Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Into the Storm
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: August 15, 2006
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345495284
ISBN-13: 9780345495280

In a remote, frozen corner of New Hampshire, a Navy SEAL team and the elite security experts of Troubleshooters, Incorporated are going head-to-head as fierce but friendly rivals in a raid-and-rescue training exercise. Despite the frigid winter temperatures, tension smolders between veteran SEAL Petty Officer Mark “Jenk” Jenkins and former cop turned Troubleshooter Lindsey Fontaine after an impulsive night goes awry. And then, suddenly, Tracy Shapiro, the Troubleshooters’ new receptionist, vanishes while playing the role of hostage during a mock rescue operation.

Teaming up with the FBI to launch a manhunt in the treacherous wilderness, Jenk and Lindsey must put aside their feelings as a record snowstorm approaches, dramatically reducing any hope of finding Tracy alive. The trail is colder than the biting New England climate until a lucky break leads to a horrifying discovery—a brutally murdered young woman wearing the jacket Tracy wore when she disappeared. Suddenly there is a chilling certainty that Tracy has fallen prey to a serial killer—one who knows the backwoods terrain and who doesn’t play by the rules of engagement.

In a race against time, a raging blizzard, and a cunning opponent, Jenk and Lindsey are put to the ultimate test. Rising everything, they must finally come together in a desperate attempt to save Tracy—and each other.

My rating:

The first time the SEALs and the Troubleshooters tried this exercise, Lindsey played the part of the hostage, and succeeded in evading everybody...But Mark "Jenk" Jenkins, whose bed she ended in that night, only to leave it quickly, when Jenk's "ideal wife" called.

Now, Tracy Shapiro, the TS rather incompetent, air-headed receptionist, who is not longer in contention for Jenk's heart, must do the hostage honors, only to disappear as well as Lindsay did. Only Tracy has no training and no skills to survive the upcoming snowstorm...And she just might be the mutilated body they fished out of a frozen pond.

This one started well. Very well, with me immediately taking to both protagonists, Lindsey and Mark. They were funny, they were snarky, there were cute, but he was also the biggest idiot known to man for pining after a woman who barely knew he existed. And then, to add insult to injury, just when he realized he was being an idiot for pining after an imaginary woman, Lindsey turns into an idiot of an emotional-cripple variety.
I could've bought the romance if the idiotic parts of their characters didn't come out to play, but once they did, I just couldn't put my rose-colored glasses on any more, and in the end they felt to me more like friends-with-benefits than two people in love.

A question arose, is it really so much to ask for a "romance" story in this series without conflict? I know it creates tension, angst, and "suspense", but wouldn't it be fun and a breath of fresh air to put two characters together who then go: okay, we like each other, the sex is good, let's see how this goes. No pressure, no issues, no baggage, no idiotism. I'm not asking for too much, am I?

Instead, we usually get interesting characters with solid, sizzling chemistry destroyed because of whatever-the-hell issue or emotional baggage they happen to have hidden somewhere in their subconscious and/or past.
And this doesn't happen only to the main protagonists. This particular book was filled with such dare-I-call-them tropes.
At some point in the story everybody (and their uncle) acted like teenagers. Jenk/Lindsey, Izzy/Tracy, Sophia/everybody-who-happened-to-be-in-her-vicinity. Is it only me, or is the supposed love-story between Sophia and Decker dragging on too long? It has now turned into a love-triangle that has, in the end, gone and turned itself into a square. And I thought Alyssa/Sam saga was long, but at least those two had chemistry, while Sophia and Decker only have constipation, it seems.

The saving grace of this story could've been the serial killer angle, but thanks to all the teenage romantic drama going on, it was pushed into the sidelines, and the conclusion was too swift and rather easy. The villain reminded me a lot of a Karen Rose baddie, but unlike a KR villain who always has second billing, this one was a very secondary character, his motive remained a mystery, the "investigation" was lacking, and even the rescue sequence was loaded with teenage angst, and multiple scene jumps between different characters and their dramas, ruining the effect and the suspense.

