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Sunday, August 18, 2013

ARC Review: Rush by Joan Swan

Format: Bound (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: August 27, 2013

Jessica Fury, Washington lobbyist, has money, connections, and her own firm. But five years ago she had something better: happiness. Her firefighter husband, Quaid, was handsome, courageous, and crazy about her. Then one day he walked into a chemical inferno--and never walked out. Jessica has been through hell to get back on her feet. And then a rumor surfaces that could bring a miracle or shatter her world--again.

Q has been a prisoner forever. He's honed his mind and body into weapons. He's developed abilities no one else understands. But he's still at the mercy of a cabal of ruthless men, who blank his memory, test him like a lab rat, and tell him lies. Although his past has been erased and his future looks grim, instinct tells him he has a woman to live for. What his mind can't remember, his body can't forget. . .

The heat is on.

Sexy men, confident women and hot love scenes mixed with government conspiracies and unusual abilities best describe the latest book in author Joan Swan's Phoenix Rising series. Rush amps up the action, suspense and of course, the romance. Where Fever and Blaze (book one and two respectively) pushed the mystery of the chemical explosion that left seven firefighters with unexplained abilities to the side, Rush places them front and center along with the mystery of who was responsible for causing it.

Jessica Fury has been in hell for five years. Sure she's a successful, independent Washington lobbyist but she'd trade it all in an instant to have her husband Quaid back. A brave firefighter, Quaid never backed down from a challenge, so when he walked in to a chemical fire and didn't come out, it shattered Jessica. It isn't until she gets word that Quaid may still be alive that she snaps out of her semi-existense and jumps back into the middle of a government conspiracy that just might include more people than she thinks.

With no memories of his past, Q is relying on his gut instinct that keeps telling him he has someone to live for. Used for the past five years as a lab rat has left him angry, bitter and a bit unstable. When he's finally freed from his prison, he finds himself among people claiming to be his friends and a woman who looks at him like she's seen a ghost. He barely has time to catch his breath before his captors are after him again but this time Q has no intention of letting them get him or his new found friends.

Rush not only has more danger and suspense than its predecessors, it's also a more emotional story. Each of the characters has been through their own hell since the day of the chemical explosion, but none have come as close to giving up as Jessica. Losing Quaid the way she did broke her completely. I'm not talking about just years of mourning and refusing to move on, I'm talking about walking on the dark side holding hands with suicide and partying it up with drugs. She really hit rock bottom and though she has managed to drag herself out, it's an ongoing fight for her and readers get to see her on more than one occasion almost fall back into that life. I felt so bad for her. In the first few pages Jessie did come across as one of those women who depends on a man to validate her existence and I was afraid that she would play that role throughout the whole book and just irritate me.

She didn't.

This is a character who changed drastically and who battled the temptation to just give up every single day since she said goodbye to her husband. I'm not applauding the fact that she fell so far down after his death and that "proves how much she loved him." That would be a ridiculous thing to say. No one should have to go through that so the world could say "She must have really loved him." I am applauding that she managed to pick herself up from the gutter and put herself back together as best as she could. Does she still miss Quaid? With every fiber of her being, but she does her best to keep living. That's what I loved about her. A survivor isn't someone who becomes immune or numb to the pain, but someone who can be in that much pain and still live life and be a good person.

Because Jessie and Q have changed so much since they've been apart, there was that fear that they just couldn't get back together. Jessie had her demons that she was still fighting and Q was certain that the man Jessie fell in love with no longer existed inside him. Rush a chance for them to see if even with their personal changes, they could still find love with each other. The physical attraction is definitely there and man are those scenes hot!

Rush also explores more of the Government conspiracy surrounding the explosion and the fact that Quaid, Jessie and their friends are not only being monitored but they are not the only ones that have been exposed to strange chemicals. It really ramps up the mystery and excitement of the overall series.

With so many twists and turns, it would be easy for a reader to get lost in the plot but Joan's style of writing is easy to follow, entertaining and interesting. Once I started reading Rush, time just flew by for me and before I knew it, I was finished and saying "I wonder when the next book is going to be out..."

Of course, part of that anticipation is because of the interactions between the once tight knit group of firefighters. Whenever they're all together it's sure to be entertaining. Throw in the new kids Alyssa (Teague's wife), Mitch (Alyssa's brother) and now Cash (Keira's brother) and the sarcastic quips start flying. I love the gang and the way they "communicate" with each other. I said it once before and I'll say it again, I'd love to have a family like that. Annoying as hell at times but when the chips are down they're there for you no matter what.

I can honestly say that Rush is taking the series in a new more intense direction and Joan Swan is really stepping up the love scenes. Rush has made it into my list of best books this year.


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