Series: Adrenaline Highs, Book 4
Rating: 2 Stars
Length: 293 Pages
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Private Investigator Troy Mills enjoys his job, cheating spouse cases notwithstanding. Unfortunately, he's on one such case, working undercover as a bodyguard for a popular movie producer while he waits to get the proof that the wife hired him to find. Proof that her husband is sleeping with America's Sweetheart, actress Julie Fraser.
He hadn't been working undercover long when he first meets the former child star under less than auspicious circumstances. He's "guarding" the producer at a red carpet event when Julie arrives, but she doesn't make it into the building before the shots ring out, sending the crowd into chaos and knocking the star off her feet. Racing to her side to pull her bleeding body out of the line of fire, he manages to help save her life and takes a bullet for his efforts.
Julie has been an actress long enough to have no more illusions about the darker side of fame, but she never expected to be gunned down for it. Recovering in the same hospital as the man responsible for that very recovery gives her a chance to thank him personally. Not only is he her hero, but he's also the sort of decent, honest man she wants to get to know even better.
When repeated attempts to end her life prove Julie wasn't just a victim of random violence, Troy finds himself on shaky ground. Telling her who he really is will do more than just piss her off and ruin any good feelings she may have towards him, it could very well put her in the crosshairs of a determined killer.
I've been a big fan of the Adrenaline Highs series since its inception, and the previous book, Dangerously Close, was my favorite to date. That's why it sucks so much to have to say that this one didn't appeal to me. I struggled with the narrative and the characters, as well as several elements of the plot, throughout most of the book.
Adams has always brought vibrantly flawed or damaged, believable, three-dimensional characters to life on the pages, characters who are uniquely individual and original. I just wasn't getting any of those vibes from either Julie or Troy in this book. Julie was a little too sweet, nice, caring, and perfect for my taste (which isn't bad so much as it is uninteresting) and Troy was a lying douchebag.
Um...yeah...there may be some personal bias bleeding over into that opinion, but I'm sorry, there were a dozen times he could have come clean with Julie before they slept together and the fact that he not only didn't tell her the truth, but perpetuated the lie throughout the story, made me very uncomfortable with him as the romantic hero and set up what felt like a cliched and predictable suspense climax late in the book.
And that's beside the point that I thought the premise for his investigation was a stretch. He's been hired by producer Ari's unhappy wife to get proof he's sleeping with Julie so the wife can divorce Ari's lecherous ass. That's fine on the surface, but I kept wondering why the wife's focus was so specific. Her husband is a sleaze who apparently bounces so many wannabe starlets on the "acting couch" that if extramarital sex were an Olympic event he'd have had the gold. If Troy was even remotely competent as an investigator he should have been able to provide proof of infidelity in no time. Mandating that the proof be her husband's adultery with Julie never made sense to me.
That was a pretty big stumbling block for my willing suspension of disbelief, and it caused problems for me as it related to the entire setup of the plot. There were also several plot threads, like what was going on between Julie's and Troy's assistants and the backstory of Troy's childhood, that weren't fleshed out enough to have any positive impact on the story. They just served to muddy the waters and bog down the pace of the suspense, and that pace was already pretty slow because of a narrative that was heavy on narration and light on dialogue.
There were good points, too, though. I did love the repartee between Troy and Julie in the beginning of the book, and I didn't dislike Julie as a character. She was cute and harmless, she just wasn't all that complex. My only issue with her as the romantic heroine, really, is that when compared to the other female leads in the series, she wasn't nearly as compelling or memorable.
Actually, that pretty much sums up my feelings about this book in general.
I've enjoyed this series, and have been highly entertained by Adams' deft talent for creating pulse-pounding romantic suspense. This book may not have been for me, but even the most adrenaline-pounding thrill ride in the world has its moments of down time. I have no doubt that the next in the series will have my adrenaline racing just as fast and high as did the three previous books.