Saturday, February 20, 2010

Recent Read

Set the Dark on Fire by Jill Sorenson

Why this one: I've seen Jill in blog land. In fact I think she visits my blog sometimes so when I saw Crash Into Me was released, I had to get it. And there it languished in the TBR pile. You notice I added the ed to that. When I saw this one in the stores, I got a copy of it too but because I often read books out of order, and it was handier than Crash Into Me, I picked it up first.

Steam Level: Oh yea - it was good!!

Blurb: In a southern California town ablaze with sordid secrets, a free-spirited biologist and a straitlaced sheriff join forces to investigate a suspicious killing -- and find themselves getting a little too close to the flames...

Shay Phillips knows her way around Dark Canyon. She's handy with a gun and can track a wild animal with the best of them. It's humans who usually give her the most trouble. And with a hormonally charged teenage brother to raise -- and an admitted weakness for the wrong kind of man -- they're giving her plenty of trouble these days. Then there's the matter of murder. As an expert on mountain lions, Shay is skeptical when a local prostitute turns up mauled without a drop of blood near the body.

Now, together with the town's newly arrived sheriff, Luke Meza -- a Las Vegas city boy with his own dark secrets -- Shay must navigate a dangerous valley filled with angry ex-lovers, unfaithful spouses, and poisonous snakes in a desperate search for the killer. But when suspicion falls on her own brother, and her attraction to Luke rages into a full-on erotic affair, can Shay quell the fires inside her long enough to uncover the truth?

My Thoughts: It's always a bit tricky when you read a book by someone you 'know' if if you don't really 'know' them but sort of kind of know them. What if you don't really like the book they wrote but you really like them. I needn't have worried!! I LOVED this book! It was everything a romantic suspense should be.

What sets this book apart from so many others and makes it so good is the complexity of the characters. We first meet Shay when she is called to assist with a body believed to have been killed by a mountain lion. She is a wild life ranger and to say she is hung over when she is first called in is putting it mildly. She has hangover to beat all hangovers. We aren't quite sure what to make of her at first and neither is the hero, Luke. He thinks she is a wild party girl, but as the book goes along we, along with Luke, discover that she is far from that. Instead she is someone who loves her job and is good at it. She also has sole care for her younger, yet troubled brother Dylan. She is lost as to how to reconnect with him and regain the closeness they used to have before she became his only guardian. I found her to be really unique and fascinating. She isn't at what she first appears to be and she makes a most compelling heroine.

Luke Meza makes an equally compelling hero. He has only been the new sheriff for a couple of days when he is faced with this most unusual case. He's just left the Las Vegas police force and for him this is only an interim post until something else comes along. He really does seem out of his element and a fish out of water in this small town with it's small town idiosyncrasies. Although he came from the flashy city of Las Vegas, he is surprisingly reluctant to get involved with Shay despite his very strong attraction to her and Shay is the same. Although at first it seems she might be a bit of a party girl, she really isn't.

I don't know why it is - but I'm really having troubles putting my thoughts into words on this book. It's quite quirky but I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking it's lighthearted or that the suspense suffers in the romantic suspense part of it.

The characters - the main characters and the secondary characters are so incredibly vivid and well drawn out. I loved it - simply loved it!!

Grade: 5 out of 5

Crash Into Me by Jill Sorenson

Why This One: You notice I added an ed in the previous review. I hadn't gotten very far into Set The Dark on Fire when I had to get this one out of the TBR pile and ready for a read as soon as I finished STDoF.

Steam Level: Oh yes - this one had plenty of it!

Blurb: One streetwise undercover agent will do whatever it takes to catch her man....

In this heart-stopping novel, Jill Sorenson delivers a romantic thriller featuring one too-tough female agent, one too-hot male suspect, and a head-on erotic collision.... CRASH INTO ME

Ben Fortune may have gone into virtual seclusion after his wife's murder, but he was still the world's most famous surfer, known as much for his good looks as for his skill on the board. He's also a suspect in a series of brutal murders. FBI Special Agent Sonora "Sonny" Vasquez has been sent undercover to the elite beach community of La Jolla to make friends with Fortune. With her fierce beauty and take-no-prisoners attitude, she's more than equipped for the job. But all too soon she and Ben have collided in an affair that is both intense and irresistible. Could this sensual, wounded man really be a killer? And could falling in love blind Sonny to the greatest danger of all?

My Thoughts: I could do this in one word. Wowzers. But that isn't very descriptive or helpful is it? I thought this one was the bees knees, the cat's pajamas!! I've never come across a hero/heroine quite like Ben or Summer/Sonny or a cast of secondary characters like these ones before.

