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sofia1

Overall rating – 5 silken sheets

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For the last two nights I’ve indulged in some comfort-reading. You know how sometimes you might want to re-watch a favourite movie? Maybe if you’re unwell or hungover, or just in the mood for that certain feel? I’m like that with books too. And sometimes, I like to revisit a much-loved book. Often, they’re crumpled paperbacks with dogeared corners and coffee stains on the cover, I’ve had them so long. And like a much-watched movie, it’s familiar. The characters feel like old friends. There are no major surprises, but a guaranteed unfolding of the story that I know will make me feel good.

After reading – and thoroughly enjoying – a couple of books with ex-military alpha heroes, I was in the mood for some more, and I turned to one of my all-time favourite series – Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters.

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Bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann blends high adventure, harrowing drama, and heart-racing passion into thrilling novels of suspense. Whether tackling danger or wrestling with desire, her elite heroes and heroines never fail to give their all, in stories that soar above and beyond expectations. Now, in her electrifying new novel, Brockmann takes us INTO THE STORM.

414643 - coverIn a remote, frozen corner of New Hampshire, a Navy SEAL team and the elite security experts of Troubleshooters, Incorporated are going head-to-head as fierce but friendly rivals in a raid-and-rescue training exercise. Despite the frigid winter temperatures, tension smolders between veteran SEAL Petty Officer Mark “Jenk” Jenkins and former cop turned Troubleshooter Lindsey Fontaine after an impulsive night goes awry. And then, suddenly, Tracy Shapiro, the Troubleshooters’ new receptionist, vanishes while playing the role of hostage during a mock rescue operation.

Teaming up with the FBI to launch a manhunt in the treacherous wilderness, Jenk and Lindsey must put aside their feelings as a record snowstorm approaches, dramatically reducing any hope of finding Tracy alive. The trail is colder than the biting New England climate until a lucky break leads to a horrifying discovery–a brutally murdered young woman wearing the jacket Tracy wore when she disappeared. Suddenly there is a chilling certainty that Tracy has fallen prey to a serial killer–one who knows the backwoods terrain and who doesn’t play by the rules of engagement.

In a race against time, a raging blizzard, and a cunning opponent, Jenk and Lindsey are put to the ultimate test. Rising everything, they must finally come together in a desperate attempt to save Tracy–and each other

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Into The Storm, although #10 in the series, is the first I read and so it claims a special place in my heart.

This to me is Suzanne Brockmann at her best. The story focuses on the rapid and pulse-racing relationship between Navy SEAL Mark “Jenk” Jenkins and ex-cop-now-Troubleshooter Lindsey Fontaine, but there are several other story arcs in progress at the same time. The main sub-romance is the painful triangle between Sophia Ghaffari, Dave Malkoff and Larry Decker. Dave is in love with Sophia, while she is in love with Decker, who is paralysed by guilt over a previous incident. This was all handled in an earlier book (Flashpoint, #7) but is still playing out. Brockmann is good at developing relationships over several books.

Every time Dave and Decker go head-to-head, sparks fly. This makes the wargaming – sorry, the tactical exercises – even more difficult.

‘What happened?’ Dave asked.

‘Someone pushed her, knocking her off her feet while they snatched the hostage, that’s what happened,’ Decker said. ‘And when I find them, they’re going to die.’

‘I was sort of asking Sophia,’ Dave told Deck mildly. ‘Although I’m sure she appreciates the macho warrior rhetoric. You want to beat your chest for us, too?’

It was possible that Tom, although dead, laughed.

‘No one pushed me,’ Sophia said. ‘And if you two are going to fight, I’m out of here.’

‘Find Lindsey,’ Dave ordered Decker again, as if he were a mentally challenged dog.

Anyway, there is so much going on in this story, that it’s hard to pick out the highlights – there are so many!

