>> Tuesday, September 21, 2010
TITLE: Into the Crossfire
AUTHOR: Lisa Marie Rice
PUBLISHER: Avon Red
SETTING: Comtemporary US
SERIES: Starts the Protectors trilogy
REASON FOR READING: Autobuy author.
Former Navy SEAL Sam Reston keeps to himself. His world is dangerous, uncertain, violent...and there is no room in it for the helpless and weak. Then the most beautiful woman in the world moves in next door to him...Nicole Pearce's life is not in a good place. Her father is dying, and in order to allow him to spend his last days with dignity, she's working herself to death to cover the costs of his care. The translation business she started after moving back from abroad to be with her father is going well and growing. However, so are the treatment costs, so it's a struggle to make enough money to keep up.
Nicole Pearce's life is complicated enough-with an ailing father and a new business to worry about-and the last thing she needs is to get involved with a secretive, hard-bodied, hardheaded neighbor. Yet Sam leaves her breathless-her body tingling with erotic desire-and it takes every ounce of her fabled control to resist offering herself to him, no strings attached. What she doesn't know is that Sam Reston is on an undercover assignment . . . and she's about to step into the crossfire.
Never has Sam ached for a woman so badly, and he's never fallen in love before. Now that Nicole is in grave danger, he will become her shield, and guard the tempting body he longs to touch and taste. Because a terrorist plot hatched half a world away is heading to their doorstep-and it can only be derailed by one man and one woman.
Sam Reston's security firm has offices in the same building as Nicole's company. Ever since he first saw her, Sam has been fascinated by Nicole. Really fascinated. The guy practically salivates every time he even thinks of Nicole. However, all that time he has been working undercover, so he has been coming and going looking like a scary lowlife -hardly the sort of person someone like Nicole would want to date.
Sam's chance comes just after his undercover case ends, when he finds Nicole struggling to break into her own office after forgetting her key. Not getting in equals losing an important business deal, so Sam, as ruthless as every LMR hero when it comes to getting close to "his woman", manages to to snag a date with Nicole in return for his help.
And just in time, too, because Nicole has just unknowingly become the target of an assassin. Someone has sent her compromising information hidden in some translation documents, and the evil terrorists it would compromise want her neutralised before she can pass it on.
I hadn't been reading for long before I went "Yay, she's back!". LMR's latest books for Avon Red have been ok, but nowhere near as addictively good as the Ellora's Press books that put her squarely on my autobuy list. These latest books lacked intensity (not to mention, I wasn't completely convinced by the heros). Into the Crossfire has intensity in spades, and Sam was just the right blend of tough and soft.
Sam's attraction to Nicole and his physical and emotional reactions to her are as gloriously over-the-top as ever. He only has to smell her to get a boner that could hammer steel (why you'd want to hammer steel, I don't know, but all LMR heroes think this). He can have sex with her ten times and still be hard. He shoots a "small lake" of semen into her. And as soon as he begins to know the real Nicole, he is absolutely and completely certain that this is the woman for him, and that he'll do anything to be part of her life. And no, I'm not complaining about any of this. This is something I actively enjoy about LMR's books, unrealistic or not, and I wouldn't have them any other way.
Interestingly, I found Sam a bit more human than most of the author's heroes, a bit more vulnerable. He actually has doubts about how Nicole feels about him, and about whether he'll manage to make their relationship go the way he'd so much like it to go. There's a scene when Nicole has sneaked out of Sam's house after sex and is not answering her phone, and he keeps ringing her every 5 minutes, leaving "pleading" messages on her answering machine. I quite liked the self-doubt, actually, because that shows he's not all-knowing and all-confident about everything. It made it seem as if there wasn't that much of a power imbalance between Sam and Nicole. I've sometimes found that a bit problematic in LMR's books, but not at all here.
The other thing I've sometimes found problematic in LMR's books is the heroes' mysoginistic internal monologues. Sam doesn't do that at all. He doesn't think about how he can barely tolerate to touch the women he normally fucks, or about how they are hard and bitter and materialistic (or, my personal favourite, how their pubic hair is stiff and bristly, as opposed to the heroine silky pubes). It was very refreshing, as I had began to consider LMR a bit of a guilty pleasure because of this. Instead of seeing Nicole as an exception, the one woman who's actually ok, Sam actually likes women in general. He doesn't quite see them as strong and equal to him, but rather, more as precious and fragile and needing his and his brothers' protection, but hey, I'll take that over mysoginy any time!
I realise I haven't mentioned Nicole much, but I actually quite liked her. On the surface she's a bit boring: the self-sacrificing daughter, perfectly ladylike and in need of rescue. However, there's more to her than meets the eye, and she's a lot stronger than I thought she'd be.
Finally, I should at least mention the suspense subplot. I never really see them referred to at all in reviews of LMR's books, but I always find them really good. They are different from the usual tired ones used over and over again in too many romances, and actually make sense and keep me interested, even (especially) during scenes told from the villains' point of view. This one involves dirty bombs and assassins, and I found it all quite thrilling.
MY GRADE: An A-. That's how much I loved it.