Sunday, April 13, 2014

I've Got Your Back, Hailey by June Kramin

Note:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
My Experience: A-
Synopsis:  When Hailey stumbles upon a backpack full of money on her nightly jog, she is forced to flee the security of her secret identity. 
Although the sudden appearance of a man that had been flirting with her earlier seems odd, Hailey accepts Parker’s help in getting the heavy bag home. Within moments of arriving, they escape under gunfire. The men it was intended for want it back, and Hailey has now made herself a target. 
Safe in a motel room, the two of them discover the truth: although their meeting was an accident, Parker had been involved in the bag’s drop and she had been his assignment all along. Now, getting Hailey away safely is Parker’s new mission. Together they struggle to put together the pieces of Hailey’s past and discover that they have more in common than they thought. 
Being on the run, keeping Hailey’s family safe, and searching for clues to put away the man that wants her dead are hard enough. Falling in love in the middle of it all was the last thing either one of them expected.

I lied to you but you can trust me.  This book reminded me a bit of that old Cary Grant movie Charade.  A feisty heroine on the run, amusing and charming hero and so many lies and half-truths you aren't sure what is who without a notebook and flow chart.  No one dies in their pajamas but it wouldn't have surprised me in the least if they had.  Add the hacker buddy with a Gilligan's Island obsession and you have everything you could want in a romantic suspense novel.

In hiding for over a year, Hailey Mitchell literally trips over a backpack full of money and her life is once again in chaos.  Kidnapped, or was it rescued, by a modern day superhero without special powers or tights, they flee the men trying to recover that backpack.  Yeah, Parker Peters is hot, but she's not giving him a millimeter, especially for that.  Tearing down the road in a boosted Mustang, the witty banter and raging princess act doesn't really help, but it doesn't hurt, and everyone loves a smart@ss. (If only my mother knew she was making me unlovable by teaching me to be polite and control my temper.)

When the bad guys show up, at the cabin in the woods where Parker intends to regroup and make a plan, Hailey discovers that trunk interiors, duct tape and real kidnappers aren't very witty and the only rage they care about is their own.  In the nick of time, Parker sweeps in and they're back on the road.  Stopping for the night, untangling the coincidences from the lies, it comes to light that Hailey is the person Parker has been looking for.  She finds little comfort in this fact even when he's laughing about it all.  And there's more, because uhm, Parker really is a hero with a secret organization that has a horrible - and I mean horrible - acronym.

"No one questions for a second that there are groups of people hell-bent on doing bad things. Why is it such a hard sell that there are those that want to do good?"

But even the good guys get stung.  Before morning-after omelets in the safe house can be stirred, not shaken, there are more thugs, another kidnapping and Hailey finds herself in the position of rescuer instead of rescue-ee.  Freeing her brother from jail is a piece of cake for Parker's hacker partner but while this achieves Parker's freedom from the thugs, it alerts the Really Bad Guy to where Hailey is.  Snatching their parents and dividing the group is only buying time, they all know that.  Hopefully they'll figure out what to do before the Really Bad Guy finds them and finishes what he started four years ago.   From Minnesota to Vegas to California and then on to Austin, there is never a dull moment in this tale.

Parker Peters is a disillusioned playboy, without limits on his frenetic energy, credit cards or sincerity, even when he is lying.  He resisted the dark side and chose instead to do good, help people and cause bad guys as much trouble as possible. Hailey grew up pampered and rebelled in predictable ways before turning her life around and heading off to law school determined to make a difference.  She is snarky, scared and bounces from one end of the spectrum to another as flashes of her final day before faking her death keep adding to the confusion.

Before page 100, Parker and Hailey are in love.  Aware it's too much, too soon, but what the he11.  Normally, rushing romance makes me crazy (and angry), but in this case, for these characters, it totally works.  Deep down, they both believe their intelligence is vastly superior to everyone else's and isn't it grand to be wealthy enough to do something good with that.  There isn't a humble bone in either of their hot bodies and frankly, I'm not sure anyone else on this planet would put up with either of them.  I suspect that's why I enjoyed them so much!

Ms. Kramin knows how to spin a yarn that makes you eager to suspend reality and just enjoy the ride. Fun, with tight pacing, amusing dialog and just enough reality to keep you grounded, if you want to be. The writing is easy to follow and the dots connected without leaving me behind or forced to endure info dump.  Her secondary characters enhance the adventure without (quite) stealing the spotlight.  There were a couple places where I felt there was a bit of repetition but it did advance the character development without drowning in biographical narration. The happily ever after was left unfolding instead of smashed down my throat so the Rapid Romance was less annoying than if they were planning organ music or place settings.

My only nit picks are the fact it seems a bit of a stretch that Hailey was a lawyer for over four years at "cough, twenty-nine, cough."  Even allowing for a woman's fudging, she must have gone off to college at thirteen.  It was a bit heavy on the dialog side, a little introspection that isn't quip heavy was missing I think, not enough to detract from the overall goodness, at least for me. Oh, and the fact I'm left suspecting this is going to be a series and no author can write them fast enough to suit readers.  Otherwise, this was a thoroughly enjoyable book, just enough suspense and confusion to challenge a Saturday afternoon without destroying the thrill with gruesome.  I expect to read this book again, just for that same fun and because I'm a sucker for the unsung hero hacker buddy that deserves an adoring heroine too!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for giving it a read, Katie! Glad you enjoyed it. :)