Selena Montgomery
July 2008, Romantic Suspense
Avon, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061376035

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

One of the things I really liked about Reckless is that the author manages to avoid one of the major problems I encounter all too frequently in romantic suspense novels: One of two major plot points often gets short shrift. On the suspense side, this can lead to a sloppy ending to the mystery in which everything is resolved way too quickly and rather unbelievably. Selena Montgomery gets around this problem by creating a suspense plot that will stretch over each of three books in this planned trilogy.

Kell Jameson fled the small town of Hallden at 17, resolving to leave her past behind. She and the two close friends who shared the same dangerous secrets went separate ways so as not to endanger one another. Kell attended law school and became a sought-after trial attorney. However, events in Hallden threaten to reawaken her old life.

Kell receives a frantic call from Mrs. Faraday, the woman who raised her, in which she learns that Mrs. Faraday fears that the police will arrest her in connection with a murder. Kell immediately goes to Hallden to help her. One of the first people she meets is the sheriff, Luke Calder. Their first meeting does not go well, to say the least, but the dislike between the two is tempered by a rather intense chemistry.

Luke does not trust the slick city trial lawyer who comes into town while he is working on a sudden crime spree. Not only has a local drug dealer been found murdered, but bodies from a years-old crime have also surfaced and Luke must turn his attention to solving that mystery as well. As a former big city cop, Luke thinks he understands people like Kell, but as he spends more time around her, he learns that there is far more to her than meets the eye.

Luke and Kell are both fantastic characters. Each has darkness in their pasts, but neither lets it consume them. The mixture of vulnerability and strength in these characters makes them quite engaging. The initial argument between them went a little too far and got to be silly, but their later conversations and meetings make up for it. Seeing these two wanting to trust each other and trying to deal with one another worked well. In addition to their pasts, the two have different agendas with regard to the murder case, so tension between them makes sense. Luke wants to find the truth, but Kell, in working with Mrs. Faraday, needs to protect her client.

As the story moves along, the chemistry between the main characters grows and the tension in the suspense plot heightens as well. This skillful combination makes for a story that turns into an on-the-edge-of-your-seat thrill ride by the second half of the book. Though I had a little trouble getting into the book initially, I quickly found myself hooked. The author engages in a bit of name-dropping with regard to items owned and clothing worn by the characters which pulled me out of the story a bit, but otherwise things seem to flow well.

Readers who need to have all of their loose ends wrapped up in one book may not appreciate Reckless, but anyone looking for a promising romance and a different kind of thriller may well like this one. Future books featuring Kell's girlhood friends will further expand the over-arching suspense plot, and I am glad that I got into this series with the first book. I will definitely be picking up the others to see what happens next.

-- Lynn Spencer

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