So, instead of using its potential, this story, as most in this series remained safely in the middle ground, never even attempting to reach higher.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Review: Breaking Point by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Breaking Point
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: July 12, 2005
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345484746
ISBN-13: 9780345484741

As commander of the nation’s most elite FBI counterterrorism unit, agent Max Bhagat leads by hard-driving example: pushing himself to the limit and beyond, taking no excuses, and putting absolutely nothing ahead of his work. That includes his deep feelings for Gina Vitagliano, the woman who won his admiration and his heart with her courage under fire. But when the shocking news reaches him that Gina has been killed in a terrorist bombing, nothing can keep Max from making a full investigation—and retribution—his top priority.

At the scene of the attack, however, Max gets an even bigger shock. Gina is still very much alive—but facing a fate even worse than death. Along with Molly Anderson, a fellow overseas relief worker, Gina has fallen into the hands of a killer who is bent on using both women to bait a deadly trap. His quarry? Grady Morant, a.k.a “Jones,” a notorious ex-Special Forces operative turned smuggler who made some very deadly enemies in the jungles of Southeast Asia...and has been running ever since. But with Molly’s life on the line, Jones is willing to forfeit his own to save the woman he loves.

Together with Max’s top agent Jules Cassidy as their only backup, the unlikely allies plunge into a global hot zone of violence and corruption to make a deal with the devil. Not even Jones knows which ghosts from his past want him dead. But there’s one thing he’s sure of–there’s very little his bloodthirsty enemies aren’t willing to do.

My rating:

Gina Vitagliano is dead and Max Bhagat is full of regrets...But as he flies to Germany to recover the body of the only woman he's ever truly loved and bring her home, it's not Gina underneath the sheet in the morgue. The real Gina's been kidnapped, alongside one of her friends, to lure Grady Morant a.k.a. Jones to Indonesia.

Retribution for her death forgotten, the job that was his life forgotten, regrets forgotten, Max only has one goal—get to Gina and hope he's not too late.

What a disappointment this conclusion in the Gina/Max love story was. I was hoping for more. I was expecting more, and instead got a flashback filled first half of the book (flashbacks that detailed almost the minutiae of Max and Gina's failed relationship a year and a half ago, which was pointless, because we all knew that the asshole that Max turned into had pushed her away—no news there). And once the flashbacks were over, and Max and Gina were finally reunited, what does the girl (not woman, because if she was a woman she'd make him grovel, I know I would) do? She readily forgives him because he thought she was dead and he had tears in his eyes when he told her.
Sheesh! Talk about a doormat. The man treated her like crap, used her for sex, shut her out of his life and his emotions (although she did give up too easily, if you ask me), and she just forgives him because she loves him.

Yes, forgiveness was a given in this case (I wanted her to forgive him), but she gave in too easily in my opinion, swayed by his charm, his telling her what he truly felt for her, and those pesky tears.
The space given to the flashbacks could've been spent telling the story in the present, to solve the conflict more satisfyingly (with Max groveling), and make the suspense a little more gripping. As it was, the whole kidnapping plot was solved too easily, and the stand-off looked to be a piece of cake as well.

I didn't really care about the secondary romance, except for the fact it served to bring Max and Gina together and solve their (pointless) conflict...And Jules, as always, saved the day.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: Hot Target by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Hot Target
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: December 28, 2004
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345480775
ISBN-13: 9780345480774

Like most men of action, Navy SEAL Chief Cosmo Richter never learned how to take a vacation. So when he finds himself facing a month’s leave, he offers his services to Troubleshooters Incorporated. Founded by a former SEAL, the private-sector security firm is a major player in the ongoing war against terrorism, known for carrying out covert missions too volatile for official U.S. military action. But the first case Richter takes on is anything but under the radar.

High-profile maverick movie producer Jane Mercedes Chadwick hasn’t quite completed her newest film, but she’s already courting controversy. The World War II epic frankly portrays the homosexuality of a real-life hero—and the storm of advance media buzz surrounding it has drawn the fury of extremist groups. But despite a relentless campaign of angry E-mails, phone calls, and smear tactics, Chadwick won’t be pressured into abandoning the project. Then the harassment turns to death threats.

