Crash and Burn – “Crash Site” by Rachel Grant

Archeologist Fiona Carver is living in heaven, or at least as close to heaven on earth as we mortals can get. Her eight week assignment on Ruby Island in the Caribbean does indeed seem like heaven on earth when noted wildlife photographer Dean Slater, unexpectedly arrives  by helicopter. However that happy moment quickly goes south when the chopper loses power and crashes. Due to the pilot’s quick thinking and reflexes, he and his passengers bailed before impact with mostly minor injuries, and thankfully no fatalities.

Dean and Fiona are delighted to renew their relationship that began when they were stranded in mountain caves in the Aleutian Islands but that delight quickly turns to a dire sense of unease when more mechanical failures occur. The problem is they can’t be sure who exactly is being targeted. With a tropical storm brewing, Fiona’s friend Sadie is taken captive and her partner Chad enlists help from Fi and Dean to find and rescue her. They know who not to trust except for the billionaire who owns the island. He’s an old friend and an old flame of Fiona’s. But she and Dean aren’t sure whose side he’s on. When dead bodies start turning up, things get hairy and Dean is taken hostage. His captors know he’ll do anything to protect Fiona. With their communications shut out of the island’s private wi-fi network, Fiona has no way to contact the outside world and no way off the island to get help. There is only one possibility for getting help and it will require a trek into the rainforest interior so Fi can access Dean’s remote wildlife cameras and transmitting equipment. And that onerous task requires Fiona to overcome her biggest fear, which leaves two questions: 1) Can Fiona clamp down on her fears and get the job done? 2) Can she get to the camera site before Kosmo kills someone else just to prove a point? Nearly paralyzed with fear, Fi realizes the tiny window of opportunity is quickly closing and she must act now! Suddenly her eight week tropical paradise vacation has become a tropical nightmare from which she can’t seem to wake up.

“Crash Site” is Book Two in the Fiona Carver series by Rachel Grant who has again thrown Fiona and Dean together but this time in a more forgiving climate than in Book One. This time we get a more in-depth background on Dean that explains his antipathy to letting himself care about another woman after the extended illness and death of his first wife. That said, I find Fiona’s acceptance of his self-imposed limitations a bit hard to swallow, but then Fiona is supposed to be an exception to the rule in many areas of what passes for feminism these days. So, maybe I can buy into it. Although the reader isn’t bludgeoned with the overlong treatises on equipment and technical jargon, at 395 pages it still could be shortened by 50 pages with no loss in continuity. Easing up on Dean’s self-flagellation about the promise to his first wife would be a good starting point. And then take a look at Fiona’s over thinking her feelings for Dean. My final point is the characterization of “Crash Site” as a romantic suspense/thriller. While there is a little more romance in Book Two, it fits more neatly into the action/adventure category than a suspense because the bad guy is so stereotypical it’s a foregone conclusion. Besides, Grant makes no effort to keep his evil ways a secret. All in all, the plot is complex enough to keep the reader going but the pacing suffers from the heavy dose of techno jargon and self talk. For this reader, dialogue is more entertaining and enlightening than page after page of the characters’ inner thoughts. The pleasure in a story is siphoned off when I have to flip back 3 or 4 pages to re-read the last line of dialogue. It’s as if the speaker gets off track and says “Now where was I? I’ve forgotten the point I was trying to make.” Gah! Three and a half stars.

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