November 11th, 2013

_First You Run_, Roxane St Clair

Maybe number 4 in Bullet Catchers? I read the first entry about three years ago (and reviewed it); it was okay. This one was much, much better.

There's a subgenre of romance/romantic suspense where an author writes a whole series of novels in which the men are ex-military and then go work for an Elite [Adjective] Agency where they protect people, investigate stuff, contract out to do dangerous work, etc. It is a solution to a problem characteristic of fiction with action/violence/dead bodies: how do we explain the nice little old lady who keeps running across dead bodies is the Agatha Christie problem. These days, it's, how do we get a Big, Strong Man to do Big Strong Stuff for the lovely heroine, with the minimum amount of paperwork (because paperwork is Boring). Police procedurals are fun and all, but there's a limit.

The Bullet Catchers version has several things going for it. The Person Who Runs It is a woman, so that's a plus. And a lot of their bills are paid by fairly boring assignments (body guard the person carrying around valuable stuff), which adds a background element of realism for the ridiculous shenanigans which constitute the plot. It's important, when the plot is a bunch of ridiculous shenanigans, that the author let the reader know that they recognize this is all kind of nuts, without completely undermining the integrity of the story. In this outing, at any rate, St Clair strikes a good balance.

So what's the story? A young woman with an academic background (now an assistant professor) has written a popular book debunking the World Ends in 2012 According to Maya Calendar. (_First You Run_ has a 2008 pub date.) And now, crazy people are attacking her. The other half of the story is, a former member of the Bullet Catchers is trying to track down someone who was illegally adopted as a baby -- and Miranda might be that baby. A current member of the Bullet Catches, while on his own time, is trying to figure out if Miranda is that baby, as part of a longer list of women. (She is -- but she's not the only one. And if you think this is a silly twins thing, you are almost right.)

The hero is the usual tall, fit, quirky Alpha Male with an unpleasant childhood that he has (mostly) overcome. The quirks in this case are former Tasmanian Special Ops Police force, abusive dad, mom was a drug addicted hooker who took off when he was quite small. Hero ran away in his teens and lived with some Aboriginals for a while. (<-- I'm a little unclear on whether this is an offensive plot point or not. It's clearly _intended_ to be cool to have a connection to a marginalized group and _often_ that is exploitative, but I defer to those who might know more.) The heroine has a bunch of phobias that she was more or less trained into by her mother, and which she spends the book overcoming in a not entirely realistic way. There is substantial delay in the sexxorrring because the hero realizes he really likes her, and realizes he has a disclosure problem.

All in all, a fun romp; I've already downloaded the next in the trilogy (this is book 1 of a trilogy _within_ the Bullet Catchers series, as near as I can tell).

_Then You Hide_, Roxane St. Clair

Hedge fund VP Vanessa Porter is one of Miranda Lang's sisters. Wade Cordell, who had a bit part in the previous book, goes down to the Caribbean to convince her to come up to South Carolina and donate blood marrow. She's a tough sell, because she, in turn, is looking for her former co-worker who went on vacation and disappeared. They wander Nevis, arguing, and having a variety of unpleasant encounters with trucks that try to drive them off the road, people who yell at them or shoot at them, and so forth. Vanessa's friend is a gay man, but St Clair keeps the walk-into-a-gay-bar-antics-ensue to a minimum, altho the resolution of the story line is awfully melodramatic.

Vanessa's adoptive parents were an implausible mess. Why would they have resorted to an illegal adoption, if 10 years later it was still possible for her mother to get pregnant? They should have been able to swing a legal adoption, if she was 35 or younger. Very confusing. The story with Miranda's parents was more coherent, however, both back stories seem designed to provide the women with psychological issues that were clearly a result of "nurture" rather than "nature".

I did laugh a bunch at the description of breaking into Palm Grove Villas at the Four Seasons Nevis. Then I spent way too much time looking at pictures of Caribbean resorts with similar kinds of housing, and then contemplating a romantic suspense novel with a chase scene on the monorail at Disney World. *snicker* Books do weird things to my head.

In the larger arc, more deaths are attributed to the Big Bad Guy in the Background, and a lot is made of the tattoos on the back of the babies necks. With "66" and "hi" or "14" as the first two found (and the other triplet dead a couple months ago), I'm betting something like "Higgins" for our Big Bad guy.