Sun
Jul 2 2017 11:00am

Tensions Are High in Sharon Sala’s Race Against Time

Race Against Time by Sharon Sala

No one could read Sharon Sala's Race Against Time and not channel the voice of seminal, forever-popular author Linda Howard. Specifically, Race Against Time will resonate with lovers of Howard’s unforgettable, controversial books Death Angel and Open Season. Sex trafficking, near-death experiences, horrific childhood abuse, Race Against Time ticks all those boxes and yet is both liberating and hopeful.

There are three characters whose lives intertwine unexpectedly: a Las Vegas homicide detective, Nick Saldano; a nomadic biker, Quinn O’Meara, who bravely rescues a baby at a burning accident scene; a gangster’s desperate moll. Unbeknownst to Quinn, the baby she rescues is the child of Starla (Star) Davis, a victim of human trafficking and for the last seven years, the unwilling companion of Anton Baba, a Las Vegas crime boss. The accident occurs while Star is trying to escape.

“What about the biker who found the kid? The one who was shot?” Nick asked. “Are they going to protect her, too?”

“They say they will interview her when she is able to be interviewed. If she has nothing new to add to their case, they’re cutting her loose.”

Nick frowned. “Baba won’t be that generous,” Nick said. “Her life is in danger, sir.”

Summers sighed. “You’re probably right.”

“Are we going to put a guard on her? If they want her dead, they’ll come to the hospital and try to finish the job,” Nick said.

The tension is unrelenting because the stakes are so high for Quinn and Starla.  Baba’s goons are trying to kill Quinn and recapture Star and her baby, Mr. Baba’s prized little boy. A number of times, I’d put down the story, only to grab it back to look ahead. The tension never lets up, particularly in the beginning. To complicate matters, there’s something about the redhead in the hospital bed that seems familiar to Nick.

He couldn’t imagine forgetting someone who looked like that. Bloody as hell, her beauty had still been obvious—and all that red hair. Maybe she just reminded him of someone else.

But then the unknown woman in the bed murmurs a few words that stop Nick cold.

“Where is he? Where’s my Nicks?” she mumbled, then turned her head and slipped into a deeper sleep. His heart skipped a beat. He hadn’t heard that name in nearly twenty years. He backed up and sat down in the recliner again, and sent a text to one of the other detectives in Homicide.

He knows her. They were in foster care together. He called her Queenie. He protected her, cared for her. When Nick’s relatives rescued him from a dismal foster home, Quinn was the one thing he never forgot about those days.

“You were my baby girl when we were little, remember?” His voice was hypnotic, drawing her gaze back to his face.

“You always were the Prince Charming, weren’t you?” Quinn said with a smile. “I remember wanting to be a princess, and you made me a cardboard crown covered in foil and told me I was a queen.”

“Yes, I did.” Nick perched on the side of her bed and took her hand. It was still hard to believe that this woman—this strong, brave…beautiful woman—was the little girl he’d grown up with so long ago. “Between us, we have a lot of life to catch up on. There’s a lot about you I’d like to know.”

Can there be a happy ending for a woman who has been dealt nothing but bad cards in the game of life? Is it possible, let alone probable? The story proceeds on two tracks: Star’s quest to find her son and escape from Baba, the second, Quinn trying to stay alive long enough to begin a relationship with a person who means a lot to her.

The plot is indeed a race against time. The villain is despicable: unwilling to accept defeat and with the resources to have his minions fan out, on a search and destroy mission to stop everyone who is thwarting their boss. There are a few cops on Baba’s payroll which adds a level of suspenseful nastiness that is spine-chilling.

In Sala’s hands, this love on the run story is not improbable or inappropriate. Nick and Quinn are two brave people, who find each other again after a childhood friendship that was never forgotten. To love in the face of fear is exhilarating. Recuperating at Nick’s house gives Quinn the opportunity to slowly, safely, sexily, explore a possible relationship with a man who has only improved with age. They’re both strong-minded and independent so there are some rocky moments. Just moments though.

Quinn lets her guard down in Nick’s secluded swimming pool: it’s a private paradise, with only the stars above keeping watch. Nick opens his heart to Quinn.

“Sweet, fiery, unpredictable redhead that you are… I don’t fully understand what I did to piss you off, but I will clarify one thing for you right now. I have all kinds of emotions regarding you and your presence in my home and not a damn one of them involves pity. It feels like my whole life has been about waiting for this moment…waiting for you.”

Then he leaned in and brushed a kiss across her lips.

“And so, Your Majesty…there you have it. I laid my heart on the line. You know what I want from you. So what do you want from me?”

Quinn was blindsided, scared and ready to risk every kind of heartbreak. She didn’t hesitate.

“I want you. No matter what tomorrow brings, I want you now.”

Love is worth waiting for, even if it involves risks and uncertainties and danger. Quinn and Nick are meant to be together and they are a couple to root for.

***

Learn more about or order a copy of Race Against Time by Sharon Sala, available now: 

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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee moved from the San Francisco Bay to eastern Tennessee. Baseball is my passion: I follow the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Nashville Sounds (farm team of my beloved Oakland Athletics). Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on Georgette Heyer and Helen MacInnes. I also review at Criminal Element.

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