Scorched -- Laura Griffin
Book 6 of Tracers series
Kelsey and Gage’s story started in the novella, Unstoppable, which took place in the Tracers’ timeline between Unspeakable and Unforgivable (Books 2 and 3, respectively). Unstoppable saw the introduction of Kelsey and Gage amidst a dig site that was taking place near an area in southern Texas where a few murders of young women had just occurred. Worried for her safety, Kelsey’s uncle, a commander of a Navy SEAL unit requested the help of Navy SEAL Gage Brewer to help keep Kelsey protected for the duration of her dig.
Of course, a lot of exciting Romantic Suspense™ stuff happens, big conspiracies abound, sparks fly, and the two end up hooking up. The novella ends with Gage rushing off on another assignment overseas and Kelsey going back to her work at The Delphi Center. They agree to try to make their long distance relationship work.
Lo and behold, about three books later, our couple has broken up due to the stress of keeping a long distance relationship, but of course, their story picks up in Scorched to, obviously, rekindle a romance and tell another Romantic Suspense.
Kelsey Quinn’s strange find at a remote Phillipines’ dig ends up leading to something more sinister than the mass murder burial she’d been working on there. Then she witnesses the murder of an FBI agent by his own partner and other mysterious men who turn out to have ties to local law enforcement. Forced on the run, believing that there is no one she can trust, Kelsey goes into hiding until she can figure out how to get herself out of this mess and bring what she knows into the open.
Gage Brewer had broken up with Kelsey months before, though he still can’t stop thinking about her. But she’d asked him to choose between her and the teams and so he’d chosen his Navy SEAL career. Becoming a prime suspect in the murder of an FBI agent, however, leads Gage to realizing how much danger Kelsey is in. Without hesitation he heads off to find her, to keep her safe, to figure out how to clear his name, and possibly to rekindle some kind of spark between them; even though they both know they still haven’t resolved the conflicts in their relationship.
I finished reading Scorched quite some time ago, but lack of motivation and time had me setting aside this half-assed review for another day. Now I can’t quite recall what I had thought about it aside from seeing it as exciting and enjoyable… but also a bit disappointing in comparison to the previous two Tracers installments that came before it.
The story itself (along with the crime thriller part of Scorched) had all begun exciting enough. There was non-stop action with the find of a dead, wanted fugitive at Kelsey’s Phillipines’ dig site--a dig site she’d been asked to attend due to the fact that she’s a forensic anthropologist, and the dig site is that of a recent mass murder. So things are already tense enough.
When Kelsey returns to the United States to report her findings and maybe try to make some connections with the FBI, specifically her ex-fiance who has leads on a connected case, she ends up being the sole witness to his murder and immediately goes on the run. At first I hadn’t understood why she didn’t go to the police, until I realized that we are dealing with another typical “the local law enforcement are in on it” conspiracy.
And I guess that DOES make for a pretty good suspense when we force our main characters into a dangerous situation from the get-go. Of course, it still doesn't explain why she didn't go to certain trusted law enforcement in the area, such as her supposed closest friend, Mia's significant other, Ric Santos of San Marcos PD... or am I in a different jurisdiction here? And then what about all of her Delphi Center co-workers and friends who also seem to double as skilled investigators?
But alas, we just needed a reason why Kelsey needed to go into hiding so that Gage could discover her whereabouts and play bodyguard for her. Not a bad way to go about it, but a few quibbles that I readily brushed aside moments after I asked myself those questions.
Moving along now...
The story is very fast-paced and leaves no room for dwelling on the quibbles, though. And overall, I DID enjoy the book. The crime thriller was well written, the twists may have been a bit chaotic, but they worked and everything tied together.
I liked the new character introductions of FBI agent Elizabeth LeBlanc and Navy SEAL Derek Vaughn, who will grace our Tracers series in the eighth installment, Beyond Limits as the main players; the use of both characters was rather smooth and I look forward to reading their story soon. Also, once again, the use of recurring characters--Ben Lawson, Mia Voss, Mark Wolfe…--all very welcome, and all very well utilized. I’m once again looking forward to either seeing these familiar characters again, or hopefully seeing the side characters in books of their own soon.
The only issue I have with Scorched is the romance. Gage and Kelsey have a lot of issues to work through. And between them being really bad at communicating with each other, with Gage starting the book off being a complete ass, with Gage’s sudden “He-man” routine as he swoops in to rescue Kelsey by manhandling her and bossing her around, and with Kelsey’s random TSTL moments throughout the book… I just couldn’t quite find myself caring much for their relationship and found a lot of things about their love story that didn’t settle well with me.
Nonetheless, Scorched is still a highly enjoyable read.