Jove, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-515-14738-4
Paranormal Romantic Suspense, 2010 (Reissue)
Running Hot is part of the Arcane Society series, but fortunately, there is less awkward “psychical” gobbledygook floating around this time. The auras are still here, though, because there is just no escaping them.
Luther Malone, our hero, is twice-divorced, once a cop, and walks with a cane. He freelances for the Jones & Jones agency, which is closely affiliated to the Arcane Society, and when the story opens, our hero is tasked to bodyguard a reference librarian from the Society’s Bureau of Genealogy. Grace Renquist, the librarian in question, will use her gift of reading auras to confirm the involvement of a possible suspect in a recent murder case. Luther needs to help Grace get in close proximity to this suspect without endangering her or giving the game away. Naturally, they have to pose as husband and wife in the whole process.
Set in Hawaii, this story has a hero whose fashion tastes run into stereotypical Hawaiian… colors, let’s just say. Oh, and he’s divorced twice, which is probably something new for a change. Still, you know the drill: he’s that guy, she’s that gal. The author is more into suspense than romance, so the relationship between these two is basically a fast track rush from kiss to grope to sex in a “How are your parents? Good! Done!” way.
Still, things aren’t as dire as they sound. The author still has her sense of humor, and the first few chapters of this book are actually very funny. Despite the familiarity of… well, everything here, I find myself raring to go because of the promising start. Sure, things weren’t new, but they felt fresh, so I was all set to have fun.
The prologue was a pretty good indication of what went wrong here, though. In the prologue, a woman follows a man onto his boat, knowing full well that he wants to kill her. This is interesting. How will she get away? What will she do? Unfortunately, the first few tension-filled pages give way to pages after pages of the man ranting and raving at the woman, giving away all his plans while I roll up my eyes and shake my head. I don’t understand how this author can write so many so-called romantic suspense novels and still fail to get that, sometimes, no readers will die and things may get better if she would give the whole unbelievable “Scooby-Doo villain screeches all after a little prompting” routine a break once in a while.
And that’s the problem with this story: too much talking, not enough action. This is a romantic suspense, right? How about some gripping scenes of suspense for a change? No, we’re still stuck in that land where secondary characters launch into long exposition about the whole case, and our hero and heroine basically go from one place to another collecting information from these babblers. Once a while someone fires a gun at them, or they come across a dead body, but most of the time it’s an exposition marathon.
Meanwhile, another new talent pops up, and our hero and our heroine’s psychic powers once again are so awesome that I don’t know why the bad guys even bother to try. But the babble-babble all day long thing is the biggest problem here: it causes the story to be far more sedate than any suspenseful story should be, and I find myself at the edge of my seat only because I’m dozing off to the point that I nearly fall of the seat.
It’s really a pity, because the characters actually work this time around as they are basically everything that works with the author’s formula given some twists that actually keep things fresh. Only, there is hardly any suspense or mystery to make up for the tedium and the lack of interesting romance. Running Hot is still a decent throwaway beach or airplane journey kind of read, but it’s also more like a cold shrink than its title would suggest.