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Book Review: No Control by Shannon K. Butcher

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No Control is author Shannon K. Butcher’s second novel. She writes boiling hot romance intertwined with huge dollops of intrigue and a generous backstory. Romance readers don’t always get those, so someone who provides a good mix of terrific hero and heroine, as well as the above elements, is going to get noticed. Butcher has. And if you think her last name is familiar, you may be thinking of her husband, Jim Butcher, the author of the Harry Dresden fantasy series.

I enjoyed Butcher’s take on her characters. You could almost have picked them out of stock players (take one emotionally damaged heroine who no longer trusts herself, and take one Special Forces guy with a Savior complex that gets totally ensnared in the damaged female’s life). Yet Butcher makes both of these characters jump from the pages larger than life but as people readers will learn to love.

Eighteen months ago, Lana Hancock was the lone survivor of a terrorist attack. A group that called themselves the Swarm took a group of young American’s hostage, tortured them, and killed them. Lana was believed dead as well. Even though she survived, she had to undergo several surgeries and torturous months of rehab to reclaim even a shadow of her life. She’s since started a foundation based in art that’s aimed at helping kids.

The last thing she needed was for special forces soldier Caleb Stone to come striding back into her life. But he did. As it turns out, there’s some question about the Swarm and whether that organization was razed to the ground in the bitter firefight that followed the capture of the hostages. Caleb gets assigned to protect Lana, but he’s also been ordered to find out everything she knows. Caleb’s superiors don’t think Lana told them everything she knows.

Unfortunately, Caleb is probably the last guy that should have been sent. He was undercover at the time of Lana’s abduction. He was onhand for some of the worst torture she went through – and he did nothing. She didn’t ever want to see him again.

I loved the instant antagonism that Butcher placed between her characters. It’s always best to believe in the forces that try to keep two lovers apart. Stupidity and selfishness are big reasons to keep the characters apart in romance novels that I read, yet some writers continue to use them. I totally bought into Butcher’s scenario, and she builds up the reasons for Caleb’s presence there — because of that history — instead of letting it just sit there.

The romance elements of the story are incredibly hot. Butcher takes her time to build those up as well. Nothing happens too quickly in the novel, and readers aren’t kept waiting too long.

In addition, Butcher is a fine action writer as well. In the action scenes, she proves herself time and time again. The choreography is great, and her military thinking and jargon is dead-on. There isn’t much in the way of action for a long time, but when she gets to it, the result is deadly earnest.

Even more, Butcher’s backstory with the villains and Caleb’s special forces friends is marvelous. The creepy intensity of the woman who’s out for Lana’s blood is awesome, as well as the head of the Swarm. And there are enough other things going on that a small puzzle of who’s doing what to whom builds up as well. I loved Caleb’s friend Grant, and I hope he ends up getting featured in her third book.

Butcher is an excellent romance writer. If you haven’t picked her up, you should. Her first book, No Regrets, is still on the shelves as well.

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