Review: High Risk by Vivian Arend

High Risk Vivian ArendRebecca “Becki” James is taking a break from her life in Yellowstone and returning to Banff, Alberta where she attended college and discovered her love for rock climbing and her desire to be a part of a search-and-rescue organization. Believing when you get lost, you return to the beginning and start again, Becki is certain this is the only way she can find answers and hopefully regain her memory of the horrible accident that claimed her climbing partner and lover, Dane.

Marcus Landers did not expect to find himself or his career where it now stands.  Once a leader in secretive recovery search-and-rescue missions all over the globe, his world came to an abrupt halt after one bad decision on the job resulted in a permanent injury and partial loss of his left arm.  Now Marcus has returned to Banff to assist his brother, David, in teaching students rescue climbing techniques at David’s elite boot camp/training center.  Not only does David believe Marcus is the best hands on teacher for the group, he also hopes that focusing on such an important task will help bring his brother out of the mental gloom he’s had ever since his accident.

David has hired Becki as a general instructor and overseer of the current students to work alongside Marcus in boot camp training.  When Marcus and Becki see each other again, all the memories of the scorching weekend they shared together come flooding back.  Although seven years have passed, their physical attraction is still undeniable and both struggle with the constant desire to reignite the spark they once shared between the sheets.  Before Becki accepts the offer to work with Marcus and his team, she is insists that he know up front the fact that she remembers nothing about her accident where her partner died during their climb.  Unaffected by her memory loss, Marcus believes in Becki’s skills and expertise and has no problem with her training the team but he goes on to make a personal request for himself; out of the habit of climbing since his accident, he wants to train with her as well.  As both form an immediate trust in training, the question remains if they will trust each other on a deeper level in order to help each other heal from the emotional and physical scars of their past.

I am an avid reader of romantic suspense and with the gorgeous cover and blurb of a search-and-rescue climbing team, I was excited to dive into something unique and exhilarating to this genre.  Author Vivian Arend created a vivid picture of the adventurous world of rock climbing and the extensive training involved whether for sport or rescue.  In my mind I was set to go with some intensive search-and-rescue action.  The problem is, it never happened.  The entire book focused primarily on Becki regaining her courage to climb as she assists in teaching/training with Marcus’s team and as a result more and more of her memory returns in her dreams at night.  I found it difficult to believe how easy it was that each time she dreamed of the accident, she conveniently regained more memories.  Then we have Marcus who is dealing with “episodes” that come on at random where he retreats to this dark place in his mind, isolating himself from everyone while fighting depression as well as phantom pain in his arm.  What is frustrating is once Becki finds out about his episodes, she shows no compassion or willingness to help him deal with this significant problem.  Her focus is on solely on herself and in the end, Marcus’s issues are never fully resolved.

I enjoyed Marcus’s character. He did not allow his disability to have any significance in his everyday living.  He is a strong, caring and compassionate man, putting his needs aside to focus on Becki.  Becki on the other hand is very self absorbed and it was evident that her main objective is regaining her memory so that she can come to terms with the consequences of her actions.  In her mind she believes she played a part in Dane’s death and until she remembers what truly happened, she cannot allow herself to hope for a lasting relationship with Marcus.

One repetitive part of the story that was highly noticeable is the amount of sexual thoughts and fantasies both characters had from the second they laid eyes on each other again.  Neither Marcus nor Becki could be in a conversation without it leading to a sexual innuendo in their internal dialogue and it became annoying.  Once they started having sex, they didn’t stop and although I commend Ms. Arend and her ability to write sizzling sex scenes, there was no anticipation or tension leading up because they were so frequent.  Finally, the lack of suspense/action and the end of the story left me feeling as if both characters really had not evolved to the level I expected emotionally or intimately towards each other.

Set in Banff, Alberta with all the descriptive scenery and warm, hometown feel, I did enjoy the concept of what the author was going for with the climbing aspect and rugged mountain setting.  I have enjoyed other books by Ms. Arend and I’m hoping that the next book in this series will have a more cohesive feel with both plot and character development as well as substantial action I have come to expect with romantic suspense.

Favorite Quote:

“Becki.  Pull you hand out of your pants now.”

“Why?  Ohhh…”  She moaned the words softly, dragging it out to taunt him.  “Feels so good.”

“You know I’m going to get my revenge at some point.  I think what you’re doing right now is usually referred to as poking the bear.”

“I hope the bear plans to poke back.”  She pulled her had free reluctantly.  “But if you insist–”

Rating: C+
High Risk by Vivian Arend
March 5th 2013 by Berkley Sensation
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