Laney lives a quiet, protected life. Young and naïve, she married an evil man who did his best to hurt and isolate her. With the help of a friend she was able to turn him over to the FBI and hide. She doesn’t kid herself into thinking she has escaped him because her ex’s reach is long and complicated but she has taken shelter in a hotel owned by her friend’s family. She knows the family aren’t the most law-abiding brothers; however they have done nothing but protect and care for her so she overlooks anything that might be going on. After surviving her abusive ex she is willing to let certain things slide in order to ensure her protection.
The first time Peter Macmillan hears Laney she is singing in a dark bar trying to conceal herself from notice. Peter is a secret agent and thinks her disguise does the exact opposite but that isn’t what bothers him. What bothers him is the song she is singing, the words she has written and the way she is putting everything out there for people to hear. Peter hears more than most because words are his weapon.
He could see a universe in a single word choice. He used his expertise to understand people, and by extension humanity itself.
Laney is telling her life story in song and Peter cannot turn away. He is in the hotel bar because he is supposed to be looking for a man selling a deadly weapon. He will do anything to stop the sale of the weapon but first he has to find a way to ignore Laney, something that is proving more difficult that it should. For the first time in as long as he can remember something other than work has caught his attention. It couldn’t come at a worse time though because all of his focus needs to be on who has the weapon and all the potential buyers.
After Laney’s performance Peter notices that she has recording equipment that will help him. If he can get his hands on the audio from her performance, he can hear the other voices in the bar and possibly identify the Jazzman, the one with the weapon. He knows the Jazzman by his voice and word cadence so he will at least be able to tell if the man is already there or he can eliminate the others in the bar if he does not recognize the voices. Since he was already intrigued with Laney it is no hardship to approach her with his normal cover story, that of a Linguist professor at a local college, and ask her for some time. Laney is lonely and likes the look of Peter so she says yes.
Peter and Laney share a special night together but then everything goes wrong. Laney catches Peter trying to download the recording and calls in the brothers who take Peter away. They take him to a holding cell and try to get information from him but he has been trained to not give it up. Laney isn’t comfortable with him being held and tries to release him but several shocking events and some interesting twists later and I wasn’t sure what was up and who was who.
Carolyn Crane is one of those authors that everyone talks about and while I was listening, I was hesitant to try her. Why? Well because I didn’t want to be that one person that didn’t like the books. I hate being that person. But I am always looking for a good romantic suspense novel and when Off the Edge was offered for review, I decided to take the plunge.
I am thrilled to say I will not be that person because I really enjoyed this book. Romantic suspense can be hard to write because there are two elements going on; the romance and the suspense. They have to be mixed perfectly otherwise you have too much of one element and it drags the story down. Off the Edge has a perfect blend of both. Ms. Crane does a superb job of giving us two characters falling for each other while also fighting off the bad guys. Peter is complicated and experienced an event that changed the path of his life and turned him away from love. Laney wants nothing to do with love after making the mistake of marrying the absolute wrong man. Despite both not wanting love, in the midst of an intense situation, that is what they find.
Off The Edge is the second book in Ms. Crane’s The Associates series. There are many secondary characters that play a part in this conflict and each of them would make a wonderful hero or heroine. I am very excited for the potential pairings future books will have.
What drew me in most about this book was Ms. Crane’s writing. The level of detail she gives the reader on words and language is fascinating, complex and works so well with the story without bogging it down. I was captivated by the story and flow of Off the Edge and I cannot wait to read more. I will be searching out her backlist and reading more by this author. Final grade- B+
“A linguist secret agent. Did you grow up thinking, I want to be so goddamn cool someday?”