Once again, I had the chance to read a bestselling author I've never read. Diana Palmer combines romance, suspense, and a fast-paced story in her latest novel, Merciless. I have a couple quibbles with the book, one of which has nothing to do with the author. But, even with the few issues, it was a book I couldn't put down.
Jon Blackhawk is an FBI agent in San Antonio who works on the Violent Crimes Squad, responsible for kidnapping, human trafficking, with crimes against children as his speciality. And, the crimes against his brother's family are ones that still haunt him. His brother, federal agent McKuen Kilraven, lost his wife and little girl to a gunman. But, the criminal family involved in the shootings continue to find a way to escape punishment.
Jon would be the silent, brooding type of agent, if it wasn't for his administrative assistant, paralegal Joceline Perry. She's smart, funny, and forthright. And, she runs Blackhawk's office efficiently. In fact, she's adept at protecting Jon, even if it's only from scheming women
who want to date him, or his overbearing mother, Cammy. And, Joceline, a single mother with a son to care for, can't let her attraction to her boss, interfere with her professionalism.
It's that same family of criminals who may interfere with their relationship. When Harold Monroe is released from jail, everyone knows he's threatened Jon for arresting him. And, Harold married into the family suspected of killing Kilraven's family. Connections are deeper than anyone suspected, and someone seems to know all of Jon's moves. It isn't long before the threats to Blackhawk extend to everyone he cares about, including Joceline and her son. And, those threats just might drive them closer together, revealing secrets Joceline has tried to hide from everyone.
Diana Palmer creates terrific characters. I loved Joceline Perry from the beginning, with her wit, intelligence, and courage. Jon Blackhawk is a hunk, good-looking, intelligent, and compassionate. And, Palmer beautifully combines humor, suspense and romance in a fast-paced story. These are all the reasons she's a best-selling author, and deservedly so. As I said, I read Merciless straight through.
However, I did have two problems with the book. Palmer's complicated crime family, and various law enforcement agencies, made it difficult to follow the crime aspect of the story. There were too many people involved in that dimension of the story. Granted, such a complicated case would involve a number of agencies, but it took me a while to get a handle on the various characters involved.
My other issue with the book has nothing to do with the author. Check out the cover of the book, with the silhouette of a cowboy against a fiery sky. What does this have to do with the FBI in San Antonio and a romance? Granted, there is a section of the book set on Blackhawk's ranch in Oklahoma. But, there is no cowboy in the book, and no one rides a horse. Palmer may have a number of other romances featuring Texas ranchers, but, I don't think the publisher or the illustrator did Diana Palmer any favors with this cover illustration. Merciless is a romantic suspense novel with most of the story set in the city of San Antonio, and much of it in the offices of the FBI, not on some range.
That said, if you can get past the cover, which has nothing to do with the book, Diana Palmer's Merciless is an enjoyable romantic suspense novel with two terrific protagonists. So, pun intended, considering the cover, enjoy the ride.
Diana Palmer's website is www.dianapalmer.com
Merciless by Diana Palmer. Harlequin. ©2011. ISBN 9780373775798 (hardcover), 296p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.