We have both Navy SEALs and ex-SEALs, along with other operatives and specialists, all working together (and falling apart) with varying degrees of success. As always with a Brockmann novel, the characters are well drawn and rounded. We see the good and bad in each. Some we like, some are irritating – but immensely readable. I constantly wanted to slap Decker for his attitude toward Sophia, but at the same time to hug him, knowing what he’d gone through.

12105252_sJenk is a darling. Sweet, funny and optimistic, he’s relentless in his pursuit of Lindsey and their story plays out beautifully.

‘Short is relative,’ she said. ‘To me, you’re tall. Tall, dark and handsome.’

So okay. Every time Jenk was convinced that this night couldn’t get any better, Lindsey said or did something to ramp it up another notch.

He starts with a long-term crush on Tracy, a friend of his sister, and this hinders his growing relationship with Lindsey. She believes she’s second-best, his Plan-B in case Tracy doesn’t work out, but once they’ve actually hooked up, Jenk feels differently. He confesses to his friend and colleague (“Izzy” Zanella) that Lindsey is ‘the one’, but unfortunately she thinks differently.

‘Maybe they’ll learn something,’ Jenk said.

 ‘Maybe.’ Izzy paused. ‘When the fuck did we become the wise old-timers?’

 ‘I don’t know,’ Jenk said. But he was lying. He’d started growing up the first time one of his teammates died on an op. His recent trip to A-stan that nearly resulted in his own death was just the frosting. This particular cake had already been baking for some time.

Their love affair is played out against a backdrop of such icy, snow-filled weather that I actually felt cold – even though it was summer for me, with long sun-filled days and hot, humid nights. Cheaper than air-conditioning too * grin *.

 18208105_sHe was tired, he was angry, he was upset, and he was hyperaware that Lindsey was sitting behind him, squeezed in between Izzy and Gillman. If he looked in the rearview, there she was. Looking anywhere but back at him.

Izzy has been one of my favourite characters from the start. Loud-mouthed and always wise-cracking, he covers his emotions by being coarse and tasteless, by singing aloud and repeatedly annoying his colleagues, but Brockmann lets his mask slip in this book, and we see glimpses of the complicated man beneath.

Jenk sat up. ‘Give me a break as in, I love you like a brother, man, but I can’t take any more of your shit today, so shut the fuck up.’

 ‘So you don’t want me to tell you – perhaps more clearly—’

 ‘No.’

 ‘That Tommy’s Troubleshooters – Lindsey included – are coming with, to Nuevo Hampshire?’

 That caught Jenk’s attention.

Other much-read characters are there too, from Sam Starrett and his wife Alyssa, to the other SEALs Dan Gillman and Lopez, and other operatives James Nash, Tess Bailey and even a cameo from FBI agent Jules Cassidy.

6504235_sThe first half of Into The Storm is the growing relationship between Jenk and Lindsey, with the danger-filled plot coming to life in the second half. Even though I’ve read this at least twice before, I couldn’t put it down during the second half. My heart was in my mouth, my pulse was racing and I wanted to put the world on hold while I finished reading. Brockmann has been criticised for head-hopping, for switching POV (point of view) between characters without any warning, but honestly, I believe she is the queen of multiple POVs. She handles each character clearly, and I have no problems following her stories – even with such a huge cast of players as this has.

My only problem now, is that having re-immersed myself in Brockmann’s world, I can’t drag myself away. It’s pretty likely that I’ll be re-reading the subsequent books (#11 – #16) and then bemoaning the fact that there isn’t a new one out yet. The last to come out was a compilation of short stories, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s another Troubleshooters book in the pipeline….. 🙂

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Overall rating – 5 silken sheets

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Sexy rating – 5 lips

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Plot – great

Characters – many and varied, but each with a character that will call you back for more 🙂

Warnings – you may develop an addiction to the series!

DETAILS: Genre: Contemporary romantic suspense

Published: August 2006

Price: $6.63 (Amazon Kindle)

Publisher: Random House Publishing

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Goodreads:

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