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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fight or Flight by Natalie J. Damschroder

Fight or Flight by Natalie J. Damschroder
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (245 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Poppy

Eighteen years ago, a group of men killed Regan Miller's boyfriend and tried to kidnap her daughter, Kelsey. Since then they have lived in hiding, always vigilant and never getting close to anyone.

When Kelsey goes away to college, Regan finally begins to relax. She even starts to think she can have a real relationship, perhaps with her flirtatious neighbor, Tyler Sloane. Then Regan is attacked again.

Desperate to get to her daughter, Regan accepts Tyler's help—despite her suspicions about him. She knows nothing about Tyler but he knows a shocking amount about her past. Tyler can't tell her what he knows or who he works for, but he insists she can't face her enemies without him. Tired of living in fear, Regan is ready to take the offensive, with Tyler by her side. But is she relying too much on a man she can't trust—and falling for him, too?

Is it paranoia if people really are out to get you?

Regan Miller is letting go of her daughter in a way most parents do: she's sending her to college. There's a difference, though. Regan's daughter Kelsey was almost kidnapped as a baby, and her boyfriend (Kelsey's father) was murdered, so Regan did what any mother would do: changed her name and went into hiding. She also practiced being incredibly paranoid, took self-defense, and used every precaution available to keep the two of them safe.

There haven't been threats since Kelsey was a baby, though, so Regan feels at least moderately okay about letter her go... right up until her house is broken into and she's nearly killed.

Let me tell you one thing about this book: it's absolutely incredible. It's one of those books where there are times when nothing much is happening, but there's a constant feeling of fear that permeates every page, even when it doesn't seem like there's a reason to. That may just have been Regan's feelings being absorbed by me through osmosis, but even when she was home alone, weeks after dropping off Kelsey and doing something as commonplace as having her man friend over for dinner, I was tense.

Turns out it was for good reason, because when the bad guys come after Regan and Kelsey, it's a "no holds barred, watch out because they're around every corner and always a step ahead of you" kind of book. Just writing this review is making my heart pound all over again.

Even better? We don't know if we're supposed to trust the hero or not. It feels like he's trustworthy, and he seems to be helping, but Tyler is clearly hiding something.

Toss in Kelsey's devoted and stubborn boyfriend, her fun and bullheaded roommate (who's a terror with a hockey stick) and you have one heck of a group of good guys to root for while they run for their lives from a whole pile of people who never give up.

Regan's an amazing woman. Smart, capable, strong, and incredibly loyal. She's raised an equally amazing daughter who's one blind spot is her boyfriend, Tom, who would probably be safer if he'd just let her go. Neither one is prepared to make that sacrifice, however, and it's just as well because the bad guys know who each and every one of them are.

I really sympathized with Regan. She's spent her life afraid and is terrified to let her guard down, even for a moment. The one time she does, she pays for it and is determined that will never happen again. But she can't seem to protect Kelsey on her own this time, and has to let people in, at least a little. And, in Tyler's case, it's more than a little even though she suspects he might not be everything he seems to be.

Tyler is so conflicted. You know there's stuff going on inside his head that you can't see -- we don't get his POV in this story, it's all Regan and Kelsey -- but he's such a caring guy, you want him to be okay. And you understand when Regan starts to give in to those feelings he evokes in her. Who wouldn't?

Still, we don't know who to trust. Every time it seems as though they can take a breather, they're found out. How is that possible if it's not an inside job?

Grab a copy of this book and then sweat, worry, and fall in love with Regan and Kelsey. Fight or Flight should come with a warning, though: do not read if you have heart problems. Because this book absolutely gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing and once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

If this is the quality of writing and plotting I can expect from author Natalie J. Damschroder, then she's going to become an auto-buy author for me. Well done.