While the FBI appears on the scene, nervous Hollywood associates call in Troubleshooters, and now Chadwick has an army of round-the-clock bodyguards, whether she likes it or not. And she definitely doesn’t. But her stubbornness doesn’t make FBI agent Jules Cassidy’s job any easier. The fiercely independent filmmaker presents yet another emotional obstacle that Cassidy doesn’t need—he’s already in the midst of a personal tug-of-war with his ex-lover, while fighting a growing attraction to Chadwick’s brother.

Determined to succeed–and survive–on her own terms, Chadwick will face off with enemies and allies alike. But she doesn’t count on the bond she forms with the quiet, capable Cosmo Richter. Yet even as their feelings bring them closer, the noose of deadly terror all around them draws tighter. And when all hell erupts, desire and desperate choices will collide on a killing ground that may trap them both in the crossfire.

My rating:

Someone is sending a Hollywood produced death threats because she's making a movie they don't want to be made, and her studio hires Troubleshooters Inc. to protect her. Since he's on leave, Chief Cosmo Richter offers his expertise to his former CO, Tom Paoletti, and nothing will ever be the same.

Once again, the story was good, and the plot, especially the suspense/mystery part, was tight, though the pacing was once more hampered by flashbacks and (too) many side plots and secondary characters, and the mystery/suspense conclusion left much to be desired in terms of actually making any sort of sense in concern with the villain and his motives. But maybe that's just me.

And once again, the characters almost ruined the whole thing. Jane was a publicity-seeking, emotionally-handicapped, sometimes TSTL idiot. Her brother was also an emotional cripple with image issues, and a huge drinking problem that stemmed from repression of his true nature and feelings. I loved the message Ms. Brockmann inserted into this story about self-acceptance being necessary to have a normal life (Robin) and the importance of knowing one's self-worth and not allowing oneself to be anyone's doormat (Jules).
But these two annoying creatures were counterbalanced nicely by the two leading men of this book. Cosmo with his taciturn nature that was finally given a worthy story (if not a worthy heroine), and through it the reader was offered a rare insight into his psyche and life. I love the men Ms. Brockmann has created in this series. They're "real" men, strong, courageous, resilient, capable, and despite having seen and done things that would give lesser mortals nightmares or worse, they don't let those things rule them, and they're not afraid of accepting or showing their feelings or even tears.

And now we come to the second leading man of this story, one of my favorite characters in this series, Jules Cassidy. I loved watching his growth throughout the stories, from sidekick, best friend, confidant, and sometimes comic relief, to the leading man we got to meet at the end of this book. He got his heart-broken, mended it, and gotten it broken again (much more this second time around, because he knew it was the real deal), yet he stood up, dusted himself off, and went forward, stronger, more mature, more confident, and finally knowing what he deserved. And yes, Jules deserves the best. His story (not the repeated fling with Adam or the budding went-nowhere thing with Robin, but the story of Jules as an individual) in this book, stole the spotlights from the main "romance" between Cosmo and Jane (which didn't push any of my buttons and left me completely cold). Jules being Jules was more interesting, and more intense than everything else that happened and I'm looking forward to reading what happens next. ;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Flashpoint by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Flashpoint
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: March 30, 2004
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345472160
ISBN-13: 9780345472168

Jimmy Nash has already lived two lives—and he can’t talk about either of them. Formerly an operative of a top secret government agency, he has found a new job with a shadowy company called Troubleshooters Inc. Created by a former Navy SEAL, Troubleshooters Inc. helps anyone in desperate need—which provides a perfect cover for its other, more perilous objective: covert special operations.

Now Nash and a quickly assembled team of expert operators have come to the earthquake-ravaged country of Kazbekistan in the guise of relief workers. There, amid the dust and death, in a land of blood red sunsets and ancient blood feuds, they must track down a missing laptop computer that may hold secrets vital to national security.

To get it done, Nash does what he does best: break every rule in the book and manipulate those who can help him get what he needs. But this time, Nash may have met his match in Tess Bailey, a Troubleshooters operative with all the right instincts—and zero field experience. The deep attraction between them is immediate...and potentially explosive, with risk at every turn. Now these two professionals must play out their dangerous games in the world’s most dangerous place—cut off from their own government, cutting deals with people they can’t trust, and guarding forbidden passions that threaten to compromise their crucial mission.

