Jaci Burton has written in almost every genre imaginable—from contemporary to romantic suspense to erotic romance to paranormal, futuristic, and fantasy. But what makes her so great in any genre is an easy-to-read style and a true gift for chemistry, connection, and heat between her couples, the mark of a really successful romance writer. Burton stands out because no matter what I’ve read since, no matter how many books she’s written, I still remember perfectly specific scenes in each of her books, elements of her love stories that resonated so strongly they’re unforgettable.
My favorite work by Jaci Burton, hands down, is her Wild Riders series, about an undercover government agency that takes reckless trouble-making, motorcycle riders and turns them into honorable men who still have a wild streak. Each book features a bad boy agent finally succumbing to his last challenge: finding love. And along the way is fantastic mystery and suspense, as each story contains a stand-alone undercover case that becomes the catalyst for the couple to be together. The best book in the series is Riding Temptation with tough guy Diaz and the only the female agent of the group Jessie. Jessie is tough, well-trained, but young, and all the guys, especially Diaz feel the need to shelter her. When they’re put together on a case in which they have to infiltrate a criminal biker group running illegal weapons, all hell breaks loose.
“Get out of here, Jess.”
“Because you’re playing with fire, little girl.”
Her eyes went smoky. “I’m not a little girl. And I like a little heat, Diaz.”
She teases him; he fights it. The set-up is so good, the characters’ history with each other carefully crafted, that when Jessie and Diaz finally give in, it’s delicious. And Burton has the love scenes to back it up.
Beyond the great romance, what’s so special here is that Burton takes what she knows, which is the bike club society, and weaves really fascinating stories around it. It’s clear that she’s passionate about her subject, and that helps her books shine. Riding on Instinct has a Department of Justice agent posing as a stripper and pairs her with a Wild Rider to investigate a corrupt DEA agent. Set in steamy New Orleans, Shadoe and Spence have to pose as lovers, trust each other, and still watch their backs. In the midst of it all, it’s the snappy dialogue and sizzling heat that have us rooting for them.
Teasing her was easier and way more fun than thinking about how hot she was. Less trouble that way, too. “You want me. Face it. I’m irresistible.”
“You’re full of yourself. Let’s go.”
“Kiss me first.”
She rolled her eyes. “How about I knee you in the groin instead?”
“Will you kiss it after?”
Burton uses tropes such as reunited love to forbidden best friend/younger sister to permanent ménage. This series is a career highlight for Burton, and this is the place to start for new readers.
What’s remarkable is her novellas are as solid as her full-length novels; to be able to tell a significant story and capture magic between the hero and heroine in a much shorter and tighter number of pages is real talent. But time and again, whether it’s Blair and Rand from “Wicked” in the Wild, Wicked & Wanton anthology or Jolene and Walker from Bound, Branded & Brazen, Burton picks the perfect pairs and executes romances that are memorable and loving. In these novellas, both couples are fighting many years of attraction, which provides a nice build-up and gives enough background that their journey is well on its way immediately and only gets better throughout the story. With Blair and Rand, just as great as the attraction they’ve been denying is the banter they exchange in the effort.
“When you’re ready to turn over control, Blair, you know where to find me.”
“When they announce the next Winter Olympics in hell, I’ll do that.”
She hated him. Absolutely hated him.
And she’d never wanted a man more than she wanted Rand McKay.
She always had.
The other noticeable element to Burton’s writing is her steady, even pace, a flow to her stories that make them feel familiar and smooth to read. Her stories are well-plotted and instantly feel like comfort reads, as if the reader is a part of the story. Her characters are people you would want to know, even the sports heroes in her current, popular Play-by-Play series. In this series, as well as her ongoing Kent Brothers series for Carina Press, she has family at the heart of the stories, making us all feel like we have a place, that the heroines could be friends of ours and the heroes could be attainable for any of us. Her romances are special, yet believable, as she’s struck this perfect balance between familiar and one-of-a-kind, which is why she’s been on my autobuy author list for years.
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.