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REVIEW:  Scorched by Laura Griffin

REVIEW: Scorched by Laura Griffin

“The dead don’t speak, but Kelsey Quinn knows their secrets. As a forensic anthropologist at the Delphi Center crime lab, Kelsey makes it her mission to identify bodies, often using no more than shards of bone. Her find at a remote Philippines dig hints at a sinister story. When Kelsey’s search for answers puts her at the scene of her ex-fiancé’s murder, only one man can help her–the man who broke her heart months before and is also a prime suspect.

Faced with an ultimatum—Kelsey or his job—Gage Brewer did the only thing a Navy SEAL could . . . but that doesn’t mean he stopped wanting Kelsey. Now Kelsey is running for her life and Gage is her last line of defense.”

Dear Ms. Griffin:

My reaction to the last book “Twisted” had me worried and frankly I was holding my breath with this one. I did end up with a few tiny issues but overall this one is back to what I hope for in a Laura Griffin romantic suspense book.

Laura Griffin ScorchedThe plots of these books always sound plausible. I might have issues with the way some of the characters act and react but as far as the driving force behind what gets the action going, I don’t have to suspend belief and just go with it. And the plots are scary as hell – usually. The break from a serial killer villain is appreciated. Now we’re on to mass murder. Is this worse – more victims in total, or better in that I’m not worried throughout the story for individuals who might fit the profile? I’m conflicted on that but the evil level is still maintained throughout.

What happens is a clever mix of real events and dreaded scenarios. I hate to use the hackneyed phrase “torn from the headlines of a newspaper” but, honestly, the plot could be. Thanks for keeping it real.

Isn’t it nice for the unsuspecting American populace that trained SEALs are there who are cool as ice under pressure? And have had their anthrax vaccines? Hmmm, I’m not sure about that phrase “Froggie sense” that Gage’s teammates use to describe his sixth sense of danger since for me it conjures visions that are more cute than that of finely honed warrior instincts. Thank God the description of the SEALs here is not quite to the worship stage of other authors but still enough to get a good feeling that these men can handle whatever is thrown at them and are not going to back down. More “cool, man” than “OMG, I’m so in awe!” of them.

I love the details of Kelsey and later Gage doing what they do best. Even if they’re sort of grim details it gives the characters authenticity and veracity to their speculations later on. But how does Kelsey think she’s going to be able to waltz into the Delphi center – with all its id checks – and not realize the FBI will catch on to the fact that she’s there?

The tension is built up, then lowered down a touch, then built a bit higher, then relaxed a little then slowly raised to bursting point. It’s not like a roller coaster but more in gentle inclines but the payoff is still boss. I have a niggle though, at the out that Kelsey offers to the SEALs at the end. Really, she thinks they might say “nah, we think we’re done here. You take it from now on” and give up at the last minute? And what does she know about what needs to be done? She loves her man and wants to help but, jeez! Jane and I chatted a bit about this issue and she, rightly, pointed out that Kelsey has a scientifically trained mind and isn’t one to get all squirrely under pressure.

Love the way one final person gets caught. Fucking genius. At times I might wonder about the intelligence of the FBI but here it’s abso-fucking-lutely great. Big smile time.

Initially as I read it, I thought the love story didn’t work as well for me as the suspense. Then I thought back and realized it does work. There are fabulous reasons that Gage and Kelsey initially broke up – and they match what I’ve heard are the standard issues for the rockiness of SEAL marriages. Plus there’s the geography of Gage stuck in either of two US locations where SEALs are stationed and Kelsey in mid country in a dream job. It would be next to impossible for either to just pick up and find a similar job in closer proximity to each other. Plus Gage’s initial concentration on sex with Kelsey with no expectation of it being more for them kinda sucks. Sure, as a relief valve for the pressure they’ve been under, I can see but Kelsey is aware that Gage isn’t thinking long term commitment. As I’m reading this, I’m thinking that these two a polar lengths apart and how could they ever work through these issues. It’s only after the fact that it becomes clear that the whole book is set up to allow this.

Gage and Kelsey both knew how important each others’ jobs are but here they get to see the other in action and it finally becomes crystal clear how damned good each is at what he/she does and how important these jobs are. As Kelsey becomes a target, Gage finally realizes what she went through worrying about him when he was in combat. It’s the proverbial “Ahhh haa, the light dawns” moment. And right when Kelsey tells him what she wants in the future, and that she now knows she won’t get it from him because she can see what being a SEAL is really all about, he begins to shift to knowing that he wants to be the man in her future. The transition works for me. Instead of a book where I can’t buy into the change of heart needed to bring two people together who’ve been written so far apart, here I can see it happen.