My rating:

Kazbekistan has been hit by an earthquake and the powers that be of the country are finally letting in the West in the form of relief workers. A perfect cover for a small team of the newly founded Troubleshooters Inc. to get in and get out with a precious cargo in the form of a terrorist's laptop. But this is far from an easy mission...

The suspense/action was great, and there were no flashbacks (except for a scene or two describing what happened between Nash and Tess two months ago)...But those were the only things that actually worked in the story's favor.

The characters were the major problem working against it. Tess was rather bland (and sometimes really annoying), Nash remained a mystery even at story's end, Decker was "meh" at best, and Sophia would've worked better as a villain (at least she'd have something to do). The romance was nonexistent, and utterly unbelievable at the end...

A very disappointing start of the "civilian" arc of the Troubleshooters.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Gone Too Far by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Gone Too Far
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: July 1, 2003
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345464362
ISBN-13: 9780345464361

In his career as one of America’s elite warriors, Lt. Sam Starrett can do no wrong. In his private life, Sam—the king of one night stands—has done little right. Now, he’s waiting for a divorce and determined to stay active in his young daughter’s life. But when Sam shows up at the door of his ex-wife’s home in Sarasota, Florida, he makes a grisly discovery. His daughter is gone and the body of a woman lies brutally murdered on the floor.

FBI agent Alyssa Locke’s relationship with Sam has been overwhelmingly intense and nearly catastrophic, yet it refuses to end. The last time she saw Sam was six months earlier, when they worked together to stop terrorists from assassinating the U.S. President. Much to her dismay, Alyssa is assigned to lead the murder investigation and once again the two are face to face. When explosive information surfaces linking Sam to the still unsolved assassination plot, the stakes are raised. With her reputation hanging in the balance, and her loyalties in question, Alyssa is faced with an impossible dilemma:arrest a man she believes to be innocent, or risk her career.

While Alyssa tries to fight their intense attraction, Sam is determined to heat things up between them once again. And the complex case pushes them both to the wrong side of the law—and on the run to discover the truth. As more agents step into the chase, and with Sam’s daughter still unaccounted for, neither Alyssa nor Sam can predict just how deadly hot this situation is about to become...

My rating:

Lieutenant Roger "Sam" Starrett will soon be a free man. After marrying the woman he'd gotten pregnant, but never loved, and leaving the woman he did love behind to "do the right thing", he's finally closing that chapter of his life...Well, as soon as his soon-to-be ex-wife signs the divorce papers, which she was supposed to do three weeks ago. Now, Sam's in Florida to remind her...Only to find her murdered in her house, apparently dead for three weeks, and his infant daughter unaccounted for.

Alyssa Locke is almost certain she left her star-crossed affair with Sam Starrett behind. The guy left her to get married to the woman he'd knocked up, and the man she should love is right there, even though their relationship hasn't progressed past the kissing stage. But one phone call from Sam, informing her he's found his wife dead and his daughter is missing, brings Alyssa running to his side.

Well...Finally. It took me six books (two I didn't even finish) to get to his point where I finally feel like I'm connecting to the series. Because despite its highs and lows and all its bumps, this one actually worked as a whole.

Everything was connected—the goings on on the west coast, the race against time in Florida, the loose ends left from the previous book, the loose romantic ends left from all the previous books...It all came together nicely, and although not everything ended just yet (Gina and Max still have a few more books to go), the main story arc of the first five books in the series was nicely wrapped up in the sixth one, with the big witch-hunts creating a lovely (albeit rather convenient) groundwork for the Troubleshooter team as they embrace civilian life.

But let's get down to real business, shall we? Mainly, the Sam and Alyssa soap opera love story. Because although I didn't particularly care about them in the previous books, their story was indeed a love story. Spanning time and space, filled with difficulties, heartbreak and separation, but as love stories do, it endured, it matured, and it got stronger, holding on, and enduring.
They actually talked in this one (and we all know, communication is the foundation of any lasting relationship), and as they got to really know each other (past the you-rock-my-world-when-you're-naked stage), so did the reader. The flashbacks in this one actually weren't annoying, telling the story of Roger/Ringo/Sam and his family, showing and telling us what makes him tick and why he is the way he is. I felt we didn't get as deep an insight into Alyssa, but I'm happy with what we got.
And I'm happy they managed to get over their difficulties, mainly stemming from Alyssa trying to protect herself from getting hurt and failing miserably provoking Sam into acting like an even bigger asshole than he actually was, and it was rather lovely seeing that progression from animosity to reluctant trust while the love that was always there, right under the surface, slowly yet inexorably leaked through.
I can't wait to see them as partners, both in private and at work.

