Opening Line: “A heavy fist connected with this jaw.”
The Risk Taker is part of Harlequin's “uniformly hot” series and well I’ll be honest, the cover caught my eye! Then after reading the blurb I was hooked because I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to the tortured heroes plus in this case we also have a reunited lovers theme which is another one of my fav’s -well let’s just say reunited they never actually made it to the lovers part all those years ago, not for lack of trying on the heroes part.
Anyways with all that going for it I wish I could say I liked this more but for some reason I just never engaged with the story. The premise and opening chapters are great; Gage Harper returns to his hometown from Afghanistan after a high profile rescue from Taliban insurgents. Blaming himself for a mission gone WAY wrong resulting in his teams capture, torture and the fact that his best buddy is now in hospital minus a limb. Gage has a lot of guilt to live with and is dealing with it by allowing his opponent beat the crap out of him in the underground (full contact) boxing ring. Every news agency in the country now wants his story and Gage finds himself an instant celebrity but all he wants is to be left alone and the blessed numbness the next blow to his face will provide.
Enter Hope Rawlings willing to do just about anything to get his story as it will guarantee her dream job with the Atlanta Courier and a way to get out of her hometown. As Hope puts it “Gage Harper was her ticket out of Sweetheart” She’s also willing to use her IN that none of the other reporters have, She and Gage grew up together in fact they were best friends right up until he enlisted and stupidly told her he loved her, they haven’t spoken since and now she’s got to make sure he doesn’t get himself killed at “Fightclub” before she gets her story.
So like I said the first few chapters are great but as soon as the story takes us back into the town of Sweetheart “where Valentine’s Day was sacred and folks started celebrating a week in advance” it started to lose me. There was a fair amount of world building done here –is that right? I don’t know, but we meet a bunch of family members and get their back stories while Gage and Hope dance around each other and help prepare for Valentine’s day which includes a “Cupid couples week” that the two are paired up for.
One of the other problems I had was with the writing and maybe this is just me but Kira Sinclair spends a lot of time with internal dialogue, so much so that kept having to go back to figure out what they the hell they were talking about or what question was being answered. They even manage to have a full-on conversation complete with about a page of internal dialogue during an oral sex on the kitchen counter scene (it is Blaze after all). I'm thinking really; they said all that with her Va-jay-jay two inches in front of his face?
Anyways Gage is still all kinds of awesome as our hero riding around on his Harley and pining over his childhood love, all muscled up and full of angst, trying to forgive himself. And I really enjoyed the buildup to the love scene that takes place at the bowling alley, who knew bowling alleys could be so hot?
There are some good moments towards the end too where Hope explains why she was never able to return Gage’s love before and ultimately had to let him go. Cheers.