Aftershock
by Jill Sorenson
(Harlequin, $7.99, PG13) ISBN 978-0-373-77732-7
****
Aftershock is an edgy, modern doomsday love story that plays out in bits and pieces.

Lauren Boyer is an emergency paramedic with a broken heart, trying to ignore the fact that she should have been married this weekend, and her former fiance is now entertaining his new girlfriend on an island somewhere. She starts a routine day driving to an emergency with her partner Joe, when the ambulance starts to shake. In awful detail, Lauren and Joe are shockingly caught in the epicenter of a major earthquake, and the carnage that surrounds their vehicle is unbelievable. As the aftershocks hit, more and more damage is done, and Lauren is trapped underneath the freeway with her medical kit, scraped up some, but otherwise okay.

Lauren immediately starts to scope out her surroundings and quickly discovers that she is seriously trapped under layers of concrete and debris, in an almost cocoon like dark atmosphere, filled with broken glass, twisted vehicles, and people who need her help. Many of the drivers are dead, and Lauren is relieved to hear a male voice calling out, looking for survivors. She meets Garrett Wright, a large, capable, handsome war veteran, who immediately puts his own life at risk helping Lauren pull anyone alive out of their vehicles. Lauren and Garrett find several people in need of medical help and luckily an RV which has a bathroom, kitchen and some food and water.

While Lauren and Garrett tend to the wounded and work against the clock to come up with an escape route respectively, they know that time is running out on their supplies, both nutritious and medical. Things go from bad to worse when Lauren realizes that a gang of escaped convicts are among the survivors, really bad guys who have no problem taking advantage of the fact that there is no radio or cell phone service, no way for the survivors to get help. Garrett puts himself in charge of protecting the little group, and Lauren is amazed with how quickly her broken heart seems mended seeing him in action. She's feeling a surprisingly strong attraction, but Garrett won't let her too close. Little does Lauren know that Garrett isn't who he seems to be, and that being stuck together can be very dangerous to her in a few ways.

Aftershock was a sharp, unexpected story and Jill Sorenson proves that she's a master storyteller in this action packed, witty book.

While the story's setting is uncomfortable, it's supposed to be, and keeps the reader grounded in the what-would-you-do head space. Graphically described, the earthquake springs to scary life in the first few chapters. Sorenson manages to keep the readers and survivors alike poised on the knife edge between despair and hope.

With a rag tag, surprisingly lovable little band of characters that emerge at various intervals from the shadow of the quake, the story is always fresh and interesting. The bad guys are sufficiently realistic and unpredictable to be terrifying, and help seems far away while the survivors try to keep their wits about them.

Lauren and Garrett were superbly, passionately alive at the center of the disaster, and their risky, brave story is not to be missed.

I read over 200 pages into the book before I even took a breath, I highly recommend that you get your copy of Aftershock and immerse yourself in their story.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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