Crazy Hot -- Tara Janzen
Book 1 of Steele Street series
2005 Release -- Bantam Dell Publishing
Adult, Romantic Suspense, Special Ops, Cars
I read a short story by Tara Janzen in the SEAL of My Dreams (see my review) anthology and found her work had enough of that rapid-fire excitement factor to be attractive and enjoyable. Then I decided to look her up and found a fairly long looking series to do with some Special Ops men, found that at least the first five books were available at my local library, and went from there.
While exciting and fun and fast-paced and similar to a lot of what I enjoy in a standard Romantic Suspense, the story was a little haphazard. But the progression of the story was quick enough that you don’t have time to dwell on anything BUT the forward progress of the story line--an entertaining, mindless read to enjoy without analyzing it to death, if you will. Because it isn’t until you let yourself think back on the book that you realize that nothing really stood out, save for a couple of details: cars, guns, a strangely eccentric old paleontologist with an obsession with Cretaceous era nests, people who make bad decisions, and sex (lots of sex).
The Story in Brief:
Regan McKinney’s grandfather, a well known paleontologist, has gone missing and despite what everyone else thinks, she knows this isn’t normal of the older man. But he’s left a cryptic message on his calendar pointing to Cisco, Utah and a man from Regan’s past, Quinn Younger, and she hopes that finding Quinn will help her figure out what happened to Wilson McKinney.
Quinn Younger is hiding out in the rundown, abandoned town of Cisco while he recovers from an injury he sustained on an ongoing mission. But then Regan appears with the bad guys tailing her and he knows that he needs to jump back into action if he wants to keep her safe and alive, while finally bringing the bad guys to justice.
I’m sitting here trying to recall bits and pieces of Crazy Hot’s story line and unfortunately cannot pull the bad guy’s identity out of my head on a whim, with only the name Roper floating around. I don’t even remember what kind of bad guy he is (gang leader, mob boss, business man, random crazy guy with minions…) and can only remember that he’s brutal to everyone and doesn’t hesitate to kill, even his own men if they screw up. And he’s got a reward out for Quinn’s head because Quinn stole from him as part of the mission that landed Quinn in hiding at the beginning of the book.
I know I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, but I also remember thinking that the balance between Romance and Suspense was teetering on a very thin line. Our couple would spend monologues lusting after each other, then the Suspense part of the story would pick up with stuff to do with dinosaur fossils, stolen weapons, and hitmen out to make trouble for our good guys. Then we’d have another random, but steamy, sex scene. Then we’d go into more of the bad guys and the good guys and “The Plan” to capture the bad guys (which was flimsy at best). Then more talk about emotional feelings, physical feelings, lusty feelings...
And then there’s the short-lived “bodyguard” side plot that introduces one of the series’ main couples, Kid Chronopolous and Nikki McKinney (Regan’s little sister), when the guys of Steele Street learn that Bad Man Roper might be watching the entire McKinney family for one reason or another; which also ended up being more Romance with more sex scenes (not that the sex scenes weren’t welcome, ‘cause they were pretty steamy).
Anyway, I’ve yet to figure out the roles of all the Steele Street guys, or what kind of an operation they are aside from some sort of secret unofficial government Special Ops group. There’s Dylan Hart, the leader; Christian Hawkins, who feels like second-in-command as well as maintains undercover op roles; Kid Chronopolous who is simply described as “the sniper”; some other guys I may have missed; and finally Quinn Younger who, despite his juvenile life of crime, is the golden boy and heroic public face of the Steele Street secret operatives… or something like that.
And then there’s history between the boys and it sounds like they all either grew up together, or met up at some point in time when their lives converged and linked up with car theft, chop shops, and other stuff to do with juvenile delinquency and some remediation program working for Wilson McKinney digging up bones in a valley… or something to that effect. I don’t know. I got a little lost with all the backhistory of these boys.
What I DID learn, as I read Crazy Hot, however, was just about how little I understand about cars. Either the author has some sort obsession with American muscle with lots of power, or she went a little overboard in her research, because there was A LOT dealing with cars (and guns, but this is a Romantic Suspense, so I expect there to be talk of guns). If the guys weren’t thinking about sex with the ladies or fighting with the bad guys, they were monologuing about their cars.
Being that the first book in this Steele Street series is actually quite enjoyable and entertaining for a summertime R&R read, I am very much interested in continuing on with the rest of the books. I’m just also crossing my fingers for some girl power as well… and maybe less about cars… and more solid storylines?