Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Crazy Fun...

Let me start off by saying that I'm not a big fan of romantic suspense. When I was younger, I loved it, especially of the Elizabeth Peters or Mary Stewart ilk. You know, where the young lady on holiday in Europe gets all caught up in nefarious doings, and some mysterious, yet capable man comes to her rescue time and time again. But none of the romantic suspense I've read about recently appeals to me--either looks too heavy and I'm not really into spies or Navy SEALS or whatever.

Yet, in stark contrast to Dates from Hell, I've whipped through the first three books in Tara Janzen's Steele Street series (Crazy Hot, Crazy Cool and Crazy Wild) since Friday afternoon. I freakin' love these books. They're totally fun, although they require the complete suspension of disbelief (not a problem for me). These stories of juvenile delinquents turned super spies feature hot cars, guns, high tech gadgets galore and hot sex. There are wild chases, shootouts, and sex in cars. They are extremely fast paced. Crazy Hot took place in less than 24 hours, I think, Crazy Cool was, what, 48 hours or so and Crazy Wild was 12 hours, maybe. Totally absurd and fabulous. I actually think that these books worked for me because they were soooo over the top. I really don't think Janzen was going for realism, here, but pure fun fantasy. C'mon, the characters have names like Superman, Kid Chaos and Skeeter Bang! They reminded me of something you would've seen in the eighties, like Moonlighting or Remington Steele. The movie versions would all star Michelle Pfeiffer and Lethal-Weapon era Mel Gibson.

Ms. Janzen has done a good job of setting up an interesting cast of characters and a cool world. The fast pace sweeps the reader along, but I think the love stories would not work if Janzen hadn't done two things: introduced characters (and potential love stories) early, or created a back history for the hero and heroine. The book that I liked the least, Crazy Wild, definitely suffered from the lack of these two characteristics. It took me a really long time to get into the relationship between Creed Rivera, who had spent the previous two books offstage on a disastrous mission in South America, and Cody Stark, the librarian turned possible terrorist. I mean, for most of the book he believed that she was, if not a terrorist, up to no good! I just couldn't buy the insta-connection. At the same time, there was an awesome romance set up in Crazy Wild: super-cool, mysterious leader Dylan Hart, and the strange, psychic ex-street kid, Skeeter Bang (YES, Skeeter Bang! Gotta love the name). After awhile I was reading the book just for them. As an aside, I do believe that I've bitched before about how writers often seem to have a problem with the characterization of women who are extremely smart, artistic, eccentric or idiosyncratic. Often they come off as obnoxious, grating or self-righteous. But I really like Skeeter, as well as Nikki McKinney, the heroine of Crazy Kisses (which better get to the library soon), so Janzen gets bonus points from me.

I believe these books are best read in order, as characters are recurring, and there are a number of points of view. Crazy Hot, featuring Quinn Younger, war hero and one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People,and his former crush, paleontologist Regan McKinney, was a fun kick-off to the series. I like Crazy Cool the best so far, mostly because of the hero, Christian "Superman" Hawkins. Good shit. I wasn't expecting to like this story of Superman's reunion with the long-ago love who landed him in jail for murder, because poor little rich girls gotta be among my least favorite heroines. By the way,what's up with Senators' daughters? I'm glad I'm not one. The heroine was better than I thought and they were cute together. Crazy Wild wasn't as good, Creed had real problems that went unresolved, and I didn't really buy the love story. But it was worth reading for the secondary romance. And as a bonus for being late to the series, I've still got one more to tide me over until the end of the month when Dylan and Skeeter's book comes out! I don't have to wait six months to read more! Anyway, these make for great summer reading--fast-paced, sexy and light.

Has anyone read Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon? I wasn't planning on shelling out for the hardcover to begin with,
but Holy Bad Reviews, Batman!. Ruh-roh. I stopped because many of the reviewers were echoing my criticisms of past books, so I didn't want to get too prejudiced. This is being reserved as well.


Kristie (J) said...

I've been lovin' em too! They came out so close together, now we have a bit of a break. It's not so bad if someone is just reading them now, but hey! I got used to them coming out so close together - almost instant gratification don't you know!

La Karibane said...

I love that series too! Fast-paced and great chemistry.

Have you read her one romance before that, written as Glenna McReynolds "River of Eden"? Think Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone. Except BOTH h+h are science geeks : he's a bad boy maverickk type everyone thinks is a has-been, she's more rigid and high-strung. Of course, the sex is HOT.

I love that book and it made me buy the Crazys. Maybe you could find it at the library too?

Devon said...

I'll have to look for that. I love stuff like "Romancing the Stone" and "Indiana Jones"

Kristie (J) said...

Oooh - I agree with la Laribane - River of Eden is just delicious as all get out!!