My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Length: 300 pages
Release date: 7 August 2018
Rye Mallett, a fearless “freight dog” pilot charged with flying cargo to far-flung locations, is often rough-spoken, usually unshaven, and he never gets the regulation eight hours of shut-eye before a flight; but he does have a rock-solid reputation: he will fly in the foulest weather, day or night, and deliver the goods safely to their destination. So, when Rye is asked to fly into a completely fogbound Northern Georgia town and deliver a mysterious black box to a Dr. Lambert, he doesn’t ask why–he just ups his price.
As Rye’s plane nears the isolated landing strip, more trouble than inclement weather awaits him. He is greeted first by a sabotage attempt that causes him to crash land, and then by Dr. Brynn O’Neal, who claims she was sent for the box in Dr. Lambert’s stead. Despite Rye’s “no-involvement” policy when it comes other people’s problems, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the intrigue surrounding his cargo…and to the mysterious and attractive Brynn O’Neal.
Soon Rye and Brynn are in a treacherous 48-hour race to deliver the box before time runs out. With the hours slipping by and everyone from law enforcement officials to hired thugs hot on their heels, the two must protect their valuable cargo from those who would kill for it–that is, if they can trust each other.
Just like I expected, Tailspin was an entertaining read where Sandra Brown again showed why she’s my go-to author for romantic suspense. I find that her books have a great balance between the romance and the thriller, and her latest story is no exception.
Tailspin makes the most of the usual tropes with a principled doctor and a disillusioned veteran who initially distrust each other and are forced to work together to defeat common enemies. It’s a step up from many romances because of the smooth writing, the realistic dialogue and the level of attention to detail.
Sandra Brown always writes organically, but Tailspin was particularly impressive for the research into pilots and the pharmaceutical industry. Personally, when I read romance I tend to forgive a lot of faults that I’d criticise more harshly in other genres as long as the central relationship is solid. I suspect there are a lot of readers with that mindset, in which case she could have gotten away with being lazy–but she put in the effort anyways. I admire how genuine Sandra Brown’s writing feels in spite of her “butt in chair” attitude towards her job; it shows that discipline goes a long way.
Anyways, if you aren’t familiar with Brown’s style, here are the things you can expect in Tailspin. Most of them apply to her romantic suspense works in general:
- Compelling leads. Rye and Brynn are uncontroversial, decently interesting leads who have the chemistry to carry the book. Contrary to the loose rule in romance novels there was slightly more of a focus on the hero than the heroine, and I liked that. It was fun to be in Rye Mallett’s head and slowly get pieces of his history. I did think that Brynn could have been a little more active of a character plotwise.
- Everyone, and that means everyone is hiding secrets. These range from the amusingly mundane to the deadly, but a big part of the fun comes in guessing who has yet another ace up their sleeve. Especially when it’s the main characters holding information back in their POVs.
- Twists until the final chapters. These aha moments are so hard to predict in advance but make sense afterwards. Sandra Brown always drops little hints for the observant reader, which I decidedly don’t have the patience to be. I just enjoy having the wool pulled over my eyes, but if you like figuring things out, there are enough textual clues for at least a few of the twists.
- Authentic supporting characters. It felt like there was a clear picture of who each person was, including those who only appeared for a couple of pages. In Tailspin, Brown opts for cheesy crooked politicians as her villains, but they’re honestly well-developed compared to the vast majority of romance villains. Which isn’t to fault the genre, because no one reads romance for the antagonists, but shows again how she goes above and beyond.
If you’re a fan or even just like me a sporadic reader of romantic suspense, you’ll likely enjoy Tailspin. At the very least you won’t hate it. This novel is a model example of how much thought Sandra Brown puts into each of her plots. Situations are rarely contrived, and story elements come together perfectly. I got worried for the protagonists and cheered for them to succeed. It’s hard to ask for more than that.
*Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book! All opinions represented remain my own.*