Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review: Smokescreen by Traci Hunter Abramson (Whitney Finalist)

Title: Smokescreen
Author: Traci Hunter Abramson
Enjoyment Rating: 6/10
Referral: Whitney Finalist
Source: Electronic copy
Books I've read this year: 53

I really didn't like Lockdown or Crossfire, Traci Hunter Abramson's books that were nominated in the Mystery/Suspense category in the last two years, so my sights were set low for Smokescreen, the fifth book in the Saint Squad series. The books in the series follow a set formula-- there's a group of LDS Navy Seals, and in each novel Abramson focuses on how one of the men in the group falls in love with a woman who happens to be at the center of an international terrorist plot. If you can look past the implausibility of the entire concept (which was a difficult thing for me, in the first two novels), then the books are actually pretty entertaining.

In Smokescreen, Taylor Palmetta is an artist who comes home to Virginia after spending time in Europe and hitting it big in the art scene. The only thing missing from her life is a man, specifically Quinn, a guy her brother-in-law works with in the Navy, with whom she had a promising start at a relationship before leaving from Europe, until Quinn suddenly withdrew. Now Taylor's back, and when crazy things start happening to her (mysterious pools of blood in a hotel room in Paris, her new SUV gets broken into), Quinn becomes her protector. Taylor is a target, but she doesn't know why-- it's just her and her paintings, after all. But the Saint Squad bands together and works to avert (yet another) international crisis, all against the backdrop of Quinn and Taylor's budding love.

First of all, a small quibble. Quinn and Taylor? Please don't give both of your protagonists androgynous names! It was hard for me to keep track of who was who. Also, while the character development for Q&T was pretty good, I think it's a shame that the other characters in Abramson's books are so flat-- by this time we know everyone really well, and they can serve as more than just vehicles for the plot to move forward. Finally, Abramson chose to reveal certain details and withhold others in a way that was annoying. Quinn has a skeleton in his closet (literally, kind of) and while Abramson gives us most of the story early on in the book, she keeps other information for a reveal about halfway through, and that felt kind of like a cheap move. All in all, I was entertained and found myself rooting for Taylor not to get killed by the baddies.

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