This is posted as part of Keishon’s TBR Day challenge, which is aimed at encouraging us readers with the towering TBR piles (you know who you are) to start tackling the books that have been languishing in there for eons.
Book: On the Loose (romantic suspense) – excerpt here
Author: Tara Janzen
Copyright Date: 2007
Why did I buy this book? I first stumbled upon Tara Janzen’s Steele Street books a good few years ago. Centred around a super-secret Denver-based special forces group, there was fast-paced action, lots of testosterone, and super-alpha heroes matched up with feisty heroines. Oh, and cars. They were fun entertaining reads – sure, they required some suspension of disbelief, but I was hooked. “On the Loose” is the seventh book in this series, and I picked it up a while back.
Why did it sit in my TBR pile for so long? Well, as much I loved the earlier books, this series went horribly off-course in the fifth and sixth books, “Crazy Love” and “Crazy Sweet”, IMO. The characters underwent dramatic personality changes between one book and the next, the plots became off-the-wall crazy (and not in a good way), and I lost interest in finding out what would happen next.
What is it about? C Smith Rydell and Honoria “Honey” York-Lytton were the secondary h/h characters in “Crazy Sweet”, and to be honest, they were the one redeeming factor in that book for me. Coming from totally opposite worlds, Smith is the hardened Special Defense Forces agent, and Honey the East Coast heiress and socialite. Reunited in this book, Smith has to escort Honey to the depths of the El Savadoran jungles, deliver a few million dollars and some gunpower to the rebels, and get them out safely again. All in a day’s work for a man like Smith…
So what did I think of it? I’ve always mentally grouped Ms Janzen’s books under the “If you like Suzanne Brockmann, you’ll probably enjoy the Steele Street books”, and to some extent, that still holds true. There are a lot of similarities between the books, not least being we spend a lot of the book in the hero’s POV, and there’s usually a secondary couple that ends up being the h/h of an upcoming book. Where it differs is that here, having a masculine POV appears to mainly consist of swearing and lusting after the heroine’s body, and the plot tends to be weak and cobweb thin.
The plot in this book largely went over my head, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to try and keep up with the twists and turns. Everything, and I mean everything, was thrown in there as justification for the implausible storyline that had Honey trotting off to El Salvador with her Louis Vuitton suitcases – drugs, US political maneuvering, local governments, guerillas, blackmail, double-crosses, misunderstandings. Did I care? Not really.
I must admit to feeling some ambiguity when it came to the political aspects because I’m unfamiliar with South American politics and don’t know which cause I’m meant to identify with – the government or the rebels? Maybe Ms Janzen is making a point that it’s not black and white, and that there are grey areas, but I do like feeling that I know where things are in relation to my personal views. Perhaps this is where using an actual country as opposed to a fictional one makes it more difficult for a reader.
Okay, so I didn’t care for the plot. But it wasn’t all bad, I liked C Smith and Honey. I liked finally getting to know what the C stood for. I liked the humour. And I very much liked the intriguing Alejandro Campos that Ms Janzen introduced. So much that I may even buy the next book if it’s his story. And I guess this is where Ms Janzen excels, she makes certain characters so compelling that you really really want to read their story.
My conclusion? Not the best book in this series, but not the worst either. It had some of the magic of the earlier books, and I may, just may, get the next book “Cutting Loose”. C+ for me.