More Action, Arguably Less Romance. Still Bybee. This book – arguably a *version* of a take on 21 Jump Street (though admittedly my only exposure to that franchise is the Tatum/ Hill movies) – continues Bybee’s recent (2020+) path of moving to less saccharine / comedic romances and to more thriller-ish romances. There is still comedy and sweetness here, but it takes more of a backburner to the thriller elements. Also continuing is Bybee’s more recent examination of weighty real-world topics while telling a romance tale, and in this case the topic in question is sex trafficking – particularly of high school/ just after high school age young women. Bybee, at least in my experience with her books, isn’t really known for having multiple sex scenes throughout the tale, and this particular book is no exception to that norm. Truly a solid romance, with all of the old RWA standards I am aware of met, and a pretty good (low body count) thriller to boot – particularly when considering that the author is more known in the romance world and has written far more in that genre. This reader, for one, is looking forward to seeing where this series goes. Very much recommended.
Excellently Done. In this entrant to the Creek Canyon series, we lose focus on the work of the male lead – while it is there, it isn’t as prominent as the first book – while getting even more in depth with the emotional trauma of the female lead. Which, full disclosure here since it is such a sensitive topic for some, is domestic abuse. Bybee does an amazing job of bringing us in to Erin’s worlds and her fears about them ever meeting. The suspense built up through one part of the book in particular is some amazing work, ratcheting up the tension to almost unbearable levels. But then the payoff comes rather suddenly in the closing pages of the book, and that is arguably the book’s one flaw. Still, truly excellent work and very much recommended.
Stunning. Bybee here uses her real life situation over the last few years to craft a story that is a testament to those who helped her most – the firemen and the flood control guys and the various repairmen – while also sticking to her bread and butter of romance novels. This one has some fun elements, such as when the lead guy comes out of the shower and, seeing his brother and sister in addition to our lead gal, says that he is glad he came out covered. His brother responds along the lines of “yeah, no one wants to see that”, and our lead gal raises her hand “I do!” (Seriously, I’m still cracking up about that particular scene. 🙂 But overall, the tone here is much more serious. For our lead gal in particular, life isn’t exactly easy. But she has an AR, an AK, a shotgun, a 911, and a .40 cal Glock and she’s a good shot – as she tells another character who thinks he can just come on her property any time he needs to. Not as light as I remember the Not Quite series being, but absolutely a strong story, and with such a cast that it isn’t clear (as it usually tends to be) where this series is going next. (I have suspicions, but even that is only a somewhat educated guess.) Very much recommended.