Monday, December 2, 2013

This Week's Retro Review: "The Blonde Bomb Tech" by Lara Santiago

Commitment-phobic bomb technician, Sabrina Morgan, flies unexpectedly into the arms of firefighter, Jake Donovan, seconds before a bomb explodes. This was her first failure, and in Jake's sizzling embrace, Sabrina is grateful for his comfort in helping her hide her secret fear of explosions.

Jake falls in love with the passionate but emotionally wounded Sabrina. He thinks she is perfect for him. Also, who better than a bomb technician will understand and support his dangerous career as a firefighter?

Looking to settle down and start a big family like the one he grew up in, Jake pursues Sabrina, who can't tell him her other big secret: she can't have children. Sabrina negotiates a tenuous affair with Jake as she tries to stop a serial bomber from detonating any more bombs in their small city outside of Boston. Her enemy's ultimate goal is to kill her for surviving a tragedy in her past.

OK, friends, this is a Gem of a Find published in 2007 and only recently discovered when I was looking at the long list of novels this author had written.  She is one of my favorites and one that I have found can be trusted to treat her characters with respect, to "unpack" their issues in a kind and generous way that helps the reader to see into their inner thoughts and feelings without letting the internal monologue overcome the story.  Jake and Sabrina are, IMHO, iconic in that they are people who have tasted of both the good and the not-s0-good of human experience.  Both have made some important decisions about life and about how they see their futures playing out.  Yet their almost explosive encounter following a failed attempt at disarming a bomb changes everything for both of them.

This is also a story about secrets, about their power to overcome good common sense, about their ability to pollute life decisions to such an extent that people often walk a very destructive path rather than risk the kind of wounds the past has wrought.  For Sabrina, left an orphan and never adopted--repeatedly rejected by prospective adoptive parents--hope had died a long and protracted death, the kind of hope that she thought she had in her grasp at last when she and her fiance had planned their future together.  Then she was told she couldn't conceive, and both her hope for her future and her fiance took a "powder."  No wonder she saw more gray than gold in the years that lay before her.  Add in the fact that her parents had died a fiery death in the midst of a bomb explosion and you know that fear was the foundation for all the thoughts and decisions that guided this woman's life.

Now Jake was a man who knew upfront that he loved and never intended to leave his dangerous profession.  But being a firefighter had not played out well with the women he had formed long-term relationships with in the past.  Now he wants a marriage and lots and lots of kids and he is absolutely dead set to get Sabrina into the wedding dress and the OB ward at the local hospital as quickly as possible.  Oops . . . another secret to deal with.

This romance novel also has an insidious mystery running through it, one that is rooted in Sabrina's past and will ultimately play out in ways that could not only mean the end of her life but changing everything she believed about life, the future, and herself.

All in all it is a delightful but compelling read, one that is certainly filled with the hot loving Ms Santiago writes so well, but it also interweaves the mystery with the romance and successfully keeps the reader right on the edge of the chair.  This is one of those books that one is strongly tempted to read the last chapter when only half-way through the book.  It's beautifully crafted and edited.  It's the kind of book that doesn't go stale and will continue to entertain readers who discover it.  I strongly recommend that you check it out.