Out of Control, by Suzanne Brockmann

>> Sunday, February 22, 2015

TITLE: Out of Control
AUTHOR: Suzanne Brockmann

PAGES: 470
PUBLISHER: Ballantine

SETTING: Contemporary US and Indonesia
TYPE: Romantic suspense / thriller
SERIES: 4th in the Troubleshooters series

Savannah von Hopf has no choice. To save her uncle’s life, she goes in search of Ken “WildCard” Karmody, a guy she barely knew in college who is now a military operative. She must convince him to help her deliver a cache of ransom money into the hands of terrorists halfway around the world. What she doesn’t expect is to end up in WildCard’s arms before she can even ask for his help.

WildCard has always had a soft spot for beautiful women. But when he discovers Savannah’s hidden agenda, he is determined to end the affair. But Savannah is bound for Indonesia with or without his protection, and he can’t just walk away. When her plan goes horribly wrong, they are trapped in the forsaken jungle of a hostile country, stalked by a lethal enemy. As time is running out, they scramble to escape, risking their lives to stop a nightmare from spinning even further out of control...

I decided to reread Out of Control after a run of a few books I had to push myself to continue reading. I wanted something that would engage me, and I remembered exactly just how much these early books in the Troubleshooters series had done that. I remembered that so clearly that I was surprised to realise I haven't reviewed this one. OOC has stuck in my mind enough that I was sure I'd reread it recently, but the first one in the series I have a review of is Into the Night, read in December 2002.

OOC does that typical Brockmann thing from that time of having lots of simultaneous storylines and moving between them constantly.

The main one is the romance between Savannah von Hopf and Ken "Wildcard" Karmody, a character readers of the series would have already known well. He's the off-the-wall, think-outside-the-box guy without a filter who's part of SEAL Team 6. As the book starts, Kenny is still a bit bruised after his girlfriend of over a decade left him. They'd had a long-distance on-again, off-again sort of relationship, very unhealthy and high-maintenance, but Kenny thought he genuinely loved her. Now he feels used.

When a gorgeous woman has a flat tire in front of his house and his offer of help turns into dinner by his pool and mind-blowing sex, he's in heaven. She's amazing and clearly wants him like crazy, so before long he's convinced himself he's madly in love with her. Until he finds out Savannah knew exactly who he was. In fact, she knew him (and had a huge crush on him) when they were in university, as she's a distant friend of Kenny's ex. She has travelled all the way to San Diego with the explicit purpose to ask for his help. Her favourite uncle has just called from Indonesia, completely out of the blue, asking Savannah to bring him a quarter of a million dollars. Savannah is understandably nervous, and thought she would approach Kenny, whom she knows is a SEAL, and hire him to escort her.

Of course, given what happened the night before, Kenny assumes she tried to manipulate him with sex and is majorly pissed off. (BTW, Brockmann makes it believable and understandable -though clearly a Bad Idea- why she didn't say anything at the time). He ends up agreeing to go with Indonesia, although making it very clear he despises Savannah. But as soon as they land in Jakarta things go wrong, and they end up stranded in the jungle in a faraway island, trying to avoid all sorts of armed bands and get to safety. And as Kenny spends time with Savannah and gets to know her, he begins to realise he might have misjudged her.

Also on the Indonesian island are missionary Molly Anderson and pilot and black-marketeer Jones. Jones is not the conscience-less, only-out-for-himself guy he tells himself he is, and Molly is the only one who sees it (and calls him on all his bullshit). After they begin a relationship they each realise they are crazy for the other, but it's a relationship that has no future. Molly is about to head to her next mission in Africa, and Jones has major baggage, including a very high price on his head.

Brockmann always included a WWII story, and the one here involves Savannah's grandmother, Rose, who is a huge war hero. She was a double agent and was involved in really influential missions, and she has now written up her story in a bestselling book. We get sections from it, as pretty much all the characters are reading it, and those mainly cover her relationship with Heinrich von Hopf, an Austrian prince who, we know from the start, became her husband.

Rose has quite a bit of influence, so as soon as it becomes clear her son, and then her grandniece, are missing, she makes sure she's involved with the American team trying to rescue them. And of course, which team would that be but Max Bhagat's, which includes Alyssa Locke. And SEAL Team 6 is involved as well, since Kenny's also missing, and Sam Starrett is there too.

We basically rotate between all these threads, getting a scene from each. I remember that with the early books in the series it was always the case that I was more interested in one of the minor threads than in the main romance. I don't know whether that was the case when I first read the book (I was pretty involved with the Sam/Alyssa relationship then), but this time it was Kenny and Savannah I kept wanting to go back to. Sam and Alyssa were interesting, but nothing much happens here. And Molly and Jones didn't particularly appeal to me this time. Their thread is fine, but I wasn't dying to get back to them. As for Rose's story, I did like that quite a lot. She's one cool woman, and I loved her resourcefulness and the way Heinrich adored her for it.

