Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Crash Into Me Book Review *Jill Sorenson*

As I was in the midst of reading Crash Into Me, all I could think about was the warm California weather because in my neck of the woods, I have been surrounded by snow, rain and below freezing temperatures. The setting of Jill Sorenson’s romance suspense novel is Southern California. I consider myself to be a north east girl all the way, but after reading Crash Into Me, I wanted to jump on a plane and move to the west coast and surf my days away. Or maybe I would be better suited as a beach bunny?

Special Agent Sonora "Sonny" Vasquez is a rising star in the FBI. She is an enigma to her fellow agents who is very much a loner and doesn’t join in with the male agents who flirt with her and try to get her into their beds. The one man she has great respect for is her boss, Special Agent in Charge Leland Grant. Grant wants her to go undercover and work on the SoCal Strangler case. This serial killer targeted women along the southern California coast and raped and killed them. The FBI has a good idea that the killer is a surfer and the number one suspect is Ben Fortune who is a former champion surfer. The SoCal Strangler killed his own wife and the man they put in jail for the crime has just committed suicide; he recants his confession in a suicide note. Since Sonny is from the area, Grant wants her to pretend to be a beach bunny and keep surveillance on Fortune. If Sonny can get close to Fortune, that will work in their favor.

Sonny has her work cut out for her because she is the total opposite of what a beach bunny should be. She also has no way of meeting Ben since he doesn't fool around with the groupies and other women who want to climb into his bed. An opportunity presents itself when Ben's troubled sixteen year-old daughter Carly walks out into the ocean for no reason. Sonny rescues her and Ben is grateful but doesn’t trust her. Ben’s track record with women is horrible. But as a single dad, he is quite happy taking care of Carly. Ben was quite the wild teenager and at seventeen, he and his future wife Olivia had a baby. They didn't marry right away because he liked to screw around and toured the surfing circuit. He also became a heavy drinker. One day Ben had a wake up call and pledged his fidelity, gave up drinking and sleeping around. He married Olivia and expected to have a long and happy marriage with her. Three years ago, Olivia was found dead. Carly now lashes out by smoking pot and hanging out with friends who are not the best influence. Even one of Carly’s friends climbs into Ben’s bed one night and tries to seduce him. Ben throws her out disgusted by her behavior. He is worried sick that Carly will end up pregnant like her mother. Carly isn’t concerned with sex and prefers to cut herself till she bleeds.

Sonny can see how much Ben cares for Carly and even though Carly may have some emotional problems, she seems like a good kid. Ben decides to give Sonny who uses the alias Summer Moore a chance and invites her to dinner. Ben finds himself very attracted to Summer because she is so different from the women he comes in contact with everyday. He expects Sonny to throw herself at him, but instead holds him at arms length. Whenever he tries to go further than just kissing, she tenses up and tries to fight him. He comes to the conclusion that a man may have abused Summer. Summer refuses to give him any information about her past or why she isn’t comfortable enough to sleep with him. Ben tries to get Summer to open up, hoping she will tell him all and welcome him into her body.

At the same time Ben is trying to seduce Summer, Carly meets James Matthew, a local boy whose father is an abusive drunk fisherman an older brother who is a drug addict. Carly and James hit it off very well since they both have personal problems, even though I found James’s problems to be so much more worse than Carly’s. And since Ben is becoming more suspicious with Carly, to throw him off, she asks James to be her boyfriend. James accepts because he has always had a crush on the poor little rich girl.

Father and daughter are trying to work on their relationship and now they have the support of two new people in their lives. Sonny wants to believe that Ben is not a murderer and James wants a real relationship with Carly. Suddenly everything is in turmoil when the friend of Carly, who tried to seduce Ben, is found dead. Now he is a suspect and Sonny has to try and find the real killer. Sonny’s search for the killer will bring her face to face with someone who walked out of her life and will turn her whole world upside down.

Crash Into Me is a story that packs quite the punch because there are so many sides to it. There is murder, dysfunctional families, issues with teenage sex and the horrible lengths people will go to in order to get what they want. There are multiple stories in one and the way Jill handles these characters and their problems is amazing. She is quite the talented storyteller and for this reader who is not a big fan of romantic suspense, I found Crash Into Me to be an excellent read.

I loved the relationship between Ben and Carly. Jill didn't sugarcoat their problems. Ben is a great father who wants the best for his daughter. He feels guilt for the years he wasn't there for her when he should have been. Carly is a typical teenager who wants attention. She may act a bit like the typical spoiled brat but the way she turns to self-abuse to find a way to feel is a definite cry for help. At least the people in her life didn't turn a blind eye to her addiction for self-pain.

One of my favorite characters was James who even though his family situation is one of the worst I have read in a long time, has a stable head on his shoulders. Because he is a caring individual, he wants to help Carly. He was very mature and intelligent, basically an old soul because of the way his father treats him. I actually preferred James and Carly's budding love to that of Ben and Sonny’s. Jill gives a very realistic portrayal of teens and their need for acceptance regarding the issues of sex.

As for Ben and Sonny's relationship, these two give foreplay new meaning. When they finally have sex, it is very powerful and intense. One such scene that was a favorite of mine was the fun they had in the hot tub. I also found Ben to be a lot like James where he wants to help Sonny work through her problems. Sonny cares for Ben, but she has major trust issues with men, all because of her missing father and her own promiscuity as a teenager.

As for the serial killer and the murders, I knew right off the bat who the killer was. Even so, I was still hooked, especially when I found out how close Sonny is in regards to the suspects. Jill does something between Sonny and the Matthews family that was a bit shocking. The coincidences were a bit too much, but if you can put that to the side, Crash Into Me is an awesome book that had me hooked till the very end. I am certainly on board for Jill’s next release, Set the Dark on Fire, in August.

Crash Into Me has a great setting, characters that you feel for and wonderful sex scenes. I now blame Jill for my lusting for the beach, the surf and a cute surfer to take me away from it all. (Bantam Dell)

Final Grade: This is the first book this year that I am torn between grades. I can’t decide if I should give it a B or B+



JenB said...

I'm not much of a romantic suspense fan 'cause I prefer more romance and less nail biting.

Would this one be a good one for me to try, or is the suspense part too intense for a wuss like me?

It looks really, really good...

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I would say it wasn't so intense that you are on the edge of your seat trying to eat your hand. I liked how Jill wrote the relationships between father and daughter and their friends, families and lovers.

Carolyn Jean said...

Hey KB,
Great review! I can't wait to read this one either!! It sounds like just the ticket. And I, too, will be fantasizing about the ocean. At least I would be, if I wasn't going to Mexico tomorrow.

Kwana said...

I won this book on CJ page! I can't wait to get my copy and give it a read.

Jill Sorenson said...

Thanks so much for the great review, Katie! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

JenB, there is a fair amount of violence, gritty realism, etc. But the main focus of the book is romance and relationships.

Thanks CJ and Kwana. Hope you like it.

Tracy said...

This looks really good. Thanks for the review KB.

JenB said...

KB - Cool. I might hafta try it. :)

Jill - Oddly enough, I don't mind violence. It's the uncertain outcome of so many RS books that stresses me out. I like when the focus is more on relationships and romance because I can almost always be certain that everything will end well and be tied up neatly. I'm a wimp. LOL This sounds really good!

orannia said...

Thank you for another great review KB :) Hmmm, it sounds very interesting...

~ames~ said...

Thanks for the review KB! I've been debating buying this book for a while. :P

Now I will.