2008, Romantic Suspense
Berkley Sensation, $7.99, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425217620
Part of a series
Unlawful Contact is part of a series, but it stands alone as a complete story. The plot is a complex, fast moving one that, in the hands of an unskilled writer, could have been totally unbelievable, but Pamela Clare sets up the situation and characters so well that it all makes perfect sense.
Sophie Alton is a good girl and a good student, and like many good girls, she is fascinated by a bad boy. The boy’s name is Hunt and he is handsome and smoldering, with a bad reputation in town because of his mother’s addiction to booze and drugs. Hunt is intelligent, but the teachers look down on him, and Sophie feels that it is unfair to blame him for his mother’s sins. One night Sophie takes a wrong turn; Hunt rescues her from a gang of druggies. They talk, Sophie gives Hunt her virginity and tells him to reach for the stars, then watches him drive off into the night.
Twelve years later, Sophie has become an investigative journalist. She’s had her share of relationships, but none of them have been as sweet as her one experience with Hunt and she still thinks of him from time to time. Sophie has been writing a series of articles about the plight of women in prison and she’s focused on Megan Rawlings, a woman incarcerated for drug possession. Sophie has been with Megan as she gave birth to a daughter, and struggled to get off drugs. She plans to follow Megan and her baby as they go thorough a half-way program, but before she even begins the program, Megan runs away with her baby.
During the interviews for the articles, Megan told Sophie about her brother, Marc, who is serving a life term for killing a DEA agent. Sophie arranges to interview Marc in the hopes that he can help her find Megan. I’m sure you can guess who he is. Marc is Marc Hunter – Hunt - the former bad boy and Sophie’s first lover. When she comes to interview him, Marc takes her hostage.
I won’t go much further with the plot since I don’t want to give away too much of the twists and turns. Naturally, the situation with Marc is not what it appears to be. He and Megan are caught in a complicated web of deceit and it doesn’t take too long for Sophie to be caught up in it as well, when she is framed for possession of drugs. They must find Megan and get the truth out in order to save her and themselves.
This story would not have worked at all if it weren't for the marvelous chemistry between Marc and Sophie. I have seldom seen such a connection between two characters. Despite their seemingly different stations in life, they share a common past of loss and too much responsibility too early. I fully accepted that they were soulmates and destined to be together. The love scenes were scorching hot and tender as could be. They are one of my favorite couples of the year.
However, Sophie does something that I thought was very foolhardy. To say more would put us in spoiler territory, but given that they are both under a manhunt at the time, her actions were illogical and unethical and my opinion of her went down considerably.
Even so, Unlawful Contact will rank high on my list of best romantic suspense novels for 2008. It has a great plot, great characters and, unlike some suspense novels, it does not skimp on the romance. While it might not be a DIK (bad Sophie!) it is definitely a B++.
-- Ellen Micheletti
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