Thursday, November 08, 2012

Spotlight Review:

ONE WRONG MOVE – Shannon McKenna
McClouds and Friends
Kensington Brava
ISBN-13: 978-0-7582-7347-5
October 2012
Romantic Suspense

Brooklyn, New York – Present Day

Alex Aaro just can't catch a break from the McCloud family and their friends. Against his own careful rules, he is on his way to visit his dying Aunt Tonya at a New York Hospice. After his mother died, it was his Aunt Tonya who kept him safe from his father. For one magic month, Aunt Tonya and Alex and his sister escaped and stayed in a hotel in New York. Until, as was inevitable, his father found them. Alex escaped twenty years ago when he was sixteen, determined not to take his father Oleg's place in his mafia group. The only reason he would think of to return to New York is to say goodbye to the one person who ever loved him. But now Bruno Ranieri has called him at the airport after he arrives in New York to find a friend of Bruno's girlfriend, Lily, in a hospital. Despite Bruno's and Lily's pleas, Alex has to get to his Aunt Tonya and refuses to contact Nina, despite Bruno's reminder that he owes him a favor, and Alex HATES owing anyone a favor. But of course, Bruno's favor comes back to haunt him.

Nina is walking home from work at night when a car stops and a woman talking a weird language starts yelling and crying at Nina and ends up injecting some kind of drug in Nina's arm. Just before she collapses, she recognizes Helga Kasyanov, a friend of her mother's. As they each collapse, they are dumped in front of a hospital, and it takes awhile for Nina to wake up. But when Nina wakes up she can see things about other people, read their minds, and see the evil inside them. Yikes! Nina escapes from the hospital and goes home, but three men come in with their guns. Nina had a small closet built in her regular closet for safety, and fortunately the bullets don't kill her. But more important, Nina needs to keep her mind blank because the men have taken the drug Psi-Max 48 and each has different abilities after taking it. These people can invade and feel the thoughts of others, and Nina's experience with her stepfather enables her to make herself invisible: I'm nothing, no one can see me. I'm a pebble, small, blank, nothing here, no one home. As she hastily gets off a text message to Lily, Alex is the next to be implored to save Nina from the men trying to kill her. Despite misgivings, Alex is on the way…to meet a woman who smells like pine needles and rain, earth and water. How can a guy resist that, plus she's hiding in the closet naked, and the body she hides behind tent dresses is on full display. Now they are both on the run from people who can read their thoughts, track someone down, and kill someone with their thoughts. Whoa, what has Bruno gotten him into now?

I can't tell you the whole story, but Nina had a hard childhood, and with her enhanced powers, is a big bundle of traumatized woman. When they finally sneak in on Alex's Aunt, she has also endured years of institutions and trouble because of her powers, and insists Alex has power, too, if he'll only let it out. Now starts the game of cat and mouse as the bad guys track and find Nina, and Alex starts to change his opinion of women being good for only one thing, and as quick as possible at that. There are twists and turns I won't tell you about and ruin the path to excitement and romance that Nina and Alex must go down together.

Shannon McKenna continues her string of sensational stores with ONE WRONG MOVE. Written from the points of view of most of the characters, Nina has no idea why a woman who tries to keep herself as invisible as possible has come into all this trouble with people trying to kill her. Alex Aaro is used to being shot at and on the verge of being shot at all the time, but when his relationship with Nina finally breaks down the barriers in his heart, his entire existence depends on keeping the only woman who ever understood him safe and alive. Alex's cousin Dmitri has lived with his jealousy of Alex for over twenty years since he disappeared, but decides with his enhanced abilities, he will for once come out the winner. And Alex's father Oleg still thinks he can rule the world, and especially his son.

The mixture of secondary characters is always delicious when Ms. McKenna brings them to life. There's Ray, Dmitri and Anabel, all users of the Psi-Max 48 and willing to do anything for Rudd, their boss. Oleg Arbatov is Alex's father and has enough natural ability to force his will on people. Behind the Psi-Max 48 drug is Helga Kasyanov, a scientist presumably dead for three years but held captive by Rudd to create the drugs that enhance natural abilities. Also making an appearance is Bruno Ranieri and Lily, who start everything with imploring Alex to watch over Nina until they can get a bodyguard to keep her safe. There are many more characters who either try to kill Alex and Nina or help them. We are also given a glance into Alex's assistant Miles's life; perhaps this may lead to his story and Helga's missing daughter, Lara Kirk.

ONE WRONG MOVE is an explosive and suspenseful story of drugs, the love for drugs, and two wounded childhoods and how that one special person can unlock the hurt inside you and bring you to the light of day. Alex, despite knowing the McCloud family, manages to survive to live another day and has found the one woman in the world who understands him completely. Such a romantic and enthralling story is sure to be snapped up in stores all over, so make sure you don't miss out this month on another of Shannon McKenna's classic stories of strong and wounded men and the women who save them.

Carolyn Crisher

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