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SLEEPING WITH FEAR

Pallid thrills.

Just when she most desperately needs her special powers, a psychic FBI agent is unable to draw on them in the final installment of Hooper’s latest trilogy (Chill of Fear, 2005, etc.).

Riley Crane is a member of the FBI’s Special Crimes Unit, a team of agents with a variety of psychic gifts. On unofficial assignment investigating possible occult activity in coastal South Carolina, she wakes up in bed covered with buckets of blood. She’s uninjured; the pistol that she keeps under her pillow is right where it’s supposed to be; and the rented house is undisturbed. But she can’t remember anything from the recent past. Why does her neatly unpacked wardrobe include sexy, brand-new lingerie? And why does someone whose meals are usually take-out have such a well-stocked refrigerator? Checking in with the home office, Riley finds that she has apparently been on autopilot for about three weeks. Her “spider sense” and clairvoyance may have deserted her, but her spunk has not. Riley straps on her piece and rejoins the world, looking for clues about what she was doing before she blacked out. It helps when local police summon her to a crime scene where it appears that devil worshipers have strung up and beheaded a middle-aged Caucasian male. Super-handsome District Attorney Ash Prescott arrives soon after, and hot shivers tell Riley she’s been boffing the DA, though she has no recollection of it. Trusting her sense memory, she is soon rolling again in the sheets with Ash, who not only has rippling muscles and broad shoulders but great culinary skills. (That explains the full fridge.) Food is extremely important for Riley, who has the metabolism of a hummingbird and needs extra energy for psychic bursts—a plot point that does not excuse the distracting product placement for PowerBars, which constantly turn up on cue. Despite further memory lapses, Riley never gives up, sensing that Someone Evil has it in for her.

Pallid thrills.

Pub Date: July 18, 2006

ISBN: 0-553-80318-2

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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SEEING RED

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Brown (Mean Streak, 2014, etc.) ticks off the boxes that elevate her books to the bestseller lists in this sexy romantic thriller set in Texas.

Rock-jawed hero with a dark past: check. Strong-willed, beautiful woman who resists his charms: check. A Whitman’s Sampler of bad guys: check. And finally, a convoluted and not always plausible plot: check. In this latest outing, readers meet TV journalist Kerra Bailey, whose family was torn apart years ago by a hotel bombing that killed 197 people in Dallas. Just in time for the 25th anniversary, Kerra scores an interview with the notoriously private Maj. Trapper, who saved her life, among others, when he emerged from the blast to lead the survivors out of danger. There's an iconic, prizewinning photo of the major carrying a little girl from the wreckage, but the child has never been identified—until now, when Kerra goes public with the information that it was her. Just after they finish filming the interview in his home, the major is shot, and an injured Kerra escapes in the confusion. The major’s son, disgraced Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Trapper—a name M*A*S*H fans will appreciate—steps in, igniting a chain of events that leads to murder, intrigue, betrayal, and a series of dark revelations. As with most of Brown’s heroes and heroines, there’s palpable sexual tension between Trapper, whose taut rear occupies ample literary real estate, and Kerra, who when dealing with Trapper feels “like he’d lightly scratched her just below her bellybutton” when he’s not making her “pleasure points throb.” The complex plot plays out in a round of reveals that don’t always make a lot of sense, but that’s not why Brown’s fans read her books. They check in for the witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fluid writing. A master of her genre, Brown knows how to please her most ardent readers but relies too often on the same basic formula from novel to novel.

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7210-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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ON MYSTIC LAKE

Hannah, after eight paperbacks, abandons her successful time-travelers for a hardcover life of kitchen-sink romance. Everyone must have got the Olympic Peninsula memo for this spring because, as of this reading, authors Hannah, Nora Roberts, and JoAnn Ross have all placed their newest romances in or near the Quinault rain forest. Here, 40ish Annie Colwater, returns to Washington State after her husband, high-powered Los Angeles lawyer Blake, tells her he’s found another (younger) woman and wants a divorce. Although a Stanford graduate, Annie has known only a life of perfect wifedom: matching Blake’s ties to his suits and cooking meals from Gourmet magazine. What is she to do with her shattered life? Well, she returns to dad’s house in the small town of Mystic, cuts off all her hair (for a different look), and goes to work as a nanny for lawman Nick Delacroix, whose wife has committed suicide, whose young daughter Izzy refuses to speak, and who himself has descended into despair and alcoholism. Annie spruces up Nick’s home on Mystic Lake and sends “Izzy-bear” back into speech mode. And, after Nick begins attending AA meetings, she and he become lovers. Still, when Annie learns that she’s pregnant not with Nick’s but with Blake’s child, she heads back to her empty life in the Malibu Colony. The baby arrives prematurely, and mean-spirited Blake doesn’t even stick around to support his wife. At this point, it’s perfectly clear to Annie—and the reader—that she’s justified in taking her newborn daughter and driving back north. Hannah’s characters indulge in so many stages of the weeps, from glassy eyes to flat-out sobs, that tear ducts are almost bound to stay dry. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild/Doubleday book club selections)

Pub Date: March 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60249-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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