Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review ~ Kiss Me, Kill Me by Allison Brennan

Kiss Me, Kill Me: A Novel of SuspenseKiss Me, Kill Me: A Novel of Suspense
Author ~ Allison Brennan
Publisher ~ Ballatine Books
Publication ~ Feb 22, 2011
Pages ~ 416 pgs
Genre ~ romantic suspense

About the book ~ 


Lucy Kincaid has firsthand experience dealing with deadly criminal predators, and she’s fully prepared to share her many talents with the FBI. But when her career plans are derailed, her boyfriend, security expert Sean Rogan, asks for help on his latest private investigation. Using her well-honed cyber-hunting skills, Lucy is soon on the trail of a missing teenage girl with a penchant for disappearing—and a shocking secret life.

FBI Agent Suzanne Madeaux is also tracking someone: a serial killer on the loose in New York City. Dubbed by the press the Cinderella Strangler, he cruises seamy underground sex parties, where drug-fueled women make for easy pickings. As Lucy and Sean’s desperate search collides with the FBI’s hunt, Lucy isn’t about to step aside. Haunted by painful memories of her own harrowing encounters with evil, she’s determined to keep any more innocents from meeting the fate she so narrowly escaped. Delving deep into the twisted psyche of a remorseless killer, Lucy must confront her own fears—even if it means risking a future job with the FBI and future happiness with Sean.

My thoughts ~

Lucy Kincaid has had her fair share of hard times over the years. She survived a horrendous kidnapping when she was a teen and more, recently a near miss with a nefarious killer. But she hasn’t let these horrific acts prevent her from doing what she wants more than anything – to become an FBI agent. Everything she has done up until this point in her life (interning at the coroner’s office and working to trap child predators online) has been for the sole purpose of helping her to become the best possible agent she can be. She wants to follow in the law-enforcement footsteps of the rest of the Kincaid clan. However, she does harbor feelings of dread, dread that the FBI won’t accept her because of her past. A past that may make her more of a liability than an asset.

FBI agent Suzanne “Mad Dog” Madeaux and NY police offer Vic Panetta are part of a joint task-force investigating a series of murders in New York. Young girls are found asphyxiated and missing one shoe. The press has dubbed the murderer “The Cinderella Strangler,” despite the fact that the victims aren’t strangled. It appears that each girl is murdered after a night of drinking, drugging, and random sex at after-hour parties held in abandoned warehouses.

Lucy’s boyfriend, the ruggedly handsome Sean Rogan, is investigating the disappearance of Virginia teen Kristen Benton, who is also a distant cousin. Kristen has disappeared at least a half-dozen other times in the past. It was always on the weekend, and she would return home by Sunday night. But here it is Wednesday, and she’s still not home. Because she is considered a habitual runaway, the police do not provide much help. Therefore her parents turn to Sean Rogan and his partner Patrick, who also happens to by Lucy’s brother, in the hopes that they can bring Kristen home before it is too late. When Lucy gets some unexpected news, Sean asks her for her help in finding Kristen. While Lucy feels he is just trying to distract her, Sean knows that Lucy is able to connect and relate to teenage girls like no one he has met before. Patrick, however, is not to keen on Lucy working with them, not to mention his unhappiness at Lucy and Sean dating. He knows that Sean is a bit of a player and will do anything to prevent his baby sister from being hurt again.

It soon becomes apparent that the two cases are related. Almost instantly Lucy and Sean are butting heads with Suzanne and Vic, who are not to pleased with the interference of the private investigator and his girlfriend, and FBI wanna-be. Especially when it’s a not-what-you-know, but who-you-know situation arises and Suzanne and Vic realize that Lucy and Sean aren’t your run-of-the-mill PI and “sidekick.” While Suzanne and Vic are pleased with the results Lucy and Sean are getting, they do not appreciate their toes being stepped on. What everyone really needs to do is check their egos at the door and work together to bring this young girl home and put away a sadistic killer. 

Sean knows that Lucy is the perfect woman for him. He loves her completely and will do whatever it takes to make her happy. Lucy loves Sean too, even if she isn’t quite ready to admit it yet. As much as she has healed from her past, in some respects it still holds her back. Lucy needs to decide if Sean’s love is enough and if it can help carry her through a fight to get back something she thinks is lost forever.

