Friday, April 15, 2016

Romance Novels, Week 3, _Chill of Fear_ by Kay Hooper

Kay Hooper is my go-to author for suspense romance novels. I really enjoyed her Once a Thief novels, and branched out a little from there. This is part of her second trilogy about the Special Crimes Unit, a unit of psychics at the FBI (so, yes, it's both modern suspense AND science fiction - I like science fiction, and it's my blog, so.).

First, I think some readers might question my assertion that this constitutes a romance novel. I admit, the suspense plays a much stronger role in the novel than the romance - but, a key element of the story AND the plot (which, you know, are not the same thing) is the romance between Quentin and Diana. Quentin can sometimes sense the future, and Diana, it turns out, is a medium - she can speak with (and walk with) the dead. Quentin has been obsessed with a murder at The Lodge, a hotel in rural Tennessee, since he was 10 - while staying at The Lodge, a friend of his (a young girl) was murdered, but the case was never solved. Quentin and Diana experience a lovely meet-cute - they both happen to wander into an observation tower at the same time - and form a sudden and deep attachment to each other. Quentin knows what is going on, psychic-wise, but Diana has spent a great deal of her life under medical care (and heavily drugged) because psychic abilities (suggests Hooper) often present themselves as mental health issues. Part of the relationship's growth derives from Quentin helping Diana come to terms with the fact that she is not crazy, but that she does hear voices in her head.

Obviously, Quentin and Diana come together to solve the 25 year old murder, and also a series of other murders based at The Lodge. Also, obviously, the cause of the murders is mystical/supernatural because that's the sort of novel it is. At no point do they sleep together; nor do the town sheriff and the hotel manager, who start to spark a relationship midway through the book. Hooper, I have noticed, likes to build that sort of relationship over several books - I suspect that there is an explosive sex scene between these characters in a later book. So, the romance feels a lot more organic, which is nice; and also secondary to the bigger plot, which is also nice. At the same time, the connection between Quentin and Diana is (for a number of good reasons) vital to their ability to join and solve the crime.

Because there is no sex, I cannot discuss the consensual-ness; but Diana's story is very much about gaining (or re-gaining) personal autonomy and control of herself.