Review of INTO THE STORM by Suzanne Brockmann (see her website)
Ballantine Books, August 2006
Lindsey Fontaine has a crush on sexy (if short) Navy Seal petty officer Mark Jenkins (Jenk), but Jenk has decided on his perfect mate--sexy secretary and hometown sweetheart Tracy Shapiro. That Tracy still thinks of him as a girlfriend's little brother doesn't bother Jenk. He's a Navy Seal, and that means he doesn't give up. Still, it also doesn't mean he doesn't find Lindsey attractive--she's just not the woman he's decided to marry. Meanwhile, much damaged Sophia still can't bring herself to talk to her great love, Decker, who also can't manage to talk to her. And Dave, who also loves Sophia, is getting sick of waiting for her to either decide to take some initiative with Decker or to notice that Dave is there and waiting. Meanwhile, Tracy is having trouble deciding what she wants--Lawyer/Lyle seems like the most likely possibility, but he is such a jerk (and is definitely not a Navy Seal).
Joint training between the Navy Seal Team and the Troubleshooters puts lots of male testosterone together with the sexy women of Troubleshooters--and gives Lindsey a chance to get to know Jenk better--as well as increasing Sophia's discomfort level by putting her in proximity of Decker. The training moves from sunny California to snowy New Hampshire and when one of the Troubleshooter team is kidnapped by a serial killer, the joint exercise becomes a race against time to save the victim before the killer adds to his list of victims.
Author Suzanne Brockmann (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Brockmann) writes well-researched and exciting romance with plenty of action and suspense. INTO THE STORM starts out with a bang--the Navy Seal team in Afghanistan facing an overwhelming force of insurgents. And it ends with another bang as Lindsey, separated from the rest of the Troubleshooters and Seals, is forced to face a deadly serial killer on her own.
Usually, Brockmann manages a seamless blend between her romance and her action. Action intensifies emotion, reminds the characters that life is short and that waiting might mean never achieving, just as the romance and emotion increases the reader's stake in the outcome, making us care whether the Navy Seals survive enemy action. In INTO THE STORM, however, Brockmann didn't manage this difficult blending as well as I had hoped. After the action-packed beginning, I felt like I'd stepped into a soap-opera with characters suffering strong emotion and talking past each other, refusing to listen, making assumptions about the other's goals.
Brockmann is a talented author and wordsmith. Even a less than perfect Brockmann novel is definitely worth reading, and her strong action wrap-up gave this story a payoff that packed a punch. Still, this is definitely not Brockmann's best.
The short story at the end is a cute read, with the sympathetic Jules playing a major role.
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