HQN / $7.99 print, $6.79 digital / December 18, 2012
As an emergency paramedic, Lauren Boyer is dedicated and highly capable. Until an earthquake strikes, trapping her beneath the freeway with a group of strangers—including Iraq war veteran Garrett Wright…
Handsome and take-charge Garrett aids Lauren in her rescue efforts, even as the steely look in his eyes seems to hide dark secrets. When a gang of escaped convicts goes on the attack, Garrett's bravery makes him more than a courageous bystander to Lauren. If they can save the others before time runs out, maybe, just maybe, they can explore the fire igniting between them—if the truth about who he really is doesn't pull them apart forever….
In Jill Sorenson's Aftershock, after a large earthquake strikes San Diego, California, an EMT finds herself alone when her partner is killed and chaos surrounds her. While looking for other survivors, she meets a handsome man who helps her rescue others that they come across. Together they form an alliance that soon turns into something more.
Lauren starts off the book in a bad place: Her engagement has been called off and the ex-fiance who dumped her is currently vacationing with his new girlfriend in the spot where he and Lauren were to honeymoon. Feeling down on life, she’s just trying to make it through the day when the earthquake strikes. When she comes across the rugged Garrett, she feels a stirring she’s not felt in far too long but the timing is inappropriate, to say the least.
Garrett is an ex-marine who is still healing from his time overseas, both physically and mentally. Garrett suffers from PTSD and is having trouble re-adjusting to civilian life. He feels he must atone forthe mistakes he’s made since his return and doesn’t believe he deserves the happiness that Lauren represents. Without giving too much away, accepting that he deserves her love is part of Garrett’s journey.
While Lauren and Garrett find themselves fighting adversity in the form of dire conditions surrounding them after the quake, they also must fight unsavory fellow survivors determined to wreak more havoc against them and the group of people they’ve met and rescued since the quake.
Ms. Sorenson does a very good job at giving the reader a concise view into her characters’ emotions, especially the protagonists, so while one may not always agree with the choices made they make, it’s very easy to understand their reasons. Their journey was well worth reading as both characters grew from the obstacles, though it seemed Lauren grew more than Garrett. Occasionally Garrett's degrees of noble behavior were frustrating, but Lauren and Garrett worked as a couple. In a time of poor hygiene and rapidly decaying corpses, their circumstances are not ideal to fall in love, yet they made a believable and root-worthy couple. In the course of the story, I was amused that other characters found Lauren and Garrett's growing affection for each other obvious—to the point of frequently pointing it out—despite their respective attempts to focus on surviving rather than giving in to temptation the other represents. That struck me as very true to what would happen in that type of situation.
The cast of secondary characters made for intriguing drama as well. Sam, who spends most of the time unconscious from head injuries sustained from the earthquake, has a backstory that tugs at the heart. Penny, pregnant and alienated from her father, is a few weeks shy of giving birth when they find her. There’s also a grandfather and granddaughter traveling together that they come across who also play strong supporting roles in the story. Together with Lauren and Garrett, they rounded out a well-plotted romantic suspense novel that is rich and enticing. I have a feeling that some of them will reappear in upcoming novels from the author with the manner of how those stories were written. This is a solid novel that is enjoyable and I would definitely check out any follow up books featuring characters in Aftershock.
Miss_D has been reading romance books for over 25 years. A native Californian making her way in the Big Apple, she likes to spend her downtime relaxing in front of the TV, chatting with friends, sitting in Central Park and playing beach volleyball. Miss D can be reached via Twitter @bonobochick.