Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sandra Brown - Deadline

Dawson Scott is a well-respected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan. Haunted by everything he experienced, he's privately suffering from battle fatigue which is a threat to every aspect of his life. But then he gets a call from a source within the FBI. A new development has come to light in a story that began 40 years ago. It could be the BIG story of Dawson's career one in which he has a vested interest.
Soon, Dawson is covering the disappearance and presumed murder of former Marine Jeremy Wesson, the biological son of the pair of terrorists who remain on the FBI's Most Wanted list. As Dawson delves into the story, he finds himself developing feelings for Wesson's ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons. But when Amelia's nanny turns up dead, the case takes a stunning new turn, with Dawson himself becoming a suspect. Haunted by his own demons, Dawson takes up the chase for the notorious outlaws. . .and the secret, startling truth about himself.

Comment: Author Sandra Brown is still one of my favorite romance writers and I've devoured many of her older books. Even her romantic suspense books offer a love story that usually makes me eager to see how the HEA happens (because a HEA does happen), therefore I was very interested in seeing how this plot would develop and how the romance would play out.
In this book we follow Dawson Scott, a reporter who has been in Afghanistan but came back with some PTSD and has been having nightmares. He is convinced to write a story about a case that started 40 years ago and where his godfather played an important role as an FBI agent. Dawson learns a lot in his investigations but what makes him want to keep working on it is Amelia, the ex-wife of a dead man in a murder case related to his story. Layers of information start to reveal themselves as time goes by, Dawson himself feels part of everything the more attracted to Amelia he gets, the more fond of her sons he is and the more curious about little things he becomes.
The story seems well on its way to be solved when a couple of twists show us nothing is as simple as we imagined...
Overall, I liked this story. But at the same time it almost didn't "feel" like a SB story. I've read many books by her, not all her backlist, I probably still have 5 or 6 books by her to read - not all seem intriguing for me - but I think I can say I'm a fan and I'm familiar with her books. This Deadline felt too subdued, more focused on the plot than the romantic aspects and even those seemed quieter placed and presented. I mean, usually her protagonists are a bit more aggressive in their actions and romantic pursuits. It doesn't mean this book doesn't have those elements in the right amount or well inserted in the story, but it does feel it was something the author "controlled" more.
The plot is key in this book. It has many layers and hidden things we find as long as we read. I can't explain a lot without spoilers, but I was very eager to know what was happening and why. The most interesting thing about this story is how the twists keep coming. Until a certain point the reader knows what's happening, there are doubts about certain moments and facts but I think most people would believe a certain idea was correct. then there are two twists in a row I didn't see coming that show me the author's thought and effort about how this would develop. Closer to the end there's another twist, amazing, that I was really surprised. I assume most readers, even those who by this point had all their theories done were surprised.
In terms of romance, this was a lot more smoother and polished than the majority of the author's previous books. Like I said, usually the characters seem more aggressive, not that are reckless or bad people doing things their own way, but there's a subjacent layer of determination and impulsiveness that I found wasn't very obvious or present here. Sandra Brown heroes have all looked like alpha men, her romantic suspense books always had a protagonist that was intense, not mean aggressive, but determined aggressive, went after what he wanted, and when it came to the heroine the norm would be for him to be aloof but focused on her when the intimate moments happened, whether explicit or the sexual tension times. In this book I felt Dawson wasn't as "crazy" over Amelia, his feelings were more calm, more slow developed. I'm not saying there's a bad or right way here, but it was different. I don't really mind, but it made the book feel quieter.
Amelia is a very simple character, meaning she is a quiet person, cares for her sons and others, and in a way I loved her personality for it, she's not doing crazy things or acting like she doesn't care about herself or her attitudes. Dawson has a lot going on and I wish their HEA was a bit more developed. I don't know why some authors write lengthy but unfocused epilogues and others don't give them and in this case, I think a sweet epilogue would help and not ruin the "mood" and tone of the story that obviously wanted to highlight the mystery and plot moves.
The secondary characters are interesting additions to the plot and the chase of wanted criminals and how everything was connected is actually well done. It wasn't always a till telling story but I think it was well structured.
Hardcore fans of mystery or thrillers probably feel this is a beginners in the genre book but it does have worth on its own.
Now I feel curious about the other titles I haven't read yet...I will need to buy them soon.
I'll cherish other books more but this one was interesting and engaging until the end.
Grade: 7/10

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