Shoot to Thrill, by Nina Bruhns

>> Thursday, September 30, 2010

TITLE: Shoot to Thrill
AUTHOR: Nina Bruhns

PAGES: 352

SETTING: Contemporary US and Sudan
TYPE: Adventure / Thriller Romance
SERIES: First in the Passion for Danger trilogy (I think it's a trilogy!)

REASON FOR READING: Impulse buy. I can't really say why it appealed to me, as it's not my usual kind of book. Hmmm, maybe because of that, actually!

A sexy black-ops hero and a beautiful ER nurse must fight for their lives--and for a love they never thought possible...

"Do this last mission and we'll tear up your contract." Kick Jackson, former CIA spy, has heard that one before. But this time, saying no isn't an option. Only he can identify a dangerous terrorist and stop a bloodbath--and Kick's conscience won't let him walk away. Unfortunately, his enemies are bent on making sure he never walks again, sending him on the run--and straight into the arms of the one woman with the power to save him.

Nurse Rainie Martin wants to run like hell when Kick kidnaps her, but how can she abandon a wounded hero? Thrown unwittingly into an international game of deadly stakes, Rainie soon realizes the drop-dead gorgeous rogue operator has sent her well-ordered life spinning out of control. To survive she'll have to face her worst fears ... including a lethal attraction to her dangerous captor.

From the glitter of New York to the desolate sands of the Sahara, the unlikely couple must battle to stay alive, while finding the courage to trust again--and something even scarier: to open their hearts to love...
Typical. With the book I read before this one, I had plenty of time to read, but a hard time caring enough about the characters to actually want to spend time finding out what would happen. And then I started Shoot To Thrill and proceeded to have a week where I had stuff going on every single evening. I only had time to read STT in dribs and drabs, even though I was desperate to sit down for an entire evening and finish it. It was that good.

Nurse practitioner Rainie Martin has been dragged along by her friend to a speed dating event for medical professionals. She's not into it at all (it's been a while since she's found a man interesting, and the people at the event are the same old, same old), until she sets eyes on a sexy, dangerous-looking guy. The guy sets his eyes on her right back, making it clear it's lust at first sight on both their parts. And before she knows it, Rainie is doing something completely out of character and leaving the event with him, against her friend's protests that the whole point was to find someone safe! Turns out Rainie's friend was right, and Rainie soon realises the man is not quite what he appeared to be.

Kick Jackson is on the run from his former CIA colleagues, who are determined to have him back and on a mission he really doesn't want to go on. He crashed the speed dating event with the sole purpose of finding a medic who could help him through some health issues, and at the same time give him a place to lie low for a couple of days. When Rainie sees through his cover, he is desperate enough to kidnap her and force her into helping him.

But things don't go quite as he expected, and Kick is soon forced on that dreaded mission, which turns out to be in Sudan. And so is Rainie, because the CIA guys aren't dumb, and they realise holding her is a good way of pressuring Kick into doing what they want. But things go wrong almost immediately, stranding the two of them in a desperate situation...

I can't really pinpoint exactly what it was that got me so excited to read this book. Yes, the pacing is pretty frantic throughout the entire book, with a fast-moving plot, but that's not something that would necessarily draw me to a book (I tend to prefer more character-driven and thus usually slower books). I suppose it's just the way the book flowed and Bruhns' writing style. She just does fast-paced, sexy adventure really well. In spite of the short time-frame and the fact that there was exciting stuff going on pretty much all the time, there was character development and enough between Kick and Rainie to make me believe in their relationship. I was even interested in the plot about the terrorists!

I thought at first that there wasn't going to be a huge deal of character development, but there was. Possibly even a bit too much, as Rainie changes from a woman who can't even bear to go into a car or look at a gun without getting panic attacks to a gung-ho warrior who refuses to be left behind even for what pretty much is a suicide mission. I didn't 100% buy this, but I quite liked it anyway. I liked that before too long, she's more than a match for Kick. As for Kick, he's got your garden-variety tortured background that made me what he is, blah, blah. Worked all right, but nothing particularly interesting.

The only annoying thing about STT was the nicknames. Seriously, what is it with these people? What problem do they have with their given name? Kyle constantly insisted on being called the very silly-sounding Kick, but I thought Rainie was even worse. I actually like the nickname Rainie, but to me, it sounds quite girly and cutie. Surely when faced with tough CIA agents who are blackmailing you into helping them do something you feel is very wrong, and when you're trying to stand tough and resist their pressure, the last thing you want to do is to sound girly and cute. Why on earth did she make a point of insisting they call her Rainie rather than Lorraine?

Anyway, minor stuff. I liked pretty much all else. Actually, this book reminded me a bit of Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series, in the way Bruhns starts developing but leaves hanging a couple of other storylines at the same time as Kick and Rainie's. There's the mysterious man being held by the terrorists, with his dreams of his "angel with an H", which I loved and hope to see more of in the next books. And then there's Rainie's friend Gina (the one who dragged her to the speed dating). Now, that one I was very interested in as well, but had mixed feelings about. When Rainie disappears after contacting her with a weird story, Gina is desperate to find her friend. She ends up being contacted by a CIA operative whom she's sure is trying to keep her quiet and stop her from making a fuss, and there's a violent attraction between them. There is a lot of chemistry and potential for yummy conflict there, but some of the sex scenes made me uncomfortable. I think I'll still read their book, which is the third in this trilogy. I wonder if they'll feature in book 2 as well?

The other similarity to Brockmann is in STORM, the private company involved in military operations that is introduced during the book, quite similar to Brockmann's Troubleshooters Inc. I have huge problems with the very idea of companies such as these, but so far, I'm willing to keep going along with it.



Anonymous,  30 September 2010 at 14:20  

I really enjoyed the trilogy. I found bits and pieces scattered among the action to be surprisingly emotional (yes there's more from the prisoner and his "Angel"). And I understand what you mean about being uncomfortable with the sex between Gina and her CIA agent. Their story was a good one. I found as long as I can suspend my disbelief, the entire thing worked for me on a juvenile, action-hero-loving level. Hope you enjoy the rest of the trilogy :)

Lori,  30 September 2010 at 14:21  

<span>I really enjoyed the trilogy. I found bits and pieces scattered among the action to be surprisingly emotional (yes there's more from the prisoner and his "Angel"). And I understand what you mean about being uncomfortable with the sex between Gina and her CIA agent. Their story was a good one. I found as long as I can suspend my disbelief, the entire thing worked for me on a juvenile, action-hero-loving level. Hope you enjoy the rest of the trilogy :) </span>

Li,  30 September 2010 at 21:39  

Oooh, touches of Brockmann?  Interesting!  I've not heard of this book before, but will look for this now.

rosario001,  1 October 2010 at 08:02  

Lori: Completely agree about having to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy it. I didn't really have much trouble telling the more rational bits of my brain to shut up and let me enjoy myself! 

I'm now in the middle of the second book and enjoying it quite well. Not only am I getting development of the two secondary storylines introduced in this one, another one has just been introduced, which is really cool.

Li: Just remember I said "touches", ok?  :)  It's mostly the structure and the type of setup. Good as this was, it doesn't quite have the depth of emotion that Brockmann can do.

Anonymous,  5 October 2010 at 05:25  

I agree with you, thanks for an explanation. As always all ingenious is simple.

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