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Freefall by Jill Sorenson (Book two in the Aftershock series)

Title: Freefall
Author: Jill Sorenson
Series: Aftershock
Genre: Contemporary romantic suspense
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 stars

Somehow I totally missed the fact that this book was related to Aftershock when I requested it from NetGalley. I’m not sure how that happened—I even thought to myself, Hey! She’s the one who wrote Aftershock! I liked that one, when I hit the button, but it wasn’t until the hero mentioned being trapped and in a coma during the LA earthquake that I made the connection.

Once again proving that yes, the blonde really is natural. 😉

Anyway….

Park ranger Hope Banning is looking forward to a relaxing vacation of whitewater rafting with Faith, her younger sister. Faith would rather participate in something a little less…back-to-nature-ish. However, she picked their vacation last time, so this one was Hope’s choice. At the last minute, though, Hope is called in to work—a plane has crashed in a remote location of her park, and no other ranger is available or able to investigate.

Sam Rutherford, a former superstar in the climbing world, was indeed the guy who spent most of Aftershock in a coma. He actually doesn’t remember much of it, though—and absolutely nothing about the several months that occurred before it, including the climbing death of his fiancée Melissa. He does, however, remember the one night stand he and Hope shared six months before the start of this story—a one night stand that ended in disaster. Now, though, he’s the only guy available to help Hope on her mission—except he no longer trusts himself to climb with a partner. Still, he can’t let Hope go on her own. When they do make it to the wreck, Hope and Sam discover that it’s even worse than they feared. The plane had been carrying drugs, and the dead pilot didn’t die from natural causes. He was shot. Which means a killer is lose in the park—the very same park that Hope’s sister is whitewater rafting in.

The first half of this book was fantastic—I was loving every minute. Sam and Hope were fighting against the elements, the terrain, and their attraction to each other, all while trying to find a killer. Faith was not enjoying the rafting too terribly much, but was getting along very well with one of her fellow rafters. Even the killer’s point of view was given, and he ended up being far more sympathetic than I thought he’d be. I couldn’t put the book down, and if I’d been asked to give it a rating at that point it would have been a definite four or four-and-a-half stars, easy, possibly even venturing into five territory.

Then the second half began, and things got…crazy. Way too much was going on—plotwise as well as with the characters—and the book started to lose me. There always has to be some suspension of belief in the suspense genre, but this one went way over the top with it, both on the physical and emotional level. Actionwise I started to get the feeling that Sorenson was just throwing as much as she possibly could at the characters as fast as she could do so, realism be darned. It started to feel like one of those “and then what happened?” stories, with more and more craziness around every turn. Seriously, there was enough going on in the second half to fill an entire new series, and yet it all got neatly—and conveniently—resolved at the end.

Uh huh.

But it wasn’t just the action portion of the story that became hard to swallow. Hope’s emotions became way out of whack, bouncing back and forth and here and there like a toddler who’s had ten too many Kool-Aids. I found myself caring less and less about her getting to a HEA, just wanting her to stop with the drama already. And then there was Sam. His recovery and discovery felt way too easy and convenient—for the first, he literally bumps his head and his amnesia is cured (he tells one character about it immediately, but doesn’t tell Hope for almost another entire half of the book, for reasons unclear to me), and for the second he just as magically—and suddenly—discovers that he’s ready to move on with his life. Ta-dah!

We should all have it so easy.

It got to the point where I just wanted it to all be over. And I think I was only at about 80% at the time, according to my Kindle. Sigh….

Still, I am ever hopeful for the future. I really liked Aftershock, and at least initially really liked the characters in this book as well. Hopefully if there’s a third book in this series it can combine the best of the first two and stay away from the craziness.

In a nutshell: Great start, but lost it halfway through. 4 star start turned into a 2 star ending. 3 stars overall, and my fingers will remain crossed for the next one in the series.

(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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