This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Romantic Suspense, Young Adult Romance
Published by Escape
Released on May 1, 2014
I have never read a YA Romantic Suspense so I was eager to give this one a go. This one wasn’t quite what I expected in that it was just the opening number to the rest of the series and only tells the first part of the story. There isn’t a cliff hanger or anything drastic like that. It literally just ends at a good stopping point. I like where the story is going and look forward to what comes next.
The story is set in Perth, Australia and centers around the life of Jaz Thomas, a seventeen year old girl. She is in her last year of school, hangs out on the outskirts of the teen scene with her geeky friend Anna and their more popular friend Taylor, keeping up with her fighting skills and yoga at the older gym that is like her second home, and just trying to figure out what she’ll do when school is out. Her worst worries are a snotty rich, popular girl in the school crowd and getting Taylor’s attention. She is a member of a blended family in that her mom married her step-dad when she was a toddler and she has a half-brother. The family is typical suburban middle class and caring, but for all that, Jaz feels out of sync. Her mom won’t speak of her birth dad though Jaz has the feeling that love wasn’t the problem and all she knows of him is a St. Michael’s pendant with Salvatore on the back. Lately, Jaz’s focus is getting with Taylor and him asking her to the school ball and running the old gym, The Ring, while the owner, an old friend, is away.
Her uncomplicated life is invaded slowly by more exciting things when a guy slightly older than her and edgier comes to the gym to work out. Later she meets up with him as a bouncer at a bar and he has her do a curious task for him that he claims is part of some mysterious work he does- like undercover stuff. It is after he sees her fight skills and other similar physical talents with gun and rapier that he lets her in on the secret of a special ‘off the books’ government organization that works to stop seedy crime by infiltrating the criminals’ networks. Ryan wants Jaz to become the newest recruit, but he doesn’t push her. He shows her what she’s in for if she chooses to sign up. It will involve keeping her job secret from everyone and cause her to live a double life. Meanwhile, as she dwells on this big decision, her life moves along.
The story is told all from Jasmine’s point of view. Her narrative voice and thoughts were interesting and enjoyable. She is at that cusp of adulthood where she teeters between typical teen worries and new, more mature thinking. The plot and pacing are more of an easy flow with just a few spikes of dangerous elements. The book felt like a long intro and set up. It got slow at times for me, but never quite drifted over the line into boring. I have a suspicion that several of the little tantalizing things are foreshadowing for what is to come and that is a lot of the reason that I was okay with the less edgy, more laid-back tone of the story. I’ve even made a few guesses to where its going based on the clues that were dropped. There was an emphasis on establishing Jaz’s character and history, her relationships with her friends, her abilities, and that tenuous thing she had going with Ryan. There is enough of Ryan in the story to get a feel for him, but there is a lot left in the shadows too. I am eager to see where things go with Jaz, Ryan, Taylor and Anna’s story.
For the non-Australian audience like myself, you will get a slight foreign feel in social culture of Jaz’s world, but its in context so it wasn’t difficult to follow. Personally, I enjoyed it and noted all the similarities and differences to my own American teen culture.
As to YA warnings, there is mild language use so the book can be read by younger teens through adults. It’s possible things will get a bit grittier in later books as Jaz gets more involved in all the cloak and dagger stuff, but this one isn’t that violent. I also wonder if Jaz’s story will drift into more of a New Adult level with each succeeding book.
Overall, it was a great read and I would recommend it to those who enjoy YA Romantic Suspense and YA Contemporary Romance lovers who don’t mind an intrigue element.
My thanks to Escape Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
The Recruit by Fiona Palmer
The air was still between them as she studied him. His eyes, as guarded as they were, hinted at great pain and loss.
‘You’ve had it tough, hey?’ Jaz asked quietly. It was the way Ryan had said the words, so full of sincerity and weight. She saw a flash of anger stretch across his tight jaw, as if he was replaying whatever it was that had caused him so much pain. But a second later he shut down, sealing his eyes with a steely glaze and burying it all.
‘Yeah, you could say that,’ he answered softly.
Jaz felt the urge to touch his arm or grasp his hand and give it a reassuring squeeze, but hell…she hardly knew the bloke. He could be a raving loony for all she knew.
Jasmine turned towards the front door and spotted Anna, who was out of her school uniform and wearing jeans and a blue jumper. ‘Hey, it’s Anna Montana.’
Anna poked her tongue out at the nickname as she walked towards them. Jaz waved to the guy opposite her. ‘Anna, this is Ryan. Ryan, this is my best friend, Anna.’
‘Heeeey,’ said Anna slowly as her steps faltered.
‘How ya goin’?’ replied Ryan friendlily.
Anna tried to smile but she looked like she was going to melt. Jaz sighed and grabbed Anna’s arm steering her towards the office. She flicked her head back to Ryan. ‘Catch ya later.’ He nodded and begun some more stomach crunches.
‘Who was he and why did you take me away from him?’ asked Anna when they were in the quiet of Pax’s office.
Jaz closed the door and then sat on the spare computer chair. Anna claimed the one by the desk.
‘I was saving you from making a fool of yourself.’
‘Oh, please! If you’d stayed there any longer I would have had to fetch the mop bucket for your drool. Haven’t I taught you enough about how to not show your emotions on the outside?’
Anna went a shade of pink and then snorted. ‘Was I really that bad?’
‘Uh huh,’ said Jaz as she watched Anna lean on the table so she could look out the window.
‘But he’s so hot. Have you seen his bod! And those eyes, so mysterious. How did he end up here?’
Jaz stood there with her eyebrows raised in a mock expression. ‘Are you done yet?’
Anna giggled. ‘Come on, are you telling me you don’t find him attractive?’
Jaz flicked her eyes towards Ryan who was now doing some push-ups. His body was as straight as a flagpole and his arms rippled with each motion. ‘Of course I do, what warm-blooded woman wouldn’t. But…’
‘But he’s not Taylor,’ answered Anna.
Jaz shrugged, unsure if that was what she was going to say. Something about Ryan made him a little edgy and dark. She wasn’t sure if she was fascinated by that or just bloody afraid.
Her phone beeped and her gut knew it was from Taylor. She pressed open his message of a picture he sent. It was a canvas of colours in no order or pattern, kind of resembling a night on the curry.
It’s worse than we thought, the artist used her sponge collection!
‘Oh, is that from Taylor? I can tell, you’ve got that dreamy smile you only reserve for him.’
Jaz tried to frown.
‘Well while you deal with Taylor, I’m gonna go surf the net. Tell him I said hi.’
And within a few seconds Anna was already opening screens and infiltrating stuff far beyond Jaz’s knowledge.
‘Okay, master at work. I’ll see ya after I’ve cleaned the toilets.’ Jaz opened the door and walked towards the storage cupboard while looking at Taylor’s text. She was trying to think of something witty to reply, something to impress. Good luck trying to do that, she thought. She collected gloves and the blue toilet blocks ready to spend the next half hour scrubbing toilet bowls. In the end she sent him a picture of the urinal with her scrubbing brush in view and texted.
Wanna come help me?
Ha ha, you’re so funny!
Jaz glanced to Ryan. His arms rippled with muscles as he did chin-ups, the motion smooth as if he was weightless. Yes, she was procrastinating. With a sigh she tore her eyes away and went to work.