Into the Storm

Suzanne Brockmann
August 2006, Romantic Suspense
Ballantine, $21.95, 374 pages, Amazon ASIN 0345480147
Part of a series

Grade: D+
Sensuality: Hot

As I turned the pages of Into the Storm I found myself missing the author’s grown-up characters from books past – Sam and Alyssa, Kelly and Tom, and Gina and Max (well, the Max of Over the Edge anyway, not the whiny guy he turned into in Breaking Point) – who leave the children featured in this book in the dust.

Just to give you a feel for what I’m talking about, here are a few sample lines from the latest Brockmann opus:

  • “You suck.” (Into the Storm's version of a sophisticated lovers’ spat.)
  • “Way pre-dawn. Prolly around three.” (This delivered improbably enough by SEAL veteran Izzy Zanella.)
  • “But, I’d do her if she asked. I mean, who’d say no to that? Now Lindsay Fonaine. Totally bangable, right?” (Izzy really knows how to flatter a woman!)
  • “Show a little respect, Zanella. You’re acting like a fifteen-year old on a high school trip. Grow up.”

Yes, Zanella. Please. And won’t you take your little friends – including the hero and heroine of this book - with you?

Okay, so chronologically, Mark Jenkins is a young hero at 28. But, even beyond that, he’s just…well, ridiculously young and still seriously crushing on the beautiful girl from his childhood who won’t give him a second look. And heroine Lindsay Fontaine at 30 isn’t a whole lot better. From the start of this book they bicker, they connect, then they bicker again.

Matters are made even worse, however, due to the fact that there is no real story to get caught up in since the major plot in this book deals with training exercises – rather pointless exercises, actually, since the teams bumble around and, yes, it has to be admitted, lose their “hostages”. Twice.

Heroine Lindsay is a feisty (yes, I’m sorry to say that word definitely applies) LAPD veteran now working for Troubleshooters, Inc. When the group is recruited to compete against SEAL Team Sixteen, Mark Jenkins is appointed to act as the SEAL liaison to work with Lindsay on the details. Mark is instantly attracted to the tiny Lindsay (and Brockmann goes out of her way to make certain you understand that she is a very teeny tiny, very young looking Asian woman who wears a size 30-A bra), though he can’t get thoughts of Tracy – the unattainable and moronic young woman he managed to get a job as the receptionist for Troubleshooters – out of his mind.

So, soon enough Lindsay and Mark have sex. Mark goes immediately ga-ga for Lindsay. (I told you he was young.) But in a truly idiotic move, he hares out of his first night with Lindsay as soon as Tracy needs rescuing from her abusive fiance.

A few pointless days later, they all find themselves in the New Hampshire woods where they lose (and I’m not giving anything away that you can’t read on the book jacket) “hostage” Tracy, who falls into the hands of a really bad serial killer guy. All the while Mark and Lindsay bicker (mostly by hurling eighth grade insults at each other), Izzy reveals that he’s truly a seemingly unredeemable sexist pig, and Sophia and Decker (one of Brockmann’s patented multi-book couples) misunderstand and miscommunicate with each other. Repeatedly.

Frankly, Into the Storm reads to me as if Brockmann changed her target audience – well, without letting that target audience know, of course – because this truly is a book that doesn’t deliver any of the complexities of those that showcase the author at her best, including Over the Edge and Gone Too Far. From the juvenile dialogue, the childish actions and reactions, and the fact that the plot isn’t really a plot, it seemed as if I were reading an entirely different author despite the familiarity of many of the names.

A friend of mine says she’s still waiting for the real Max and Gina book since the exercise in whining and self-indulgence that was Breaking Point couldn’t really be the way the author intends to leave that formerly fascinating couple. While she’s kidding, she’s really not.

If the tone of this book reflects the author’s new direction, then I’m going to have to seriously think about checking out, at the hardback level anyway. It’s too bad, but if Into the Storm is any indication, I'm prolly just not who the author is writing for anymore.

-- Sandy Coleman

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