When You Dare has all the usual suspects; a heroine in need of saving, an alpha hero with a beta heart, a surprise villain, great supporting characters, a mystery to solve, and lots of action. Why does this particular book belong on my keeper shelf? Well first I have to say, not all romantic suspense is equal. You can have all these elements and have a good romantic suspense. But to have one worthy of the keeper shelf it must also have characters that not only endear but intrigue, and ones that are contained within a plot that can sustain the world-wind romance that occurs admits the bullets flying and all the running and hiding. That’s the trick. Romantic suspense is a hard sub-genre to wrap a wit around, it’s not easy to write a romance where the hero and heroine are falling in love and having hot monkey sex while they are running for their lives. Let’s face it, most of us have a hard enough time getting to know someone during a ‘normal’ relationship, never mind getting to know that person if we were being chased by bad guys down a deserted highway at a 150 miles per hour. So the trick becomes making sure your characters reveal and share their fundamental natures to each other in and around all the explosions, kidnappings and crime solving. And that’s what Ms. Foster has done in the first book of her new “Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor” series.
I must admit that I had some trepidation before reading this book. The hero, Dare Macintosh, is a mercenary, and my first instinct was, nope, can’t do mercenaries. They tend to be uber-alpha heroes and that’s so not my thing in contemporary romantic suspense. I love that archetype in paranormals, but often times the "cave man" like behavior becomes hard to bear in a contemporary. Well, I was pleasantly surprised by Dare. He’s a mercenary all right, a private contractor in fact, but he’s doing it for all the right reasons. He has a clear moral compass and an ethical sense of duty, honor and loyalty. He’s the kind of man you’d like to know, the kind of man who keeps his word, the kind of man you can trust. When he rescues a friend from a human trafficking ring he also rescues the other women who were held with her. And that’s how he meets Molly.
Romance author Molly Alexander has no earthly idea why she was kidnapped; she was separated and treated differently from the other women who were held prisoners, and after Dare rescues her she hires him to find out who kidnapped her and why. Molly is an interesting character, one I had a lot of respect for. She doesn’t fall apart, she holds on to her sense of self all the way through the book. She has a strong inner core, but the real reason I had an affinity for this heroine is because she’s neither your ‘kick ass alpha heroine’ nor your ‘damsel in distress’ heroine. She’s real. She’s scared but she’s steady. She stands strong and uses her intellect without sacrificing her emotions.
Great action, dialogue, characters, secondary relationships and romance make When You Dare an exciting start to this new series and I’m looking forward to the next book, Trace of Fever, coming out next month.