Ben was such a combination of wounded soul, arrogance, lost, full of himself and so very....loveable and odd. He's champion surfer who made a name for himself in his younger days. To say he was a wild party animal would be putting it mildly. But when tragedy struck, he made a 180, but still kept enough of the wild guy about him to make him utterly fascinating and compelling. He admits he was a Class A Asshole and from the glimpses we get, the reader has to agree with him - he was!! But now he's a single dad, struggling mightily with a troubled, smart mouthed daughter who you want to slap and hug at the same time, a recovering alcoholic, and *laughing* a vegatarian and a total studd muffin.

Summer/Sunny is an equally fascinating character. She's someone loaded with issues - issues we don't get to see until much further along in the book. She's constantly leading poor Ben on, then almost beating him up when he goes too far. It's funny and touching and sad all at the same time. She is an F.B.I. agent looking for a serial killer and Ben is a suspect. Because of her incredible attraction to him, she's constantly doing things, as an agent, she shouldn't be doing, knowing that she shouldn't, but unable to stop. And we, the reader don't blame her. Written by a less skilled writer, some of the things she says or does, we would be thinking 'wait a minute here', but with this writer, it makes sense - at least to me.

I don't know if Jill Sorenson will be anywhere I will be, but if she does, I want to pull her aside for a coffee - my treat - so I can ask her what happens with many of the secondary characters. They were so real and believable that I HAVE to know what happens.

As with Set the Dark on Fire, I'm not sure that I can get my feelings down well on this book and how different and again, quirky it was.

Grade: 5 out of 5


Sayuri said...

Oh you make these sound really good Kristie but romantic suspense is a genre that has not performed well for me in the past.

I always go back to it thinking, this time will be different but I always end up feeling disappointed.

Too many crazy serial stalkers/killers and TSTL heroines and sex at ridonkolus times within the plot.

But you mkae these sound goooooood......

I'm torn.

Julia said...

I've read CRASH INTO ME and really enjoy it. I jus have not got my copy of SET THE DARK ON FIRE yet. I need to get copy. Great review, Kristie! :)

novelnelle said...

Great reviews Kristie! I have a hard time finding romantic suspense that works for me. I also feel that either the relationship or the suspense has taken a back seat to the other. It sounds like these strike a pretty good balance.

Oh and although I'm a little late to the party I just started Broken Wing last night and I'm already 3/4 of the way through and I'm looooooooving it :)

Mary G said...

Hi Kristie
Thanks for the heads up on these. I won Set The Dark On Fire but have not read it yet.
Hi Novelnelle - good to see you here.
To those interested in a good combo of rom & susp, I love:
Cindy Gerard
Christy Reece
Cherry Adair
Stephanie Tyler
-to start. I'm sure there are others I'll think if later.

Tabitha said...

5 out of 5 for both books? Now I'm curious! I love romantic suspense so I'll definitely check out these authors next time I'm at the bookstore. Thanks!

Jill Sorenson said...

Wow! Two 5/5 reviews in one! I'm so flattered. And I'm up for coffee, anytime!! But hopefully I can write a follow-up for Crash Into Me and answer your questions that way.

Love your site, thanks so much!!

Kristie (J) said...

Jill: I'll be holding you to that coffee! And I'm happy to hear you have more planned for some of the secondary characters of Crash Into Me - they certainly are intriguing!!

Tabitha: They aren't your average bear when it comes to RS - which really makes them standouts for me.

Mary: *g* Now you'll have to move it up on your TBR pile. RS was my third most read genre last year - and I have a graph that can prove it - heh, heh, heh.
I've read and loved Cindy Gerrard's books - Cherry Adair I was meh on the couple of hers I've read and I still have to read the Christy Reece ones. So many books *sigh* so little time.

NovelleNelle: Isn't Broken Wing incredible????? I just gave a friend a bunch of books and told her she had to read that one first -- that it jumped right to the top of the pile when it comes to all time favourite reads!!
And these two by Jill Sorenson were both so unusual - I really thought they were great!!

Julia: Set the Dark on Fire has a different 'feel' to it - but equally very enjoyable.

Sayuri: I'd say of the two then, that you would probably enjoy Set the Dark on Fire more. RS has been a genre I've loved for a while though - so I had no trouble really enjoying these two *g*

Leslie said...

Great reviews Kristie! I know I've got Crash Into Me on the tbr pile and I might even have Set the Dark on Fire. Now you've got me wanting to read these right away!