Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review of Lori Foster’s When You Dare

Yesterday I poked fun at book covers featuring dark-haired heroines in tight leather pants, and after a trip to the library this afternoon, I now have plenty of other types of book covers to laugh at or drool over. I was thrilled to find Lori Foster’s newest, When You Dare (Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor #1), at the library, and it has an appropriately drool-worthy cover. I’ve noticed that romantic suspense covers seem to feature men in jeans or cargo pants with no shirt on, and this cover features a gentleman who is in excellent shape. And I would never complain about the eye candy, but I have to think that any guy in the military or police/fire department has to laugh like crazy when he sees one of the alpha males featured on these covers. This Lori Foster cover is pretty darn sexy, but the guy’s wearing his gun holster and not wearing a shirt. Because Lord knows he needs to be both sexy AND have access to his gun at the same time, right? He’s also wearing sunglasses and the background is completely dark, which makes me want to start singing bad eighties tunes (“I wear my sunglasses at night…”). I actually prefer this cover to some others I’ve seen where the cover model doesn’t have a head, but truly, I can’t complain because, hello, hot guy on the cover! Yummy!
Dare MacIntosh, the hero of When You Dare, is one sexy mercenary, and the novel begins with his rescuing two women from human traffickers in Mexico. One of the women is his friend’s younger sister, but the other woman is a stranger. She’s drugged, and since she’s clearly been abused and is an American, Dare rescues her. When she wakes up, Molly Alexander tells Dare that she was abducted over nine days ago, and she’s not really sure why this happened to her. Molly is a novelist who writes romantic suspense, and her most recent book is about to become a motion picture, but other than a few disgruntled fans and an ex-fiancĂ©, she’s not sure who could have arranged her abduction. Since Dare is clearly very good at what he does, she hires him to help her find the person behind her kidnapping. Despite the trauma Molly’s undergone, the two have quite the sexual chemistry, and Dare finds himself falling for our plucky heroine.
I don’t usually read romantic suspense, but I really like Lori Foster so I thought I’d give this series a go. Often in romantic suspense the relationship between the hero and heroine feels rushed, but that was not the case here. Molly and Dare are able to take things slowly and get to know one another, with the sexual relationship developing later in the book. I liked the interactions between the two of them, and it was fun seeing how Molly would work on her writing. I like how Ms. Foster gave us glimpses of the life of the writer, and it made Molly an interesting heroine. Dare and Molly definitely have sexual chemistry, but given the circumstances of their meeting, I found it completely believable that Dare would take his time with her. I also liked how Dare kept calling Molly on her pretense that everything was fine. He reassured her that she would have future breakdowns and needed to have them.
One criticism I have of the novel is that the secondary characters weren’t particularly interesting. In fact, I was more interested in Dare’s two dogs than the people in the story, but that probably won’t surprise anyone who knows me since I love dogs. There are a few brief scenes with Molly’s father, and one extended scene with Molly’s sister, Natalie, but these take place later in the book. In fact, we meet all the “suspects” in the second half of the book, which just seems a little too late. Dare finds it odd from the beginning that no one seems to be worried or looking for Molly, even though she’s been missing for nine days. Molly convinces Dare not to contact Natalie really early on, but her reasons for doing so were fairly weak. She doesn’t want to tell Natalie she’s okay, because she thinks Natalie will start calling around trying to discover who’s behind the kidnapping and thus place herself in danger. I found that to be somewhat specious, since Natalie’s a teacher, and therefore college educated. Surely if Molly explained the situation, Natalie wouldn’t do anything to endanger her sister.
Perhaps because we don’t get to meet the “suspects” until later in the novel, I felt the suspense suffered a bit from all the time spent developing the relationship between Dare and Molly. I can’t believe I’m complaining about that, because I definitely prefer when the characters gradually build a connection rather than instantly jump into bed together, but the anxiety definitely levels off when Dare takes Molly to his house/compound in Kentucky. At the beginning of the novel, Molly has just started to recover physically from her experiences, and immediately there’s a second attempt to kidnap her, which Dare easily foils. But after that, the intensity lessens and the focus of the novel is almost entirely on their interaction. When we finally meet the secondary characters, we slowly move towards a resolution of the mystery, but I have to admit that I had a pretty good idea of who was behind the kidnapping fairly early on. There’s definitely some fast-paced action at the very end, but again, there just wasn’t much tension there.
In short, this romantic suspense was long on the romance and short on the suspense. I liked the focus on the relationship, and it really didn’t bother me that the suspense was lacking, but if you are looking for a real page-turner, this might not be for you. Ms. Foster is releasing the three books of the series over the months of June, July, and August, so the second installment will be out shortly. As the cover features yet another bare-chested male, I’ll certainly be checking it out!

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