Beyond Limits -- Laura Griffin
Book 8 of Tracers series
I have two conflicting views of this Tracers installment.
First of all, it was enjoyable and exciting and I liked it... but it didn’t escape my notice that Beyond Limits had almost the exact same storyline as Scorched (Tracers, Book 6). Or at least it had the same basic story device with a lot of similarities even if it was told with a different set of characters, a different progression, and a different approach to the investigation.
No matter what it is, reading both books back-to-back makes it hard for me NOT to compare the similarities between both books. Maybe if I’d read it spaced apart based on publication dates...
On the other hand, I liked Beyond Limits more than I liked Scorched. And that may have to do with the fact that Elizabeth LeBlanc was more likable than Kelsey Quinn had been--I got frustrated with Kelsey a lot, but I got frustrated with Elizabeth a lot less. As for the men, I got frustrated with BOTH of them, but for very different reasons.
And then we have the fact that the Delphi Center makes all of two appearances throughout the entire book… I was more or less MORE disappointed than I needed to be, because the story progressed quite smoothly even without our beloved forensic investigators.
When Derek Vaughn and his SEAL team go on their latest mission, they discover intel that points to the possibility that the next terrorist attack will be on home turf--somewhere in Texas to be exact, since a map of Houston was found. Following, the many agencies of the U.S. government quickly form a task force to investigate and prevent this impending attack.
Elizabeth LeBlanc has been having a terrible year in her career and is more than eager when Gordon Moore of the Counter-Terrorist Unit selects her to be part of his task force. Except her job becomes much harder when Derek Vaughn enters the picture, all but forcing her to let him in on the task force investigation and interfering with her job while he’s at it.
Derek feels as if the government agencies are too busy working around red tape and making nice with political correctness that they may not be able to prevent the inevitable attack on a city of innocent civilians when the time is up. Caught in between her career and her instincts, Elizabeth can’t help feeling the same way as the two race against a group of unknown terrorists to save lives.
My half-assed summary sucks. But the story was really pretty good... if one hadn’t already read Scorched that also involved a terrorist bombing-type of attack, a Navy SEAL, FBI Counter Terrorist agents (such as Gordon Moore), and a decoy spin from our baddies to keep the good guys busy while everything around them falls to pieces. Once again, our main couple are the only ones who believe that there’s more at work than what the entire task force made up of experienced investigators think is going down. Once again, our task force is blowing off help from outside sources because they don’t want someone from a different branch pissing in their territory--even at the stake of millions of lives. Once again, the bad guys have one-upped the good guys because they’ve got several plans up their sleeves, with several decoy plans, and a few unknown, mysterious players.
Once again, our main male hero is the one who saves the day because he's the only one who understands what's going on and he's an even better investigator than a whole task force of investigators, even all the veteran agents.
I’m even setting aside the fact that the romance was fairly formulaic of the “I know we can’t make this relationship work” from Elizabeth, and the “I was never interested in a relationship at all” from Derek. Because, honestly, the romance wasn’t a bad one, just a bit overused in Romantic-Suspense-landia. But for the most part, it was also downplayed in light of all the other things going on in this book for its crime thriller--which is surprising considering a Romantic Suspense is still ofttimes a Romance, first and foremost.
And to be even more honest, setting aside the fact that Derek is an arrogant asshole who needs to understand boundaries... I probably would have absolutely LOVED Beyond Limits if its story had come first. It’s written well, it’s got a good amount of suspense to keep me hooked, it’s got a pretty good team of investigators (even if Derek believes otherwise), it’s got a readily usable concept for a suspense story, and it’s got a pretty strong female presence with Elizabeth as a good FBI agent.
And I already said this, but the romance was also done well despite certain quibbles I had with it--I liked Elizabeth a lot, I liked Derek when he wasn't being a jackass, and together, they DID manage to make a pretty good team investigating this terror bombing case.
But given all the similarities between the two books’--Scorched and Beyond Limits--events and even the way both books feel, it’s hard not to feel a little deflated. Then again, my enjoyment of the book DOES make up for a lot of things, and really, that's all that matters.