Pursuit, by Elizabeth Jennings

>> Friday, October 27, 2017

TITLE: Pursuit
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Jennings

PAGES: 330

SETTING: Contemporary US and Mexico
TYPE: Romantic suspense

A shocking betrayal...her father's murder...and a life-threatening accusation...

Heiress Charlotte Court has walked into a waking nightmare-one that sends her running from her wealthy home to anywhere she can hide.

Across the border in country-region Mexico, Charlotte creates a new identity and finds refuge in the battle-torn arms of Navy SEAL Matt Sanders.

Fleeing his past, Matt yearns to protect her and replace her pain with pleasure. But Charlotte can't trust anyone, not even someone she's starting to love. She knows she's a target-and out of sight, a soulless killer is zeroing in on his prey...
Elizabeth Jennings is a pseudonym for author Lisa Marie Rice, whose outrageously alpha heroes really should not work for me at all, but often do. It baffles me.

Anyway, while some of the early Elizabeth Jennings books are very different from the LMR ones (cozy mysteries, for instance), this one could have easily been written under the latter name.

Charlotte Court finds herself on the run after her father is murdered by the CEO running the family's company. The man had planned to simply seduce Charlotte into marrying him and then take over the company for himself, but she proved resistant. Plan B? Kill her father and frame Charlotte for the murder. Only Charlotte fights back and escapes.

Charlotte manages to find refuge in a little seaside village in Northern Mexico, where she's recovering from the trauma, both mental and physical (she received a gunshot would while escaping). And it's there that she meets Matt Sanders. Matt is a soldier who's recovering from pretty bad trauma as well. He was shot several times in battle, while saving his men, and it's hard for a man who had been in peak physical condition to feel like a weakling. When a friend invites him to stay with him in his place in Mexico to work on his recovery, he accepts.

For the first few weeks, Matt and Charlotte admire each other from a distance. She admires the mental strength in the way he forces himself through what's clearly tough physical therapy, while he feels she's his guardian angel, and having her watching him gives him strength. Their physical meeting doesn't come till Matt saves Charlotte from drowning.

In the aftermath of that near-drowning, Matt sees Charlotte's gunshot wound scar and realises she must be in danger. Which she is, as the evil CEO has sent one of those extremely competent assassins LMR is so fond of after her.

This was fine. There were things I liked, such as the suspense plot. I joke about LMR's love of professional assassins as secondary characters, but I actually enjoy that. We get a fair bit from this guy's point of view, and it's pretty interesting to see how he works, and the methods he uses to track Charlotte to a place that was basically a random choice for her. Some of the scenes as he hunts her down are grisly, but I did appreciate that we were in the mind of a person who only inflicted violence (however brutal) when absolutely necessary and only as a tool to achieve his objective. I get really tired of the sadistic villains who get off on violence.

The romance was nice enough, as well, although with flaws. Yes, it's characterised by an super-protective hero who workships the heroine and there's a lot of the heavy gender essentialism that usually disturbs me (heroine is all feminine and delicate, hero is hypermasculine and burly), but as usual, LMR does manage to pull it back by making her heroine be mentally very strong and her hero respect and appreciate that strength. That said, this was on the predictable side, and I had to laugh at a scene which was a transparent excuse to get Charlotte and Matt naked in a bed before they've even exchanged a word. Right after Charlotte has almost drowned and Matt rescues her, he takes her into her house and stays with her, and in the middle of the night she has hypothermia. Of course, that means... let's share body heat! But creepily, Matt decides to remove everyone's underwear as well! That weirded me out a bit.

Finally, there's something I'm of two minds about. LMR's voice is one I would recognise anywhere. It's good to have a strong, unique voice, but I feel it sometimes becomes almost a collection of writing tics. For instance, she's fond of going into these weird details about the physiological responses her characters are having. Her pulse accelerated, her pupils contracted, blood flowed to her face and the colour changed. In this book, this got to be too much. Plus, I'm not crazy about the fact that in some cases it means the hero is reading the heroine's physiological responses rather than what she's actually saying. Unfortunately, once you've noticed this sort of thing, you can't really unnotice it. But I might have to reread one of my favourites to see if she toned it down a bit in those.



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