There were two secondary romances, both leftovers from previous books. The one between Mary Lou and Ibraham had its lovely resolution, firmly redeeming Mary Lou in my eyes, while the other, the one between Gina and Max firmly put the guy in the asshole territory for me. I didn't get his reservations—first it was the age thing, then there was the "transference" thing (which, after all this time, was complete bullshit), then there was his fear of hurting her (which he did anyway). Coupled with the "strange" relationship he had with Alyssa, Max Bhagat turned from the awesome FBI agent/superhero to a total douche in the space of a couple of chapters. I sure hope he can redeem himself in his own book.
Oh, and let's not forget the HEA of the first Troubleshooter couple, Tom and Kelly. It took a while, and it took some extreme circumstances for the woman to finally see reason, but they finally got there. Only to almost lose it all, but yeah...HEA all the way.

The rest worked as well. Since the plot was much tighter and the flashbacks actually relating closely to the story, the pacing was great, the mystery intriguing (although a tad too convoluted when everything was revealed), and the action scenes gripping. The entire thing packed quite a punch, and made for a very entertaining, page-turning read.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: Out of Control & Into the Night by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Out of Control
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: May 7, 2002
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345455088
ISBN-13: 9780345455086

Savannah von Hopf has no choice. To save her uncle’s life, she goes in search of Ken “WildCard” Karmody, a guy she barely knew in college who is now a military operative. She must convince him to help her deliver a cache of ransom money into the hands of terrorists halfway around the world. What she doesn’t expect is to end up in WildCard’s arms before she can even ask for his help.

WildCard has always had a soft spot for beautiful women. But when he discovers Savannah’s hidden agenda, he is determined to end the affair. But Savannah is bound for Indonesia with or without his protection, and he can’t just walk away. When her plan goes horribly wrong, they are trapped in the forsaken jungle of a hostile country, stalked by a lethal enemy. As time is running out, they scramble to escape, risking their lives to stop a nightmare from spinning even further out of control...

My rating:

This series looks like to be hit-and-miss for me. There are characters and plot lines that are interesting, and sometimes grow to be even more interesting through time, and there are characters that failed to leave a good impression the first time around, and their story suffers because of it.

Ken "WildCard" Karmody is one of those characters for me. We never really "clicked"; he was either a whiny brat because his girlfriend left him and he doesn't want to be alone or an asshole to his friends and/or superiors. But I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt in his story, only for him to be an obnoxious jackass with a one-track mind from the very beginning.
Add to it the rather bland heroine, spice it up with her "secret" to create conflict, and I just couldn't keep reading.

Title: Into the Night
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: November 14, 2006
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345498682
ISBN-13: 9780345498687

It was supposed to be a “dog and pony show”—an elaborate demonstration of SEAL rescue techniques—to celebrate a presidential visit to a California naval base. Professional, no-nonsense White House staffer Joan DaCosta arrives early to scope out the area. Assigned to be her SEAL liaison is Lt. (jg) Mike Muldoon, a born leader—strong, decisive, tough, and fearless.

Against her better judgment, Joan finds herself drawn to the handsome young officer. Skilled at being “one of the guys” in the mostly male world of politics, she is dismayed when Muldoon breaks through her defenses. While the tension mounts between them, fueling their growing attraction, a far more sinister danger is lurking, as terrorists plot a daring attack against the president. To protect their commander in chief, Joan and Muldoon must not only risk their hearts—but their very lives...

My rating:

Oh, God...Yet another "Team Sixteen" member that I didn't particularly care for (Mike Muldoon came across as not overly bright in Over the Edge, and obnoxious at the same time with his bragging how easy is for him to get laid). In his book he was coupled with an annoying (older) heroine with issues about "dating" younger guys, but actually had no idea what she wanted, except when it was time to throw the young "gigolo" under the bus for her career.

