Series: Mission Recovery

Threat of Danger by Dana Marton

Threat of Danger by Dana MartonThreat of Danger by Dana Marton
Published by Montlake Romance on June 5th 2018
Pages: 304
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four-stars

Jess Taylor and Derek Daley were in the throes of first love in a small Vermont town when they were kidnapped by a serial killer. They escaped his clutches—but not the trauma of the unsolved crime. With their lives changed forever and their romance cut short, they went their separate ways to exorcise their fears.

Jess is living on the edge as Hollywood’s hottest stuntwoman. It’s no longer terror thrumming through her veins. It’s adrenaline. Derek is a former Navy SEAL spinning his ordeals into heart-pounding bestselling thrillers. But when Jess is called home on a family emergency, she must face the past—and face the man she left behind, who is just as haunted and, like her, still so much in love.

Now, as an old flame reignites, Jess and Derek are taking advantage of second chances and putting their bad memories behind them. But here, in the quiet town of Taylorville, a killer is getting a second chance as well.

With Dana Marton, each book is radically different: characters, histories and backstories, all of it and it’s this kind of unpredictability that makes Marton a compelling writer. In fact, ‘Threat of Danger’ is nothing like its predecessor (save the good writing), is only very marginally linked to it and a solid standalone in its own right.

‘Threat of Danger’ is in essence, a whodunnit mystery that builds up to the revelatory moment and it’s closer to a typical ‘crime’ story rather than a military one that I’d expected. Jess/Derek’s story unfolds slowly, almost painfully as the memories return, the irrational blame that Jess places on Derek for their ordeal in the woods a decade ago coming to light as she’s forced to revisit her hometown. Jess’s family business of sugaring fascinated me, as did Marton’s deliberate but unusual pairing of a stuntwoman who lives on adrenaline highs (yet stays anonymous) and a retired SEAL who’s now a bestselling thriller writer.

Jess’s and Derek’s story is also a second-chance one that, because of the circumstances laid out, is more or less a believable one, though it does seem as though Jess and Derek come together incidentally because of her return. This pairing would absolutely not have existed otherwise save for the hand of fate so to speak, and the quick fall back in love (was it ever?) felt a mite bit forced, especially over the few weeks that Jess stayed.

The biggest issue I have is the perp’s (somewhat weak) motivation for committing crimes which didn’t entirely make too much sense, but then again, should there really be expecting a solid, logical reason for characters doing what they do? Maybe. Nonetheless, I would have liked to be more convinced about the deeper, more twisted psychological rationale behind the string of serial killings that the perp committed at least, particularly in a story that’s all about shoring up the moments until the momentous climax.

There’s no doubt that Dana Marton’s writing is thrilling, her opening scene superbly crafted, as dreaded anticipation cuts the knife edge of a vague menace that we never quite find out about. That much I knew from the prologue that I’d better buckle in for the ride that awaited me and I was right. ‘Threat of Danger’ is engrossing, compelling and thankfully, filled with mature characters (some of whom act as tragic parallels to Jess/Derek’s relationship) who add rather than detract from the entire storytelling. It’s in all, an entertaining read that had the time passing without me even knowing it, and I finished the book moist with anticipation with what else Marton has up her sleeve in the rest of this series.

four-stars

Silent Threat by Dana Marton

Silent Threat by Dana MartonSilent Threat by Dana Marton
Series: Mission Recovery #1
Published by Lake Union Publishing on January 2nd 2018
Pages: 316
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three-stars

A former Navy SEAL, Cole Makani Hunter has returned home from a disastrous black ops mission without his best friend, his hearing, or the use of his right arm. So when his ex–commanding officer assigns him to an undercover mission at a rehab center for vets to discover who leaked sensitive military information to an enemy, he’d rather be anywhere but there. Almost immediately, Cole finds himself at odds with Annie Murray—a peace-loving ecotherapist whose dream is to open an animal sanctuary out of her home. While the two seemingly have nothing in common, their spirited arguments soon fuel a passion for each other.

But just as things begin to heat up between therapist and patient, dangerous complications arise. So does the past—and a shocking revelation that puts Cole and everything he now holds dear in the path of a murderous traitor.

Dana Marton’s books tend to stand out for me particularly since they tend to involve unusual and unlikely pairings with protagonists who aren’t the most good-looking or the usual types that conform to the stereotypes of romantic suspense. Throw this unbalanced relationship—whether it’s convincing or not depends on the book and the kind of characters Marton chooses to portray—into a plot that’s generally tight and unpredictable enough to keep you guessing and Marton has become one of the authors I’ve come to realise I want more of.

‘Silent Threat’ is no different in this way: a disabled ex-SEAL who’s undercover seeking a traitor and an ecotherapist who dreams of having her own animal rescue sanctuary facing a stalkerish (and very creepy) threat provide more than enough intrigue for the suspense to be built on. Marton sets up 2 apparently separate threats, though there are hints that they are from one and the same source, in a more elaborate twist of the tale that I didn’t see coming.

Marton’s characters however, so obviously flawed and so far beyond the traditional definitions and appearances of what we think of when the terms ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ pop up, may not always appeal.

In ‘Silent Threat’ as in a few of other Marton’s books, Cole and Annie take some time to warm up to, though Cole was easier to relate to as a protagonist than Annie’s softer and more fickle tree-hugger ways. Like Cole, I was too sceptical of Annie’s Ecotherapy—the things she stood for and her earth-mother motivational sayings just sounded too flaky and naive to me with her trite and overused phrases like ‘deep cleansing breaths’—but admittedly this is my jaded, cynical self talking along with the other SEALs under her care who rolled their eyes at this form of treatment. It was harder to like her as well, as I thought she simply needed to grow a spine when all she did was push away and run without working things out like the adult she was while she hid behind the excuse of preserving therapist/patient boundaries.

Cole and Annie’s relationship however, isn’t rushed, the build-up is slow-going with some amount of push-pull between them, with an equally slow burn until past the halfway mark, flowing well with the suspense that amps up toward the end.

In short, while ‘Silent Threat’ didn’t quite stun me like Marton’s other books have, which isn’t to say that it isn’t a decent read. It’s a series that I’m going to continue with in any case, if only just to see what Marton has up her sleeve the next time around.

three-stars