Worth Every Risk
by Jennifer McKenzie, Dawn Montgomery, and Lainey Bancroft; contemporary (2009)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-543-5


Worth Every Risk is a romantic suspense anthology, which means there will be danger, cops, spies, and even some psychic woo-woo stuff in the three stories present.

Jennifer McKenzie kicks off things with A Dangerous Exchange. Marnie Coleman is in trouble all the way in the African continent. On the run from trigger-happy Congo rebels after obtaining evidence of her parents' murder, she is this close to making it out of there with every body part still intact when her jeep breaks down. fortunately for her, our hero Todd Atchison arrives just in time for her to wave a gun at his face and tell him to drive her to Khartoum. He thinks that she's a thief who is running off with diamonds, but orders are orders and he'd follow them from his boss no matter how distasteful he may find them. Fortunately for our UN Security fellow, Marnie is no mere thief but a gun-waving PacTel courier lady who may be kick-ass enough to charm her way into his heart.

This one happens at such a breakneck pace that I find myself out of breath when I reach the last page, heh. This is a short story, but boy, it sure feels like a much longer story - and I mean that in a good way, mind you. Characterization is adequate considering the limitations of the format, but oh my, the non-stop action and intrigue are all too much fun. The heroine can certainly hold her own very well and the hero goes all macho and action-hero figure on me without having the heroine turn into helpless damsel to accommodate him in the process. This is one blast of a read. I'm almost afraid to ask the author for an encore considering how breathless I am the last page of the story.

Dawn Montgomery's Burn Out keeps the momentum and breakneck pace going. For freelance photographer Zoe Taylor, her first ever trip to Alaska sees her getting acquainted with the mosquitoes of Bristo, which seem to be bigger and more annoying than the average mosquito, hmm. Noah Reynolds is the sheriff, and he is of course hot and authoritative like all sheriffs tend to be in the romance genre. He needs her to take some photographs of a dead body recently discovered in town, and Zoe insists on being paid, which doesn't sit down too well with him. There is no time for petty bickering, however, when it becomes apparent that they may have a killer who may not be entirely human loose in town.

I'm rather indifferent to the romance since it's not the most well-developed aspect of the story, but the suspense elements, on the other hand, definitely make up for that lack. This is like a gripping episode of The X-Files, with the added plus of a heroine who isn't a completely helpless damsel. The pacing is fine, the build-up is good, and while the identity of the villain is revealed from the beginning, the suspense is actually pretty pitched and gets me at the edge of my seat.

Lainey Bancroft closes the anthology with The Artistry Of Auras. Michael Angelo, our hero, can read auras. He belongs to the creatively-named Psychic Task Force. Our heroine Det Petra Canon doesn't take well to the idea of working with these so-called psychics, so she is not amused when her bosses call in Mike to assist her in the capture of a man who may be behind the disappearances of the young women in the neighborhood. I have a feeling that I will have problems with this story when Mike's reaction in defusing an irate Petra (she has the right to be mad - he manages to bungle up the interrogation of the suspect) is by telling her that he'd like to have dinner with her. And I'm right. This is one story where the romantic aspect of the story often get in the way of the suspect aspect, to the point where the story doesn't even seem like an authentic or probably police procedural story. After all, this one sees the hero not seeming to recognize the boundaries between professional and personal relationships and a heroine who is made into being uncharacteristically clueless just so that the hero and the villain can have the upper hand over her. It's not that this story is that bad, it's just that this story is a disappointing one compared to the previous two stories.

Still, a very strong two out of three isn't bad at all if you ask me. Worth Every Risk is therefore worth a look, I feel.

Rating: 86


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