The "romance" was dull and bland, the suspense so diluted it made my teeth hurt, the pacing could've (yet again) been better by throwing out the unnecessary fillers...The only reason I actually read this one through was (I can't believe I'm saying this!) the Sam/Alyssa soap-opera. This so-called saga of their on/off-again romance has been a pain in my butt since the beginning, since it kept intruding on other characters' stories, and whatever happened was entirely their fault (she acting like a bitch that brought out his inner asshole, and once they finally saw reason, he decides to be noble and marries the chick he got pregnant getting trapped in a loveless marriage while still pining away for the icy bitch), but those few words WildCard said to Mike in the beginning of this book clicked a switch or something, and I wanted to see how that side-plot ended.
And because their story is next, and I'm actually (once again, I can't believe I'm saying this!) looking forward to it and hope they work it out without descending into their default personalities (bitch/asshole) when dealing with each other. I'm also looking forward to getting the answer to the question that's been bugging me—are Alyssa and Max actually together (while being in love with other people), or are they just friends-with-benefits, or just friends-without-benefits to keep the people they love at arms' length.

So yes, if it weren't for the whole Sam/Alyssa thing, this one would've been DNFd as well.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: Over the Edge
Series: Troubleshooters
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: September 1, 2001
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345449487
ISBN-13: 9780345449481

Her passion is flying. As one of the best helicopter pilots in the naval reserves, Lieutenant Teri Howe is strong, dedicated, and highly skilled—until a past mistake surfaces, jeopardizing everything she’s worked for.

Rock steady Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok has made a career of tackling difficult challenges. So it’s no surprise when he comes to Teri’s aid, knowing that his personal code of honor—and perhaps his heart—will be at risk. But when a jet carrying an American senator’s daughter is hijacked, Stan’s unflinching determination and Teri’s steadfast courage are put to the ultimate test. The rescue mission will be daring and dangerous. But somewhere between peril and resolution, the line between friends and lovers begins to blur, pushing both their lives over the edge...

My rating:

Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok is Mr. Fix-It. He prevents his SEALs from getting into a bar fight, he consoles them when they're nursing a broken heart, he yells at them when they're not performing at the peak of their abilities...And he saves young Lieutenants from persistent gropers by whisking them away on a training mission.

But before they get to the training part, they have to take a detour as a plane, with a senator's daughter on board, is hijacked. But Stan has obviously too much time on his hands while they're waiting for the go signal from the powers that be, because he can't stop thinking about Teri Howe. And the only way to stop her from seeing him as some sort of hero, is to set her up with one of his SEALs...But Teri just might have other ideas...

After the utter and complete disappointment that was Book #2, and a slightly less disappointing Book #1, this one was almost perfect. Not counting the bothersome WWII flashbacks (which I don't even bother to fully read anymore, I must confess) and the whole Sam/Alyssa saga that's turned into a soap opera at the end of this third installment in the series. Will it ever end?...Although I must confess, I actually got to like Sam and Alyssa by the end of the book, because they actually talked.

Speaking of talking, the romantic conflict could've been solved by a simple conversation, but since both Stan and Teri were a bit dense, we got to enjoy the long road to it. Everything in the story (some thankfully, some not so much) took the backseat to the cuteness that were these two together. Awkward, dense, slightly idiotic sometimes, but incredibly sweet at the same time. They were adorable in their missteps, and their romance was so incredibly cute, I couldn't help but grin while reading their scenes. This was a truly feel-good love story.

There was also another love story budding, although in times of adversity, between Gina a.k.a. Karen the terrorist victim and Max Bhagat, the FBI hostage negotiator. I'm really looking forward to their story, since it all began during a hostage crisis, when they didn't see each other and his voice being the only thing keeping her strong, and the way the hostage crisis ended...It was chilling, yet empowering in the end. And with that baggage, yes, I'm looking forward to reading their book.

This one was well-written, well-paced (if you skim over the slow flashback-y parts), intense, yet so unbelievably cute. It just made me want to hug someone. :)