First You Run

Roxanne St. Claire
2008, Romantic Suspense
Pocket Star, $6.99, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 1416549064
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Hot

First You Run is the latest in Roxanne St. Claire's Bullet Catcher series, and the first that I've read. Though the book is an overall enjoyable tale of romantic suspense, it doesn't rank as one of my favorites by the author.

The prologue really hooked me. Thirty years ago, Eileen Stafford had a child with her married lover. Since he would have nothing to do with the child, she gave the baby to a black-market adoption ring. Even worse, her lover framed Eileen for the murder of another woman. As a result she was convicted - and has been in prison ever since. Fast-forward to the present, where Eileen is dying of leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant to live.

Adrien Fletcher is a Bullet Catcher (or bodyguard), who agrees to take time off to help a friend locate Eileen's daughter. The only clue Adrien has is a list of girls given to the adoption ring at the same time Eileen's baby was born, and a description of a tattoo placed on the baby's body.

One of the women on Adrien's list is Dr. Miranda Lang, an assistant professor of linguistic anthropology at Berkeley. Miranda recently published a book about the Mayan Long Count calendar dispelling the myth that the Mayans believed the world was going to end on December 21, 2012. As Adrien observes Miranda at one of her first book signings, members of the Armageddon Movement, a group that believes the world will end in 2012, disrupt things and threaten Miranda. As events turn ugly, Adrien rescues her.

Adrien and Miranda are immediately attracted to each other, but their romance definitely takes a back seat to the various suspense threads in the book. Even though their romance isn't as prominent as the thriller aspect, it doesn't take long for Adrien to become more involved with protecting Miranda than with trying to discover if she is Eileen's missing daughter.

We are also introduced to a lot of the Bullet Catchers, including some who appeared in earlier books. Despite this, the book works well as a stand-alone read. A number of different villains are included, with sections told from their POV, not one of my favorite techniques.

These are not the book's only problems; a sub-plot involving a wealthy woman, possibly a Mayan mystic who is supportive of Miranda, failed to engage my interest. To make matters worse, I had to re-read an odd sequence related to this thread four different times to see if I had missed something. Miranda's hand is hurt and she insists that Adrien leave her to get a first aid kit (they're in a hotel). While he's gone, she gets sexually aroused (some of that Mayan mysticism). When he returns, they have sex immediately, with no mention of her hand.

Despite these problems, the suspense is really quite good and not terribly gory (I'm very squeamish, so that's important for me). All in all, it was an enjoyable read, and I will definitely give other Bullet Catcher books a try.

-- LinnieGayl Kimmel

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