RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan

C

Title: Forged in Fire
Author: Trish McCallan
Publication Info: Montlake 2012
ISBN: 9781612185330
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Book Forged in Fire This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Sassy Outwater. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Romantic Suspense category.

The summary:     

Beth Brown doesn’t believe in premonitions. But her recent dream feels too real to ignore: a commercial airliner is hijacked, and a handsome passenger is shot dead. Beth hasn’t met the mystery man in her dream; she would never forget a gorgeous face like his. But she can’t deny the bizarre connection she feels.

Now awake, and unable to allow for the violence she’s convinced is impending, she races to the airport…and comes face to face with the man of her dreams. Zane Winters lives for his job, using his uncanny psychic powers to carry out missions for elite SEAL Team 7.

Yet the constant adrenaline highs can’t drown out the numbness seeping into his life as he yearns to find a woman he can trust. All that changes when he meets a beautiful stranger who sets his soul on fire—and somehow knows he’s about to die. To thwart the global crisis the hijacking will unleash, Beth and Zane join forces.

But even amid the danger, they can’t deny the powerful force drawing them together. Is it merely attraction…or destiny?

And here is Sassy's review:

I love ultra-real military suspense with alpha Navy SEAL men doing their clandestine ops stuff and making me swoon with their badassedness. While I think Forged In Fire was a strong debut in and of itself, it had so much unblievability to parts of it that my eyeballs might now be fixed in the permanent WTF position.

Our hero comes from a line of Navy SEAL men who mate for life. The Winters men are part-time psychics and full-on telepathic with their mates. Zane Winters, our hero, starts seeing dead people, specifically members of his SEAL team, shot dead aboard a flight to Hawaii. These flashes happen while he and his team are waiting to board said flight in Seattle. So the Seals get all SEALy and start looking for bad guys who can hijack a plane.

Meanwhile, our heroine, Beth Brown, wakes up from a dream in which a Hawaii-bound plane is about to be hijacked. Only problem, the dream begins coming true. In the dream, she spills coffee, wears a certain outfit, hears of a certain traffic accident… and all of that happens in reality. She’s more than a little spooked by the time she arrives at work at the airport. (She’s an airline employee.) Her job allows her to list as a standby passenger on the flight in question, get through security and get to the gate to warn someone. Someone who might believe in her crazy dream.

Zane sees her and knows she’s his mate. All his SEAL buddies instantly get it and totally support his instant over-protective possession (there’s no other word for it, except when Beth insists a few times that she be unpossessed) of the heroine.

Beth convinces Zane of her dream, the hijacking is stopped, and now SEAL Team 7, which somehow now magically includes Beth, because, you know, Zane’s gotta protect her and stuff, has to catch the fugitive hijackers because there’s a mole in the FBI, no one else will have anything to do with it, and someone somehow somewhere gave SEAL Team 7 permission to operate on US soil.

The obligatory mayhem of criminals and botched hijacking ensues. There’s guns and hostages and dead friends and police interviews and sexist commanders and all kinds of nonsense after that. There’s forgotten condoms, backstory about the heroine’s childhood, a carnival, rescue missions and plot moppets.

What there isn’t: back story about Zane except for the fact that his family is a bunch of long-married psychic Navy SEALs. He moved around a lot as a kid. A sibling or two might be mentioned in passing, but that’s all there is to Zane’s past. We know almost nothing else about him. And in the present, we get his protectiveness of Beth, his obligation to find the hijackers, and his SEALness. There’s not much more than that. I kept digging for more on Zane, and coming up empty. He’s a walking, talking gun-slinging penis interested in his mate and saving the world because it’s the SEAL thing to do. I want some man attached to this fictional penis, please!

Pros: Once the action scenes start, McCallan’s writing gets edgy, quick and good. There were some great moments in this book, especially after it got going. But that’s the problem. In the beginning, I identified more with the villain than the hero! We spent lots of time getting to know the thoughts of our villain. We learn all about what motivates him, and I actually enjoy some of that. All we get of the hero for the first third of the book is his interaction with his SEAL buddies and their manly man back-slapping banter and mission chatter. We get a good look at our heroine’s thoughts too, but that hero identification I wanted remains persona non grada.

This book just left me all kinds of confused. Was it paranormal or a random chance dream? She’s clearly setting up for book 2, Forged in Ash, but (spoiler) we never find out who the hijackers are working for. I wanted political implication or deeper plot twists. Maybe they’re coming later, but they aren’t here. The author picks up a plot thread and rolls with them for a while, then seems to get bored and seek out something else. That just makes for a lot of loose messy ends.

Our heroine loves romance novels, and that is illustrated at every possible turn, which could be cute to some people, but for me, just made me roll my eyes yet again. I’m totally down with romance fan heroines in romance novels, but this just felt like the author getting her point across through her heroine's thoughts. It happened there, then again later in the book when a bad guy rapist (yes there is violence involving children and women) gets his man parts shot by a sexist crusty crotchety commander, a man probably in another book destined to fall in love with the rape victim. To me, it just felt like the author couldn’t resist the temptation to throw in some nose-thumbing romance fandom and some ball-shooting. I could be 100 percent behind those scenes, but it just didn’t work for me here because of the timing and the writing. At times this was a suspense book, and at other times, just a romance, at times, an editorial.

I did finish the book and I liked parts of it. I’m one who actually doesn’t mind violence in her books. In fact, I love thrillers and police procedurals and military stuff. What bugged me here though was the confusion. If the book is paranormal, then give it an ectoplasmic spine and legs to stand on. I wanted follow-through, that’s what was missing for me. I felt like I just kept rolling my eyes and chasing myself in circles through this book.

And yet I liked it. I will probably go get the next book in the series just to see if she does wind up building on some of those loose tangled ends she left in this book.

Grading this was really hard. I need a point system or something. Action and voice later in the book get a solid B. Couple believability gets a C. Plot, a D. The author took a unique concept and certainly gave it her own voice, and for that, I give an A. So this book is all over the map, averaging out to a C for me.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    library addict says:

    This was a DNF for me. There were just too many story elements that didn’t mesh together. I don’t need everything tied up in a neat bow, but subplots need to serve a purpose other than just page filler.

  2. 2
    Psychbucket says:

    Sounds like it would give me a headache.  I’ll pass.

  3. 3
    Jonetta (Ejaygirl) says:

    I really liked this book, too. While I had similar observations about the paranormal aspects, I was left wanting more versus being confused. Your grading breakdown is helpful in understanding what worked for you and what didn’t. I landed with a higher grade as I had a hard time putting the book down.

    Thanks for your perspective.

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