I love all of Suzanne Brockmann's books, but this is my favourite in her Troubleshooter series. The central romance, between Mercedes/Jane and Cosmo is full of humour, and shows the importance of their growing friendship within the romantic relationship. The other characters are well-rounded, and there is such a lovely empathy between Cosmo and Jane's brother Robin, who starts as a thoroughly unlikeable character. As the story develops we see behind Robin's facade to the brother Jane loves, and the way he is helped to embrace his better self. The gay themes fit naturally into the story as part of everyday life, accepted by most and hated by a violent few.
Cosmo Ritcher is on vacation from his job as a SEAL. In order to pay the bills (and not be bored), he gets a job with Troubleshooters Inc guarding Mercedes Chadwick a hotshot producer who's getting death threats because she's making a movie about a real life hero - who just happened to be homosexual. In addition to this mix, an FBI agent (Jules Cassidy) is helping Troubleshooters in their investigations - as well as trying to avoid being entangled with both Jane's brother (Robin) as well as Jules' ex lover (Adam).
A caveat here: if you're homophobic, you might want to give this book a miss. If you are expecting stereotypical send ups of the gay male, give this book a miss. In addition, if you're hoping for some hot 'Queer as Folk' action (hubba hubba), you'll be disappointed. However, if you're from a fandom that's heavily into slash or m/m relationships, or just relatively open minded, and like reading about all romantic relationships, this book will tick the boxes - and then some.
It's rare that you get a homosexual character in conventional romance that is as fully fleshed as Jules Cassidy: he's funny, sensitive, and yet can be mean when he needs to be. He isn't a stereotypical gay character and the love/lust triangle among himself, Adam and Robin was very compelling. All the characters in this little love triangle are flawed, but likable to a point. I won't give Robin and Jules' story away - you'll have to read Force of Nature to find that out - but the subject is sensitively approached.
For the heterosexual couple now: Cosmo and Mercedes - I loved the relationship from its initial discomfiture, to friends, to lovers. There are a lot of nice moments in this book between the two protagonists. Cosmo is quiet and easy, Mercedes is upfront and brassy. It's nice to see these two find some compromise and meet in the middle.
The reason why I gave this book four stars - I expected a bit more in terms of 'life threatening' tension. I do know that these sort of books tend to walk a fine line : too much action and you risk underdevelopment of the characters, too little action and the books starts to drag. In spaces, the book seemed to snag - only for it to snap towards the end in a heartbreaking way.
Highlights of the book are Ms Brockmann's knack for popular culture references from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to various classic musicals, likable characters with a keen sense of the ridiculous, and snappy dialogues that make you cackle while reading.
What I like about this book is that for once the author has left the memoirs (the world war 2 stories) out of this book. It used to annoy me greatly that she would cut into the world war 2 and then back to present. Once again the author has written a good book although the main theme seems to be gay as this book is dedicated to her gay son.