Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Read copy: eBook
Published: August 15, 2006
Publisher: Ballantine Books
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.
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.