Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tara Janzen -- Crazy Cool

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.75}
Action: ♠♠♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦♦. / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠.
Action: 5 / Emotion: 5 / Romance: 5 / Sensuous: 3.5 / Suspense: 4.5 // Laughter: 9 / Tears: 7

One of the things that really draws me in when I read series books, like Tara Janzen's The Steele Street Series (aka: The Special Defense Force Series) is the on-going interaction between the characters that tie the series together.   Janzen does a great job of featuring several Steele Street characters in Book Two, Crazy Cool, including: {1} Peter "Kid Chaos" Chronopolous (and his on-going mini-romance with {2} Nikki McKinney); {3} Travis James (and his on-going appearance as Nikki's favorite nude model); {4} Skeeter Bang (and her on-going support of the SDF team).   Brief, but important appearances were made by: {5} Dylan Hart ("Shadow") as he continues to use his leadership skills to help Hawkins.   Even more brief appearances were made by {6} Creed Rivera, who recuperates from torture after being captured in Colombia; {7} Quinn Younger ("Captain America") and {8} Regan McKinney Younger, Quinn's new wife.

When Christian Hawkins ("Superman") was introduced in Book One, Crazy Hot, he was portrayed as one of the most dangerous, almost mean members of the Special Defense Force.   Although he exuded an animal magnetism, the reader almost felt a sense of danger just being in the same book with him.   Already a hardened street kid, Hawkins had become even more steel-tempered at nineteen when he was imprisoned for two years.   Dylan got the wrongful murder conviction overturned and Hawkins was now Steele Street's number two man.   It was hard to imagine Janzen creating a woman strong enough to bring such a hardened warrior to his knees.

Apparently, the heroine had no strength at all.   Katya Dekker was none other than the prom queen, the fluffy, poor little rich girl who Christian fell in love with thirteen years ago.   The woman who cost him two years in prison.   Kat was the daughter of Senator Marilyn Dekker, who was often spoken about with such endearing terms, the nicest of which was being "meaner than a junkyard dog."   Kat was so afraid of her mother that she tended to hyperventilate whenever she thought about her.

Another thing that appeals is that Janzen opened this second book of the series in the same manner as book one.   General Richard "Buck" Grant received an unwelcome directive from the Department of Defense.   General Grant was ordered to remove Hart and Hawkins from a volatile situation in Colombia to perform lowly security duty at a Denver high-society art auction.   General Grant wondered about the incompetent political shenanigans that brought about this disaster.

The disaster escalated when Hawkins had to rescue none other than Kat Dekker at the art auction when the stage and palm trees seemed to explode with fireworks.   Hawkins was sure that he could retain his "cool" (as in Crazy Cool) long enough to take Kat to Doc Blake to see if she had a concussion.   A sense of déjà vu hits Christian.   He took Kat to Doc Blake thirteen years ago when he rescued her from her fellow Wellon Academy schoolmates, better known as the prom kings.   Christian takes his first walk down memory lane.   There were many such walks down memory lane by both Christian and Kat.

Janzen spent many pages in the minds of Christian and Kat as they remembered their intense, passionate time together thirteen years ago.   Both were determined that they would not fall in love with each other again.   Kat because she felt guilty and Christian because he felt betrayed.   But the magnetism and strong emotional connection was impossible to ignore.   Janzen has a flair for keeping the sensual heat on high.   Hawkins entertains the readers with some pretty lurid, sensual imagines as he tries to talk himself out of being attracted to the woman he gave his heart to all those years ago.

As expected, Christian and Kat give in to their desires.   But instead of the sexual energy being all hot and heavy (even though Janzen wrote wonderful love scenes) there was more of a romantic feeling that pervaded their love making than raunchy, raw sex, which is what one would expect from such a dangerous, hardened man like Hawkins.   In fact, even though Hawkins briefly displayed his special black ops skills, most of the book catered to the softness within him whenever he was in close proximity to Kat.

Another way Janzen ties the series together and exudes such a sense of masculinity about the characters is that the Steele Street men name the cars they love.   All the Steele Street boys have a past involving car theft and they all drive muscle cars.   Janzen had me laughing out loud when reading the scene where Hawkins, who kept Roxanne in immaculate condition, could not believe the amount of cracker crumbs, orange peels, etc. one woman could get in one car.   It was not the only time Kat destroyed Christian's calm regarding Roxanne's upkeep.