The time added on to the end of the story helps and the fact that both of them are willing to give in order to make this work is a fantastic beginning to the next stage of their relationship.  B

Jayne

 

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REVIEW: Snapped by Laura Griffin

REVIEW: Snapped by Laura Griffin

Dear Ms. Griffin,

When reading your romantic suspense books, one thing I can count on is that the underlying reason for the suspense plot won’t be too far out in Never Never land. Perhaps there might be a slight lift of my eyebrow or the beginnings of a question on my face but overall, the basis for the whole sound and light show generally makes sense and might happen in real life. And that is an accomplishment.

“On a sweltering summer afternoon, Sophie Barrett walks into a nightmare. A sniper has opened fire on a college campus. When the carnage is over, three people – plus the shooter – are dead and dozens more are injured. Sophie escapes virtually unscathed. Yet as details emerge from the investigations, she becomes convinced that this wasn’t the random, senseless act it appeared to be. No one wants to believe her – not the cops, not her colleagues at the Delphi Center crime lab, and definitely not Jonah Macon, the homicide detective who has already saved her life once.

Jonah has all kinds of reasons for hoping Sophie is mistaken. Involving himself with a key witness could derail an already messy investigation, not to mention jeopardize his career. But Sophie is as determined and fearless as she is sexy. If he can’t resist her, at least he can swear to protect her. Because if Sophie is right, she has made herself the target of a killer without a conscience. And the real terror is only just beginning….”

Snapped by Laura GriffinShootouts at college campuses are, unfortunately, not new. When I read your letter that came with the arc, the personal inspiration for this novel chilled me. But turned sideways a little, you’ve made it into the basis for a suspenseful book. We’ve got the background of the Whitman sniper + teenage hackers + something already being done in the everyday world – though maybe not on people yet + greed + a ballooning house mortgage. Yep, events that have and are happening.

The attraction between Jonah and Sophie has been smoldering for months which keeps the romance from seeming too quick for me. They are physically and sexually attracted to each other but both keep a lid on it except when Sophie wants to manipulate Jonah into something – then she pulls out her sexiness and red bra. Plus she’s good at directing conversation where she wants it to go. Okay, it’s blatant sexism but it’s her tried and true weapon to get men to do what she wants. Still, Jonah knows that the badge will get you tail and tail will get the badge if an officer doesn’t watch his ass so he tries to keep things at arms length and is successful for a long time.

And while Jonah and Sophie admire each other’s physique, they also admire the person behind that hot bod. Sophie knows Jonah is a good, steady, thorough cop who won’t let go of something until he understands it all and has all the pieces. When she tells him what she saw, he does follow up on it even if he doesn’t push it to all his fellow officers. He balances what she thinks she saw with evidence and doesn’t just blow her off. Jonah admires how Sophie pulled herself together after the terrifying events in “Unforgiveable” and how she’s attempting to move up in the job world. In other words, it’s not just lust at work here.

The sex, when it finally arrives, is hot and flaming. And only one time was an “inappropriately timed” sexual encounter.

Sophie’s earlier brush with death has affected her as does this one too. Sharp sounds, like the bullets that cracked all around her on campus, make her jump now and anything that reminds her of being handcuffed or stuffed in a trunk set her off. She also isn’t afraid to tell Jonah what she suspects even though she doesn’t get immediate approbation for it. She sticks to her guns and even gooses Jonah with the TV interview. However she then lowers her IQ, IMO, by running several times and doing other things that make me think WTF? I’m thinking, just paint a bulls eye on your forehead lady and get it over with. Jonah is furious at her and I am too. Sorry but no amount of splaining will get me to see this as anything but silly.

“Snapped” has lots of secondary characters. Some are from previous books, though here they serve a purpose in this story and aren’t just there to show how damn happy those characters are now, and some new to this world. I always have fun guessing who might be teamed up with whom in a future book. Allison is cool and I love her “good cop/bad cop” routine – out of sight of the hidden cameras.

Another thing I enjoy in this series is the contrast of the idealized crime fighting done in the Delphi Center vs the cash and time strapped real world of the SMPD. Sophie’s realization that 24/7 witness protection is only for the movies and TV shows is a black humor reality check.

One of the highlights of your books for me is always the final, climactic scene when the evil is finally subdued. It doesn’t disappoint me here either. Call me a geek but I love all the sniper info that each person uses and how Sophie is ready to take out anyone coming after her.

The writing is compelling, the characters interest me even with their flaws, nothing about the basic plot seems too made up or eye rolling, and the tension is palpable when the whole ball of wax unravels. Yes, I know that last bit makes no sense. If not for Sophie doing a runner when she shouldn’t my grade would be higher but “Snapped” still gets a B from me.

~Jayne

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