INTO THE STORM by Suzanne Brockmann
I'm talking about books for the first time in a long time! The book I want to talk about is INTO THE STORM by Suzanne Brockmann. Now I probably wouldn't even have mentioned this book on the blog except that I had read a review of it at AAR . I didn't realize when I started this review I would end up writing a sort of rebuttal of the AAR review, but I found myself doing so because it has been along time since I found myself having such a completely different reading experience than a reviewer.
I admit I'm a fan of Ms. Brockmann. While I have been disappointed by some of my auto-buy authors not delivering the goods (IMO) in hardcover release, she hasn't been one of them. I decided to take a chance on the book. Having been a military brat I've found Ms. Brockmann's books to capture, if not all the reality of life in the military, at least the spirit of that life as I experienced it as a daughter of an Air Force fighter pilot. Regardless of the branch of service, the life of military families nuturing and supporting each other regardless of the diversity in culture, education, religion, socio-economic background etc. is very real. One makes friendships that would probably not be made in any other circumstance. This is even truer for the men and women who are comrades in arms. Both of these realities are integral elements of Ms. Brockmann's books and ones I identify with alot.
I have to say was surprised when I read the AAR review. However, now having read the book I understand better some of Ms. Coleman's criticisms, but disagree with her overall assessment of INTO THE STORM. Ms. Coleman does make some valid points about the language used by the characters, i.e. "prolly". I'm not a big fan of e-euphemisms either, however, it doesn't occur through the whole book and it didn't take me out of the story. At any rate, I thought it was age appropriate to the characters.
Which brings me to my biggest difference of opinion of the book with Ms. Coleman, and that is her opinion that Ms. Brockmann is targeting a younger audience. I am 51 years old and I was engaged in the book from the beginning. I didn't feel put off by the characters ages, actions or speech at all. In fact, I don't really see a twenty-something being as interested in the story as I was...I could be wrong about that, but I don't think so.
Here is the blurb about the book from Amazon:
In a remote, frozen corner of New Hampshire, a Navy SEAL team and the elite security experts of Troubleshooters, Incorporated are going head-to-head as fierce but friendly rivals in a raid-and-rescue training exercise. Despite the frigid winter temperatures, tension smolders between veteran SEAL Petty Officer Mark “Jenk” Jenkins and former cop turned Troubleshooter Lindsey Fontaine after an impulsive night goes awry. And then, suddenly, Tracy Shapiro, the Troubleshooters’ new receptionist, vanishes while playing the role of hostage during a mock rescue operation.
Teaming up with the FBI to launch a manhunt in the treacherous wilderness, Jenk and Lindsey must put aside their feelings as a record snowstorm approaches, dramatically reducing any hope of finding Tracy alive. The trail is colder than the biting New England climate until a lucky break leads to a horrifying discovery–a brutally murdered young woman wearing the jacket Tracy wore when she disappeared. Suddenly there is a chilling certainty that Tracy has fallen prey to a serial killer–one who knows the backwoods terrain and who doesn’t play by the rules of engagement.
In a race against time, a raging blizzard, and a cunning opponent, Jenk and Lindsey are put to the ultimate test. Rising everything, they must finally come together in a desperate attempt to save Tracy–and each other.
Jenk has been in other SEAL books of Brockmann's and I have to admit he wasn't someone whose story I was burning to have told. For one thing Mark Jenkins is hardly the average alpha stud usually described in romance novels. In fact, as the book begins he's pretty stupidly focused on a old crush. Weirdly, this was something I identified with--his reluctance to give up on his idealized fantasy relationship. Not that I wanted the crush relationship to be "the one". It was more like, "Hey, sh*t happens". We don't all fall for the right person first time out of the gate.
Lindsey is flawed also. I liked this character alot. There are more people like Jenk and Lindsey in the world than the sort of perfection we usually read about in romance novels. The characters are engaging, flaws and all and I think accessible and easy to identify with for most readers. It was no hardship to follow them through their trials and tribulations to HEA.
The AAR review also noted a sad lack of secondary characters for the reader to care about. I disagree here too. Brockmann does well layering in secondary characters in several books before their own stories are told. I found several characters I would be interested in hearing more about like: Irving Zanella, Dave Malkoff, Decker and Sophia to name a few.
My sister, who is a huge Brockmann fan, was anxious to find out how I liked the book after we had discussed the AAR review. This is what I told her, "Is it her (Brockmann's) best book? No. Is it her worst book? No. It's stardard Brockmann fare."
Good writers can't write an exceptional book every time, but I think it is reasonable to expect a good read from a good writer. For me, I got what I was looking for. One could say that the books I've read recently might have been just too light weight when compared to the writing chops of Ms. Brockmann and perhaps that's the reason why I liked the book...something a little meatier to sink my teeth into. Or, one could say, Suzanne Brockmann wrote a good book.