Series: Flashpoint, #1
Published by Janus Publishing on February 14th 2017
Buy on Amazon
In the volatile tinderbox of the Horn of Africa, Morgan Adler has made the paleoanthropological find of a lifetime. The discovery brings her to the attention of a warlord eager to claim both Morgan and the fossils, forcing her to make a desperate dash to the nearby US military base to beg for protection.
Master Sergeant Pax Blanchard has orders to intercept Dr. Adler before she reaches the base, and in so doing saves her life. After a harrowing afternoon he safely delivers her to his commanders, only to find his responsibilities toward protecting the obstinate archaeologist have only just begun.
Morgan and Pax are forced to work together in the Djiboutian desert heat, but it is the fire that ignites between them that threatens to combust them both. For the Green Beret, involvement with the woman he must protect is a threat to his career, while for the archaeologist, the soldier is everything she never wanted but somehow can’t resist. When Morgan uncovers a mystery surrounding Djibouti’s most scarce and vital resource, the danger to her reaches the flashpoint. For Pax, protecting her is no longer a matter of following orders, and he’ll risk everything to bring her back alive.
Rachel Grant’s stories—academically-inclined with scorching hot romance and suspense— simply satisfy the geek lurking in me, to be honest. The talk of paleoanthropology, archaeology and every geek thing out there gets my juices going and ‘Tinderbox’ made me lap it all up, wide-eyed. All of it. Including the detailed explanations of the volatile geopolitics of the Horn of Africa and the warring interests of the US, China and the surrounding African states that came through the characters’ dialogues. Grant’s intelligent writing is just that riveting really, with compelling characters and even smarter villains whose endgames aren’t revealed until after a series of twists and turns that will get any romantic suspense fan enthralled.
In fact, I’d call it fictional-realism for the blend that we get of Grant’s own archaeological experiences and her fantastic storytelling.
‘Tinderbox’ starts like any summer blockbuster movie: we are thrust straight into explosive action, characters at odds with each other and a location where few people would venture voluntarily. From there onwards, it’s a journey of mind-bending turns and slow cranks of the screw as the tension rackets up both in the region and for both Pax Blanchard and Morgan Adler. Perhaps the better question would be: how large would the blast radius be when it all finally ignites? And at the centre of it all, are Grant’s protagonists whose push-pull relationship finally reaches a point where some kind of stand needs to be made because the kind of circumstances they face simply don’t allow for anything else.
I did like Pax and the quiet competence that he showed, though it was harder to take to Morgan. So competent academically and physically, yet like a rebellious, immature teenager when it comes to mastering her own emotions and daddy-issues, she came across at times too much as a pushy, petulant teen than a knowledgeable PhD holder who should have known better than to bait Pax for sex (her lowest point for me) simply because her pride had taken a hit when she couldn’t accept Pax’s reasons for not wanting to pursue their relationship.
Fighting hard for women’s equality to be in a man’s world has been a recurring theme in Grant’s books and I do think it’s something that definitely resonates with me, though not if it results in a female lead sacrificing good sense and maturity in the process which I felt Morgan had done. Yet there’s no denying how much of a badass she could be when it all culminated in a thrilling and drawn-out action-packed climax that kept me turning the pages.
My own personal bias states that Grant isn’t an author to be passed up. ‘Tinderbox’ merely confirms this.