Then You Hide

Roxanne St. Claire
2008, Romantic Suspense
Pocket Star, $6.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 141655243X
Part of a series

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Hot

Roxanne St. Claire indicates on her website that all of her Bullet Catcher books are stand-alone romantic suspense titles, even those from her Bullet Catcher Trilogy series within a series.

Roxanne St. Claire’s Bullet Catchers are out to reunite another black market baby with her birth mother in the second book of Bullet Catcher Trilogy. Then You Hide is a fast read that features some sexy characters. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of depth, the book was going pretty well – until the end, that is, when everything fell apart.

Three decades ago, Eileen Stafford gave birth to triplets and immediately sold them on the black market. Soon after, she was imprisoned for murder. Now, she needs a bone marrow transplant in order to survive and the Bullet Catchers are tracking down her daughters. In the first book, Miranda Lang was found, but she wasn’t a match. Lucy Sharpe, leader of the Bullet Catchers, is trying to recruit Wade Cordell - one of the world's best sharpshooters - to make contact with the next daughter they’ve located. This cushy assignment - tracking down a beautiful woman on vacation in the Caribbean - is meant to entice him into the company. But after Wade finds the woman, he knows she’s going to be trouble.

Although Vanessa Porter hasn’t taken a vacation in six years, she isn’t in the Caribbean for pleasure. Her best friend, Clive Easterbrook, has gone missing. Clive went on a cruise, which is a bit out of the ordinary, since he also hasn’t taken a vacation in many years. Red flags go up when he stops returning phone calls and sends a letter of resignation to their company. Clive is manic depressive and Vanessa’s concerned about his state of mind, but she can’t reach him to check if he’s okay. So she books the same cruise he did, determined to find him and force him back to reality. It becomes obvious that the situation is more dire than she thought when she tracks him to a gay brothel and is forced off the premises at gunpoint.

Things go from bad to worse when she jumps into a cab with Wade and he explains about her mother. Vanessa has carried a grudge against her murdering birth mother since she found out about the woman’s existence and she has no intention of seeing the woman, let alone agreeing to a possible bone marrow transplant. But after Wade helps her out of a couple of scrapes, she realizes that he has certain abilities that could help her locate her friend. They strike a deal: Wade will help her search for Clive and when they’ve found him, she’ll accompany Wade to South Carolina to meet her mother. Vanessa doesn’t want to keep her end of the deal, however, and is instead hoping that they can come to a new arrangement – one that involves working off some of the sexual tension that springs up between them.

This was a very quick read, probably because it didn’t get too deep into any aspect of the story. Wade and Vanessa’s relationship amounts to two very attractive people who would like to enjoy several steamy nights together. She’s a fast-paced, mouthy New Yorker who gets what she wants by plowing over people. He’s a smooth, southern charmer who thinks ladies shouldn’t cuss. She absolutely abhors guns. He’s had a gun in his hand most of his life. Against the odds (though not the odds in Romanceland), they end up liking each other, but I don’t understand why they would love each other. That element of the story just wasn’t there. But the story was interesting and drew me in…until that annoying ending.

When the reasons for the suspense plot unfold at the end, I was flummoxed. Again, it wasn’t very deep, but there were contrived twists that attempted to justify a lot of murders, and I just didn’t buy it. The motives and characters involved in the plot weren’t explained well enough to be believable, or even understandable. Vanessa also seems to morph into a completely different character. I saw a glimmer of her old self for a couple pages, but overall she goes from being a tough woman who’s having a casual fling to a sentimental softie who’s in a loving, serious relationship in the blink of an eye. She also does something, or rather fails to do something, when her very best friend’s life is threatened that made absolutely no sense to me. Finally, the quick pace goes into warp speed at the end, causing big gaps and those missing explanations.

I enjoyed the first part of Then You Hide, with its sweet, sexy, southern hero and intriguing plotline. It moved along at a nice clip and was about to earn a recommendation until I hit the very unsatisfactory ending. Even though my final grade is just a C+, I enjoyed the author’s style and plan to check out the final book in the trilogy, Now You Die, which will feature Jack and Lucy, two recurring characters who certainly caught my attention.

-- Andi Davis

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