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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz

Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal; Action/Adventure
Length: Full (337 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Ex-cop Luther Malone, lifelong member of the secretive paranormal organization known as the Arcane Society, is waiting to meet Grace Renquist. Hired as an aura-reading consultant in the quest for a murder suspect, she’s got zero field experience. She’s from tiny Eclipse Bay, Oregon. She’s a librarian, for heaven’s sake.

As for Grace, she’s not expecting much either from Malone, who walks with a cane and isn’t so good with a gun. Nice résumé for a bodyguard . . .

But even before they reach their hotel in Maui—where they’ll be posing as honeymooners—Grace and Luther feel the electric charge between them. Problem is, they need to remain vigilant day and night, because it soon becomes clear there’s more going on here. Rogue sensitives—operatives for the underground group Nightshade—are pouring into the luxury resort like there’s a convention. Grace recognizes those dark spikes in their auras. She saw the same pattern in someone else in another life—a life she hasn’t revealed to Luther or anyone else. And she understands how dangerous these people can be . . . especially with those para-hunters at their sides.

While the pair’s employers at Jones & Jones scramble to get them backup, Luther and Grace have to think on their feet. The criminals in their midst aren’t just high-level sensitives: They’ve enhanced their talents with a potent—and unpredictable— drug. And as Grace knows all too well, if you don’t control your powers, your powers will control you. . . .

Fans of the Arcane Society are in for a treat with Jayne Ann Krentz’s latest romantic adventure into the mysterious and exciting world headed by Jones & Jones.

The story starts off with an intense scene that grabs you with a suspenseful hand. Very easily I could cross over into real life the idea of a foreign chemical in a person’s body that can not only change their personality but make them do things they otherwise would never have done. It was a chilling bit of reality that made the story riveting right from the get-go.

Grace is a very likeable character, innocent yet not, talented and brave who refuses to cower in fear. Thing is, she’s got a lot to worry about and for a lot of people, the bad stuff would send them to ground where they’d wither and die. Not Grace though. When push comes to shove, and it does in a metaphysical sense, she finds good reasons to fight back and to stop being afraid. It’s this journey to become her own person where she not only accepts who and what she is but in doing so finds a true place to belong and that hooked me. I liked the person she was. I enjoyed watching her character unfold and at times unhinge.

My favorite scenes of Grace unhinging are with Luther. As always, Ms. Krentz seems to know the kind of man that makes not only the heroine’s heart pitter-patter but the reader’s too. I thought Luther was absolutely yummy. He has his failings; he is definitely not perfect but he sure is alpha enough to make a reader want to cuddle with him, knowing he’ll keep the bad guys away if they were foolish enough to cause trouble. Luther has a brain, and when he detects a flaw within Grace’s dialogues with him, he gives her the cop attitude. And doesn’t that sound sexy? That look of-you can’t fool me- gives me shivers. A hero with brains and brawn is a great combo but add in rugged good looks and his own internal torment and he becomes irresistible.

Both Grace and Luther are vulnerable and very human with some added enhancements that seem to get them in trouble more than help them. At the point where they team up is when the romance sizzles and pops, their weaknesses become strengths and their love becomes more than words but the difference between success and failure. How does love play a roll in saving the day? You have to read Running Hot to find out.

As for secondary characters, Fallon is still around doing his thing by running Jones & Jones. Someday, I hope really soon, Ms. Krentz will have Fallon fall head over heels over a woman because he is so in need of his own HEA. Until then, he still is his mysterious self, pulling strings and getting things done. And even in the background, we see his character grow. He’s not perfect, he’s feeling stress and it shows in this book. I sort of liked that.

The villain is quite unique and surprising. Actually I can’t say too much because I think it would let too much slip. The dastardly goings on and the solving of the crime involves some creative and intricate thinking of which Ms. Krentz excels at. I had to read it over a couple of times to appreciate the full flavor of its complexity.

As I’ve come to expect from Ms. Krentz, the writing is tight and well paced, the dialogue witty with a lot of flavor, the romance is hot and passionate and the suspense is gripping. Running Hot is a grand adventure showcasing the story-telling talents of a prolific and amazing author who knows how to make love exciting.