Hot Target, by Suzanne Brockmann

>> Wednesday, April 06, 2005

After waiting almost a year between reading Suzanne Brockmann's new releases, reading Flashpoint made me crave reading the following book in the series Hot Target, even though I knew that the characters from Flashpoint who I wanted to see more from (i.e. Sophia and Decker), simply didn't play a big part in it.

Getting the hardcover would have been much too expensive for me, so I simply downloaded the e-book version. I'm not crazy about reading on the computer (I spend more than enough time in front of it as it is), but some books deserve it.

The last thing filmmaker Jane Mercedes Chadwick wants is round-the-clock personal security. But when the FBI informs her that the death threats against her may indeed be credible, she reluctantly allows the men and women of Troubleshooters Incorporated -- including scary-looking, monosyllabic Cosmo Richter -- into her life.

The last thing Navy SEAL Chief Cosmo Richter expects when he takes a temporary assignment as a bodyguard for Hollywood's "Party Girl Producer" is to find a bright, funny, down-to-earth woman beneath the high gloss attitude, micro-mini skirts, and high-heeled shoes.

But as the threat against Jane becomes very, very real, the last thing either needs is a complicated romantic entanglement. And happily ever after can end in a heartbeat for people caught in a vicious sniper's cross-hairs...
Grading this book wasn't as straightforward as it is for me in most cases. If I'd written this post the minute I finished it, I think I would have given it a B+. As the days went by, however, I realized I couldn't stop thinking about it. I kept remembering good parts and going back to reread them... and not only the parts I'd loved the most during my first read. It took me over a week to get over it. That, to me, is the mark of a keeper, so I'll give the book an A-.

Hot Target main attraction for me was Jules' story, and that was as good as I was hoping for. Jules is just a lovely guy. I loved the way he could switch from tough FBI agent to funky clubber. The story itself was good, if bittersweet. It just broke my heart that this wonderful man seems to be such a sleaze magnet. He definitely deserved better than either of the two guys who were his potential love-interests.

The way he acted through it all made me like him even better, and I liked him quite a bit before I started reading the book. Jules is no pushover. All through the other guys sleazy antics, he behaves with dignity and has too much respect for himself to get into certain circumstances which would give him less than he deserves. Saying any more would be a spoiler, but you'll know what I'm talking about if you've read the book.

Jules story aside, I was mildly surprised by how much I enjoyed the rest of the book, because those parts hadn't got particularly good reviews. I liked both Cosmo and Jane, and thought they had a lot of chemistry. I'd never really noticed Cosmo in the previous books, but he was an interesting character here. I'd never really thought about it before, but I tend to like books about heroes who have a reputation for being scary guys, but underneath it all, are really sweet. That's Cosmo to a T.

Jane was ok. That's par for the course for Brockmann.. her heroines are usually not as good as her heroes. I had a couple of little problems with her characterization (even after all the explanations, I dodn't completely buy that having a party girl image would help a producer and make her more respected), but she didn't irritate me, and I liked her determination to make her movie.

Something else I liked was the way Brockmann handled the bodyguard / client romance and the issue of unprofessionalism that arises from it. Most authors simply gloss over it, but she made it a very effective issue, even before they became involved.

The suspense part of the book was pretty good, too. I was very interested in the moviemaking parts and I really appreciate the fact that the plot kept far away from War On Terror issues. Not being American, romances that are more military-feeling tend to include at least a few things that make me grit my teeth. This one wasn't military romance at all, simply romantic suspense in which the hero happened to be a SEAL in his regular job (though I tried as hard as I could to block out any speculation about what their life would be like from then on, with long, difficult separations, and so on).

Finally, I know many readers have disliked what they called Brockmann's "preaching" in this book. Did I think there was preaching? Hmmm, well, I don't think anyone will finish this book without knowing how Brockmann feels about gay issues and about tolerance, but even if there was preaching, it didn't bother me. Probably because I'm as liberal as it gets in this area. I, for instance, fully support gay marriage and I think gay couples should be treated just as heterosexual couples when it comes to adopting a child. Someone who isn't comfortable with homosexuality might not be totally comfortable with Hot Target, and not just with the Jules storyline.


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