Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: July 1, 2003
Publisher: Ballantine Books
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...
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
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.