Title: Shoot to Thrill
Author: Nina Bruhns
Page Count: 328 pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Genre: romantic suspense
Copy for review compliments of the public library
50 words or less: Kyle "Kick" Jackson is a covert operative whose life is pretty empty, all things considered. When he kidnaps Rainie Martin, an ER nurse, in an attempt to foil a really terrible plot, he doesn't realize he just kidnapped the love of his life.
Romantic suspense is one genre that usually leaves me wanting something more. Usually, the hero and heroine are likeable enough, the romance is reasonably satisfying, and the supporting characters are interesting, but the suspense is either completely nonexistent or so twisted that it's easier to just ignore it and focus on other stories and elements. Shoot to Thrill is a good combination of spicy romance, well-drawn characters, and a suspense plot that kept me interested up until the end.
By all accounts, Kick isn't much of a catch in the relationship department. He's recovering from a really terrible injury, drug dependency, and post traumatic stress syndrome from a mission in Afghanistan that went horribly wrong, his job as a covert operative means that he's out of the country doing terribly, horribly dangerous things in locations that are nowhere near friendly, and frankly he doesn't really have any idea how to have a relationship with someone that's not a working one. He figures he'll probably die on a mission and that not having anyone to grieve him back home is for the best.
Rainie, on the other hand, is kind of a prisoner of her own life. She's good at her job as an ER nurse but feels so drained and burdened that having relationships is kind of out of the question. She's terrified of pretty much everything- cars, strangers, you name it. She was at a speed dating event for medical personnel that Kick had crashed just to find a safe, no-strings-attached partner for one night only and ended up getting waaaaay more than she ever, under circumstances, had bargained for.
Without giving too much away, the CIA catches up with the duo and Rainie and Kick end up in Sudan, trying to defuse a terrorist plot that Rainie's best friend, Gina, may be getting sucked into. The secondary characters, both from Gina's role back home and her involvement with another operative and from Kick's fellow agents who show up at fortuitous times to keep the story rolling, are definitely interesting and form the basis for the next two books in the series.
I'm sure people who are knowledgeable about these sorts of things would have a spontaneous aneurysm about the political aspect of the story and the feasibility/plausibility of the maneuvers, but if one suspends disbelief, the story cooks along at a good pace.
What I found endearing about Kick and Rainie is that both of them are very aware of their particular flaws. As they grapple with their feelings for one another, each is honestly surprised that the other might actually care about someone as screwed up as they are. Even when Kick does the mandatory "this will never work and I have to push her away" thing, I believed that he honestly cared about Rainie and didn't want anything bad to happen to her. The happily ever after was one of the sweeter ones I've read lately, and it definitely got me pumped to read the other two books in the series.
This book gets a Scandalous Books designation for sure- the sexy bits are definitely for grownup eyes only, and we meet one character Alex, an operative who's been presumed dead but in fact is currently being held and tortured by enemies, whose ordeal may be very upsetting for some readers.
While certainly no treatise on world affairs, Shoot to Thrill is a great summer read, with lots of explosions and danger and a steamy romance that will make the hours on the beach very hot indeed.
Overall Grade: B+