Monday, June 30, 2008

The good, the bad, and the moronic

Two books. Two sets of protagonists. Both heroes are or were law enforcement. Both heroines are being chased by hit men. Seemingly similar, right? Then how can two books be so different?

Last week I finished two books: Extreme Danger by Shannon McKenna and Hot by Julia Harper (aka. Elizabeth Hoyt.) Large defining characteristics were commonalities between the two books. The end products, though, were vastly different.

Extreme Danger
Shannon McKenna

The book starts off well enough with Becca Cantrell escaping to remote Frake's Island to avoid the press. Her fiance (now ex) was caught the night before the wedding in a compromising situation. His ex was giving him some oral pleasure while he was driving and he crashed his car into a tree. Not so smooth for a guy aiming to be a politician. Also, the teeth marks must have been pretty bad.

Becca decides she has been too staid and boring. She needs to take risks! So after downing a bottle of wine she sneaks over to the neighbors house to take a clandestine swim... in the buff. This would be fine if the house was still own by the uber rich computer geek, but it has recently been bought by an international mobster. Not so good.

Nick catches Becca swimming in the buff. Who is she? Is she an assassin? Is she a test sent by the mobster to tempt him into betraying his cover? Is she just some stupid chick who stumbled in at the worst possible time?

Thus begins Becca's involvement with (and near destruction of) Nick Ward, undercover freelance operative trying to take down the international baddie. They strike enough sparks off one another to start all of California on fire. These two have some hot, raunchy sex. Sadly, I needed more than that. As intense as the story (and their smexin) was, I did not believe in their romance. I just could not buy into their love and HEA. Becca just found out the man she loved was getting his tootsiepop licked by another woman. Her judgement is men is atrocious. Nick does not trust anyone, to the point that he betrays Becca and nearly gets her killed. Yup, that' the basis for a lasting relationship. Sorry. I just can't buy it.

Julia Harper

Where Extreme Danger was serious and intense, Hot was lighthearted and fun. Bravo to Ms. Harper/Hoyt! Turner Hastings is sassy, fun and capable. When the bank she is working at is held up at gun point by Yoda and Spongebob, she sees her chance. In the ensuing chaos, Turner steals the contents of a safe deposit box and hits the road. You see, she has a criminal to catch and the items she stole just might be the key. John MacKinnon is one of the FBI agents called in to investigate the bank robbery. From the moment he sees Turner on the surveillance tapes his attention is captured.

For the first portion of the book, the two never meet. John is chasing after Turner, trying to apprehend her for the crime. Turner is trying to find proof that her uncle was innocent of embezzlement. Remaining out of John;s reach is essential. She is damn good at this! From the get go John makes contact with Turner via her cell phone. Soon the two begin talking more frequently than is altogether necessary for the investigation. By the time John captures Turner he is on her side and ready to be inside of her. Hot damn, baby! These two are hot.

I really liked this book. There are funny moments, sexy moments, incredibly intense moments. This book has two strong, likable main characters. Other fabulous mentionables: John and his handcuffs, the best dog EVER, two idiot bank robbers who have to have been based on Beevis and Butthead. Whenever there was a chapter devoted to the bank robbers on the run, I would end up in tears laughing. The dialogue between them was like listening to two of my junior high school students try to mastermind a bank heist. And the end of the chapters? Priceless. The dialogue and action would be going along and it would all end with a sentence like:

Then Bucky attacked. Then the cop car drove by. Then they fell in the swamp.

Two books with such similarities, yet so very different. If you were to pick between the two go with Hot. I'm not sure if I liked it as much as The Raven Prince (the only other book of hers I have read so far), but it is a fun romp. Definitely worth it.


Stacy~ said...

I have a hard time warming up to Mckenna's stories. As much as I want to, they just don't click all the way with me.

I've been wondering about the Julia Harper book. I enjoyed "The Raven Prince" (my favorite out of the trilogy) so I am tempted to give it a go. But that would mean adding to the tbr pile, and I'm really trying not to do that.

Kristie (J) said...

I haven't read McKenna's last few books so I haven't read this one - and no real plans to read it, but I did read Hot and really enjoyed it. She has a totally different voice in contemporary then she does in historical. And yep, I loved the bank robbers - they were a hoot - and the dog. And I loved the phone conversations. Normally a book where the hero and heroine don't meet until the middle of the book would bother me, but it didn't at all in this case.

Katie(babs) said...

Extreme Danger annoyed me like you wouldn't believe! How much uber nasty villains can McKenna write?

Ciara said...

Oh fun. I haven't read either author (but Raven Prince is on my bookshelf just waiting for me!). The second one looks good. Thanks for the review!