Monday, May 28, 2012

Tara Janzen -- Crazy Kisses

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.75}
Action: ♠♠♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣. / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦♦. / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠.
Action: 5 / Emotion: 4.5 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 3.75 / Suspense: 4.25 // Laughter:12 / Tears: 0

Was disappointed to open Book Four of The Steele Street Series, Crazy Kisses, and find Kid's story starting right up with no indication whatsoever that General Grant was going to receive a scathing memorandum from the Department of Defense.   It doesn't make or break the book (or the series) but it was such an interesting touch to get a glimpse of how the governmental defense world viewed the Special Defense Force.   And it was a clever way to tie the Steele Street Series together.   General Grant was not even mentioned in this book.

Another feature that Janzen used to unify the Steele Street boys was the fact that they named their bad-boy muscle cars.   They had such a reverence for their cars that they almost loved them more than the women in their lives.   The only part muscle cars played in Crazy Kisses was when Corinna (Kid's 1967 Pontiac GTO) was used as a vehicle for Kid, Nikki, Travis and Skeeter to sit in and contemplate the action-packed, hero-saves-the-day adventure that had just occurred (at the end of the book).

But one thing that Janzen is consistent with in Crazy Kisses is providing the absence of heros and heroines that have starred in the first three books of the series.   It seems that once a hero participates in the story that delivers his happily-ever-after, he is not involved in the action or day-to-day lives of the current hero and heroine.   Naturally, they are mentioned but they make no appearances (unless you count their appearance in Nikki's paintings).   Even the heroine's sister (Regan, from Book One, Crazy Hot) made no appearance in Nikki's book.

But that could be perfectly understandable as the bulk of the plot of book four happened in only a two-day time frame.   But before Kid and Nikki's story took off, a wounded Kid and his new DEA partner, C. Smith Rydell, were running for their lives after destroying the Putumayo airfield of Columbia drug lord, Juan Conseco.

When a Panama City hospital worker revealed to the drug lord's minions the name of el asesino fantasma, ("the ghost killer"), the man who had been killing Conseco's men and destroying his operations, he placed a half million dollar bounty on Peter "Kid Chaos" Chronopolous.   Against his Uncle Drago's advice, Juan Conseco followed el asesino fantasma to Panama City to see to his death personally.

Juan was not the only person who went to Panama City to find Kid.   Nikki McKinney, the love of his life, came to say good-bye to Kid.   What a good-bye it was.   The minute they saw each other, they could not get their hands on each other quickly enough.   In fact, they didn't make it past the closed gate of the neighbor's yard before they were making hot, monkey-sex love.   Obviously, being in love and being unable to keep their hands off each other was not the problem in their relationship.   In Nikki's mind, the fact that she hadn't heard from Kid in seven long months was an issue.   In Kid's mind, the fact that she was engaged to Rocky Solano, fiber artist, was an issue.

The morning after, one of Kid's worst nightmares came to pass.   He had to kill Juan's two assassins in front of Nikki.   They had no time to do anything but flee.   They fled to Denver where the second story of Crazy Kisses was taking place.

As in previous books of the Steele Street Series, Janzen interwove a secondary story line into the hero and heroine's story.   Although the weave in this case was very, very loose, the principal characters to evolve in the subordinate story were: {1} Skeeter Bang, the SDF's all-around mechanic, computer geek and office administrator; {2} Travis James, Nikki's top model; and two brand new characters {4} Jane Linden, Toussi Gallery's new worker and ex-street rat, "Robin Rulz" and {4} Fast Jack Spencer, new leader of the Castle Rats (name given to young, pickpocketing street kids).

There was also a mini-romance set in place.   Travis was extremely attracted to Jane.   She, however, had just returned to Denver after a two-year absence, was trying to put her life on the right side of law and order (with the help of Christian Hawkins) and would hardly say two words to him.   It didn't help that she saw Nikki's paintings of Travis and was half in love with the beautiful angel in those paintings before she even knew he was a real person.   Fast Jack Spencer then brought to light Jane's past and tried to involve her in the life of the Castle Rats again.

As Kid and Nikki ran from the danger of a pursuing Juan Conseco, they were trying to come to terms with the difficulties that Kid's lifestyle presented to their relationship.   The biggest issue between the couple was Kid's inability to talk about his whereabouts and activities.   Not only because they were usually classified governmental operations, but by the very nature of being a sniper.   Kid did not want Nikki to see that side of his life.

This was incredibly difficult for Nikki, a woman who prided herself on her ability to reveal a man's secrets.   That is what she did in her artwork.   She painted and photographed naked men.   She was well-known for putting those men through the secret-revealing wringer when they modeled for her.

The background development of Kid and Nikki was not extensive in Crazy Kisses.   If one had not read about their romance (that started in book one, Crazy Hot, and continued in book two, Crazy Cool) they would be unaware of some personality quirks.   For instance, Kid knew that when Nikki was scared she had a need to talk.   Subject matter didn't count, she just had to keep rambling on.   It was particularly entertaining to listen to Kid's thoughts as he zoned out during Nikki's nervous-induced tirade.

Although Crazy Kisses, could easily be a stand alone novel, it is so much easier to understand all the nuances between Kid and Nikki, having read the previous books of the series.   It also made sense to the reader that Kid and Nikki would immediately make love when they saw the other.   That is how they always seemed to react to the other.   It also indicated that, while Kid suffered from pangs of jealously when he found out Creed and Hawkins posed for Nikki, he didn't even blink when Nikki talked about her favorite model, Travis.   That is because Kid had already dealt with those particular feelings of jealously in the previous books.

Those readers who prefer lots of action and adventure in their romantic suspense, will love Crazy Kisses.   There was a sense of action taking place through the entire book.   The reader was in constant suspense wondering how Kid and Nikki were going to escape from such a vengeful, driven villain.   And wondering what role the Castle Rats would play in the resolution of Juan's vendetta against Kid.   It only made sense that Janzen would introduce these characters to utilize them in some way to help free Kid and Nikki from the bad guy.

A powerful sense of sensuality and romance was always present between Kid and Nikki.   Even when they had determined to leave the other behind.   There was just something special between them that they couldn't escape.   Kid's most romantic action was to find and secure Nikki's dead parents' wedding rings from Inca ruins in Peru.   Again, this action is easier to understand having read about Nikki's desire to have those rings in book one.   (Janzen also managed to increase the reader's interest in the possibility of future books, that would eventually reveal whatever Kid found at the Inca site, (but would only share that information with Nikki's grandfather because it was too sensitive for Nikki to hear).)

Crazy Kisses is just another keeper in a lengthening list of must read Janzen books and joining the other books in the series on the "to be re-read" list.   There is a flavor of Suzanne Brockmann's style in this series.   The author's use of {1} telling the hero and heroine's story throughout several books of the series; {2} continuing the development of secondary characters who are sure to have their own future book; and {3} introducing new potential future hero's and heroines.   Janzen weaves these characters together in an almost seamless manner.   Upon occasion, the interruption of Kid and Nikki's story (to see what was happening back in Denver) was expected, but annoying -- wanted to find out what happened next -- wanted the focus to stay on them.

Would readily recommend Crazy Kisses (as part of a series) to any reader who loves a good special ops-type romantic suspense.
--Vonda M. Reid   (Monday; July 12, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.)     [126]

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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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Crazy Kisses Quotations:
246She needed help.   She couldn't do this . . . anymore, skating on the edge by the seat of her pants, always expecting disaster and seldom being disappointed.

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating

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