Janzen entertains the reader by creating characters with real foibles and quirky personalities which cause bursts of laughter to erupt.   She also provides them with angst which causes the tear ducts to engage.   Her ability to create characters which draw our emotions is not her only skill, she also keeps readers on the edge of their seats in suspense.   While Hawkins and Kat are fighting their attraction (and remembering when they fell in love), they are also on a quest to find out why they had been maneuvered into the dangerous situation they found themselves mired in.   It seems Christian and Kat are not the only characters remembering their past, the villain (obviously one of the prom kings) joins them in that interest.

Janzen seems to have compared notes with Suzanne Brockmann.   As with Sam and Alyssa in Brockmann's Troubleshooter Series, Kid and Nikki continue their tumultuous romance in Crazy Cool.   Kid was called away to Columbia at the end of Crazy Hot and Nikki had not heard from him in seven weeks.   Nikki's star is rising.   Kat is a gallery owner, with a high-profile in the art world and is featuring Nikki's work.   Nikki is not sure how to act when Kid shows up at the opening.   There is much angst between these two young (Kid twenty-three; Nikki twenty-one) people who fell in love in book one of the series.   It does not reach the happily-ever-after stage in book two either.   Kid must return with his team back to Colombia.

Another supporting character that was well-developed and added depth to the plot and interest to the reader was Kat's secretary, ex-police officer Alex Zheng.   Janzen amazingly creates an integral player with such descriptive and emotionally drawing words.   One could not help but feel sorry for Alex, for the difficult fence he was forced to straddle because of his relationship to Kat.

Travis James was given a short, but potent point of view role in Crazy Cool.   He supports his friend Nikki at her gallery opening when Kid arrives to throw her for a loop.   Then he is attracted to the street-wise, fifteen-year-old-looking Skeeter Bang when she came to the gallery looking for Kid.   Janzen seems to be teasing the reader with little bursts of information about the characters to star in her future books.   I know that I am looking forward to reading their stories.

Tara Janzen has risen in the ranks on my favorite authors list.   This series has quickly drawn me in and I can't wait to get to the next book.   Janzen is a wonderful author who is able to give the reader the necessary requirements for a great romantic suspense series.   Crazy Cool had: {1} Hunky, ultra-masculine alpha hero.   {2} Quirky, yet loveable ultra-feminine heroine.   {3} Action galore.   {4} Nail-biting suspense from page one until the villain is caught at the end of the book.   {5} Interesting, well-developed supporting characters.   {6} Off-the-charts romance.   {7} Spicy, yet warm sensuality between protagonists.   {8} Cute, masculine tidbits that unify the team.

Anxious to get to Book Three, Crazy Wild.
--Vonda M. Reid   (Monday; July 5, 2010 : 2:44 a.m.)     [124]

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Books In The Series: "The Steele Street Series (aka: The Special Defense Force Series)"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.10-2005Crazy HotQuinn Younger "Captain America"Regan McKinney
  secondary:Peter "Kid Chaos" ChronopolousNicole Alana "Nikki" McKinney
02.11-2005Crazy CoolChristian Hawkins "Superman"Katya "Kat" Dekker
  secondary:Peter "Kid Chaos" ChronopolousNicole Alana "Nikki" McKinney
03.02-2006Crazy WildCesar Raoul Eduardo "Creed" Rivera "jungle boy"Dominique Cordelia "Cody" Stark
  secondary:Dylan Hart "Shadow"Skeeter Bang
04.03-2006Crazy KissesPeter "Kid Chaos" ChronopolousNicole Alana "Nikki" McKinney
  secondary:Travis JamesJane Linden
05.07-2006Crazy LoveDylan Hart "Shadow"Skeeter Bang "Baby Bang" "SB303"
  secondary:Travis JamesGillian "Red Dog" Pentycote
06.11-2006Crazy SweetTravis James "Angel" "Angel Boy"Gillian "Red Dog" Pentycote
  secondary:C. Smith RydellHonoria "Honey" York-Lytton
07.11-2007On The LooseC. Smith RydellHonoria "Honey" York-Lytton
  introducing:Alejandro CamposLily Robbins
08.01-2008Cutting LooseZachary PradeLily Robbins
  introducing:Dr. Gabriel ShoreCherie Hacker
09.09-2008Loose And EasyJuan Aurelio "Johnny" RamosEsme Alexandria Alden
  introducing:Daniel Axel "Dax" Killian 
10.08-2009Breaking LooseDaniel Axel "Dax" KillianSuzanna Royale "Suzi" Toussi
  introducing:Conroy FarrelScout
11.02-2011Loose EndsConroy FarrelJane Linden

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating

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