RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan


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 Jonetta. 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 Jonetta's review:

I’ve had this book on my shelf for over a year, having downloaded it when it showed up as a Kindle freebie.  Friends recommended that I give it higher priority as they thought it a standout in the genre.  I really regret it’s taken me so long to get to it as the story grabbed me from the first page.

The set up

Zane Winters has some psychic abilities where he gets flash visions of the future, not enough to get a complete picture but just enough to see the horrible outcomes.  Beth Brown has never had premonitions until recently and when two of the three dreams materialized, she trusted that the last, most horrific one would come true. They both end up at the Seattle airport departure gate, she to intervene and he actually booked on the doomed flight. Neither has a clue about the other but when Zane sets eyes on her, he immediately realizes that she’s the soul mate he was predestined to be with and has been searching for over the last 10 years.

The issues

Getting the appropriate authorities on board to stop and search the plane is problematic.  How do you explain the intel and who can you trust when it’s obvious this kind of undertaking requires inside help. Zane is all over Beth and she’s overwhelmed by his level of affection and lust. Conditions keep changing rapidly, requiring on-the-fly strategic adjustments, while still not knowing who’s behind the plot, just what the outcome looks like. And, they’re holding hostages while manipulating the situation.

What worked for me

When I read a book in this genre, my expectations are that I’m going to have a gnarly mystery and/or an exciting suspense to go along with my romance.  I’m even okay with it if the suspense aspect tends to overshadow the romance as I love the thrill.  This story took hold immediately and never let me go.  The tension level was so high at times I found myself almost hyperventilating, having to stop reading just to calm down.  The pace was almost excruciating, even when the situation at the airport was prolonged.  It wasn’t predictable and I really had no clue as to where the story would land and who would be on the casualty list.  There were some awful things that happened to some of the good guys so no one seemed to be sacred. Zane and Beth’s romance worked for me, even though I can take or leave the “soul mate/predestined partner” trope. Having the dual points of view gave me insight into each character’s true emotional investment about the other, keeping me in the light even if they were in the dark about how they felt about each other.

What I found troublesome

There was one character whose misogyny was almost intolerable.  You knew there had to have been something in his past that left him embittered (we were spared that information) but his attitudes and behaviors were just too unrealistic for me to swallow. Mac is a critical and trusted character in a leadership role and he just wouldn’t have been able to get away with this (we hope) in a modern environment. More importantly, the other honorable men in his command just wouldn’t have stood for it nor respected him as they obviously did.  It was that bad. Also, the psychic aspects of the story, while interesting and different, just weren’t developed well enough for me to accept. I needed a lot more to understand Beth’s abilities and why they suddenly manifested themselves.  I’m hoping the next book provides a lot more context and clarity for this aspect of the series.  It gave the story a paranormal “lite” edge, but definitely not enough to label the story in that genre category.

The bottom line

I really liked the story. Period.  This Indie author was able to get me to care about these characters in a short amount of time, though I ultimately paid a price for my feelings.  The story MOVED and the villains were scary, anonymous and brutal.  The romance heated up gradually, in spite of Zane’s efforts to the otherwise, and hit a steamy apex right when it should have. If you like high-level action and suspense with your romance, you’ll enjoy this story. If you prefer more time devoted to relationship development, it might fail in that regard but I believe you’ll still enjoy the book. I’m now okay with having delayed reading it because it didn’t end neatly and the next book isn’t scheduled for release until January. Just be prepared for a thrilling ride.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks.

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