There's a lot of action, but also plenty of emphasis on the romance. I liked both elements and thought both were really well done and perfectly integrated. The book certainly kept me turning the pages like crazy. However, I had some issues with both, which I don't think were a problem when I read the book

On the action side, I got a bit annoyed with the rah-rah attitude towards SEALs. They're the bestest most wonderfulest people ever, and no foreigners can beat them. And they and the FBI basically go around taking over all over the world, because they're clearly so much better than the locals, that the latter can't but bow to them and let them run things. Sigh.

As for the romance, Brockmann is good at going straight for the gut. She still got me this time, but as I was enjoying it, I still found it ever-so-slightly cringey. Kind of in a similar way that JR Ward's book are cringey, but not quite (nowhere near as shameless!).

Still, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I might well go back and reread the series from the start.



Darlynne,  22 February 2015 at 19:36  

I have enjoyed her books, too, and share similar reservations. HOT TARGET is probably my favorite and I have the audio version available at all times.

The "why" of my enjoyment is a little harder to quantify, so I'll leave it at great characterization, interesting (sometimes overblown) plots and places/situations I will never encounter.

Maybe, too, it's because there is such passion in all these stories. No one is or can be ambivalent about any of what happens, including the reader.

Rosario 28 February 2015 at 08:10  

I liked Hot Target, but I think my favourite was always Over The Edge. That one had peak Alyssa and Sam, and I loved the main storyline as well. Hmmm, I feel more rereads coming up!

It's always difficult to pinpoint the why, isn't it? I think with Brockmann what I always particularly appreciate is how she does deep POV. The emphasis is always on how people are feeling, not what they're doing, and that makes for really great romance.

Christine,  4 March 2015 at 02:02  

I loved Over The Edge. It remains my all time favorite Brockmann. I was gobbling these books up at the time, on the day they were released. Out Of Control was one of my favorites mainly because of "Wild Card" Carmody. I will never forget the scene in OTE where Stan opens the men's room door after Ken starts a bar fight and sees him sitting on the floor crying. It was just so different from any romance book featuring "he men" military guys I had ever read before and I fell hook, line and sinker for Ken. Brockmann did a great job setting up his backstory so you understand why he is as vulnerable as he is and why the idea of SEAL groupie or a woman using him is so devastating. I agree about the secondary characters as well. Molly and Jones just didn't grab my attention. They were fine, but until you mentioned them I had forgotten they were the secondary romance in this book. In Over The Edge I loved every single story in the book, not just the main couple's but in OOC, like you, I just wanted more Ken and Savnnah. While OTE is my favorite I have a hard time deciding between Ken and Stan as favorite characters as they were both so memorable.

Rosario 5 March 2015 at 06:58  

Christine: I was doing the same back then, and since I was still living in Uruguay, it took some doing. A friend of mine was a huge fan as well, so we shared the cost of fast shipping from the US and then flipped a coin to see which would get to read it first :)

And yes, agreed, I loved every single story in OTE, which made it even better to read. I think I'm going to be starting a reread from book 1. There's a secondary storyline there which I remember being amongst my favourites.

Christine,  9 March 2015 at 15:17  

Rosario, you were clearly a very committed reader! I live in the same state as Suzanne Brockmann (so it was much easier for me to get the books) and I went to a book signing around the time of this release. This was before she was as big of a deal and publishing in hardcover. It was at a local supermarket and she had a table set up not far from the door and was very cheerful and friendly. I was surprised I was the only one there at the time. She was also giving out copies of her CD she had recorded with her group. I particularly get a kick out the books when there is a reference to Massachusetts. In one of her earlier SEAL books (when she was writing for Silhouette) the hero was from my home town and we talked about that. Some time after the whole Sam and Alyssa plot line wrapped up I fell out of love with the series. I don't know if it got too convoluted or I had overdosed on her books (I had picked up a lot of her backlist as well) but it just didn't feel as fresh or maybe urgent is the word. I tried one of her newer stand alones a couple of years ago and it really didn't work for me which made me kind of sad (which sounds silly). I do really love her books from this era and even the Silhouette ones that came before. I will have to but myself OTE and OOC in ebook because I find I just don't read "real" books anymore. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I love the idea of us both gobbling up the books in different parts of the world.

Rosario 10 March 2015 at 09:04  

Christine: Oh, you have no idea the lengths I used to go to to get my books before the advent of ebooks (they were such a godsend). Mostly I had to wait for ages for them to arrive, but Brockmann was the exception, the only author I'd pay (quite a bit of) extra money for faster shipping.

I did lose interest a few books after Sam and Alyssa. They did get a bit convoluted (and soap operaish) for me, but it was also that the action moved more to the Troubleshooters, and I had more and more issues in every book with the stuff they got up to. I will probably read the latest few at some point, but I'm in no hurry.

I do love her Silhouettes as well. They're a bit fluffy, but perfectly formed and really enjoyable :)

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