One of the reasons I love Allison Brennan’s books so much is that she carries her characters over from book to book. While each trilogy may focus on one Kincaid or Rogan, all of the other family members are involved as well and you get to know their stories too as secondary characters. As you get to know each of these secondary characters you hope that Ms. Brennan will eventually give each of them the spotlight, give each their own book. She has done just that with this series (also see Love Me To Death). I love to see series that go on and on, book after book, and I love the way Ms. Brennan handles the Kincaid and Rogan families. The three-book arc gives us plenty of time to fall in love with each main character, to invest in their lives, without getting too sick of them. Characters that are not leads in one book are still mentioned, giving us a clue as to what they are up to now. Kiss Me, Kill Me is the perfect amount of romance mixed with the precise amount of suspense that come together to form one incredible romantic-suspense thriller.


About the author ~ 
New York Times and USA Today bestseller Allison Brennan is the author of thirteen novels and three short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.

An only child, Allison entertained herself on rainy days by both reading and making up her own stories. Thinking she had to have a "real" job after dropping out of college, Allison worked in the California State Legislature as a consultant, married Dan Brennan in 1993, and they subsequently had five children and made their home outside Sacramento.

But Allison never stopped writing. In fact, she began over 100 books that she never finished. After turning 30, then giving birth to her third child, Allison decided to actively pursue a career in writing. Committing herself to write a book from beginning to end, she wrote five complete novels before selling The Prey in 2004. Two years later it was released and nudged the New York Times list at #33. The first four manuscripts have been destroyed and will never see the light of day.

With her first book Allison's publisher asked if she could write two books connected in some way to The Prey. Since that book was already written and in production, plot options were limited. During the copyediting stage, she tweaked the backstory of her heroine so that she had two friends from the FBI Academy, and they became the heroines of The Hunt and The Kill. Her "Predator Trilogy" was the first of four loosely connected romantic thriller trilogies. Each story is a complete work with a separate hero, heroine, and villain with some recurring characters that can be read individually or in order.

Crime fiction, mysteries, and romantic suspense have always been Allison's favorites, so it's no surprise that her romantic thrillers have a dark suspense edge. Reviewers have called her books "terrifying," "mesmerizing," "fast-paced," "pulse-pounding," "wonderfully complex," "layered," and "a master of suspense - tops in the genre."

Allison's research shelf is filled with numerous true crime and research books, such as 65 Ways to Kill Your Victim in Print, Practical Homicide Investigation, Book of Poisons, and Tales from the Morgue. Her favorite research trips included a tour of the Sacramento County Morgue - complete with autopsy - and her eight week FBI Citizens Academy course, where she competed at the gun range and won a much coveted award by the SWAT commander: the "My Characters Shoot Better!" award. All of this has been supplemented by trips to the Quantico, interviews with law enforcement officials nationwide, and conversations with experts of all kinds in fields of forensics and technology.

Crime fiction is not Allison's only interest. Growing up, she immersed herself into the more supernatural worlds of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Saul, reading horrific suspense, unable to put the page-turning - and rather terrifying--books aside. Before she even sold her first book, she came up with a series based on the Seven Deadly Sins - as demons released from Hell by an evil occult seeking the key to eternal mortality. After the initial success with her Predator Trilogy, Allison put the Seven Deadly Sins idea aside to pursue the crime and suspense genre exclusively. Nearly seven years after the original idea for a supernatural saga however, she finally launched her Seven Deadly Sins series in early 2010 with Original Sin. Now, her crime research books share wall space with quite different research material, from The Black Arts to An Exorcist Tells His Story; Lilith's Cave to The Encyclopedia of Hell.

The first three supernatural thrillers - Original Sin, Carnal Sin, and Mortal Sin - were released in 2010. They are contemporary and grounded in the world as it is today, with the exception that the Seven Deadly Sins are incarnate demons who, when they touch someone, that individual loses his conscience and acts on his personal worst sin - to deadly results. Forensics and police investigations also plays an important part in the series so while the series is definitely paranormal, it's grounded in criminal procedure.

Allison continues to write her trademark romantic thrillers. In early 2011, she'll launch a series starring Lucy Kincaid, a favorite character from her No Evil trilogy. The stories will tackle complex and current issues in law enforcement through the eyes of Lucy, an FBI recruit; her brother Patrick, a computer genius who's recovering from a two year coma; and Sean Rogan, a private security expert.

Writing three books a year is more than a full-time job, and so is raising five kids, but Allison believes life is too short to be bored. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, watching old movies or new television shows, driving to or attending volleyball / basketball / football / soccer games, and on occasion even makes it to the gym where she enjoys people-watching more than the exercise.

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Other books by Allison ~