Take Me Tonight -- Roxanne St. Claire
Book 3 of Bullet Catchers series
2007 Release -- Pocket Books
Adult, Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Bodyguards
I'm going to call it what it is and say that I had a few superficial reasons for anticipating the third installation of the Bullet Catchers series, Take Me Tonight. And these reason really only make sense to me, so I discourage anyone from trying see any normal logic in them. Pretty much everything should have aligned properly to make this Ani’s favorite Bullet Catchers book:
- The summary blurb, as per usual, was intriguing.
- Our Bullet Catcher’s name is Johnny and he’s a playful, flirty, Italian who can cook. (Have I ever mentioned before that a lot of the previous fictional male characters I’ve fallen in love with always got extra points for being able cook?)
- There was an underlying “cyber crime”-ish base to this Buller Catchers installment’s mystery.
- The beginning of the book was equal parts intriguing and exciting and came on strong enough to hook me right into the story.
But in the end, while the beginning was decently laid out, the rest of the book started to teeter on typical clichéd scenes that readily made me frustrated and roll my eyes. Things did not play out productively, the progression was haphazard, and our main female character turned out NOT like the spunky, smart heroine I had been anticipating. Because, of all the TSTL things a heroine can do in any storyline, I think that Sage Valentine pretty much does it all:
- Knowingly walking right into danger without any security or back-up plans.
- Pushing away her personal protection for the sake of her own stubborn grudges.
- Trusting all the wrong people and forcing away all the right ones.
- Continually painting a target on her own forehead when she knows someone is out to harm her.
There is a time and a place to bravely do your job and be fiercely independent and search out the truth. But then there’s also knowing how to be smart about being fiercely independent. Because I don’t hate that Sage is a smart, resourceful woman who can take care of herself and can get out of certain sticky situations; I don’t rebuff the fact that she is independent and a skilled investigator. I just always take issue whenever smart women become incompetent at keeping themselves safely out of danger when they have a world of resources to turn to for help, due to whatever misguided ideals they have about the meaning of being a strong, independant woman.
Why does being strong always have to equate to being stupidly heroic, or stubbornly martyr-ish?
Sage Valentine’s roommate has died and Sage suspects foul play to do with a thrill-seeking website that Keisha Kingston has been participating in: takemetonite.com. Apparently there’s a new trend of role playing in real life and real time where women pay to get the full package thrill of being kidnapped and then rescued--they also come with some sexual perks on the side, of course. (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes too, but it’s a good concept for a Romantic Suspense/Crime Thriller, especially when these games lead to dead people and murder mysteries. I promise, I’m not morbid or psychotically twisted in any way--I just enjoy my crime thrillers as proper crime thrillers with intriguing premises.)
In order to find out what happened, Sage pleads with her estranged aunt, Lucy Sharpe, to help her investigate the matter. But Lucy claims that she has found nothing illegitimate or sinister behind the takemetonite.com website and that Sage would be best to leave the investigation to the police, especially since Keisha’s death has been ruled as a suicide.
Unable to let it go, and convinced that Keisha would have never killed herself, Sage books her own kidnapping with plans to question the site’s “kidnappers” and “rescuers” until she can figure out the truth about Keisha’s death (in an utterly TSTL move without telling anyone what she’s planning to do, despite knowing that her life could be in danger). And of course, being the all-knowing leader of the Bullet Catchers, Lucy knows what Sage has planned and she’d be damned if Sage ends up hurt, or worse, dead, because of her dogged investigations (which made me scratch my head about this since Lucy was fairly adamant that the whole takemetonite.com experience was a hundred percent legitimate and not life-endangering, but whatevs, now we have a legit reason for a bodyguard to grace the scene).
Enter Johnny Christiano, a young man Lucy had saved from his previous life of darkness and crime and turned into an elite Bullet Catcher. As someone who will follow Lucy blindly because of what she’s done for him, Johnny asks no questions when Lucy sends him to security detail on Sage without so much as an explanation or a fully-loaded file on the client and their principal.
And yes, of course, there are much more sinister workings going on to do with Keisha’s death as well as her fellow dance team members, the Snow Bunnies. And then on top of that, we’ve got a side conflict involving back-history between Lucy and Sage and betrayal and how Johnny is highly loyal to Lucy and thus we also get some typical “Romantic Angst” at play.
The biggest surprise twist in this story was why the kidnappings were ending in dead women--why there was a crime thriller to begin with and why our resident “bad guy” was doing what he was doing. It’s not the best surprise twist, but I would have never guessed the motive even if I managed to guess the culprit--it was... strange, really. The biggest disappointment (aside from Sage’s TSTL moments) was that the entire mystery was pretty predictable as to who was the “ultimate evil mastermind”--the guy practically flashes neon when he’s introduced for the first time in the story.
And then the rest of the book teeters into typical Romantic Suspense formulaic outlining.
The only saving grace of this book was probably Johnny as well as the excitability factor. Because even though the crime thriller was predictable and even though I really, really tried to like Sage but failed, the book was written well and I DID like Johnny. I mean, he’s not really unique or outstanding or anything; and he’s definitely no Johnny Duane Reed, of course (but that’s an unfair comparison, because no one could EVER be Johnny Duane Reed, really), but he’s an adorable sort of broody alpha male and he can cook.
The romance was all over the place, but the development wasn’t too bad. The rest of the background characters came off kind of insignificant and flat, or boring and annoying and irritating.
Overall Thoughts: I’m sorely disappointed that this third installation of the series didn’t really do anything for me. The first book of the Bullet Catchers was a real hook, line, and sinker; however, the books just keep getting more frustrating as the series progresses. Fortunately, they are written well and have a good enough dream team for me to still be considering following the rest of the series.
I suppose we’ll just see where it all leads.