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Friday, April 22, 2011

Mountain Ranger Recon by Carol Ericson

Mountain Ranger Recon by Carol Ericson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (166 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Ian Dempsey knew he'd have a lot to answer for when he bumped into Meg, the wife he'd left behind to complete an undercover mission. Nearly three years had passed since he'd last seen her, but she was as beautiful as ever—and as angry. Before he could explain his reasons for temporarily walking away, shots rang out and Ian quickly went from husband to bodyguard. Investigating his enemies would take time. And whether Meg liked it or not, he wouldn't leave her side until he could guarantee her safety. One step back into her life, though, and Ian knew the stakes were even higher. She had a two-year-old son. And he looked exactly like Ian….

A second chance at love just might get them killed... and that’s only the first of the surprises that abound in this fast paced and clever tale of intrigue and romance.

Ms. Ericson did a bang up job of leading a reader into the thick of the intrigue so she could get into the good stuff – the messed up relationship between Meg and Ian. They’d once been in love but Ian’s job got in the way one time too many and they went their separate ways. Fate doesn’t like to be thwarted so, fickle rascal that she is, she brought them together by the very reason Ian left in the first place. It was an intriguing way to bring the conflict into the picture and it worked for me.

Meg is an interesting heroine. She’s atypical by virtue of her job and her view on life in general. She’s moved on and is doing the best she can. She’s content and has a whole other reason and purpose to live for -- she doesn’t need a man. I love it when heroines believe that.

Ian is fascinating from the get go. How can he not be, he’s a secret agent and those naturally are very sexy alpha men who drive the women they love absolutely nuts. Not in a good way. And that is why the internal conflict between Ian and Meg worked so well. He wants to protect her and treat her differently than his fellow agents. Meg on the other hand, doesn’t want nor needs to be coddled. She’s independent with a good head on her shoulders and has the mettle to deal with Ian’s employment demands. So, why can’t he see that? He will. That alone was reason enough to keep me reading.

The external conflict was gripping and out of control. What I mean by that is that every time poor Ian turned around, mayhem and bad things just kept happening. It was enough to give a guy a complex. It was certainly enough for the local law enforcement to view him as a bad penny they’d just wish would go away. The author used that interplay between Ian and the secondary characters to illustrate Ian’s personality, his trouble shooting skills and his perception of things when it comes to Meg. He ends up putting two and two together and finds a treasure greater than the goal his employer has sent him to obtain. How he reacted and his actions after that point made him a hero and convinced me he’d make a real husband for Meg after all. He just needs to survive this current crisis.

Despite Ian being in charge of a risky situation, he has his own personal conflict that he needs to deal with and heal. You’d think a guy like him would have it all together but in fact he has insecurities just like anyone else. It’s another mark in his favor because I could empathize with his character.

I want to mention that the prologue and epilogue don’t have much to do with what’s in the middle but after reading the story, I have a pretty good idea who it’s about. I am guessing that it’s being used as a hook or story arc lead in for his story when it eventually comes about. It does sound promising; I just found it odd that the beginning and end had nothing to do with the current story. I’ve never seen that done before.

When Meg and Ian finally get to reacquaint themselves with the physical side of their love, it’s explosive and emotional. It forced them to revisit the choices they’ve made and the possibilities for their future – together, not apart. It’s romantic and solid. No flowery and silly promises will do – they’ve matured and finally realize what is important in life. Now that is a romance that gives me assurance they’ll weather life’s bumps just fine.

Mountain Ranger Recon is a gripping and exciting read which entertained and amazed all the way through. Every time I thought they’d get a break something else happened. By the time the happily ever after came about I was more than ready and it was satisfying. Romantic suspense readers should find a lot to enjoy throughout this story because I know I did.