Friday, December 20, 2013

SUNNY: ARC BOOK REVIEW "Off the Edge" by Carolyn Crane

Peter Macmillan Maxwell
Laney Lancaster

For deadly secret agent Peter Macmillan, language is a weapon—one he uses to hunt criminals, destroy plots, and charm enemies. Seducing information out of a beautiful singer in Bangkok hotel should be easy…except this particular singer has the power to destroy his cool façade, and with it, his last defense against a dark past.

He tricked her. He helped himself to her body and her secrets. He has enemies everywhere. Laney Lancaster should hate Peter, but when she discovers him shirtless, sweaty, and chained up in the hotel’s dungeon, all she can think about is freeing him. Because she knows what it’s like to be trapped and alone. And she could use a dangerous friend.

They may be wrong for each other, but the instant they join forces, Laney and Peter are plunged into an odyssey of hot sex and dark danger. To survive, they must trust each other with their lives—and their hearts.

Off the Edge is book two in The Associates series by Carolyn Crane.  

Carolyn Crane writes deliciously complicated stories.  They are so smart and clever, it makes me feel smarter after I read them.  In Off the Edge, she uses linguistics as the centerpiece of the story.  Linguistics is a weapon.  I've taken a few linguistic classes in my career and no one has ever made it as fun as Ms. Crane.  I bet if language professors could promote linguistics as a superhero skill, there would be lines of students trying to get into classes.  

There is a certain quality to Carolyn Crane's writing. I can't quite put my finger on it.  All I can say is that when I read her books, I think of movies created in primary colors - like the Dick Tracy movie starring Warren Beatty.  I think it is because  her characters are colorful. They have unique gifts, oftentimes cerebral talents, like this one.  Peter MacMillian is a linguist.  He studies pauses, cadences, sounds, slang, and he can track them to a geographic region.  It is impressive to realize how much one gives away in the the way one talks and the words one chooses.  Yes, it is a language GPS.  

He could see a universe in a single word choice.  He used his expertise to understand people, and by extension humanity itself.  

Yet, there is also ambiguity in this story as well.  It is not always clear who the heroes and villains are.  People you think are heroes don't always act heroically.  Villains are not always who they seem. Like I said, complicated.  

This is also a love story.  Laney is a poet, singer/songwriter running from her abusive past. She is living in Thailand terrified that her ex-husband will find her.  Here she meets Peter, a stranger who shares a similar love for words and poetry.  They connect on a visceral level: "He'd connected.  It made him feel familiar from the inside out.

Laney and Peter both thrive for emotional connection.  Peter is unaware of how essential that is to him until he meets her.  She becomes his moral compass and he is awakened. It's a beautiful story that starts with her lyrics and ends with him saving the world!  Perfect romantic suspense, right? 

Do yourself a favor and pick up this Carolyn Crane book.  It is  unique and stimulating and one of my favorites for this year.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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