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Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Escape

***** No Escape by Shannon K. Butcher. Romantic suspense.

This is the third in the series about Delta Force operatives, following No Regrets and No Control. They're connected books, but they stand alone, so there's no problem with reading out of order. I'd highly recommend reading all of them, though--they're excellent.

Elementary school teacher Isabelle Carson grew up in foster homes. Three of her former foster-siblings have died--suicides, according to the police, but Isabelle thinks that's too many for coincidence. And she knew them--they weren't suicidal.

Worried, she contacts the others who were in the home with them, including Grant Kent, who'd saved her from their abusive foster father years ago.

Grant, a Delta Force vet, has a couple of days before starting his new job with his friend David's (from No Regrets) security company, so he decides to visit Isabelle to see what her message was all about... and because he hasn't been able to get her out of his mind. He figured he'd take a couple of hours, straighten things out for her, and be on his way.

Instead, he finds Isabelle and himself, and the rest of their former foster-siblings the targets of a ruthless killer, and he can't leave.

He also can't stay. Isabelle is realizing her dream of being a foster parent herself, and Grant knows he's not father material. But the longer he stays, the harder it is to resist Isabelle, and the closer he gets to Isabelle's foster son Dale.

No Escape puts the "suspense" in "romantic suspense." The chilling prologue sets the stage, and the pace and suspense don't let up until the end of the last chapter. (The epilogue does let you catch your breath, thank goodness--you'll need it.)

We do find out whodunit midway through the book, but that just adds to the suspense. These characters just do not get a break. They're tested physically, emotionally, and professionally: they're in physical danger, Grant's in danger of losing his job, they're both in danger of having their hearts broken, Isabelle is frightened for her friends and her foster son, and Grant has to deal with feelings of being an outsider.

Through all these intensely emotional crises, you get to know Grant and Isabelle, and watch them fall in love. It's vivid and believable. They're such complex characters, and they're fighting their attraction because they don't think there's a future in their relationships (Isabelle had experience with a fiance who left because he didn't want to be a foster parent, so her worry--and her taking Grant at his word that he wasn't cut out to be a father--was understandable). But underneath it, you can tell how much they care for each other.

I loved Isabelle--she's triumphed over a difficult childhood and is now dedicated to helping other children. And I loved Grant--from a similar background, yet he's dealt with it differently. Typically male, he's found his self-worth in what he does, and first in Delta Force, and now in his friend's security company, that's in protecting people. Yet he still has trouble accepting and trusting himself. It was wonderful seeing him heal through the course of the book.

And I absolutely loved the plot. This wasn't a straightforward whodunit, just a simple matter of finding clues and catching the killer. Every time you think it's all going to be fine, there's another crisis or twist, and putting the book down becomes impossible.

All the elements just came together perfectly. The action/suspense parts got my adrenaline up, the emotional parts put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and the romance made my heart go pitty-pat. And those steamy scenes, well... They fit the book and were nicely steamy.

*sigh* I was hoping I'd gotten better at writing about books I love, but apparently they still reduce me to babbling.

Fabulous book. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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If a good book gets you rambling, is that a bad thing? I think you write wonderful reviews, personally.

And I'm tagging you for the Peace Meme...
I have read the first book but not the second one yet. And I need to go out and get the third book.

Gret review Darla, it make me want to run to store and grab my copy right now...but I can't. At work right now ----- eh
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