Off the Edge is the second in the Associates, a romantic suspense series. While I am a fan of Suzanne Brockman’s Troubleshooter series, I tend not to be a fan generally of romantic suspense. For awhile, I thought I might be into romantic suspense but then I realized it was only the Troubleshooters that I loved. So Off the Edge is not in my typical genre. In many romantic suspense novels I tried, I just couldn’t buy into the caper or the suspense part and (I hesitate to say this) in the romantic suspense genre the characters seem to be less well developed – the stories focus more on an unbelievable action story and steam. Please forgive me if I am trampling all over your preferred genre and I admit I have only tried a few non-Troubleshooters romantic suspense books. (So if you have some romantic suspense you think I should try with fantastically developed characters ala Suzanne Brockmann, let me know!) But if an author gives me a meaty well-written character, that is not perfect nor a stereotype then I will likely enjoy the book — and that is what Off the Edge delivers. Add in to the truly beautiful writing,
“Maybe she could trust him. The idea of trusting him felt like a flower in her heart.”
“You saw a lot of this mix of color and concrete grubbiness in Bangkok. Decrepitude and wealth at vivid angles with each other, like shards from different mirrors.”
The setting is Bangkok and the story takes place almost entirely inside of a hotel where the heroine is living and has been living for several years. The heroine, Laney, is on the run from an abusive scary husband and lives in the hotel where she performs every night. She sings country style songs that she wrote herself and which have immense emotional meaning to her. The hero, Macmillan, is a linguist and words are his super power. He works for an agency and the skill he offers his employer, rooted in his linguist background, is his ability to recognize voice patterns and identify people by those patterns. Macmillan’s love for words and speech patterns first attracts him to Laney – he becomes interested in the songs she sings (which she wrote). Once the two meet, there is some cute word play, which was pretty unexpected.
“You bleeding?” “No,” he said. “I’ve shifted to the coagulation and infection stage. I’m running them concurrently.”
“Well, thank you, Professor Devilwell, PhD in asshole arrogance.”
And of course the sparks fly between the two. Macmillan is not the perfect spy-hero. When we meet him he is tired and over the course of the book he acknowledges that certain villains could take him because he is tired and has been physically beat up. But his focus is on speech and fighting the bad guys with his knowledge and that is where the battle for him takes place. It was fun to watch.
Laney is definitely not the perfect heroine (for me this is part of the appeal). She can’t fight and she repeatedly makes bad choices. But the choices make sense in the story itself and that is what I loved. She is caught in an impossible situation and she wants to believe that the people who are her friends really do care for her. Throughout the story, Macmillan questions Laney’s choices and makes fun of her attempts at hiding from her husband and I loved that!
“You don’t wait until it so obvious that a man in a cell in the basement of a tropical hotel has to point it out to you. No, you fly.”
“There’s no such thing as a Disney criminal, Laney.”
The author sets up a situation where yeah, Laney isn’t the perfect on the run heroine and then has the other characters call her out on it. Perfect. For me, Carolyn Crane deliberate wrote Laney’s choices as the critique of her choices was part of the story line. So for me that worked. I loved Laney and I got her.
In the end, Off the Edge is funny, sweet, steamy and enjoyable. It is a quick action packed read. Fans of Carolyn Crane will most certainly enjoy this book. Readers who enjoy characters who don’t fit stereotypical hero/heroine molds and like word play banter will enjoy Off the Edge.
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