When writing a romantic suspense there are many different settings and occupations for an author to put her hero and heroine in. Giving them just the right career, circumstances, setting and personality is what makes both the romance and the suspense exciting. Red Heat is the first book I’ve read by author Nina Bruhns and I was surprised that I hadn’t read her before. Her prose, characterization and plot immediately put her on my “get more books by this author” list because the setting was unusual, the story line was adventurous, sophisticated and exciting and the protagonists were endearing.
A Russian diesel submarine, one which really should be heading for the scrap yard instead of the frigid Bering Sea, is just quirky yet intricate enough a setting for this high seas romantic suspense. With Russian naval Commander Nikolai Romanov’s career having taken a decided down turn, his next mission is a punishment. Instead of commanding a mission worthy of his expertise and rank he is demoted and ordered to lead a group of international scientists and a reporter to the Arctic Circle for a scientific expedition. To add insult to injury he’s blackmailed into spying on a spy.
CIA analyst Julie Severin is posing as the American reporter covering the expedition. However Julie’s not a real spy, she’s an analyst. She just had the bad luck to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and the only person available to take on the mission of finding and recovering a small data storage card hidden on the Russian submarine. The catch is, even before she gets on the sub, they already know she’s a spy, they just don’t know what her end game is. That is Nikolai’s job, to find out what she wants.
Ms. Bruhns has put a lot of research into this book and it shows. Not in the ‘oh here’s another fact about a Russian submarine’ way, but in revealing detail and description through the story line and dialogue giving us information about each characters back story, motivations and character traits. It’s not dense or enigmatic; instead it gives the story arc and the characters a coloratura that is interesting and recognizable. Simply put it’s very suspenseful and very romantic, and she does this with each word she writes – there are no wasted words here, they all help tell the story so that you feel trapped under the frigid waters of the Bering Sea in a rust bucket that may not make it, surrounded by people whom you are not sure you can trust.
Red Heat is definitely an exciting adventure, but through it all the author makes sure that we are just as involved with the characters. Both Julie and Nikolai are vibrant individuals with interesting pasts and unknown futures, and we get to ride along as they experience their suspensful present predicament and each other.
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