Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bartlett Bro. Series by Suzanne Brockmann

I've been on a bit of a Brockmann binge lately. Seems that many of her earlier titles are bing reissued and these two peaked my interest, so I picked them up. They definitely were not of her later caliber but these were originally issued ten years ago (three years before Unsung Hero) so I think we can cut her a break.

First in the series is Forbidden. Kayla Grey seeks out Cal Bartlett when she hears rumors that Liam, the man who'd wanted to marry her, is believed to be alive and held captive in the jungles of San Salustiano. When this city girl arrives in Montana the first thing she does is almost die. Caught in a freak snow storm she finds herself being rescued by the same man who she came searching for, unfortunately sparks fly before they realize who is who.

Cal doesn't let himself get carried away but after saving the life of the city slicker, the attraction is a bit too much for him. Having her almost naked in front of him and he touches her. Just enough to realize that it's not enough. When he discovers that she is the woman his little brother fell in love with and was to marry, he feels as guilty as if Liam was alive. Then on top of that the little lady decides to renew the spark of hope he once had that his brother had survived the bombing of the bus he was riding in. It has been two years and those wounds are just starting to heal, but this woman is threatening his sanity, because he can't lose his brother again.

I'm not so sure about this one. The big issue with this was that there was no real foundation for the love these two claim to have found. It was definitely lust. There was really no reason for her to love him. He started pushing her away as soon as he found out who she was. She had experienced a traumatic event when she was younger and that bonded her with Liam but there was nothing that I could see to warrant her great love with Cal except that they were in a dangerous place and in a stressful situation. The saving grace of the book was really the search for Liam. Trying to discover if the police were good or bad. Not knowing who to trust. I think Brockmann sharpened her suspense but flopped on the romance.

Grade: B-

Following Forbidden we get Liam's story in Freedom's Price. Last we saw of Liam he is recovering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and just opening up. We find out that he has completely shut down after making some initial strides in his recovery. He has written a book on the atrocities of the war that held him imprisoned but he has not written about his own personal experiences. Those are the experiences that are driving him mad.

When Liam finds himself serving as a chaperon/guardian to the girl that saved his life in the jungle, he is not sure that he can confront those memories. Marisala was always his shining light, a brave 16 year old at the time she has now become an enticing woman. She has come to Boston to attend college but after a screw up with the dorms she finds herself living in Liam's apartment.
Marisala fell in love with the American journalist the first time she saw him in her father's house. Many years have past since that first encounter and she is no longer a child. She lead a revolution in her country, saw things that no child should ever witness, and now she is expected to assume the role of a meek young woman who should find herself an ordinary husband.

This one was better than the first. Brockmann put some meat in this story with Liam dealing with his trauma and Marisala trying to adjust to life after a war. These two were made for each other. The fear that had been pounded into Liam could only be overcome with the courage of a revolutionary leader like Marisala.The support system she brings to Liam enables him to recover from his trauma and allows him to love free of the torment that had haunted him for many years.
Would have liked to visit with Kayla and Cal but there is just so much you can squeeze into 250 pages and it did not deter from the story at all.

Grade: B


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