining armor.  Now they must back burner their growing attraction long enough to hunt down a madman who's not done with his laundry list of murder.

I was on a historical fiction and romance kick for a while before I picked up Sudden Death, so when I started reading, it was like ice water in the face with the violence and immediate level of suspense.  Allison Brennan's good that way -- right out of the gate, the pace is fast and furious and doesn't let up until you've had the hell scared out of you so much that you sleep with the lights on.  Or wet your pants.  She also creates tension in two ways -- sexual and action -- with her characters and plotline and balances them so well.  So even as Megan and Jack are racing against the clock to stop a psycho, it seems almost natural that they trip into bed and scratch an itch they can't ignore.  But that's only after Jack sees the woman Megan is through her big bad FBI persona.  Even though Megan is comfortable as a special agent, she is vulnerable after her judgment is questioned by her mentor, Hans Vigo.  Jack is made of iron at first, but his soft spot shows when his friend is found murdered.  Of course there's a lot of back story to Kincaid and his family, as well as Megan's, so many make appearances and are key to Sudden Death.  Many readers will recognize the name Kincaid with the author's latest series, the Lucy Kincaid series.  Yep, she's Jack's baby sister. 

In my opinion, any book by Allison Brennan is highly recommended if you're not a squeamish sort of reader.  She's one of the few authors who can do romantic suspense and keep the romance aspect realistic while not making the characters seem idiotic for falling in love while they run for their lives, or making it feel like the sex is thrown in there just to keep the 'romantic' part of romantic suspense.

I'd give Sudden Death a solid A rating, hands down.           

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