Hot Pursuit
by Lorie O’Clare
(St. Martin’s, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-312-53458-5
****
Ben Mercy is an unlikely hero and it’s impossible not to root for him in Lorie O’Clare’s new installment of her Bounty Hunter series, Hot Pursuit.

Our introduction to Ben Mercy at the beginning of our bounty hunting tale was enough to make me question whether or not he could be the leading the man. While Ben’s definitely rough around the edges, he’s raw and real. Ben’s also especially shocked to find out that his desperate attempt at starting a new life being hired as a bounty hunter with a group he admires called the KFA is put in jeopardy when Micah, a man who worked for KFA, a man who Ben looked up to, is on the run from the law.

Ben’s stunned to hear that Micah’s suspected of being the infamous Mulligan Stew assassin, a professional hitman who kills people suspected of very bad behavior. While Ben knows that Micah was a kickass bounty hunter, he can see how Micah could have lived a double life as a vigilante delivering his own brand of justice. When Ben receives a big amount of money that he suspects was left for him by Micah, and some further communication, he decides to hit the road to find him. The fact that there’s a million dollar bounty on Micah’s head and a tough bounty hunter named Wolfe on the trail too just thickens the plot.

Ben follows a trail of information on Micah’s possible whereabouts to the town of Zounds, a seemingly beautiful small town until one digs underneath the surface. Once Ben arrives, he discovers deep corruption, violence, and painful repression. Ben’s not so surprised anymore by the seedy side of life, but he’s shocked to find a pure, lovely woman in the midst of the ugliness occurring in Zounds in the form of beautiful Zoey, the daughter of the crime lord who’s causing chaos in town. Ben doesn’t have time to save a damsel in distress, but he doesn’t seem to be able to – or even want to – stop himself.

Hot Pursuit takes off at a good clip and happily drags the reader along in its wake. Ben’s anti hero personality, sometimes standoffish, stained past, and self serving ideals shouldn’t work so well, but when tempered with his save the day attitude, raw, real speech and unvarnished concept of justice, it’s beautiful, and rare. It’s hard not to see him as a real person since he’s so balanced. Zoey’s no fragile flower. While she’s also seen the dark side of life, and been damaged by it in various ways, she’s refreshing in her purity and sweet too. You have to like Zoey and especially Ben’s reaction to her, their run ins are pure magic and fun to read.

The only downside to Hot Pursuit is that it gets cluttered with characters and actions, making it seem more like a French farce than an action/romance novel. While it tapers off near the end, it wasn’t soon enough for me and the lack of clarity slowed the tale right down through the middle.

All in all, a recommended summer read.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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