Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-101-98698-1
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Similar to the author’s previous Wild Aces book, Into the Blue is not a romantic suspense story – it is a straight out “sex with the ex” story. The hero Eric Jensen may be an F-16 pilot and he has a nickname of Thor – eye rolls are on the menu tonight, people – but he spends his time here aiming for the heroine rather than terrorists, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, Eric and our heroine Becca Madison were once an item, until she went to law school and he to Military Ken school. They tried the long-distance thing, but eventually the relationship fizzled out. On her part, she wasn’t sure whether she pushed him or he just gave up on them, but Eric personally felt that he chose his career over Becca, and he had tried very hard since then not to regret that decision. Okay, he doesn’t regret pursuing his career, but when he meets Becca again at the start of this story, he wonders whether he should have tried harder to keep Becca in his life. Well, can he, this time around?
Into the Blue is similar to Fly with Me in that, once again, the hero’s career becomes a central issue of contention between the two of them. I’d probably roll up my eyes if this theme comes up again in the next few books by the author, but for now, I’m willing to play along. It helps that this one is better paced than the previous book – the characters don’t immediately jump straight from lust to a sex marathon before quickly deciding that they are madly in love, but that is probably because these two already have a history. The author doesn’t have to spend too much time establishing a relationship as these two are already having feelings for one another, so she has more time to write all those sex scenes without taking short cuts in relationship development.
I do enjoy this one a lot, as the author once again manages to deliver two characters who are playing on equal grounds. No, Becca didn’t spend all those years pining pathetically for Eric; just like him, the old feelings only come back with a vengeance when she sees him again. I also love how there is no one clearly in the right or wrong here. Love can be messy here, just like in real life, and hence, there is a realness to all the gushy feelings here. The author also repeats her annoyingly effective ability to reel me in and play with my emotions like a violinist – she has a knack of serving up feels and angst that are down to earth, normal, and it is the intensity of these emotions and the way they get the characters to brood and give me those sad puppy eyes that bring on the delicious melodrama.
One thing bugs me though: much of the feels is delivered through speech-like declarations. While I do appreciate such declarations now and then, things start to feel artificial and even contrived when these characters start making a habit out of them. I especially find it hard to believe that a military dude like Eric, who apparently struggles with finer feelings, can verbalize his emotions like a hero in a exposition-heavy opera with such ease.
Still, all things considered, Into the Blue is, just like the last book, an X-rated Lana Del Rey song, where the melody and the intense hooks are great, but the lyrics can get so corny at places that I have to cringe. I have reservations about how this book occasionally feels like a retread of the previous book, but what the heck, it gives me the chills and I enjoy the blues, so four oogies it is.