The Book Gourmet

Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.



Professional Reader Reviews Published

Under Fire by Scarlett Cole

Under Fire: A Love Over Duty Novel - Scarlett Cole

Louisa North is weird thanks to her anthropophobia and pathological shyness. She knows, she’s weird, everybody else knows she’s weird, but she doesn’t really care, since she has a higher purpose—find the cure for Huntington’s disease or at least a better alleviator of symptoms, since the old one drove her father to suicide.
She’s getting close, too, with the only problem being her latest experiment had some unforeseen and rather dire consequences, causing paralysis in rats, resulting in their death.

Then she starts noticing strange things...Her notes being out of alignment, and the deadly sample in her lab is not the way she left it last. Acting on her hunch (she refuses to see it as paranoia!), she switches labels, placing the “deadly” label on the innocuous sample, and the next thing she knows, the fake-deadly sample goes missing.

With the owner of her lab not really looking eager to investigate or, God forbid, involve the police, Louisa has no one to turn to. Except the only man who doesn’t treat her as weird, because he has issues of his own, former Navy SEAL and co-owner of the newest security firm in town, Sixton “Six” Rapp.

And then things get really complicated...

The saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but it doesn’t really apply here, since it was the cover that drew me to this book first, then I read the blurb, and even though I’ve never heard of this author before, I had to have the book. And in this case, I am judging the book by its cover—and it didn’t disappoint.

Far from it, in fact.

It was a great blend of suspense and romance, although the latter was a bit more prominent in the story. Luckily, it was a great romance, featuring two wonderful characters—the quirky, shy, and geeky scientist and the sexy, outgoing ex-SEAL. A rather unorthodox pairing, but the contrast between the introvert, brainy Louisa and the extrovert, brawny Six worked beautifully in this instance. They were complete opposites, yet they got each other, and completed one another when the occasion called for it.
The first word that came to mind as I was reading of their first encounter was “cute”, and it didn’t change until the end. They were utterly cute together, a truly lovable couple. Their romance was believable, and their story organic.

The suspense was also very well-done with a good initial mystery, sometimes even throwing out doubt about the heroine’s instincts and possible paranoia, but once the true suspense and subsequent action kicked in, the mystery became of second importance, and everything focused on one thing and one thing only—keeping Louisa safe.

Unfortunately, the main plot lost its direction slightly somewhere in the middle, when both main characters succumbed to the trope-ish sexual frustration that was rather out of character for both of them, and the pacing suffered because of it, but once that hurdle was done with (thankfully, rather quickly) the story once again gained its previous momentum and it didn’t stop until the end.
An end that was satisfying in its action sequences and saving of lives, while on the other hand left a bit of frustration at the ease in which everything was resolved giving the fact who or what they were dealing with. It was a tad too easy and simple that they just let Louisa and her “secret formula” go.

I also didn’t really care about the cliffhanger in the epilogue, involving Mac and their dead friend’s sister (the only women Mac has ever loved). I didn’t really care about it not because I’m not interested, but because I am and the next book is still months off. Not fair!

For once, I’m not disappointed in a new-to-me author. The story and characters were great, the romance was wonderfully cute, and the suspense worked beautifully. Great job!