Friday, September 7, 2012

"First You Run" by Roxanne St. Claire

Adrien Fletcher works for some sort of bodyguard company, and his latest mission is to track down the baby given up for adoption - through a black market adoption ring, no less - by Eileen Stafford, who is in prison for murder. And dying of cancer. And most likely innocent of the crime. The next woman on his list is Dr. Miranda Lang, who has just published a book refuting the claims of the Mayan calendar that the world will end in 2012. The way he can be certain that he has the right woman is that the baby was marked with a tattoo. Lucky for him, this would typically involve him getting the woman naked - and into bed. He figures he can do this with Miranda - but this being a romantic suspense novel, his feelings soon get in the way.

Miranda appears to be at threat from a lunatic fringe group that don't want her spouting her theories about the world not ending in 2012. They are going to extreme lengths to get this message across. Therefore, Adrien must not only find out if Miranda is the daughter of Eileen Stafford, he must also keep her safe from harm and help her find out who is sabotaging her book tour.

"First You Run" is a fairly standard romantic suspense novel, but quickly paced with a plot that makes for a nice change from the usual cop-hunting-a-killer-and-falling-for-damsel-in-distress scenario. The Mayan calendar angle was interesting and well-researched. Miranda Lang isn't a passive screamer or snotty princess. She's smart, capable and grounded. That helped keep me in her corner. Adrien Fletcher isn't too bad as far as alpha males go. However, as well-researched as the rest of the novel is, I can't help but feel that the author simply re-watched "Crocodile Dundee" in her effort to create Adrien, who is Australian. Think of the broadest Australian male cliches possible, and you'll find them here. He calls women "sheila". I don't think Alf on "Home And Away" even does that anymore. There are token references to Aboriginal tribes and bunyips. I didn't actually bother me too much. I found it more funny than anything. I'm sure most Australian readers will find it all quite amusing.

Not so amusing is the author's ploy to have us purchase the next two installments in the trilogy. The mystery behind who framed Eileen Stafford is not resolved here. I prefer trilogies that hang together with distinct stories for each part that can be read individually with nothing being lost. Karen Rose often does it. It's not fair that I have to hunt down subsequent entries for a resolution to one of this book's plot strands. Roxanne St. Claire has demonstrated here that she can deliver a diverting tale with occasional edginess and good plot twists. That's enough for me to give further books a chance. I don't like these Lisa Jackson-style tricks; they're not necessary for me to come back for more.

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