Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thoughts: Freefall


by Jill Sorenson
Book 2 of Aftershock

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

As a Side Note on 4/4/2017:
Like the first book, Aftershock, I "reread" this one as an audio book.  I recall really liking this second installment of the Aftershock series a lot, and of course, while this second read was a bit deflating, I still really liked it.  It's much more exciting than the first book, somehow, and I find the romance a little easier to stand by since it's hardly insta-love, that is, if you overlook a few things.

Again, Piper Goodeve's narration isn't all that great.  Sometimes simple conversations sound so sharp that I thought the characters were interrogating each other rather than just talking.  I will probably not be listening to the rest of the series as an audio book, but for a reread, it sufficed.

In which case, following is the review I wrote for Freefall back in 2015; nothing much of it has changed.

I like that the Aftershock series is a different brand of Romantic Suspense than what I’m used to--the stories base themselves around situational happenings, such as certain disasters, nature expeditions, sporting activities… etc.  The first book in this series, Aftershock, was centered around a natural disaster, an earthquake, that stranded our heroes under a collapsed freeway.  Of course, things would have been bad enough, but the author also had to include in the dangers of bad people trying to take advantage of bad situations for their own benefit.

Even so, I still enjoyed it a lot even if it wasn’t incredibly awesome.

Freefall was just as exciting and enjoyable, with so much forward progression that you don’t really have time to stop and think about the few quibbles that arose due to logical questioning of the happenings in the story itself.  The book went by so quickly that I simply enjoyed it for what it was: an entertaining Romantic Suspense based in a national park where natural dangers can lurk around every corner.

As I had stated, sometimes nature is unforgiving enough without a dangerous human presence to make the situation even more frantic; but that is how this book was written and I’ll go with it.  Honestly, I would have liked a book focused more on how our heroes would cope with surviving a natural disaster, or being stranded on a mountain, or something of the like, without human baddies to contend with.

The Story in Brief:
A plane has crashed on top of a remote mountain, cutting short Hope Banning’s plans for white water rafting with her sister.  As the only park ranger available at the time who is able climb to the summit to assess the situation, she heeds the emergency call to investigate.  Unfortunately, the only climbing partner she can find is none other than Sam Rutherford, a man she would rather not have contact with again due to a night spent with him six months ago, which followed with him practically throwing her out of his home without explanation.

Sam Rutherford’s memory of losing his girlfriend in a climbing accident is gone after the San Diego earthquake knocked him unconscious (re: Aftershock).  Ever since then, he has insisted on climbing solo and braving dangerous expeditions in order to feel anything.  The last thing he wants to do is climb to the summit of any mountain with a partner, especially Hope; he still feels a sizzle of chemistry between them and he doesn’t like it (since he has confusing, lingering feelings for the deceased girlfriend, Melissa, and hasn’t been able to remember the period in which he’d been grieving).

But Hope has to do her job, with or without him, and he can’t leave her hanging on her own.  As soon as they reach the site of the plane crash, it turns out that there is something much more dangerous going on: a killer is now wandering the mountainous national park, the plane belonged to that of drug smugglers, and the person who owns that plane has dispatched his own minions to retrieve both the drug cargo and the man who escaped the plane.

So now Hope and Sam must track down the killer in the unforgiving terrain of mother nature’s playground as they attempt to put their own personal issues aside.

Overall Thoughts:
Yeah, I know.  Not the best summary ever, but the official blurbs I’ve found really are a little misleading.  At first, I had been expecting a commercial or private plane crash wherein the survivors (yes, plural) are stranded at the summit of a remote mountain, and there’s a killer among them.  I figured that Sam and Hope would climb to the top of the summit and become stranded with the survivors and a killer, and must figure out who the baddie is before everyone dies.  And then at the same time, they’d have to figure out how to survive on the mountain until reinforcements arrive.

That’s what I had thought the story would be about and got really excited about it.

Instead, it turns out, in the actual story, that the plane was a cargo plane, there were only two passengers, Hope finds the pilot with a hole in his chest from a gunshot wound, and the only other passenger is AWOL.  And so Hope trudges through the mountain tracking down the killer on a rather TSTL mission.  But I forgive her for making bad decisions because she is tough as nails and can take care of herself… and a multiple of other reasons.

But I still wish she would have called for help.  Because man or woman, it’s still a bit dangerous to be tracking down a killer in a humongous, mountainous national park alone; the terrain is bad enough to travel over even when you’re just going on a leisurely expedition with no killers running around.  So it was fortunate that Sam felt obligated to follow her and keep her out of trouble--still, he’s not law enforcement and shouldn’t have had to keep an eye on Hope.  Hope should have known better.

Then again, if our park ranger had been a man and had done the same things that Hope did, lots of people would have been applauding his heroic behavior.  This is why I don’t give Hope any crap about her actions.  But, I honestly think that even if the park ranger were a man, he would still have been better off waiting for a partner to help him.

So, anyway, it wasn’t the story I was hoping for, but I don’t deny that I enjoyed it nonetheless.  There’s a deeper emotional tension between our main couple that seemed to pluck at all the right places in my non-existent heart.  The personal drama going on between Hope and Sam was enough to propel the development of their relationship in a good progressive direction.

Mainly, I liked the characters, even Hope’s sister, Faith.  And I’m also glad we get to see more of young Owen, and see how much he’s grown since the events of Aftershock.

Like Aftershock, the imagery and descriptions in Freefall were dark and vivid.  The tone was gritty and intense.  The romance wasn’t all that great and the sex scenes were a little bland and raw, but the friendship-non-friendship-romance between Sam and Hope was emotional enough that I liked it.  Their unsatisfied sexual tension, and their unfulfilled chemistry was actually a lot more full of FEELS than when they finally got together in the end to have their Happily Ever After™; not that I don’t like a happy ending, but it did get a little tacky.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in May 2015.

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