I think it’s a testimony to the unique voice of author Stephanie Feagan that she can make Out of Control into a page-turning romantic suspense novel I can’t put down, despite my usual dislike of romance novels written in the first person.
It’s a device that makes me crazy, and I only tolerate in YA literature or in the hands of really, really talented writers. Luckily Feagan is one of those, capable of drawing such a strong female lead in the character of Blair Drake that I was happy to go along for the ride.
Blair Drake is a woman in a man’s world, working as an engineer inspecting oil rigs all over the world and putting out fires. When a rig she just inspected gets blown up while she’s in the air headed home, she’s horrified and despairing, worried for both the lives lost and the fact that she’ll be blamed for not catching the problem. That is, until her bosses let her know that the rig is one of several within the company that have all gone up at the same time. But who could possibly want this to happen?
When mystery man and new employee Nick Robichaud are thrown together to figure out what’s happened she immediately gets nervous. Nick is sex on a stick but having to deal with her slimy ex-husband, a suspect in the fires, is a good reminder of the need to protect herself. Yet the case just gets bigger and bigger until Nick and Blair are in the Middle East trying to stop a potential world conflict with oil at its heart.
Not only is this a well-written book but it’s downright smart, rich in detail about an industry I really couldn’t envision prior to reading Out of Control. Told solely from Blair’s standpoint, the reader cannot help but admire her brutal honesty about herself and how she is a disappointment to her refined Southern family. She has never sought to dumb herself down to become Miss Alabama and instead works effortlessly with rough and tumble guys to ride the adrenaline wave she gets from her job. When she realizes that she’s getting the same high being around Nick is where things get complicated.
I probably would have loved Nick even more if I had heard his POV as well, but the fact is he’s more than loveable through Blair’s eyes, too. Never taking no for an answer, he strikes the right balance of helping her and giving her the independence she needs, which is how you know long before she does that they are meant for each other. Since Stephanie Feagan has written YA literature, where first person is almost a given, as Trinity Faegan (note the sneaky vowel switch), I’m guessing her comfort level in inhabiting the head of one of her characters might have pushed her to make this choice. She makes it work!
The lower sensuality level of this novel did come as a surprise (all the Entangled books in my Kindle app – and there are MANY – are pretty spicy!) but was still well done. It was fun, sweet and straightforward, just like Blair. The secondary characters of her terrific bosses and Leslie the hard-nosed reporter were all excellent, with villains that literally make your skin crawl. The Southern setting and characters are true to form without ever crossing the caricature line, which I appreciated since this region has so much to offer romance readers when we aren’t being bludgeoned with crazy dialect or cowboy boots and hats galore.
I greatly enjoyed Out of Control and look forward to reading future romantic suspense from this excellent author. I’d love to see who Leslie ends up with! 🙂