Overwhelming Force by Janie Crouch

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Panda Queen. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Short Contemporary Romance category.

The summary:

He lost her once. He won’t lose her again.

Despite an illustrious career as a top hostage negotiator, Joe Matarazzo is haunted by the past. It was a year ago that three innocent lives were lost under his watch. But Joe isn’t the only one who remembers that day. When Joe’s exes begin to fall victim to a violent stalker, Joe seeks the help of Laura Birchwood—a lawyer and the woman he once loved. Despite old wounds, Laura agrees to help Joe find out who’s framing him. And while they expect to be met with danger, they’re unprepared for passion that still burns strong, and their determination to give what was between them a second chance.

Here is Panda Queen’s review:

A Hostage Negotiator, a Lawyer, and a Crazy Murder. Boy, Oh, Boy! Strap into your helicopters for a grand adventure.

F.Y.I. Overwhelming Force by Janie Crouch is the fifth book in the Omega Sector series, but no need to worry. I feel that you do not have to read the first four books to know what is going on. You can jump or helicopter in with no problems what so ever.

We are introduced to our hero Joe Matarazzo, the handsome and wealthy hostage negotiator. First and foremost, Joe is an amazing hostage negotiator and takes his job very seriously. Joe is part of the Omega Sector: Critical Response team; throughout most of the book, due to his being a ridiculously wealthy heir, he feels that the team only thinks that he does the job as something to pass the time. He feels that they would never truly have his back. This does give a great explanation and understanding of why he likes to try and do most of his heroics by his self. Lucky for him he learns that the team does not see him that way.

He is also considered a casanova by the tabloids and most people who come in contact with him. Joe, though, does love to have a good time with the very beautiful women but does not sleep with all of them. He even manages to see them as people, actual human beings! Can you believe that? (Extreme Sarcasm) I was just personally delighted to read about a casanova who does not have to sleep with every living, breathing female that moves. Joe, however, feels he is losing that spark when low and behold it is rekindled by the one woman he never thought he would see again. An old flame that now burns brighter than ever, and yes, with all this fire it is about to get very hot and extremely dangerous.

As for our heroine Laura Birchwood, she does not exactly feel the same way upon seeing Joe. She feels more like burning him alive out of spite, but for all who may think this is going start with a very vengeful woman, do not worry. Laura is a lawyer, who is very much capable of reasonable, and understandable, thought. (It’s hard to like a heroine whose thinking I can’t understand or agree with.) She realizes that Joe was young at the time they met and the things he said before were due to his being a young, ignorant man. He may have even changed since then.

Laura decides to treat him like a rational human being. I have to say that of all the grudge holding heroines I have read, Laura, in my opinion, is deserving of holding this grudge, at least for a little while. I am grateful that she decided to move on. She is, for most of the book, a very reasonable person who always appears to have her head on her shoulders. Except when the flames of passion start flying and then, of course, rational thought takes a backseat in this helicopter ride.

Now besides our hero and heroine rekindling old flames (yes, there is more to this story) the big plot is that Joe’s beautiful exes are mysteriously being killed for no apparent reason other than to hurt and frame Joe. We know from page one that the killer is female and her intent is to burn Joe badly. We also learn very early that this is related to a bombing. This bombing was Joe’s only failure in his whole negotiator career. (May I say that is a pretty good career.)

Another important point is Joe reacts in a very reasonable way to the first and even the second time his exes turn up dead, but by the third death, you think he would have been wise enough to know something is going on. I did feel like yelling at Joe to stop reacting and use his brain. (Thank you, Laura, for using yours.)

I also had a deep appreciation for the heroine keeping her head and getting down to the heart, or the bomb, of what needs to be done. I personally get a little sick of female characters always being the risk takers and having everything turn out bad for them, while their male counterparts can do the exact same thing and somehow, as if by magic, come out completely fine. It was a breath of fresh air to see the reverse. It even got to the point where the heroine saved the hero and, at least to me, it did not feel like she was risking her life due to ‘one’s brain detonating’ during an important event. (Funny how that seems to happen to so many well-intentioned heroines.) All in all the plot goes at a very fast pace.

As for our kind pilot may I say that Janie Crouch did a very good job writing this book. I came very close to giving it an A, but as someone recommending a RITA book I felt as if it had to have something that made it stand out. The book overall was a great popcorn read.

Crouch did a good job portraying typical human emotion and thoughts. I can not state this enough how much I love that, even though these people may have been hurt, they had typical reactions of people who grew up and lived in a society. She also made sure that everyone had a reason for their reactions. No one was doing anything way out of character, which can happen a lot in suspense. I understand people are in hard-pressed situations in these types of books, but you have to have a very good reason for killing or hurting someone, you don’t just randomly do it. My last kudos is that she kept the love scene short and to the point. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good long love session, but I appreciate when it fits with the story being told.(If that makes any sense.) When we do get to the love sense it feels appropriate for this book.

I do have one gripe. On page 178 Joe stated that Laura is his girlfriend, but there had been no previous conversation on what they meant to each other. I like how Joe slipped it in there, but not how Laura, not including mentally, had no real reaction to it. I would have been fine if she talked to him about it later in the book, but it never comes up again. I also felt that the main reason Laura had personally for taking Joe back just suddenly disappears which really bugs me when it was such a big part of the story. I would have let it go till we got to the epilogue, but it not ever being addressed frustrates me, especially for a book that seemed to have a head on its shoulders most of the time.

In conclusion, I am ready to say that you should read this book. It is nothing new, but what this book is trying to do it does well, if not almost flawlessly. It is definitely the type of good popcorn movie romance that is worth reading: it has a great plot, and great characters, who when by themselves work great, and when together are explosive. So my best wishes and don’t forget to strap in for the ride.

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Overwhelming Force by Janie Crouch

December 1, 2016

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