Title: A Perfect Storm (Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor #4)
Author: Lori Foster
Publisher: HQN Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Lori Foster has long been a favorite of mine, and her recent romantic suspense series, Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor, has been a lot of fun (I love the sexy book covers - Mama Like!). This fourth book in the series, A Perfect Storm, is just the kind of romantic suspense I can handle, full of alpha males and a kick-butt heroine without too much gore and violence. I’m a wimp, what can I say? That said, I was impressed with Ms. Foster’s handling of some sensitive issues. The series deals with human trafficking, and Arizona Snow, the heroine in A Perfect Storm, was a victim rescued by the hero in the third book (Savor the Danger). In that book, Arizona is a loose cannon, acting impetuously and placing herself in danger with no thought to the consequences, but in A Perfect Storm she’s an appealing character, and her story with the sexy bounty hunter Spencer Lark is smoldering.
Arizona Snow’s had a rough life. Her father sold her to human traffickers, and when she managed to escape, they caught up with her and decided to make an example of her to dissuade their other victims from doing the same. Fortunately for Arizona, Jackson (the hero of Savor the Danger) witnesses the men tossing her from a bridge and saves her. Ever since, he’s acted as her big brother, and now that he’s working with Dare and Trace in their security business, she wants to play an important part in freeing other women from similar situations.
Spencer Lark is a bounty hunter who stepped in at the last minute and stole Arizona’s chance at revenge when he interrupted their take down of the human traffickers who once incarcerated her. He’s 32 to Arizona’s 21 and doesn’t want to be attracted to the young woman who’s suffered so much, but he can’t overlook her stunning beauty. Plus, her blunt honesty and tough demeanor are at odds with her vulnerability, a heady combination that he finds hard to resist. When Arizona approaches him to ask for his help in bringing down a suspected group of human traffickers, Spencer agrees, because he knows she’ll act on her own even if he denies her his aid. But working with the young woman makes it tough for the widower to act honorably. Can the two find a future together?
When we first met Arizona in Savor the Danger, she came across as impetuous to the point of stupid, but in A Perfect Storm we learn about the motivation behind Arizona’s actions, and she’s much more likeable. She’s also young, only 21, but she’s definitely matured, and it shows. I really liked her in this book, mainly because of her blunt honesty. Arizona’s very upfront with Spencer, and I found that as appealing as he did. The key to Arizona’s character is not revenge but strength. She doesn’t want to be perceived as a victim, and that motivates most of her actions.
I also like how Arizona reacts to Spencer’s neighbor, Marla, even if I found it a little bit too good to be true. Given Marla’s past sexual relationship with Spencer, I expected more friction between the two women, but I was pleasantly surprised when that was not the case. However, I did find Arizona’s maturity in the situation a bit odd, given her age.
There’s one scene in the book that really grabbed my attention. The birthday party that the men and their significant others have for Arizona is outstanding for what it reveals the characters of the protagonists and supporting characters. The men and women give Arizona various gifts, and it’s clear that she feels uncomfortable being the center of attention and accepting the gifts, but when one of the men gives her a knife she’s been saving up for, Arizona lights up. I felt that this was the moment when the others accepted Arizona’s capability and toughness as character traits, rather than parts of a persona they believed that she had adopted as a way of dealing with what happened to her.
Unfortunately, the dramatic ending of the novel undercuts the subtlety of this earlier scene, which is a shame. Once again we see impetuous Arizona acting on her own to prove herself capable of joining the men in their fight against human trafficking, which could have had disastrous results. I found Arizona’s TSTL behavior frustrating, especially since the prior birthday party scene was so effective.
In the end, however, this was an excellent romantic suspense. I wasn’t a fan of Arizona’s before reading the book, but by the end I very much admired her character, and her relationship with Spencer was both touching and sexy. I’m sad to see the series end, but it definitely goes out on a high note.