Scorch by Liliana Hart

Scorch by Liliana HartScorch by Liliana Hart
Series: The MacKenzie Family #12
Published by Nla Digital LLC on July 26th 2016
Pages: 168
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Shane MacKenzie’s life has been turned upside down. He’s lost his command, his identity, and his will to live. He’s a dead man walking, and the only thing that makes waking up in the morning worthwhile is knowing he’ll come head to head with the one woman who gets his blood moving.
Doctor Lacy Shaw spent years as a medic on the battlefield. She’s seen things that can never be erased from her memory, and when Declan MacKenzie gives her the opportunity to work for MacKenzie Security, she decides any job has to be better for the body and soul than watching soldiers die in a war zone. That’s until she meets Shane MacKenzie and realizes she’s never fought so hard for one person to live.

This is one of the harder reviews I’ve had to write. The anticipation of waiting for a book that’s nearly two years in the making can be excruciating, not least because of the expectation that it can’t be anything but a blockbuster that a reader never forgets. Essentially, book disappointment isn’t an option. But what if it is?

‘Scorch’ is that type of book which I thought could be so much more.

A lot of the first few chapters is repetitive: an amalgamation of key scenes from previous books that are filled out, explained and set-up so we get Shane’s love ‘em and leave ‘em lifestyle – but do I really need to read about him having graphic sex with another woman? – as he juggles being a SEAL commander at the top of his game to the point where he sacrifices his leg to save someone. And perhaps this is where my opinion will be an unpopular one (what’s new?) – I thought it fairly unnecessary because I’d expected the story to be the focus on his new life and his PTSD, wrapped up in a new, romantic suspense case.

To some extent, it is. But that’s still too little for me. I felt that rehashing the previous scenes brought a pitfall of its own: several inconsistencies messing up the timeline in my head and piling on more confusion instead. And these discrepancies are clear; I had to re-read some portions of the MacKenzie books just to get back in the game for this. An instance (out of several) is a scene in previous books which hinted at a potential separation as Lacey was called back to active duty and Declan asking if Shane could live without her, but we’re told in ‘Scorch’ that it’s a different situation altogether with no whiff of separation – which made me wonder if Liliana Hart had several different ideas about Shane and Lacy when she conceived the plot and changed it as she wrote this book.

The result is an unevenly paced book, with a second half that rushes into sex, love declarations, and a climax (pun sort of intended) that felt like a cross between robocop, syfy prosthetics and special ops remade with a super doctor/soldier female lead, up until an end that seemed very unfinished.

The inconsistencies aside and other missing scenes which I felt were crucial to developing the story, I actually found myself finishing the book alarmingly quickly, and felt flatly short-changed because I wanted much more. I wanted the to be gutted by pain of Shane’s rehab, the angst of his entire world upending, the pain of his mental adjustment of looking at his doctor with new eyes rather than she was attractive because of her amethyst eyes; I wanted the deep POV of his elation as he got back on his feet rather than be told that he simply had an ‘attitude readjustment’ when he put on his new prosthetic leg.

All these felt glossed over as Hart simply wrote about several key milestones in his difficult recovery. I wanted more conflict between Lacy’s and Shane’s own ideals but seemed to only see philosophising platitudes instead of the rawness I craved. I wanted a couple so solid it would take more than a severe storm to shake them, but how could that happen, when the roots of their bond didn’t seem to go that deep?

I could go on, but I think the point’s made. In short, so much is told, not shown. And I yearned for more of the latter.

That said, it isn’t to say that the story is a turn-off for me; I did like the idea that not every character is safe from harm and that there is a clear, ongoing case of war declared on the MacKenzies by various jealous parties after their toys and skills. I just wished I could say I’d gotten a hangover so great that I had to stay off books for a few days, which, unfortunately isn’t the case at all.